This past week has seen a continuation of the trend towards modestly rising levels of new but rather mild COVID infections. Viral counts have been rising in municipal wastewater and there has been a modest but continuing rise in positive PCR tests for the minority of Ontarian who are still eligible for definitive testing. COVID hospitalizations, however, have yet to follow suit. All of which suggests either or both of two hypotheses: 

  • Despite inherent immune-evading capabilities, those strains typically cause fewer severe symptoms, and/or
  • Virtually everyone who survived the first COVID waves still has sufficient immunity from some combination of vaccination and prior infection to mostly avoid reinfection or to display only the mildest of symptoms.

It is also likely that new strains will result in increasing infection rates due both the inherently greater transmissibility and waning immunity as a cumulative consequence of months of relatively few new infections and a general disinclination to get booster shots.

This is the off-week in which the US CDC does not report on the rapidly changing mix of new variants. It will be interesting next week to see if the new EG.5 variant continues to surge towards dominance since that magnitude of competitive advantage could substantially increase the rate of new cases.