Admissions, symptoms and origins: 6 COVID-19 updates

COVID-19 hospital admissions and deaths have risen for the eighth consecutive week, according to the CDC's most recent data tracking these metrics through Sept. 2. 

While the number of admissions and deaths are lower than what they were in years past, the numbers are once again climbing from record lows. 

There were 18,871 new COVID-19 admissions during the week ending Sept. 2. For context, in 2022, there were 34,546 new admissions for the same week, and in 2021, they were at 84,235, according to CDC's historical data.

Here are five additional updates:

1. In anticipation of the coming fall respiratory virus season, the CDC published information Sept. 14 detailing two separate scenarios regarding how COVID-19 could play out in the months ahead. In one scenario, the CDC predicts that COVID-19 admissions will peak three weeks prior to flu and RSV for a combined hospitalization rate that is roughly 20 percent lower than last year's.

In the other scenario, the CDC predicts a severe upcoming flu season in which COVID-19 hospitalizations peak around the same time as flu and RSV infections. This would cause the hospitalization rate to be the same as last year, according to the agency. 

2. Two hallmark COVID-19 symptoms, a dry cough and loss of sense of taste or smell, are evolving as time goes on and new strains of the virus dominate, according to a Sept. 16 report from NBC News. Physicians say that some of the main symptoms from COVID-19 infections in the past are dwindling and have become much less common. However, in place of those symptoms, physicians are increasingly treating patients for congestion and a sore throat.

"It isn't the same typical symptoms that we were seeing before. It's a lot of congestion, sometimes sneezing, usually a mild sore throat," Erick Eiting, MD, the vice chair of operations for emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York City, told NBC

Physicians in the U.K. are reportedly also seeing this trend, according to NBC

3. The World Health Organization is pressing China on the origins of COVID-19, the Financial Times reported Sept. 16. The organization has asked for permission from the country's leaders before sending a team to visit Beijing, which would be the second WHO visit since January 2020. 

The proposed second mission would be focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic began. There are two leading theories, a lab leak or a zoonotic leap from animals to humans, but the WHO plans to investigate all possible virology pathways. 

"We will get the answer. It's a matter of time," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, told the Financial Times

4. The new COVID-19 vaccine formulas, which exclusively focus on the XBB.1.5 variant, are not boosters, according to experts. Moving away from the term "booster" is part of an effort to change the perception of the COVID-19 vaccination schedule to be more similar to influenza, or an updated vaccine every fall. 

5. A slight majority, or 53 percent, of Americans are interested in receiving the new COVID-19 vaccine, according to a poll conducted by Reuters and Ipos. This is an increase from fall 2022, when about 20 percent of people eligible for the vaccine received it, according to CDC data.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they were very interested in getting the vaccine, and 24 percent were somewhat interested, according to the poll. About 17 percent were not interested and 30 percent said they were not interested at all.


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