GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A traditional COVID-19 test is still a swab up the nose.
But it's standard practice for positive COVID-19 tests to regularly be sent to state labs for variant detection.
There, COVID-19 is broken down to its bare bones, so the state labs can see exactly how the virus has changed. The process is too extensive for it to be done for every test.
“Every lab and every hospital system sends tests to the state, to get sequenced regularly, to see what we have in our community,” Mercy Health Infectious Disease Division Chief Dr. Andrew Jameson said.
Summer 2021 COVID-19 looks different than it did just a year ago.
“Over 90 percent of every virus they tested was delta. In Michigan, it is no longer any other variant,” Dr. Jameson said.
The delta variant gets people sick faster.
“The average time for spreading delta is not six days anymore. It’s 3.7 days,” Dr. Jameson said.
Vaccines are proven to be effective against hospitalizations and death. According to Mercy Health's top infectious disease doctor, a minimal amount of recent breakthrough COVID-19 cases resulted in a head cold and loss of taste and smell, but no other severe symptoms. The loss of taste and smell tipped off the vaccinated folks to get tested, after attending a recent wedding where COVID's delta variant spread rapidly.
“Otherwise they weren’t going to be tested,” Dr. Jameson said.
Those breakthrough cases come back positive for delta. Breakthrough cases are traditionally tested at the state lab because they are abnormal.
Now is a good time to get vaccinated.
“I don’t get frustrated or mad anymore. But it’s frustrating when you see young people, or old people, that wish they would have done it because they’re sick as heck,” Dr. Jameson said.