Memphis health official addresses COVID-19 variants, more
JACKSON, Tenn. — A Memphis health official gave an update on COVID-19.
The virtual meeting was hosted by Dr. Stephen Threlkeld on Wednesday.
The meeting provided an update on COVID-19 in hospitals, saying Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis had seen an increase in cases due to the omicron variant.
Threlkeld’s next topic was the long-term effects of COVID-19 and the immune system.
Threlkeld said that symptoms can vary from person to person, based on how well their body does at attacking the infection.
“All of this is not a big surprise because our immune systems are as different as our fingerprints are. More so, in fact. So we have billions of different characteristics that we are all different with,” he said.
Threlkeld says that the chances of long-term effects are cut down by the vaccine.
“People who completed the initial two-shot RNA vaccine series are very unlikely to develop long-COVID,” he said. “Folks who completed the vaccine series really don’t get long-COVID with anything like those that are unvaccinated.”
Threlkeld says COVID-19 does not work like measles, where you get life-long immunity.
He says once infected the first time with COVID-19, that initial immunity can begin to wane and you can catch it again.
“Coronavirus does not behave like that. Our immune systems are unable to keep it corralled forever like we do with some viruses, namely measles,” he said.
He says three to four months later, the same variant of COVID-19 could infect you again.
This can be concerning because of the amount of new variants, including a new relative of omicron: BA2.
“BA2 so far as we can tell, is a descendant, a daughter if you will, of omicron. Omicron was not so of delta. It was of a different lineage. But this is probably a spin off or a divergence of omicron itself”,” he said.
The variant was first seen in South Africa, according to Threlkeld.
It has since spread to Asia and Europe. He says it is unknown how well immunity to omicron will help against this variant.
Also addressed in the conference was antiviral pills, the testing shortage, the possibility of a fourth booster shot for high-risk people, and the COVID-19 nasal spray.
For more information on COVID-19 cases in West Tennessee and across the state, click here.
For more information on COVID-19, go to the CDC website, the Tennessee Department of Health website or call (877) 857-2945.
Additional COVID-19 information can be found in the “COVID-19” tab of the website.