Tulane Outbreak – April 22, 2022

A new version of omicron is gaining a foothold in the U.S., CDC finds – NBC

The new strain, called BA.2.12.1, makes up about a fifth of all new Covid-19 cases, according to the agency.

When Covid Enters the House, What Should We Do? – NYT

When someone in the family tests positive for the coronavirus, there are some guidelines to follow. Though I have been writing about Covid-19 for The New York Times for the past two years, I still felt overwhelmed when my son was sent home from school sick in mid-March and tested positive. Suddenly, I was in a cluttered New York City apartment with my husband, first grader and third grader, a lot of virus particles and no clear plan.

Do I still need to wear a mask on a plane? 5 questions, answered – Washington Post
It was an announcement heard all over — and 35,000 feet above — the country on Monday: A federal judge in Florida struck down the federal transportation mask mandate. The Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce the rule, and large U.S. airlines and transportation companies announced masks were optional.

Here’s why you might still want to wear masks on public transport – NPR

Just how likely are you to pick up a case of COVID-19 on that upcoming flight, bus commute or train ride? This is what many Americans are trying to gauge after a Florida judge’s ruling halted the federal requirement to wear a mask on most forms of public transit.

Opinion: As the pandemic exploded, a researcher saw the danger. China’s leaders kept silent. – Washington Post

The morning of Dec. 26, 2019, began as usual at Vision Medicals in Guangzhou in southern China. This commercial laboratory, a private start-up barely a year and a half old, was also known by its Chinese name, Weiyuan Gene Technology. It specialized in next-generation sequencing, called mNGS, and offered applications that can identify most infectious agents — viruses, bacteria and others — in a single test.

Omicron Was More Severe for Unvaccinated Children in 5-to-11 Age Group, Study Shows – NYT

Black children who had not been immunized made up about a third of those hospitalized during the winter surge.

Nerves fray, frustration grows in Shanghai’s lockdown purgatory – Reuters

Stiffening resolve after three weeks of strict lockdown, authorities warned Shanghai’s 25 million frazzled residents on Friday that their purgatory would go on until the COVID-19 virus was eradicated neighbourhood by neighbourhood.

We’re Toying With a Ruinous End to COVID Travel Masking – MedPageToday

On Feb. 2, 2021, near the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC issued a public health order requiring masks on interstate transportation and at transit hubs, including airplanes, trains, and mass transit. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a security directive to enforce CDC’s order. Ever since, CDC has extended the mandate, with the most recent extension setting the mandate to expire on May 3. The agency was not expected to renew it after that, so long as the current BA.2 surge does not cause significant spikes in hospitalizations and deaths, as occurred in the U.K.

As original omicron disappears, these are the BA.2 subvariant’s key differences – NBC

All versions of the omicron variant seem to cause similar coldlike symptoms among vaccinated and boosted people. A runny nose is the most common.

Emerging Infectious Disease Headlines

C.D.C. Issues Alert Over Cluster of Hepatitis Cases in Children – NYT

Alabama has reported that nine children under 10 had the rare condition, and a few suffered liver failure. Similar cases were reported in North Carolina, as well as in Britain and Israel.

Why the CDC issued an alert on liver damage in children – NPR

Researchers are investigating a possible connection between children infected with hepatitis and adenoviruses and liver damage in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised physicians and public health officials Thursday to be on the lookout for pediatric patients with hepatitis from unknown causes. According to the advisory, a cluster of kids in an Alabama children’s hospital developed liver damage — liver failure in some cases – in conjunction with hepatitis and adenovirus infections.

Vaccine Headlines

Boost now? Boost later? Tricky calculation for a 4th coronavirus shot. – Washington Post

Bill and Rudi Weissinger remain covid-cautious. They’ve had three shots of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine. They wear masks at the grocery store and avoid large gatherings. When Bill recently offered a friend a fist-bump rather than a handshake, the friend said, “Oh, still?” Yes is the answer, and most of their friends in Friday Harbor, Wash. — an island community — are similarly vigilant.

Fourth Pfizer Dose Averts Most Severe COVID Outcomes in Older Adults – MedPageToday

A fourth dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine provided modest protection against infection in older adults, as well as greater protection against more severe outcomes, real-world data from Israel showed.

Covid-19 Boosters — Where from Here? – NEJM

On December 10, 2020, Pfizer presented results from a 36,000-person, two-dose, prospective, placebo-controlled trial of its Covid-19 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, BNT162b2, to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).1 The vaccine was 95% effective at preventing severe illness in all age groups, independent of coexisting conditions or racial or ethnic background. A remarkable result. Six months later, studies showed that protection against severe disease was holding up.2 The results of these epidemiologic studies were consistent with those of immunologic studies showing long-lived, high frequencies of Covid-19–specific memory B and T cells, which mediate protection against severe disease.

CDC Panel Wary of ‘Booster Fatigue’ in COVID Vaccination Planning – MedPageToday

Public health agencies need to define the purpose of COVID boosters, or risk the public falling victim to “booster fatigue,” the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) said on Wednesday.

Clinical Considerations

Cardiac Conditions of COVID Long-Haulers – MedPageToday

Standard heart care is recommended for COVID-19 survivors left with cardiomyopathy and other cardiac conditions, though more answers are needed regarding how long they need to undergo special monitoring, and which groups are at particularly high risk.

UK patient had COVID-19 for 505 days straight, study shows – AP

A U.K. patient with a severely weakened immune system had COVID-19 for almost a year and a half, scientists reported, underscoring the importance of protecting vulnerable people from the coronavirus. There’s no way to know for sure whether it was the longest-lasting COVID-19 infection because not everyone gets tested, especially on a regular basis like this case. Related – The World’s Longest Known Covid Infection Lasted 505 Days Before Death (Bloomberg)

Woman catches Covid twice within 20 days, marking a new record – CNBC

A health-care worker has reportedly tested positive for the omicron strain of the coronavirus just 20 days after having an infection caused by the delta variant, according to Spanish researchers.

Official Reporting for April 22, 2022

World Health Organization

Weekly Epi Update April 20, 2022 (latest release)

New Cases: 700,097

Confirmed Cases: 505,817,953

Deaths: 6,213,876

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 508,347,499
Deaths: 6,214,611

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 80,648,481 (+42,604 New Cases)
Total deaths: 987,601 (+375 New Deaths)

Science and Tech

An mRNA vaccine with a twist—it copies itself—protects against COVID-19 – Science

Company’s limited data release backs promise of new, lower dose vaccine designed to be easier to distribute and cheaper. A third messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine appears to have proved its worth against COVID-19. And although it is more than a year behind the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines now seen as gold standards, the new vaccine may come with significant advantages: easier storage, along with lower cost because its “self-amplifying” design allows for smaller doses.

COVID Antibody Combo Proves Its Prevention Mettle – MedPageToday

Intramuscular injections of the monoclonal antibody combination tixagevimab-cilgavimab (Evusheld) maintained, or even increased in, efficacy out to 6 months in a population at high risk of COVID-19, the PROVENT trial showed.

Study Reveals How Omicron Variants Escape Immune System to Become So Contagious – Newswise

A new study out this week from Houston Methodist explains clever ways the BA.1 and BA.2 omicron variants escape antibodies, contributing to the ability of these variants to spread rapidly and to be so successful in infecting people with the COVID-19 virus.

WHO ‘strongly recommends’ Pfizer’s Covid pill – Yahoo News

The World Health Organization said Friday it “strongly recommended” Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral pill Paxlovid for patients with milder forms of the disease who were still at a high risk of hospitalisation.

Psychological and Sociological Impact

How Loneliness Is Damaging Our Health – NYT

Even before the pandemic, there was an “epidemic of loneliness,” and it was affecting physical health and life expectancy.

The pandemic threatens their lives, even though they don’t have covid – Washington Post

Before the pandemic, the 40-year-old with a progressive neuromuscular disease followed a fastidious routine: She carefully changed the plastic circuits that carry air from the ventilator five times each month to keep them sterile. She also swapped out the silicone tracheotomy tube several times a month.

Published Research


Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories

California’s Medical ‘Misinformation’ Crusade Could Cost Lives – WSJ

Early in the pandemic, Covid patients with very low oxygen levels were put on ventilators, the standard of care for severe respiratory diseases. But some doctors noticed that severely ill patients responded better to noninvasive ventilation such as high-flow nasal tubes. They shared their findings with other physicians, and gentler oxygen support became the norm. That change in treatment has saved tens of thousands of lives.

Coping with COVID

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