Featured COVID Headlines
The coronavirus mutant that is now dominant in the United States is a member of the omicron family but scientists say it spreads faster than its omicron predecessors, is adept at escaping immunity and might possibly cause more serious disease. Why? Because it combines properties of both omicron and delta, the nation’s dominant variant in the middle of last year. A genetic trait that harkens back to the pandemic’s past, known as a “delta mutation,” appears to allow the virus “to escape pre-existing immunity from vaccination and prior infection, especially if you were infected in the omicron wave,” said Dr. Wesley Long, a pathologist at Houston Methodist in Texas. That’s because the original omicron strain that swept the world didn’t have the mutation.
Two and a half years and billions of estimated infections into this pandemic, SARS-CoV-2’s visit has clearly turned into a permanent stay. Experts knew from early on that, for almost everyone, infection with this coronavirus would be inevitable. As James Hamblin memorably put it back in February 2020, “You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus.” By this point, in fact, most Americans have. But now, as wave after wave continues to pummel the globe, a grimmer reality is playing out. You’re not just likely to get the coronavirus. You’re likely to get it again and again and again.
Cases of COVID-19 are – yet again – on the rise. The U.S. is seeing an average of more than 100,000 reported new cases across the country every day. That’s nearly double the rate a month ago and four times higher than this time last year. The true number may be 800,000 cases per day.
Coronavirus cases are surging, gas prices keep hitting record highs and heat waves and storms are forecast for many parts of the United States. But millions of Americans are still expected to take to the skies and roads this Memorial Day weekend, in what is likely to be one of the busiest travel periods since the start of the pandemic.
For nearly two years, as the COVID pandemic disrupted life around the globe, other infectious diseases were in retreat. Now, as the world rapidly dismantles the measures put in place to slow spread of COVID, the viral and bacterial nuisances that were on hiatus are returning — and behaving in unexpected ways.
“You’re the personification of this,” Dr. Fauci told me Thursday, referring to rising infection rates — more than 100,000 cases per week nationally for the first time since February. “This is a highly transmissible virus. And it is very likely that if you were not vaccinated and double-boosted, then you would have had a much more severe outcome than you have right now. And you and I, I think — very unlikely, Major, we’d be speaking to each other right now.”
Emerging Infectious Disease Headlines
Although the spotlight has been on the COVID-19 pandemic during the past few years, attention has turned toward the recent outbreak of monkeypox. First observed among humans in 1970 during efforts to eradicate variola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, monkeypox outbreaks have historically been endemic to countries in Africa.1 However, recent surveillance by the World Health Organization (WHO) has put monkeypox top of mind for many clinicians, including those in the United States. Monkeypox has been confirmed among individuals in 12 countries, with most laboratory-confirmed cases observed among those in Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom (range, 21-30).2 The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued an alert about monkeypox following its occurrence among an individual in Massachusetts on May 18.3
The CDC is tracking monkeypox cases in eight states: California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
More than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, our surveillance networks are on heightened alert for what might be the next big thing. We didn’t predict Covid, and we have never correctly predicted the next infectious disease of concern. If someone had asked me what I thought might be next, I certainly would not have predicted monkeypox, even though I teach regularly about the threat of its close cousin, smallpox.
Abbott will provide the test kits to partners of its Pandemic Defense Coalition, a network of scientific and public health partnerships aimed at identifying future pandemic threats, an Abbott spokesperson told Reuters.
A small group of Massachusetts General Hospital workers — who had close contact with a patient diagnosed with the monkeypox virus — became the first people in the U.S. to receive the vaccine outside of clinical trials. Meanwhile, the nine people with confirmed cases are being sent treatments.
The U.S. CDC has been investigating the cause of an unusually high number of acute hepatitis cases in children since October 2021. As of May 27, 2022, there is no known association with travel, COVID-19, or hepatitis viruses (A to E) in these children. The CDC recently confirmed the number of Persons Under Investigation (PUI) has reached (216) in (38) states or territories.
COVID Vaccine Headlines
A large U.S. study looking at whether vaccination protects against long covid showed the shots have only a slight protective effect: Being vaccinated appeared to reduce the risk of lung and blood clot disorders, but did little to protect against most other symptoms.
The devastating neurological effects of long Covid can persist for more than a year, research published Tuesday finds — even as other symptoms abate. The study, published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, is the longest follow-up study of the neurological symptoms among long Covid patients who were never hospitalized for Covid.
Official Reporting for May 27, 2022
World Health Organization
Weekly Epi Update May 18, 2022(latest release)
New Cases: 534,877 ↑
Confirmed Cases: 525,467,084 ↑
Deaths: 6,285,171 ↑
Confirmed Cases: 528,192,446 ↑
Deaths: 6,285,586 ↑
Total cases: 83,590,446 (+109,564 New Cases) ↑
Total deaths: 1,000,984 (+305 New Deaths) ↑
Science and Tech
Psychological and Sociological Impact
33 Min Audio – To mask or not to mask continues to be a divisive question. We get into the psychology of why, featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Supply Chain Impact
A nationwide shortage of the imaging agents a procedure — the result of the recent lockdown in Shanghai to quell a Covid outbreak — has prompted hospitals to ration these tests except in emergencies.
Evolution of neurologic symptoms in non-hospitalized COVID-19 “long haulers” – Annals of Clinical Translational Neurology
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
A peer-reviewed neurosurgery journal published an article peddling false statements about the pandemic — without any evidence to support its claims, an expert said.
Coping with COVID