Covid sub-variant: winter booster, re-infection rate, hospital pressure

Two new sub-variants of Covid-19 are increasing the number of cases across the country, prompting authorities to review immunity recommendations.

Two new sub-variants of Covid-19 are increasing cases across the country, prompting a new warning for Australians to protect themselves this winter.

Over 40,000 new cases of the virus have been reported in Australia in the past 24 hours.

A new wave of Covid-19 infections is caused by asthma. 4 and BA. 5 sub-options of Omicron, according to a statement released The Australian General Health Committee (AHPPC) on Friday.

Almost 4,000 people are being treated for Covid-19 in the hospital, 141 people are in intensive care.

“We are facing a really big threat,” Australian Medical Association Vice President Chris Moy told ABC on Monday morning.

“I haven’t heard the health authorities so worried in a long time.

“We are very concerned about the meeting with BA. Omicron sub-options 4 and 5, which are more contagious, cause more re-infections and severe illness because they look like they are more likely to get into your lungs.”

The AHPPC said the new subvariants could evade immunity more easily and would likely cause an increase in reinfection rates among those who were previously infected and those who were fully vaccinated.

Re-infection can occur as early as 28 days after recovering from a previous Covid-19 infection, a large reduction from the previously recommended 12 weeks of immunity.

Nearly 4,000 people are being treated in hospitals for Covid-19 across Australia, including 141 people in intensive care.

“More people are entering hospitals just as our hospitals are overwhelmed because they have been neglected for so long,” Dr. Moy said.

“To some extent, we were like slow-boiled frogs, and we accept this mortality rate that continues.”

Since the start of the pandemic, 10,225 people have died.

Dr. Moy said Australia would enter a “much worse phase” of the pandemic in the next five to 10 weeks.

The committee warned that the new sub-options could harm the country to the same extent as Omicron BA. 1 sub-option in January of this year.

“We expect this wave to lead to a significant increase in infections, hospitalizations and, unfortunately, deaths at a time when our communities and health systems are already under strain,” the committee said.

As of Monday, the fourth dose of the vaccine has opened to an additional 7.4 million people.

Adults aged 30 to 49 are now eligible for a winter booster dose, and those aged 50 to 64 are strongly encouraged to get a fourth shot.

“We need you to make as many Covid vaccines as you are entitled to,” Dr. Moy said.

Winter revaccination is recommended for those who received their first revaccination or contracted Covid-19 at least three months ago.

The AHPPC has reminded the public to wear a mask when outside, especially on public transport, stay home and get tested if you have any symptoms.

Dr. Moy also advised against relying on rapid antigen tests, warning that they have a success rate of just 60 percent.

If you have any symptoms and are at a higher risk of severe illness, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately to access oral antivirals.

As always, washing your hands thoroughly throughout the day is a great way to reduce your chances of contracting the virus.

Originally published as Big changes to Covid immunity recommendations as new sub-options put pressure on the healthcare system