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UVA Health COVID Update: The Bottom Line for February 24, 2022

weekly covid update from uva health

COVID at UVA Health: By the Numbers

Charlottesville COVID Cases Down

"We're finally starting to see a downtrend," says Reid Adams, MD, chief medical officer and chair of the department of surgery at UVA Health. "Importantly, the number of patients requiring Intensive Care Unit (ICU) care for COVID is decreasing. Overall, looking better this week."

"We're now on the backside of the surge," agrees Costi Sifri, MD, an infectious disease specialist at UVA Health. "It's probably going to be a little bit of a bumpy backside... but we can anticipate that we'll continue to see this downward trend in cases. The open questions after this are: 'How long is that immunity?' 'How robust is it?' And finally, 'What other variants may rear their heads?'"

New Studies Aim to Answer Pandemic Debates

Get Vaccinated or Boosted

Your best protection against being hospitalized with COVID is getting the vaccine or booster.

Vaccines May Create Better Immunity

Whether natural immunity after COVID-19 infection is better than immunity created by vaccination has been debated since the beginning of the pandemic. People against COVID vaccines maintain that natural immunity is better, despite a lack of clear data supporting it.

But a new study published in Nature showed that samples of blood from people who used mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines, had almost 17 times more antibodies than samples from people who had been infected with COVID but didn’t get vaccinated. A follow-up study showed that the increase in antibodies resulted in a similar increase in the ability to stop COVID-19 infection.

The researchers concluded that the vaccines created stronger immunity against COVID than natural immunity alone. However, more studies are needed to confirm this result.

The bottom line: Charlottesville COVID cases may be down, but the advice remains that everyone should get vaccinated.

Ivermectin Fails to Prove Efficacy Against COVID

A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine showed that the drug ivermectin, which has become a popular medication for treating COVID among people against COVID vaccination, wasn’t effective at preventing severe COVID any more than simply managing symptoms and observation.

On top of the fact that ivermectin did nothing to stop the progress of COVID, people who took it had more and sometimes severe side effects, including heart attacks, anemia, and diarrhea that caused shock, than those who didn’t take it.

This study is just the most recent confirmation that ivermectin is not appropriate to use when treating COVID-19. In fact, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have warned the public and clinicians against using ivermectin for COVID.

Long COVID Remains a Concern

After COVID, millions of people continue to suffer from symptoms related to coronavirus infection. Studies estimate that somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of those infected develop long-term illness. Symptoms of long COVID can include:

It’s not clear why some people develop long COVID while others don’t. Research has found a combination of four factors that are believed to increase the risk of developing long COVID:

If you’re having any of the above symptoms, consider seeing your doctor.

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