By Dr. Anthony Policastro

There were two topics related to COVID that were just published in medical journals in the last week. It makes sense to use them as the medical article for this week.

One might think that the more times you get COVID the better your immunity to it becomes. The answer is yes and no. Your immunity will improve. However, each subsequent infection causes more damage to any organs that were damaged the first time.

A recent study looked at the VA patient population. They had 257,427 patients with one COVID infection. They had 38,926 patients with more than one COVID infection. They compared both groups to patients with no COVID infections.

Those with multiple infections showed evidence of increased secondary lung damage with later infections. There was also evidence that if other organs had been damaged with the first infection, they would suffer additional damage with repeated infections.

This led to that group having both higher hospitalization rates and mortality for the subsequent six month period. The moral of the story is that you need to continue using caution even after after a first infection. It also means that even if you have been infected, you should plan to get the revamped booster when it comes out in the fall.

A study was published in the Journal Science on July 26. It included 19 authors. They went back to look at the origins of the COVID-19 virus. The initial cluster of cases was clearly associated with the Wuhan market. 

The environmental agency covering the market frequently did sampling. Samples about that time showed COVID-19 virus on an animal cage, two carts used to transport animals and an animal grooming device.

There was one region in the southwest corner of the market that had multiple positive samples. It also was an area that sold wild animals. All eight of the cases reported prior to Dec. 20, 2019 were in individuals who had been in that same southwest corner of the market.

Cases in individuals who had not actually visited the market, occurred in individuals who lived near the market. Other cases were in market workers. The one missing piece of evidence is that no one tested the animals for COVID at the time.

The bottom line is that the origin of the COVID-19 virus was animal to human transfer in the southwest corner of the Wuhan market.

COVID update- Nationally the total number of new cases went from 828,000 last week to 778,000 this week. That is the lowest it has been since July 4. That was 46 days ago. It appears that the BA5 surge may be following the same 78 day pattern as the previous three surges did.

Sussex County remains in the high risk zone. That is because we are still over 200 new cases per 100,000 people. We went from 221.58 per 100,000 last week to 216.46 per 100,000 this week. New COVID admissions have also moved into the high risk range this week. That keeps us in the high risk range. It suggests that masks should be worn in indoor places like the DMV.

In Sussex County, new cases went from 528 last week to 493 this week. Thus there has been little change in those numbers as well.

For those who might be wondering about the COVID infections that my wife and I had, they were both mild. We had the initial series of vaccines. We had the first booster. We both started Paxlovid within 12 hours of the diagnosis.

A big deal was made out of the most recent CDC guidance last week. However, the changes were not as big as they would suggest.

Infected individuals still should quarantine for five days and wear a mask for the subsequent five days when around others. Household contacts still should wear a mask when around others for 10 days and test for COVID at the five day point.

One change was related to the fact that the old guidelines had different recommendations for those who were non-household exposed contacts based upon vaccine status. The new ones do not do so. So those who are exposed to COVID, even if unvaccinated, do not have to isolate. 

They should just wear masks for that 10 day period as long as they remain asymptomatic. They should also do three tests over a 48 hour period to confirm that they are indeed negative.

Social distancing suggestions have also been relaxed. The logic is that people now know about masks, hand washing and social distancing. They should take precautions when necessary based upon the situation.