Featured COVID Headlines
If Americans decide too soon that it is over, it could paradoxically drag on even longer. Twenty-seven months into the covid-19 pandemic, our defenses against the coronavirus seem at once stronger and more penetrable than ever. A growing majority of the U.S. population now has some immunity to sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19, whether from vaccination, past infection, or both. However, staggeringly infectious members of the Omicron family have demonstrated an ability to evade some of those protections. Since April, they have led to a quadrupling of daily coronavirus cases; the U.S. has been reporting more than a hundred thousand a day, but, because widely used at-home tests don’t show up in official tallies, the true number could be five or even ten times higher.
Even though health care-associated rhinovirus infections incidences were reduced, they were still reported during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite amplified infection control and prevention practices according to a recent study, “Dodging the Bundle: Persistent Healthcare-Associated Rhinovirus Infection Throughout the Pandemic” in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC). The investigators reviewed medical records and applied the National Health Safety Network (NHSN) surveillance criteria for upper respiratory infections (URIs) with pre-determined incubation periods for unit attribution.
Emerging Infectious Disease Headlines
Smallpox Vaccine Enters Wider Production Amid Monkeypox Outbreak – WSJ
The sudden appearance of monkeypox in 13 countries on four continents has jolted the public health community into action. A much milder cousin of smallpox that sporadically causes small outbreaks in Africa, monkeypox is thought to spread slowly and is unlikely to be a pandemic in the making. But scientists worry about the spread among men who have sex with men (MSM), who make up a disproportionate number of the cases so far. The outbreak is a strange and unsettling return to the spotlight for poxviruses, a largely forgotten threat since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared smallpox eradicated in 1980.
While the potential of increased transmissibility is being sorted, here’s what we know for sure. Researchers are keeping a close eye on what appears to be a rapidly developing global outbreak of monkeypox virus. This isn’t like previous encounters with the virus. The widespread nature of the outbreak and evidence of frequent human-to-human transmission has researchers questioning whether the virus has changed to become more transmissible.
While more infections are likely in the U.S., health officials said Monday there is no evidence that the virus is spreading widely in the country.
The United States has stockpiled millions of doses of two smallpox vaccines, also effective against monkeypox. But the outbreaks so far are clustered in other countries.
More than 70 confirmed monkeypox cases have been identified in Europe as of Friday, with more suspected, according to researchers tracking the virus. The World Health Organization held an emergency meeting Friday to look into the spread of the virus beyond the areas of Africa, where it is typically seen.
Israel confirmed its first case of monkeypox on Saturday, joining several European and North American countries in detecting the disease endemic to parts of Africa.
About 180 children have been affected over the past seven months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. In Mexico, the first child death from hepatitis has also been reported. NBC News notes there currently is still no conclusive proof linking the mystery outbreak to adenovirus.
Health officials remain perplexed by mysterious cases of severe liver damage in hundreds of young children around the world. The best available evidence points to a fairly common stomach bug that isn’t known to cause liver problems in otherwise healthy kids. That virus was detected in the blood of stricken children but — oddly — it has not been found in their diseased livers.
Several clusters and individual cases of acute hepatitis have been reported in the US, Europe and recently in Asia and Central America since October 2021. A laboratory investigation of the common viral hepatitis agents (HAV, HBV, HCV, HDV and HEV) yielded negative results prompting the use of the term “acute non HepA-E hepatitis” to describe this condition. The cases were characterized by the manifestations of acute hepatitis (abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice and very high levels of liver enzymes) affecting children with a median age of 3–4 years. The exact underlying etiology has not been revealed yet; however, a leading hypothesis is that an infectious agent is the culprit, underlying cause or a risk factor for acute non HepA-E hepatitis occurrence. So far, laboratory testing has shown the presence of the group F human adenovirus serotype 41 (HAdV-F41) in about three-fourths of the investigated cases. As of 13 May 2022, more than 450 cases were reported worldwide, the majority of which were in the UK (n = 176), the US (n = 109), 13 European countries (at least 103 cases) and in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Palestine, Panama, Singapore and South Korea. Vigilant surveillance and epidemiologic investigations to identify further cases are warranted to delineate the features of this emergent public health issue. The possible role of environmental and toxic agents including foodborne toxins should also be considered. Specific guidelines for identification of further cases are necessary, particularly in low-income settings where testing for adenoviruses is not considered routinely. A genetic analysis of HAdV-F41 isolates is recommended to assess the potential changes in the virus genome with subsequent possible altered virus behavior. Immunopathogenesis is another possibility that should be evaluated considering the lack of viral structures in liver biopsies of the affected children in the US.
COVID Vaccine Headlines
Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, said Monday that an early analysis showed their three-dose coronavirus vaccine regimen triggered a strong immune response in younger children, proving 80 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infections in children 6 months to 4 years old.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration set June 14-15 as the new meeting date to review Moderna Inc’s emergency authorization request for its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6 months to 5 years and Pfizer Inc’s vaccine for those aged 6 months through 4 years.
Our original-recipe shots are holding up against new variants. But we may need to improve them, and soon. For the past year and a half, since the COVID-19 vaccines first became available—even as last summer’s reprieve gave way to Delta’s surge, then Omicron’s; even as the coronavirus continued to rack up mutations that lifted its speed and its stealth; even as millions of vaccinated Americans caught the pathogen and passed it on—there’s been one huge slice of solace to cling to: The shots we have are still doing an excellent job of staving off severe disease and death.
A prospective clinical study evaluating patients 28–60 days after hospitalization for COVID-19 reveals increased cardio-renal inflammation, reduced lung function and poorer self-reported clinical outcomes in patients relative to that in control participants.
Among the many confounding aspects of the coronavirus is the spectrum of possible symptoms, as well as their severity and duration. Some people develop mild illness and recover quickly, with no lasting effects. But studies estimate that 10 to 30 percent of people report persistent or new medical issues months after their initial coronavirus infections — a constellation of symptoms known as long Covid. People who experience mild or moderate illness, as well as those without any underlying medical conditions, can nonetheless experience some debilitating long-term symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, an erratic heart rate, headaches, dizziness, depression and problems with memory and concentration. Related: Despite Extensive Evaluations, Long COVID Causes Remain Unclear – Med Page Today
Vaccinated people with cancer or dementia face a higher risk of contracting breakthrough Covid-19 infections, according to a pair of new studies, leading researchers to argue high-risk patients still need extra measures to protect themselves.
Official Reporting for May 24, 2022
World Health Organization
Weekly Epi Update May 18, 2022(latest release)
New Cases: 193,525 ↑
Confirmed Cases: 520,912,257 ↑
Deaths: 6,272,408 ↑
Confirmed Cases: 526,345,136 ↑
Deaths: 6,273,730 ↑
Total cases: 83,145,591 (+102,940 New Cases) ↑
Total deaths: 999,384 (+281 New Deaths) ↑
Science and Tech
The COVID-19 pandemic poses another puzzling question that is concerning several patients who have taken Pfizer’s COVID antiviral drug, Paxlovid, and are experiencing rebounding symptoms after initially feeling better. Related story: As reports of ‘Paxlovid rebound’ increase, Covid researchers scramble for answers – STAT
In late September of 2020, captive mink on a farm in Michigan suddenly fell ill. They stopped eating, struggled to breathe and bled from the nose, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health. Two thousand animals died.
None of the first six drug regimens for COVID-19 tested in the I-SPY adaptive trial platform were successful enough to warrant further evaluation, a researcher said here. In fact, one was booted from the trial early because hospitalized patients seemed to do worse than on usual care alone, according to Carolyn Calfee, MD, MAS, of the University of California San Francisco.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
he radical social, economic, and employment changes spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many people rethinking their living arrangements. These changes substantially affected the U.S. housing market, though not always in the same way. For example, homeowners may have been reluctant to list their properties for sale and home buyers may have been reluctant to shop for homes during the pandemic out of fear of actually catching COVID-19. At the same time, housing demand increased as the pandemic forced people to spend more time at home and thus increased the demand for housing. Limited empirical research investigates these trends in detail or explores how these trends have differed over the course of the pandemic and across different geographies.
After living through the COVID-19 pandemic for two years, nearly a quarter of U.S. adults still consider the virus a “high threat” to them personally, and many are unsure about the future. According to new data from the Forbes Health-Ipsos Monthly Health Tracker, which polled 1,165 U.S. adults between April 12 and 13, roughly 24% of respondents said the virus poses some risk to them, with 15% calling it a “high threat” and 9% saying it’s a “very high threat.” Meanwhile, about a third (33%) of those surveyed said COVID-19 is a “moderate threat.” Interestingly, these responses come at a time when the pandemic seems to be losing some steam—while cases are climbing in some major cities, hospitalizations remain flat and airlines nationwide are beginning to lift their mask mandates.
Dodging the Bundle – Persistent Healthcare-Associated Rhinovirus Infection throughout the Pandemic – American Journal of Infection Control
Future threats from coronaviruses – The Lancet
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
Well, it was only a matter of time before someone started blaming the Covid-19 vaccines for the current ongoing monkeypox outbreak. After all, since early 2021, seemingly every time a new health problem has reached the news, some politicians, TV personalities, and anonymous social media accounts have tried to link the new problem back to the Covid-19 vaccines. For example, on May 1, I covered for Forbes how some folks were trying to connect the hepatitis outbreak among children to Covid-19 vaccination. They were doing this despite the minor detail that many of these children didn’t even receive Covid-19 vaccines.
Coping with COVID