DHEC updates on BA.2 Omicron sub-variant

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – DHEC is encouraging people to get fully vaccinated due to the impact of the highly contagious BA.2 Omicron subvariant. This comes after the White House reports 14 states are seeing upticks in COVID hospitalizations.

Doctor Jane Kelly with DHEC says historically South Carolina has lagged behind the rest of the nation when it comes to surges. Currently the state has a low number of new reported cases but she says that’s because it’s the minimum number due to at home tests not being reported. Doctor Kelly stresses the number is certainly significantly higher.  

“We’ve got a low level of community transmission but we are concerned that that will start to increase,” says Doctor Kelly.

The focus right now is on BA.2 Omicron subvariant strain. 

“What I can say about BA.2 is that it does change somethings for example one of the treatments that we use for people who test positive for COVID-19 is a monochromal antibody called Sotrovimab, it doesn’t work with BA.2  so one of our treatments is taken away from us so that’s a limitation,” says Doctor Kelly.

Doctor Kelly says the good news is vaccines are effective against omicron and BA.2 but where does South Carolina stand with vaccinations? According to Doctor Kelly,  its plateaued at 54 percent over the past few weeks for ages 5 and up.

“I think in the beginning the people who were most interested in getting vaccinated there was a big rush  to get everybody vaccinated and I think at this point we have a number of people who fall into the camp of ‘I’m never going to get vaccinated.’ – There’s always some anti-vaccine people out there. I think the reason it has plateaued is that many young adults feel that they are invulnerable and they’re not worried. They feel like ‘if I get covid I wont get terribly ill’.”, says Doctor Kelly.

Doctor Kelly says it’s true younger people are at a lower risk of sever disease compared to older people but they need to realize they are still at risk for long COVID. Due to the concern of cases increasing, Doctor Kelly says it is important to get fully vaccinated. 

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