Coronavirus FAQs: How worrisome is the new variant? How long do boosters last?

This article answers several questions about recent developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, including inquiries about a new SARS-CoV-2 variant, updated booster shots, and the timing of other common vaccines and boosters.

The new variant: A new SARS-CoV-2 variant, known as BA.2.86, has been detected with multiple genetic differences from previous versions.
* This variant has been found in samples from people in Denmark, Israel, and the United States.
* The variant has multiple genetic differences from previous versions of SARS-CoV-2 and there are 35 mutations on the spike protein compared to currently circulating variants.
* It could potentially evade the protection provided by COVID vaccinations and prior infections, but current testing methods and medications seem to be effective against it.

Wearing a mask and social precautions: Extreme precautions may still be justified for some individuals, particularly those at higher risk.
* Many factors can increase an individual’s risk, including age, underlying medical conditions, or immunocompromising conditions.
* Public health authorities generally support all efforts to minimize personal risk.

Protection from boosters: The new COVID-19 booster shot should generally confer protection within two weeks.
* Factors such as a patient’s overall health and immune system response can affect how long it takes for the booster to confer protection.
* Updated boosters, such as the one discussed in the article, can adapt to new variants of the virus.

Waning immunity and combined vaccines: Immunity can last for months or years after vaccination, but data on long-term effects is still being collected.
* Vaccinated individuals generally have milder symptoms than those unvaccinated.
* The flu shot, and expected fall COVID booster can be taken simultaneously without any interference to their effectiveness.

Safety measures for post-infection or after exposure: If exposed to COVID-19 or after infection, wearing a mask is recommended by the CDC for a defined period.
* For individuals exposed to COVID-19, masking for 10 days is recommended to mitigate the spread of the virus.
* Those infected are advised to wear a mask for 5 days.
* This is because the highest level of infectiousness is in the first few days of infection.

View original article on NPR

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