Featured COVID Headlines
Every Illinois county within the NBC 5 viewing area is now at a “medium community level” of COVID-19 according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, with several potentially jumping to the “high” level as soon as next week.
As the nation’s COVID-19 resurgence reaches its highest point since mid-February, daily hospital admission levels and new COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S. are projected to continue increasing over the next four weeks, according to newly updated forecast models used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As COVID numbers tick up, hospitals are supposed to be ready to jump in as needed. Only, they never really had a reprieve.
Since the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) in 2019, the causal agent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, scientists have reported several genomic mutations. These mutations have led to the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants, classified as variants of concern (VOC) and variants of interest (VOI) by the World Health Organization. [Related Study]
Healthcare workers rely on N95 respirator masks to keep them safe while treating patients with illnesses caused by airborne viruses, such as COVID-19. New research says the combination of a fit-tested N95 mask and portable HEPA filtration system offers the best protection from viral particles. Researchers believe their study validates a layered approach when it comes to protecting healthcare workers. [Related Study]
Emerging Infectious Disease Headlines
Preventing more pandemics hinges on better understanding the billions of tiny pathogens circulating in nature.When a respiratory virus sweeps away almost 15 million lives in two years, as Covid-19 has, according to a May 5 World Health Organization estimate that includes indirect deaths, it’s a savage hit to humanity.
Eleven new cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the UK, the Health Secretary has said. Sajid Javid tweeted that he had updated G7 health ministers on what is known about the spread of the virus. There are now 20 cases recorded in the UK.
Massachusetts health officials on Wednesday confirmed a single case of monkeypox virus infection in an adult male who health officials said recently traveled to Canada.
A possible case of monkeypox is being investigated in New York City, adding to the case already reported in Massachusetts, health officials said Thursday. The city’s health department announced on Twitter that the patient is being cared for at Bellevue Hospital, located in Manhattan’s Kips Bay neighborhood. Preliminary tests for the virus are being conducted, officials said, and if positive will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.
The US identified its first case this year of monkeypox virus, adding to a growing number of confirmed and suspected infections in the UK, Portugal and Spain. The Massachusetts Health Department reported on Wednesday the case of an adult male who had recently traveled to Canada, where more than a dozen monkeypox infections have been identified. The man traveled via private transportation, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said it’s working with Massachusetts health officials on monitoring the situation.
On Thursday, Montreal public health officials announced that 17 cases of suspected monkeypox are now under investigation in the region, including 15 cases on the island of Montreal, one on the South Shore and another on the North Shore.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s investigating 180 pediatric patients with hepatitis of unknown cause. The cases, which have included five deaths, have been reported in 36 states and territories over the past seven months. The count of cases under investigation has grown since the CDC’s last update on May 5, when the agency said it was investigating 109 cases. But the agency said that most of the latest cases are “retrospective” cases — the CDC’s investigation involves reported cases that date back to October 2021, and many of them are just now being reported.
Physicians at pediatric liver centers in the United Kingdom have been meeting regularly to work out how best to care for children with a mysterious hepatitis that has afflicted at least 176 children in the United Kingdom and more than 500 worldwide.
COVID Vaccine Headlines
The final endorsement, from CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, means 5- to 11-year-olds are eligible for a booster shot at least five months after their second dose.
Up here in the Northern Hemisphere, the spring weather’s just barely warming, but regulators in the United States are already wringing their hands over a tricksy fall brew: the contents of the COVID shot that vaccine makers are prepping for autumn, when all eligible Americans may be asked to dose up yet again (if, that is, Congress coughs up the money to actually buy the vaccines). In a recent advisory meeting convened by the FDA, Peter Marks, the director of the agency’s Center of Biologics Evaluation and Research, acknowledged the “very compressed time frame” in which experts will need to finalize the inoculation’s ingredients—probably, he said, by the end of June.
Among adults who were first infected with the virus and then received a COVID-19 vaccine, one dose was linked to an initial 12.8% (95% CI -18.6 to -6.6, P<0.001) reduction in the odds of long COVID, and a second dose was linked to an initial 8.8% (95% CI -14.1 to -3.1, P=0.003) decline, reported Daniel Ayoubkhani, MSc, of the Office for National Statistics in Newport, Wales, and colleagues.
As the coronavirus morphs into a stubborn and unpredictable facet of everyday life, scientists and federal health officials are converging on a new strategy for immunizing Americans: a vaccination campaign this fall, perhaps with doses that are finely tuned to combat the version of the virus expected to be in circulation.
A recent randomized clinical trial has shown that receiving the fourth dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines approximately seven months after the third dose could safely boost the immune response. The study is ongoing and will also evaluate the immune response 84 days after the fourth dose to assess its effectiveness in the longer term. The results could help inform public policy decisions about whether the whole population or specific vulnerable groups should receive a fourth dose. [Related Study]
More than three-quarters of Americans diagnosed with long Covid were not sick enough to be hospitalized for their initial infection, a new analysis of tens of thousands of private insurance claims reported on Wednesday.
Patients with severe Covid may wind up in hospitals or on ventilators until their symptoms resolve. Damage to the body from severe Covid — pneumonia, low oxygen, inflammation — typically shows up on traditional diagnostic tests. Long Covid is different: A chronic illness with a wide variety of symptoms, many of which are not explainable using conventional lab tests. Difficulties in detecting the illness have led some doctors to dismiss patients, or to misdiagnose their symptoms as psychosomatic. But researchers looking more deeply at long Covid patients have found visible dysfunction throughout the body.
Official Reporting for May 20, 2022
World Health Organization
Weekly Epi Update May 18, 2022(latest release)
New Cases: 441,332 ↑
Confirmed Cases: 520,912,257 ↑
Deaths: 6,272,408 ↑
Confirmed Cases: 524,073,619 ↑
Deaths: 6,273,730 ↑
Total cases: 82,820,565 (+101,130 New Cases) ↑
Total deaths: 998,512 (+280 New Deaths) ↑
Science and Tech
A tool has been developed to help healthcare professionals identify hospitalised patients most at risk of dying from COVID-19 using artificial intelligence (AI). The algorithm could help doctors to direct critical care resources to those in most immediate need, which the developers of the AI tool say could be especially valuable to resource-limited countries.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
How do you count the cost of a pandemic? COVID-19 has killed an estimated 15 million people since it emerged at the end of 2019, but its impact on health reaches much further. For hundreds of millions of people around the world, infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has brought a range of problems, from the acute effects of the illness to the lasting symptoms known as long COVID.
Safety, immunogenicity, and reactogenicity of BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccines given as fourth-dose boosters following two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or BNT162b2 and a third dose of BNT162b2 (COV-BOOST): a multicentre, blinded, phase 2, randomised trial – The Lancet
Increased Stability of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant over Ancestral Strain – CDC
Fit-tested N95 masks combined with portable HEPA filtration can protect against high aerosolized viral loads over prolonged periods at close range – Journal of Infectious Diseases
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
Conspiracy theories about COVID-19 have swirled since it first appeared at the end of 2019, but social media users have taken the claims to new heights. “Corona was NEVER a virus,” read an April 12 Facebook post that was shared more than 50 times within two weeks. “(It) is Cobra venom.”
Coping with COVID
Musician Eric Clapton, a vocal skeptic of COVID-19 vaccines and lockdowns, is canceling shows because he has COVID-19. (CNN)