COVID-19 variants continue to mutate but should we be concerned with the latest one?  The latest is an omicron variant called XBB .1.116.  CentraCare Spokesman Dr. George Morris joined me on WJON to explain what this new COVID variant is.  The Omicron variant has been around for more than a year as the primary variant for COVID.  He says XBB .1.116 has been identified in other countries but not in the United States yet.

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Dr. Morris says this variant is one that everyone should be aware of.  He explains that each variant or sub variant has a small shift in some of the factors that allows the virus to penetrate a person or be recognized by our body as different.  Morris says if these variants change a lot the body's immune system may not recognize it.  He says this new variant doesn't appear to be a significant shift which means we're not seeing a significant increase in hospitalizations or increased severity of the disease.  Morris says based on that our current approach should continue to be fine.  He says you should have some immunity to this new variant if you've already had a form of the Omicron variant and recovered and/or had a vaccination.

Dr. Morris says COVID continues to exist in our community and some people do get sick enough where they need to be hospitalized and in some cases have been sick enough recently where they've needed to spend time in the ICU/Critical Care unit.

Dr. Morris says COVID is moving closer to flu or the common cold in severity as is continues to mutate.  He says the averages for people includes 3 to 4 common colds per year and 1-2 influenzas per year.  Morris says based on that it is not uncommon to have recurrent infections with flu, colds and now COVID.  He says the key is prevent the severe infections and severe illness that COVID can still provide.

Dr. Morris indicates many health experts say we are at a point where we are managing COVID like we do other respiratory illnesses.  If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Dr. Morris it is available below.



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