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July 22, 2022 7 mins

President Biden has tested positive for Covid-19 despite being vaccinated and double boosted and is experiencing mild symptoms.  The current wave of infections we are seeing are mostly the BA.5 Omicron subvariant and it could be what the Covid normal looks like.  Katherine Wu, staff writer at The Atlantic, joins us for how the endless churn of variants will keep infecting people even if you’re vaccinated or had prior infection.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
It's Friday July. I'm Oscar Ramires from the Daily Dive
podcast in Los Angeles, and this is Reopening America. President
Biden has tested positive for COVID nineteen despite being vaccinated
and double boosted, and he's experiencing mild symptoms. The current
wave of infections we're seeing are mostly due to the
B A five O macron subvariant, and it could be

what the COVID normal looks like. Katherine Wu, staff writer
at The Atlantic, joins us for how the endless turn
of variants will keep infecting people even if you're vaccinated
or had prior infection. Thanks for joining, Scatherine, Thank you
for having me. Well, let's talk about what's going on
with the latest b A five O macron subvariant wave

that we're going through. Unfortunately, it's kind of seems like
this is what that COVID normal is going to be,
looking like, we're gonna have all these different variants churning
out and people are gonna keep getting infected. And thankfully
it seems like it's not as bad lately. Some of
the hospitalizations and death numbers that ticking up at least
on the hospitalizations, but that's just because so many more

people are getting infected, but we're looking to see what
the future of this looks like. And we know that
we're going to be dealing with COVID for a long time.
For it seems like this never ending thing that we're
going through. But as more people keep getting affected, we're
gonna keep seeing more and more variants, right, And I
think that is the grimness of it, not knowing when
exactly this sort of variant turn is going to end,

you know, sort of reflecting back on the past really
eight months or so ever since the first version of
omicron came around, which we now refer to as be
A one, it really has been this NonStop sling shotting
a variant after variant in this whole family be A one,
B A to be A two dot twelve dot ONEB

A four, B A five, and there may be something
else on the way. You know, the speed at which
these variants are sort of taking over, it's so fast
that you sort of look at the case curve, which
you know is this massive undercount all of these waves
that might have been separate a couple of years ago
or just bloreing into this continuous flatness, and you know
this is our foreseeable future. You're absolutely right. You know,

hospitalization rates are down, death rates are down, and there's
no denying that is better than we were before. I
wouldn't call this good, I wouldn't call this sustainable, and
I'd be pretty worried if this is what we're going
to be seeing for years on end. Who knows. Yeah,
I mean it's it's a numbers game, right with the
hospitalization specifically. I mean, more people are just getting infected,

so there's gonna end up being more serious illnesses here
and there. But you know, when we're looking at this
too and how things are are evolving and mutating with
the virus, I mean, it's primed to keep evolving to
evade immunity, and this is the problem that we're having.
That's where we're seeing so many reinfections right now, people
getting infected for the first time. It's catching up to everyone,
you know, it seems like, and and it totally at

least on my end too, it's just catching up to everyone.
And that's kind of the thing. And as you mentioned,
this is what it seems like we're going to be
in for the next term. And I think that's really
important to keep in mind. You know, there's just kind
of vicious cycle when it comes to viruses and evolution.
You know, infections get more variants, and then of course
if variants are sort of doing their job right, they're
going to get more infections because the most successful in

next variant is the one that can reinfect people that
might have been infected before. It just goes on and
on and on, and you know, again acknowledging that it
is important to be thankful that hospitalization and disease rates
are down, it's a reason that we still need to
care about every infection that happens, because that's all it takes.
If a virus gets inside someone and copies itself, it

has the opportunity to turn into something that could escape
our defenses again, and of course there's long COVID. Every
sickness can really you know, take them out of work
for school. This is not a good place to be
because transmission is this kind of unmitigated disaster. At this point,
we are going to keep seeing variants and there is
really no sign of the virus hitting a ceiling anytime

soon in terms of just how much it can change.
And you know, circumvent were lobbing its way again. Yeah,
and that's the big frustration point, right, As we have
these vaccines right now that do help with severe illness
and hospitalizations and death, that really does help on that front.
You know, we've we've found out already it doesn't really
help that much with transmission. People are continuing to get
infected and that's a big frustration, right. People want to

go back to normal, but you know, this thing just
keeps spreading at such a fast pace. And we're going
to see a new set of COVID vaccines come on
board for the fall. People are looking maybe in the
October range that and these will be more O Macron focused.
But again back to the whole point of how fast
these things are evolving. Who knows if the O Macron
subvariant is going to be the main one at the time.

We could have moved on by then, right, And I
think that is absolutely a concern, though I don't think
that's totally invalidate the update probability wise, that updated vaccine
will probably still bring us closer to where the virus
is evolutionarily than we are now. It's still the scheme
of catch up. So even if we're no longer in
b a five universe. Maybe it'll be basic by then,

and it will hopefully still be closer than we were
with this variant that started the pandemics back into that
nine team, which is what we're kind of relying on now.
But you know, to to speak to your point earlier,
it's true, you know, and I will say that vaccination
still does lower a person's risk of getting infected and
does lower the risk of transmissions. But you're absolutely right.
It is absolutely not obliterating it, and the rates at

which those outcomes are decreasing is not massive. Vaccination is
not enough on its own to keep all of this
in check, which means we have to keep turning to
those other measures that people seem so reluctant about. Absolutely
things like ventilation would help, but that's not why it
spread enough. We do need masking, We do need people
to be conscious of where they are, who they're gathering with,

how tightly they're gathering, and we do need people that
keep testing and reporting those roots. But very little of
any of that is happening anymore. Yeah, and you know,
we've talked about it for a long time, right, that
COVID fatigue. People are just over it. So yeah, people
are testing at home, they're getting sick, they're staying home,
but they're not reporting it, so we miss stating, you know,
official numbers. And you know, to the point that you
made about masking and other stuff, just anecdotally, I'm starting

to see more people do it. One of my coworkers
who have a little setup of masks at work, he
came by and sit down. I'm just grabbing a mask
just to be safe today. You know. So even some
of that those behavioral changes that we're forced to do
early on people, you know, they went by the wayside
because people didn't want to do them so much anymore.
But I'm starting to see a little uptick in people
going back to that. So hopefully, you know, kind of

people get the message with it, and you know, we
the transmission thing is the thing we really need to
gain a handle on. But unfortunately, as more people get infected,
these mutations are going to be happening. This could be
that new normal for a while, unfortunately. Captain Wu, staff
writer at The Atlantic, Thank you very much for joining us.
Thank you so much for having me. I'm oscar room

mirrors and this has been reopening America. Don't forget that
for today's big news stories. You can check me out
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