Tennessee Covid Update: Omicron hitting state very quickly
Dr. Piercey shares what we do know about Omicron & the monoclonal antibody shortage just go alot worse
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WDEF) – Health Department Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey offered an update on Wednesday on Covid cases in Tennessee.
Her primary message is that the new Omicron variant is moving extremely fast through the state, but does not (YET) appear to be as dangerous too us.
“It is here and it is here in a big way. It came very, VERY quickly.”
Just two weeks ago, they only had four cases in Tennessee.
Now it is the dominant strain and could account for 95% of the cases by next week.
Dr. Piercey says it took Delta 3 months to become the dominant variant, but it only took Omicron 3 weeks.
But there is good news.
Hospitalizations are NOT shooting up at the same rate.
“We are seeing hospitalizations tick up but not nearly as precipitously as we are seeing in the spike of cases.”
She reported 1,070 hospitalizations now. They do expect that to go up some, but they just don’t know how much.
Dr. Piercey stresses it is too soon to make definitive statements about Omicron so far, but here is what they do know:
— Symptoms are basically the same as Delta, but they could be milder. The interesting difference is there are early indications that Omicron does NOT affect your sense of taste or smell. (So don’t use that as the determination now if you have Covid.)
— Breakthough cases (people who have had vaccine) are common but vaccinations protect you from severe outcomes
— “Booster shots are the best protection we have.” The longer it has been since you had the shot, the less protection you have. A majority of Tennesseans who have gotten a vaccine, still have not had a booster shot. Dr. Piercey says it still is not too late to get one to fight off Omicron.
Dr. Piercey does have some bad news about monoclonal antibody treatments for Covid.. just in the last few days.
“We’re in extremely short supply of monoclonal antibody” in Tennessee.
The reason is that two of the three products just don’t work on Omicron, including the popular Regeneron.
Dr. Piercey says only the “So-Tro” (her shortened title for it) treatment works on Omicron.
“That supply is extraordinarily limited.”
She says the state got just 810 doses of it this week and have been told they won’t get more for 2 or 3 more weeks.
She says the good news is that doctors are used to short supplies of monoclonal antibodies, so they are used to coping.
There is one bright spot.
Dr. Piercey says the state now has a new monoclonal antibody treatment for those who are the most immuno- compromised among us…. cancer patients and other severely medically challenged people.