/ By National wastewater viral activity levels for COVID-19 have been  very high since December. (It wasn’t your imagination that everyone seemed sick over the holidays.) Currently, wastewater data is the best way to track COVID infections as most people are testing at home and not reporting their status. And currently, wastewater levels indicate that about 2 million Americans are getting infected each day.

This means that we are now in the second-highest COVID surge, after Omicron. As we hover around the fourth year of living with COVID, it is clear COVID could be endemic. With surges such as we are seeing now, personal safety measures are still very much needed—including (and especially) staying up to date on COVID vaccines.

Luckily, there is a bit of good news when it comes to the recent COVID surge, thanks to biotech innovations.

COVID vaccines work – if people get them

Hospitalizations due to the ongoing surge are considerably lower than expected, sitting at 4,971 during the week of Dec. 24, 2023. Additionally, COVID mortality and morbidity continue to stay lower than during the pandemic era.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at the height of the pandemic, weekly COVID hospital admissions sat at 115,455, while the weekly percentage of deaths due to COVID rate sat at a staggering 29.9% (reported on Jan. 9, 2021). However, as the recent surge has taken hold, weekly new hospitalizations due to COVID rates are 34,798 with a weekly percentage death due to COVID rate of only 3.6% (reported Dec. 30 2023).

You can thank biotech when it comes to the improvement of COVID hospital admission rates, as well as mortality and morbidity. The updated COVID vaccines released last fall were based on the “XBB.1.5 variant” present in February. According to a Kaiser Permanente study, the updated vaccine “has some cross-reactivity with JN.1 in lab studies for inducing neutralizing antibodies to the virus,” explained the Los Angeles Times.

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