CDC Warns Another ‘Tripledemic’ Could Strain Hospitals This Winter



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This fall, for the first time in U.S. history, vaccines will be available for all three major respiratory viruses — Influenza, RSV and COVID-19 — as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn of potential strain on the healthcare system this season.
Last year’s “tripledemic” strained hospitals as a severe flu and RSV season combined with a wave of COVID-19 infections, according to the CDC. This year, the U.S. could see a similar level of hospitalizations if the flu and RSV season is severe, and if its peak overlaps with the peak of a COVID-19 wave.
Respiratory viruses typically circulate more heavily in the fall and winter, known as “cold and flu season.” While current rates of flu and RSV are low, they will steadily increase as the season progresses.
Meanwhile, the CDC says hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have been on the rise in recent weeks, and are expected to continue rising.
The agency reported 18,871 hospital admissions for COVID-19 infections in the week ending Sept. 2, the last week for which data were available, up 8.7% from the week before, following weeks of double-digit increases. The agency reported that deaths due to COVID-19 in the week ending Sept. 9 were up 4.5% from the week before.
In the latest forecast published Sept. 11, the agency predicted that hospital admissions will increase, with potentially up to 9,100 daily admissions reported on Oct. 9.
“Making sure that you are up to date on the vaccines recommended for you is an important strategy to prevent severe disease and protect yourself and others around you. Higher levels of vaccination across the population will also help reduce the number of hospitalizations and risk of hospital strain,” the CDC said in its outlook.
The agency on Tuesday recommended that everyone ages 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 booster vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration on Monday announced the approval of updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer and Moderna for emergency use.
The updated monovalent vaccines target the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant and related lineages, but vaccine manufacturers say it will offer protection against all variants currently in circulation.
Moderna said its updated vaccine protects against newer variants including the latest omicron subvariant, BA.2.86, nicknamed “Pirola.”
Pfizer, meanwhile, said in a recent statement that pre-clinical data show its updated Omicron XBB.1.5-adapted vaccine “generates an improved response against multiple XBB-related sublineages, including XBB.1.5, XBB.1.16, XBB.2.3, and EG.5.1 (Eris).”
“We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19. CDC is now recommending updated COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months and older to better protect you and your loved ones,” CDC Director Mandy Cohen said in a statement.
An updated booster produced by Novavax is still awaiting FDA approval. The Novavax shot does not use mRNA technology, unlike those from Moderna and Pfizer.
TMX contributed to this article.