November 22, 2022 – Each week, we will compile the latest data regarding flu and COVID-19 cases in the United States. As things change, we hope that this information will paint a better picture of what to look for in emerging COVID variant and in the upcoming flu season.
According to the CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report, there have been 15,308 (14.7%) positive influenza specimens out of a total of 103,830 specimens tested in clinical laboratories. Influenza A makes up 15,185 of those cases, while Influenza B makes up 123 of the cases. The data from clinical laboratories are used to monitor whether flu activity is increasing or decreasing.
The CDC’s COVID-19 tracker reports that there are a daily average of 40,102 new cases (a 3.2% decrease from last week’s report) and a daily average of 3,444 new hospitalizations as of November 16. The CDC says that there are several “lineages of omicron and within each are multiple sublineages.” The most dominant strain is now BQ.1, projected at 25.5%.
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and sometimes these mutations result in new variants of the virus. Numerous variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have been tracked in the United States and globally during this pandemic.
Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, they persist and continue to circulate in communities. As the virus spreads, it has new opportunities to change in ways that can make emerging variants more difficult to stop because the effectiveness of vaccinations or treatments may be reduced. We can monitor mutations from one variant to another and monitor the impact of these changes by comparing differences in real-world characteristics, such as effectiveness of vaccines or treatments.
By studying each variant and understanding these differences, scientists can monitor whether a new variant might be more dangerous. The CDC is currently tracking a wide range of omicron sublineages, using multiple surveillance systems to monitor variants in the US.