Utah Health panel provides update on latest COVID-19 developments

Sep 15, 2023, 8:33 PM

electron microscope image of VOVID virus...

A panel of University of Utah Health experts discussed the new COVID-19 vaccines coming out and the new variants these vaccines are seeking to fight.(NIAID-RML file image)

(NIAID-RML file image)

SALT LAKE CITY — The COVID-19 virus keeps changing and cases are on the rise, but Utah doctors say recent developments in the fight against COVID-19 are positive.

“COVID is continuing to evolve, and it showed us the last three years that it is a dynamic virus that keeps changing,” Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of the U.’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, said Friday as a panel of University of Utah Health experts discussed the new COVID-19 vaccine coming out and the new subvariants they seek to combat.

Three subvariants of omicron are rising, Pavia said, but the newest vaccine has been tested on recently infected people and has been found to be successful in neutralizing the virus. The vaccine is projected to be available next week.

One of the subvariants, eris, has over 30 mutations, which means “it could cause a lot more trouble,” Pavia said. However, Pavia said it has been found to not spread as fast as other variants have and is also neutralized well by the newest boosters.

Chief Medical Operations Officer Dr. Russell Vinik said in the first week of June, 25 people tested positive for COVID-19 at University of Utah Health facilities. The first week of September, however, saw 200 positive tests, as well as an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The key, Vinik said, is that very few of the hospitalizations are from patients completely up to date on their vaccinations and boosters. “Good news … the vaccines are still effective and we expect this new booster to be even more effective at preventing cases and hospitalizations,” he said.

Kavish Choudhary, chief pharmacy officer at U. Health, said there won’t be mass vaccination clinics, as there have been in the past — but the vaccines will be available at regular pharmacies and physician offices.

Choudhary said the booster will be available for anyone 6 months and older to have. Choudhary encouraged anyone getting an annual flu shot to get the new booster, as well.

Pavia said the newest vaccines rolling out Monday will have the same side effects as past shots, such as sore arms and flu-like symptoms. Pavia emphasized that recent data shows the risk for myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle — which was occurring when vaccines first came out in 2020 — has gone down significantly.

What about herd immunity?

“We would reduce community spread dramatically if we could vaccinate 90% of the population,” Pavia said. “That’s what the models show. That’s not going to happen. But we do think that the more people who get vaccinated, the less the impact we’re going to have of these waves of disease.”

The panel closed with an announcement that an RSV vaccine is also on its way, specifically targeted for newborns and people over 60. There is not an exact estimated date for it to be rolled out, but Pavia said, “We expect it to be here quite soon.”

Doctors are hoping the RSV vaccine will prevent children from contracting or being hospitalized by RSV. Pavia said pregnant women are recommended to get it to protect babies before they are born.

KSL 5 TV Live


FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests indicating a positive result are photographed in New York, April...

Will Weissert

Biden administration announces $600M to produce COVID tests and will reopen website to order them

The Biden administration has announced that it is providing $600 million in funding to produce new at-home COVID-19 tests and allowing Americans to order up to four free tests per household.

2 days ago

COVID tests sent over to Catherine Thompson without her asking for them....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Feds warn of evolving scam targeting Medicare users by sending unwanted COVID test kits

KSL Investigators have been hearing from Utahns that COVID-19 test kits are showing up in their mailboxes, out-of-the-blue.

5 days ago

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (KSL TV)...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Have an expired COVID-19 test? It might still be good to use, as cases rise in Utah

Doctor's offices and health departments are waiting on the approval of a new COVID-19 vaccine booster, which is on the cusp of distribution while new cases begin to rise in Utah.

12 days ago

This photo provided by Pfizer in September 2023 shows single-dose vials of the company's updated CO...

Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

US approves updated COVID vaccines to rev up protection this fall

U.S. regulators have approved updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, shots aimed at revving up protection this fall and winter.

12 days ago

Gordon Hunter Pedersen  as seen on his YouTube channel, promoting his allegedly fake product "Silve...

Mary Culbertson

Utah-based ‘fake doctor’ arrested after three-year manhunt

A man fled after he was indicted by federal court in 2020 for selling falsified vaccinations online

1 month ago

Covid shot...

Amanda Musa, CNN

Flu, RSV vaccines available ahead of fall virus season

With the fall respiratory virus season just around the corner, major US pharmacy chains have begun rolling out flu and RSV vaccine appointments.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

rodeo contestant on a saddle bronc...


Get Ready for the Days of ‘47 Rodeo!

The Days of '47 Rodeo is a series of events everyone in the family can enjoy, with world-class rodeo contestants vying for the gold medal.

Electric LED Lightbulb Change In Light At Home...

Lighting Design

How to Know When to Upgrade Your Lighting

This guide explores indicators that suggest it’s time for a lighting upgrade with tips to make an informed decision when you’re ready to buy. 

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

Utah Health panel provides update on latest COVID-19 developments