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COVID-19 Roundup: Encouraging Trends Ahead of Respiratory Virus Season

October 16, 2023

Following a summer bump, COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending in an encouraging direction heading into respiratory virus season.

Public health officials continue to monitor the potential for COVID-19, the flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) to pose challenges this winter while urging everyone to stay protected. The pandemic has highlighted the way respiratory viruses can affect hospital capacity and the importance of vaccination to protect the population.

“Among children and adolescents hospitalized with influenza during 2022–2023, a substantially lower proportion were vaccinated compared with previous seasons, which could be related to low vaccination coverage in the population, high vaccine effectiveness, or both,” the CDC noted in a report released last week.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Trends:  Through October 7, COVID-19 emergency department visits (-17.7%), hospital admissions (-8.2%), and deaths (-3.8%) were all trending in the right direction, per the latest CDC data.
  • Vaccine uptake:  More than 7 million Americans have received the updated COVID-19 vaccines, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Variant proportions:  The Omicron subvariant EG.5 (23.6% of cases) remains the top circulating variant, followed by HV.1(19.5%), and FL.1.5.1 (13.5%).
  • Next steps for Paxlovid:  The Biden administration announced the plan to transition Paxlovid to the commercial market last week.
    • The deal ensures people on Medicare or Medicaid, and those who are uninsured will have access to Paxlovid for free through 2024 via a patient assistance program. From 2025–2028, Pfizer will offer a patient assistance program for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured.
  • Future vaccine research:  The federal government last week released $500 million in funding for the next generation of vaccine candidates, including two types of intranasal vaccines and a self-amplifying mRNA vaccine candidate.
    • Additional funding was allocated for genomic sequencing, COVID-19 antibody test kits, and monoclonal antibodies, among other technologies. 

HAP urges everyone to stay up to date on their COVID-19 and seasonal vaccines and to follow the public health precautions to stay healthy this winter.

HAP continues to monitor the latest COVID-19 and seasonal respiratory virus developments and provide updates to members and the general public.