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COVID again? State's top doc explains Plaxlovid rebound

Some patients develop COVID symptoms after Plaxlovid antiviral treatments.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — There is yet another COVID 19 variant circulating. The BA-5 variant is showing signs of reinfection at a record rate according to the CDC.

And while it may be frustrating for those who are vaccinated and boosted and still get one of the COVID variants, Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the vaccines are still working, "The good news is the vaccines are still incredibly effective at preventing severe outcomes like hospitalization, ICU admission even from these new sub variants of Omicron."

Which is why Dr. Bagdasarian says you should get that 2nd booster if you are eligible, "If you are over the age of 50, and immunocompromised, or have other risk factors, and you are eligible for that second booster, this is a good time to get it. What we're seeing when we look across the country, is that while Michigan is still mostly in green, when we look at our CDC community risk levels, much of the country is in red. And that is in part due to this BAA five sub variant spreading through the southern part of the country. And it's a matter of time before we start seeing the effects here in the state."

Dr. Bagdasarian says by getting that 2nd booster you are protecting yourself until the modified booster which is currently being produced by Pfizer is approved, "Our federal partners are meeting and they will be providing our full set of recommendations in probably the early fall, it does appear that if you get your booster now you will likely be eligible for one of those new modified boosters in the fall." 

In addition to the vaccines there are also treatments for COVID patients. The antiviral pill Plaxlovid has proven to reduce the affects of COVID in high risk patients and the FDA has now added pharmacists to the list of providers who can prescribe Plaxlovid. However, it's recently been discovered that some patients who take Plaxlovid become re-infected with COVID soon after the treatment is finished. Dr. Bagdasarian says while that is true the benefits of Plaxlovid still outweigh the risks of not taking it ,"There is some indication that there can be a what we call a rebound phenomena for those who receive pack COVID, meaning that people initially do well, that their their viral load goes down, because it's such an incredibly effective medication. But then after they finish their course, the pack COVID, they may start testing positive, again, some of their symptoms may return. And again, I think that we need to weigh the risk of something like that against the risk of someone ending up with really severe outcome ending up in the hospital and in the ICU, which is what we want to prevent. So for the right patient Plaxlovid is still an excellent option."

 If you have questions about the COVID variants, vaccines or treatments email me: vallego@13onyourside.com

13 On Your Side Health Reporter Valerie Lego 

Val has been reporting on health and medical stories in West Michigan for 16 years. She is an 18-time Emmy Award Winner. Her health reporting credentials include fellowships from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of Health Care Journalists

Contact me: vallego@13OnYourSide.com

Follow me  Twitter @valerielego Facebook @valerielego Instagram @val_lego

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