Tulane Outbreak – May 17, 2022

Featured COVID Headlines

How big is the latest U.S. coronavirus wave? No one really knows. – Washington Post

Eileen Wassermann struggles to calculate her daily risks at this stage of the coronavirus pandemic — with infections drastically undercounted and mask mandates gone.

NYC Nears High Covid-Alert Level, May Consider Requiring Masks – Bloomberg

New York City is preparing to hit a high Covid-transmission level in the coming days that would have it reconsidering mask requirements in public places. “If NYC’s Alert Level is raised to High, the City will consider requiring face masks in all public indoor settings,” according to guidance on the city health department’s website.

How fast omicron’s BA.2 variant is spreading around the world – Washington Post

BA.2 has overtaken the original omicron version of the coronavirus that quickly dominated the world this winter.The impact of the BA.2 subvariant is unclear. An uptick in coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe is attributed to the new version of the virus. Some experts say a new wave could hit the United States amid relaxed safety protocols in the same way that delta hit last summer when many thought the coronavirus was finished.

Houston Chronicle: Dr. Peter Hotez Warns Of Nation’s Hidden COVID Wave That’s ‘Almost Like Omicron’ – Houston Chronicle

“This is a full-on wave almost like omicron,” Dr. Peter Hotez tweeted over the weekend, referring to the variant that sickened more than 800,000 people in a single day at its peak. The Houston vaccine expert issued a flurry of tweets that touched on the “unbelievably transmissible” omicron subvariants known as BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1, which are hitting the northeastern states the hardest. He also drew attention to the rising number of hospitalizations, which increased by about 15 percent last week compared to the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The federal government is offering another round of free COVID tests – NPR

Americans can once again order free COVID-19 tests from the federal government by visiting COVIDtests.gov. In this round, the U.S. Postal Service will deliver eight free rapid antigen tests to any household in the U.S. that wants them, according to the website. That brings to sixteen the total tests offered per household so far.

US Set to Extend Covid-19 Public Health Emergency Past July – Bloomberg

The US government will extend the Covid-19 public-health emergency past mid-July, continuing pandemic-era policies as the nearly 2 1/2-year outbreak drags on.

Why the fight against COVID appears to have stalled in the U.S. – PBS Newshour

The CDC on Monday formally confirmed today that COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have surpassed 1 million. That’s roughly the American death toll in the Civil War and World War II combined. It’s the highest reported death toll of any country, and comes as cases are again on the rise. Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, joins William Brangham to discuss.

How Often Can You Be Infected With the Coronavirus? New York Times

The spread of the Omicron variant has given scientists an unsettling answer: repeatedly, sometimes within months.A virus that shows no signs of disappearing, variants that are adept at dodging the body’s defenses, and waves of infections two, maybe three times a year — this may be the future of Covid-19, some scientists now fear.

A ‘malignant fever’—COVID-19—surges in North Korea – Science

Over the weekend, when Kee Park saw the latest figures on what North Korea calls a “malignant fever” sweeping the country, he realized how dark the outlook had become. New cases of the illness—almost certainly COVID-19, caused by the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2—appear to be doubling every 2 days in the last significant population in the world, some 25 million people, that has no immunity to the disease from vaccination or infection.

North Korea mobilises army, steps up tracing amid COVID wave – Reuters

North Korea has mobilised its military to distribute COVID medications and deployed more than 10,000 health workers to help trace potential patients as it fights a sweeping coronavirus wave, state media outlet KCNA said on Tuesday.

Wuhan’s First Covid-19 Patients Still Suffering After Two Years – Bloomberg

Two years after being hospitalized with Covid-19, more than half of patients still experience symptoms like fatigue and sleep disruption, according to a study in the original epicenter of Wuhan that underscores the pandemic’s lasting burden.

Emerging Infectious Disease Headlines

Four more cases detected in England – BBC

The new cases – three in London and one in north-east England – do not have any known links with two other cases confirmed on 14 May or another case announced on 7 May. The UKHSA says investigations are under way to establish links between the latest four cases, who all appear to have been infected in London.

Coronavirus may be linked to cases of severe hepatitis in children – Reuters

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. SARS-CoV-2 could be at root of mysterious hepatitis in kids A chain of events possibly triggered by unrecognized infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could be causing the mysterious cases of severe hepatitis reported in hundreds of young children around the world, researchers suggest.

Inside the global hunt for a culprit in mysterious hepatitis cases – Washington Post

The young child had been vomiting for days and was now at a Birmingham, Ala., hospital with yellowing eyes and a severely inflamed liver. Elizabeth Gutierrez, a pediatric gastroenterologist, ran blood tests that immediately ruled out all the common causes of viral hepatitis. She remembered thinking how rare it was to see acute hepatitis with an unknown cause in an otherwise healthy child.

COVID Vaccine Headlines

‘A pretty big deal’: U.S. makes COVID-19 technologies available for use in developing countries – Science

The government cut a deal to provide the federally funded inventions with the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO then turns over the licenses to a nonprofit, the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), which negotiates with manufacturers interested in using the technologies to make products that can be sold worldwide. “It’s a pretty big deal,” says James Love, who directs Knowledge Ecology International, a nonprofit that advocates for sharing intellectual property to benefit the public.

FDA expected to okay Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster for kids 5 to 11 – Washington Post

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 as soon as Tuesday, making an extra dose available to protect school-age children as a descendant of the omicron variant is becoming dominant and cases tick upward.

Omicron Is Turning Out to Be a Weak Vaccine – Bloomberg

Unvaccinated people who got Covid last winter have little protection from reinfection, and even vaccinated people might be vulnerable after only a few months. A silver lining to the inconvenience of a mild Covid-19 infection is that for most people it is followed by a honeymoon period — an idyllic time when the immune system is firing on all cylinders and preventing reinfection.

Untapped Global Vaccine Stash Raises Risks of New Covid Variants – Bloomberg

The world finds itself awash in Covid-19 vaccines, but governments can’t get them into arms fast enough, as hesitancy and logistical hurdles threaten to indefinitely extend the pandemic.

Europe delays Pfizer, BioNTech COVID vaccine deliveries as it gears up for fall booster push – Fierce Pharma

As the EU gears up for a COVID-19 booster campaign this fall, the bloc has delayed vaccine deliveries from Pfizer and BioNTech. The change creates time for officials to secure potential variant-adapted shots that could score authorization in the months to come.

Covid Hospital Count Makes Vaccines Seem Less Effective, Researchers Say – Bloomberg

Numbers skew when patients test positive but are mainly being treated for something else. Widely used methods for counting US Covid-19 hospitalizations can make vaccines appear less effective than they actually are, according to a group of Boston-based researchers.

Clinical Considerations

.Scientists identify characteristics to better define long COVID – NIH

A research team supported by the National Institutes of Health has identified characteristics of people with long COVID and those likely to have it. Scientists, using machine learning techniques, analyzed an unprecedented collection of electronic health records (EHRs) available for COVID-19 research to better identify who has long COVID. Exploring de-identified EHR data in the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C), a national, centralized public database led by NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), the team used the data to find more than 100,000 likely long COVID cases as of October 2021 (as of May 2022, the count is more than 200,000). The findings appear in The Lancet Digital Health.

Study: Readmission rate for COVID-19 is 11% – CIDRAP

Eleven percent of Canadian patients who were discharged after hospitalization for COVID-19 were readmitted to the hospital or died within 30 days of discharge, according to a study today in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).


Official Reporting for May 17, 2022

World Health Organization

Weekly Epi Update May 11, 2022(latest release)

New Cases: 290,108

Confirmed Cases: 519,105,112

Deaths: 6,266,324

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 522,165,282
Deaths: 6,267,509

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 82,376,975 (+90,337 New Cases)
Total deaths: 997,215 (+263 New Deaths)

Science and Tech

Scientists Use Machine Learning Models to Help Identify Long COVID Patients – UNC

A study published in The Lancet Digital Health led by UNC School of Medicine’s Emily R. Pfaff, PhD, shows how the National COVID Cohort Collaborative used XGBoost machine learning models to better define long COVID and identify potential long-COVID patients with a high degree of accuracy.

Is It Covid or Flu? New At-Home Test Spots Multiple Viruses – Bloomberg

An at-home Covid-19 test that can also detect other common respiratory viruses like the flu was authorized for emergency use Monday by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Psychological and Sociological Impact

Pressure to conform to social norms may explain risky COVID-19 decisions – Science News

The pandemic has entered a murky stage, and social norms are quickly shifting, something I’ve thought a lot about lately. Many people are testing at home, or not at all. Here in Vermont, where I live, you can pick up a type of PCR test that can be taken at home. But state officials both here and elsewhere are no longer carefully monitoring the results of these tests, which means that the actual spread of coronavirus in the U.S. population remains unclear

Published Research

Identifying who has long COVID in the USA: a machine learning approach using N3C data – The Lancet

Vaccination plus previous infection: protection during the omicron wave in Brazil – The Lancet

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories

FDA rejects antidepressant seen as possible Covid-19 treatment – STAT

The Food and Drug Administration declined Monday to authorize a 30-year-old generic antidepressant as a treatment for Covid-19, dealing a major blow to a small group of doctors who have organized around the pill for months, arguing that it could provide a cheap and accessible way to prevent hospitalizations and death both in the U.S. and around the world.

Coping with COVID

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