Featured COVID Headlines
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said on Wednesday that the pandemic was not yet over, after telling the “PBS NewsHour” on Tuesday that the United States was “out of the pandemic phase.” – Related: Dr. Fauci on why the U.S. is ‘out of the pandemic phase’ (PBS Newshour Video)
How many people have died? We can begin to model the problem by using the highest mortality estimates of the two previous major pandemics—138 deaths per 100,000 people in 1957–1958 and 111 per 100,000 in 1968–1969. A similarly virulent two-year event, adjusted for today’s population of 7.9 billion, would then be expected to kill 8.8–10 million people. On 11 March 2022, the WHO’s officially logged COVID death toll was about 6 million. Every epidemiologist knows that this must be a significant underestimate.
Shortly after he served on a jury in March, Gregg Crumley developed a sore throat and congestion. The retired molecular biologist took a rapid test on a Saturday and saw a dark, thick line materialize — “wildly positive” for the coronavirus.
The pandemic’s toll is no longer falling almost exclusively on those who chose not to get shots, with vaccine protection waning over time and the elderly and immunocompromised — who are at greatest risk of succumbing to covid-19, even if vaccinated — having a harder time dodging increasingly contagious strains.
As the United States transitions out of a pandemic footing and into a new normal, it is also undergoing a shift in which Covid-19 metrics most accurately tell the story of the pandemic. The old standbys — case numbers, namely — aren’t as reliable anymore. So what’s going to replace them?
Having Covid can be a wildly confusing experience. But you can still make a plan to get through the course of illness. The highly contagious subvariant of Omicron, known as BA.2, has prompted concern among health officials as it becomes the dominant version of the coronavirus around the world. So far, signs suggest that BA.2 is 30 to 80 percent more transmissible than the original version of Omicron, and cases are already going up in several states across the United States.
A new Omicron subvariant is rapidly gaining steam in New York and other parts of the Northeast. Experts are urging caution in the face of BA.2.12.1, and say a number of factors are contributing to its rise. But they’re also warning against panic.
The European Commission said that between 60% and 80% of the EU population was estimated to have been infected with COVID-19, as the bloc enters a post-emergency phase in which mass reporting of cases was no longer necessary.
Coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County rose by 40% over the past week and hospitalizations have started to creep up as well, underscoring how important it is for people to be up-to-date on their vaccines and boosters, as well as wear masks in indoor public settings, officials said.
Researchers say the COVID-19 death rate is higher in the southern U.S. than other parts of the country
Emerging Infectious Disease Headlines
A person has tested positive for avian influenza A(H5) virus (H5 bird flu) in the U.S., as reported by Colorado and confirmed by CDC. This case occurred in a person who had direct exposure to poultry and was involved in the culling (depopulating) of poultry with presumptive H5N1 bird flu. The patient reported fatigue for a few days as their only symptom and has since recovered. The patient is being isolated and treated with the influenza antiviral drug oseltamivir. While it is possible the detection of H5 bird flu in this specimen is a result of surface contamination of the nasal membrane, that can’t be determined at this point and the positive test result meets the criteria for an H5 case. The appropriate public health response at this time is to assume this is an infection and take actions to contain and treat.
The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the country after a case was confirmed from Mbandaka, Equateur province. The onset of symptoms was on 5 April. The case subsequently died on 21 April, and a safe and dignified burial was performed. The second case, a family member, was confirmed on 25 April. As of 27 April, 267 contacts have been identified; other measures, including contact tracing, further investigations, decontamination of households and health facilities, are ongoing.
Eleven countries, including the U.S., have reported a total of 169 cases of severe acute hepatitis in healthy children aged 1 month to 16 years old, with the largest outbreak in the U.K. At least 17 children have required liver transplants and one patient has died, according to the WHO. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe the outbreak might be linked to adenovirus, though investigations are continuing.
In the past, adenoviruses have been rarely associated with hepatitis in children with weak immune systems but not in healthy ones.
Measles cases have surged nearly 80% worldwide this year amid disruption caused by Covid-19, the UN has said, warning that the rise of the “canary in a coalmine” illness indicated that outbreaks of other diseases were likely to be on the way.
Moderna announced Thursday that the company has asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a low-dose version of its COVID-19 vaccine as the first vaccine for children younger than age 5. In a study involving about 6,700 children, the company said two-doses of the vaccine administered 28 days apart to children ages 6 months to less than 6 years triggered levels of antibodies equivalent to what has protected older children and adults.
When physician Melanie Swift got her first COVID shot in January 2021, she felt as though the vaccines marked a turning point. “If we just get ’em in enough arms, we can beat this thing and not spread it,” says Swift, who co-chairs the COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group at the Mayo Clinic.
New data analysis from the Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program (MVP) has uncovered genetic links between COVID-19 severity and certain medical conditions it can cause, including venous embolism and thrombosis, type 2 diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and neutropenia. Identifying these shared variants could improve understanding of COVID-19 and point to new paths for treatment.
Official Reporting for April 29, 2022
World Health Organization
Weekly Epi Update April 27, 2022(latest release)
New Cases: 607,159
Confirmed Cases: 510,270,667
Confirmed Cases: 512,813,385
Total cases: 81,094,164 (+54,696 New Cases)
Total deaths: 990,527 (+311 New Deaths)
Science and Tech
U.S. government researchers are planning studies of how often and why coronavirus levels rebound in some Covid patients who have completed a five-day course of treatment with Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid. “It is a priority,” said Clifford Lane, deputy director for clinical research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, calling the issue “a pretty urgent thing for us to get a handle on.” The agency is discussing a variety of possible epidemiological and clinical studies to examine post-Paxlovid rebound with scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said.
Animal migrations due to rising global temperatures will likely lead to thousands of new viral transmissions across species in the next 50 years, many of which pose a risk to human health, according to a modeling study.
Testing deer for SARS-CoV-2 is a little different from testing humans. The cotton swabs travel just a bit farther into the animals’ cavernous nasal passages, for example. “We’ll run out of swab before we, you know, hit anything,” says Andrew Bowman, a veterinary epidemiologist at Ohio State University in Columbus.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
Before there were mask requirements or recommendations or candle tests or homemade mask drives, in the very early days of the pandemic, the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams published what would become a notorious tweet: “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”
Ginger.io was an original CNBC Disruptor 50 company, and growing out of an MIT Media Lab team, an early aggregator of digital health data and predictive analytics, and proponent of digital health care delivery. While its seed funding occurred back in 2011, it became a unicorn in 2021, and in the same year merged with Headspace Health to create a $3 billion digital mental health company as the scale of the global mental health crisis grew throughout Covid.
Digital health and telehealth have high potential, and the space has seen a wave of consolidation to grow scale, but the sector has come crashing back down to earth this year, with some of the most prominent public companies, including Teladoc, Hims & Hers Health, and Amwell, seeing massive stock declines.
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
Three active duty service members appeared in a segment aired Thursday on a podcast hosted by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, accusing the Defense Department of using the COVID-19 vaccine mandate to “intentionally purge” religious service members.
Coping with COVID