COVID-19 News in 2022
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 Latest Covid-19 News in June — Updated
        6/24/2022:

          
Covid Cases on the Rise Again
 — New
          
Covid Vaccines Saved 20M Lives in 1st Year
 — New
          
Covid Helped Boost American's Medical Debt
 — New
        6/17/2022:

          
Nothing new reported this week. Stay well.
        6/10/2022:

          
Moderna Announced a Booster That May Last a Year — New
           A 4th Covid Vaccine from Novavax
Coming — New
           Florida's Reported Covid Cases Grossly Underreported
 — New
           Results of At-home Covid Tests Go Unreported
 — New
        6/3/2022:

          
Boosted Americans Getting More Covid Infections
           We're Likely to Get Covid Again & Again

          
Elderly Bore the Brunt of Omicron Deaths

Latest Covid-19 News in May
        5/27/2022:

          
Should I Cancel Booster Shot If I Tested Positive?
           Real World Experience Not Matching Paxlovid
Hype
           Vaccination Protects Against Clots, But Not Long Covid

        5/20/2022:

           What Air Travelers Can Do to Protect Themselves
           Sanitize Frequently Touched Surfaces
           F
ree At-Home Test Kits Available Again
        5/13/2022:

           U.S. Has Passed 1 Million Covid Deaths Milestone
           Concerns Over Increasing Cases of Long Covid

           What To Do If You Have Long Covid?

        5/6/2022:

          
One Million Americans Have Died Because of Covid
          
Two New Strains of Covid Are Here
           Bivalent Covid Vaccines Being Developed


Latest COVID-19 News in June

Friday, June 24th

  • Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise again (more than 100,000 reported new cases across the country each day, nearly double the rate a month ago and 4 times higher than this time last year), but COVID-19 deaths from those infections are about a third lower than a year ago. The virus, for now, is causing milder symptoms, and that may have a lot to do with our rising immunity level caused by both vaccinations and previous infections, and the real number is likely much higher than that because many people now rely on at-home tests. At the start of the pandemic, cases went undetected because tests were unreliable and supply was limited (1 in 10 or 12 actually being captured), which aren't reported to health departments. "For people to have that information at their fingertips to be able to get the results that they need so that they can act on them immediately — that's totally worth it, but it comes at the expense of the data."  But even if case counts are much higher than they appear, this summer may not see a health care crisis like previous surges. Beyond vaccination, if the virus is spreading a lot in your community right now, anyone who's high-risk because of age or underlying conditions — or lives with someone who is — would be smart to dial up on personal COVID-19 precautions: being selective about time in public spaces indoors and wearing a high-quality, well-fitting mask when you do.
     
  • New research published Thursday found that nearly 20 million lives were saved by COVID-19 vaccines during their first year, but even more deaths could have been prevented if international targets for the shots had been reached. Researchers used data from 185 countries to estimate that vaccines prevented 4.2 million COVID-19 deaths in India, 1.9 million in the United States, 1 million in Brazil, 631,000 in France and 507,000 in the United Kingdom. The main finding — 19.8 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented — was based on estimates of how many more deaths than usual occurred during the time period. Using only reported COVID-19 deaths, the same model yielded 14.4 million deaths averted by vaccines. Oliver Watson of Imperial College London led the new modeling study. The findings "quantify just how much worse the pandemic could have been if we did not have these vaccines." An additional 600,000 deaths would have been prevented if the World Health Organization target of 40% vaccination coverage by the end of 2021 had been met. Another modeling group used a different approach to estimate that 16.3 million COVID-19 deaths were averted by vaccines. That work, by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, has not been published. "We may disagree on the number as scientists, but we all agree that COVID vaccines saved lots of lives," he institute’s Ali Mokdad said.
     
  • A recent survey conducted by Affordable Health Insurance found that more than half of Americans adults owe medical debt, whether they had insurance or not. The survey of 1,250 U.S. adults found that 56% owe health-related debt and almost 1 in 6 people with medical bills aren't currently paying it off. A large chunk of the debt came from Covid-19 treatment and testing. And nearly 1 in 4 owe more than $10,000 in medical bills. One striking finding from the survey is that having insurance made little difference. In fact, 61% of respondents who have employer-provided insurance, largely due to a confusing and patchy coverage system that includes co-pays, deductibles and out-of-network coinsurance, often leading to denials of claims. A problem more pervasive than previously reported is because much of that debt that patients accrue is hidden as credit card balances, loans from family, or payment plans to hospitals and other medical providers, and is blocking patients from hospital, doctor, or other provider care because of unpaid bills. Hospitals recorded their most profitable year on record in 2019, notching an aggregate profit margin of 7.6%, according to the federal Medicare Payment Advisory Committee, with many hospitals thriving even through the pandemic. As of last year, 58% of debts recorded in collections were for a medical bill. Even Medicare coverage can leave patients on the hook for thousands of dollars in charges for drugs and treatment, studies show.


Friday, June 17th

  • I wasn't able to scan articles for new Covid news this week... too tired. I was dealing with Covid. We had symptoms of a bad cold. Our free home tests were positive, so we got the PCR test (the long test) at the drug store, and the home test was accurate. Yes, we were vaxed and boosted (we hadn't gotten the second booster yet), but we didn't have to go to the hospital and didn't end up in the morgue, and that's a good thing.


Friday, June 10th

  • On Wednesday, Moderna announced a booster to protect against the omicron variant that may last a full year instead of the four month's protection expected of current booster shots. They say that it should be ready by late summer. Early trial results raise hopes that for the first time, the potential of a once-a-year booster. It raised antibody levels eightfold in the first four weeks. About a quarter of those who took part in the trial had previously been infected with Covid, and in these, antibody levels rose even further. If the booster does provide year-long protection against Covid, it could pave the way for dealing with the virus like the flu, where strains are tracked continuously to identify which should go into the coming year’s seasonal shot.
     
  • A fourth Covid vaccine may become available. A panel of independent vaccine experts recommended Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration authorize a coronavirus vaccine developed by the Maryland biotechnology company Novavax. It does not use mRNA technology and is protein-based, similar to flu and shingles shots. When it is finally approved by the FDA and CDC, it would join the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as alternatives. Having a protein-based alternative may be more comfortable for people who can’t or won’t take the mRNA vaccines. The ultimate use is probably as a booster for use with adolescents and children. It is already authorized in dozens of countries, including Japan and Britain. The reason for the lag behind other manufacturers is that the FDA has "a very high standard," which is why it sometimes is referred to as a gold standard.
     
  • A new state auditor’s report shows that even though Florida reported some of the highest COVID-19 cases in the country, even that figure was an undercount of the real virus outbreak. The audit spotted millions of cases where state data did not report demographic data of COVID-19 tests that might have helped spot trends of who was being infected and where they lived. NFL training camps in Florida also did not report the data they were supposed to. As of yesterday, most of Florida is still in the "high" risk category on this week’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map.
     
  • Interpreting Covid data has become much more complex than in previous waves of the virus, when more cases usually led to more hospitalizations and deaths. The shift to more widespread home testing means that many Covid cases are no longer being logged by health officials. Only a few state health departments, like Colorado and Washington, collect data from home tests. The result is that official case counts are becoming an increasingly unreliable measure of the virus’s true toll. Home testing leads to marked underestimates of case numbers since they are not reporting their results. Even if your home test is negative, it is imperative that you test again 24-to-36 hours later. Those who test positive with their rapid home test are advised to have it verified with the PCR test done in a lab.


Friday, June 3rd

  • Wondering why boosted Americans seem to be getting more COVID-19 infections? John Hopkins reported Covid cases 6x higher than last year. Last Sunday on Face the Nation, CBS interviewed John Moore, a professor of microbiology & immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, asking why this is happening? Vaccines are still protecting against severe disease and death, and doing that very well. But with the latest wave of the more transmissible omicron variant, it is able to break through antibody protection. The number of mild symptoms treated at home have doubled. After vaccination and boosting, people feel like they are more protected than they actually are, so they increase their risks. They return to their pre-pandemic activities, stop wearing masks in crowded environments, exposing themselves and become infected. We all do it, but a lot more virus is circulating now than a year ago and protection wanes over time. Besides getting vaccinated and boosted, common sense and awareness of the risks to our health is the single greatest defense we've got. If flying somewhere, wear a mask even though it's not required. It just makes sense. Ignore your risks and you will get infected, and may get infected over and over again.
     
  • Clinical infectious diseases epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim, who studies reinfections, tells The Atlantic’s Katherine J. Wu that some people have gotten infected with each new Covid wave. This virus seems capable of tangling into just about every tissue in the body, affecting organs like the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and gut; has already claimed the lives of millions, while saddling countless others with symptoms that can linger for months or years. For now, every infection and subsequent reinfection, remains a toss of the dice. Vaccination and infection-induced immunity may load the dice against landing on severe disease, but that danger will never go away, and scientists don’t yet know what happens to people who contract "mild" Covid over and over again. No two people’s experience of reinfection will be the same and repeated reinfections could be an especially dangerous to the immunocompromised. Every time the body’s defenses are engaged, it takes a lot of energy and causes tissue damage, and those who caught the virus more than once may become long-haulers. Few can expect to avoid the virus altogether, but we should limit our exposures by getting vaccinated, masking, ventilation, etc.
     
  • Older people bore the brunt of Covid deaths during the omicron wave. Newly updated federal data shows that despite widespread vaccination among seniors, virus death rates among older Americans surged to near-record levels during the first omicron wave. The reason for the renewed surge may be due to factors like waning immunity, relatively low booster uptake compared to primary vaccination series, and general vulnerability to the virus among the group. In addition, the sheer scale of the spread of the virus during the omicron wave was significantly higher compared to prior waves of the virus.


Latest COVID-19 News in May

Friday, May 27th

  • Scheduled to get your second booster shot, but just tested positive for Covid? So many thought they had a cold but got tested to make sure it wasn't Covid, but it was. Should you cancel your booster appointment? The CDC recommends waiting at least until your isolation period ends to schedule a coronavirus vaccine after contracting the virus. Isolation lasts at least five days after symptoms start and continues until you have been fever-free for 24 hours and all your other symptoms are improving. Some people who are eligible for a second booster (especially those who have fewer risk factors for severe Covid) may consider waiting up to 3 months after contracting the virus before getting another shot because natural infection offers some temporary protection. That immunity fades rapidly after a few months. Even if you are eligible for a 2nd booster, you may consider waiting if you had Covid within the past 3 months.
     
  • Back in November, the antiviral treatment of Paxlovid for Covid was lauded as a monster breakthrough, miraculous, the biggest advance in the pandemic since the vaccines. As use of the treatment spread, patients complained of a bitter, metallic taste or one like grapefruit juice mixed with soap while they were on the drug. More concerning, some reported experiencing a second round of symptoms and going back to testing positive when the pills were done, a phenomenon known as "Paxlovid rebound." Meanwhile, Pfizer has never published any final data on the use of the drug by vaccinated patients, so medical professionals have little information about how the drug works for those who have received their shots (most of the adult population in the U.S.). And because people who just recovered from Covid might reasonably believe they’re in the clear and mingle freely with others, surprise cases of Paxlovid rebound could end up causing more transmission. The federal government is not tracking Paxlovid rebound publicly and the CDC released an advisory on Tuesday saying the agency doesn’t know whether a recurrence of symptoms can be connected to the drug. Anyone who rebounds should isolate for another five days. In short, Pfizer’s clinical-trial results may not be matching up with physicians’ and patients’ real-world experience.
     
  • A large U.S. study, published Wednesday in Nature Medicine, looked at whether vaccination protects against long Covid. It is part of a series of studies by the Department of Veterans Affairs on the impact of the coronavirus, based on 33,940 people who experienced breakthrough infections after vaccination. Six months after their initial diagnosis of Covid, vaccinated people in the study had only a slightly reduced risk of getting long Covid. The greatest benefit appeared to be in reducing the risk of lung disorders (by nearly 50%) and blood-clotting disorders (by 56%), but there was no difference when it came to longer-term risks of neurological issues, gastrointestinal symptoms, kidney failure and other conditions. The devastating neurological effects (most common are brain fog, numbness, tingling, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, tinnitus and fatigue) of long Covid can persist for more than a year, even as other symptoms lessen. After an average of 15 months, a lot of patients (vaccinated or not) still have difficulties that prevent them from working like they used to because of their cognition problems.


Friday, May 20th

  • Two new strains of COVID that appear to be more transmissible than even "stealth Omicron," which have the ability to evade antibodies from vaccination and prior infection, have arrived in the U.S. And, mask mandates have been dropped from planes and in airports across the country. So, what can travelers do to protect themselves even if the people around them aren't masking up? First and foremost, get vaccinated and boosted. The second most important thing to do is to wear a mask that's comfortable and provides the best protection. The CDC has reiterated its recommendations to wear masks on public transportation, especially at times when people are crammed together (e.g., boarding). To minimize risk of transmission when eating, bring it down to eat, then up again as you chew. Choose a direct flight if possible, practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands or using hand sanitizer, especially before eating. Also, travelers can minimize risk by flying when the plane is likely to be emptier, choosing seats with fewer people around yours or upgrading your seat.
     
  • If flying, you can also take steps to sanitize frequently touched areas (e.g., eating tray, arm rest, restroom latch, etc.). There are lots of products that promise to get rid of illness-causing germs, but there are only a few that will help prevent you from getting sick on a plane. Clorox To Go travel disinfecting wipes, for example, kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, including staph, E. coli, MRSA, salmonella, strep and Kleb. Purell's sanitizer kills 99%.  However, they must be used correctly to get the germ-killing power you want (4 minutes with Clorox). Read the instructions. Sanitize your hands and keep them away from your face. And according to research, choose a window seat to cut down on possible exposure from those moving about the cabin.
     
  • With Covid cases on the rise again, the government announced Tuesday that it is making free at-home test kits available again. Each household can order up to eight of the rapid test kits. The at-home test kits are available at covid.gov/tests. The rapid tests could come in handy ahead of possible surges this summer and fall. If you still have kits that you haven't used, check their expiration date. If they are close to expiration, order some more. Having them on hand when you aren't sure whether your symptoms are a cold, the flu, allergies, or Covid may be the only way you can determine whether you should self-isolate to protect those you care about since many of us don't even go to the doctor if our symptoms are mild.


Friday, May 13th

  • Sadly, the U.S. has passed the 1 million deaths from COVID milestone, with flags flying half mast this weekend. While most counts have yet to officially reach 1 million — a tally by Johns Hopkins University passed 999,000 on Thursday morning — the true sum of COVID deaths nationwide already far exceeds that mark. The CDC estimated that the number of excess deaths during the pandemic had already surged past 1 million during the winter Omicron wave in January. That is more than the number of American deaths from World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. More people died in two years of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. than in 40 years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In simple terms, if 200 deaths were expected for a given week and 300 have been recorded, there would have been 100 excess deaths for that week.
     
  • Public health experts are concerned over how many people are getting long COVID-19, a potentially debilitating condition that comes after a patient has recovered from the coronavirus. Effects from the condition can include fatigue, pain, neurological issues and even changes in mental health. Initially, it was believed that only a small number of people would suffer from long COVID-19, but some studies now indicate a majority of those infected with the coronavirus are experiencing long COVID-19 symptoms. Researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine found that more than half of COVID-19 survivors had long COVID-19. Another study from the University of Arizona found that about 2 out of 3 people who experienced mild or moderate cases had long-lasting symptoms. Part of the problem is that its symptoms can vary from person to person and there’s still a lot of lack of knowledge about long Covid, even within the medical community. Symptoms can last 3 to 6 months, but other studies show that symptoms can last for at least a year.
     
  • There aren't any comprehensive treatments for long Covid, but there are a few at-home things you can do that may be useful. If you’re experiencing a lot of fatigue after recovering from Covid, try to identify the activities that trigger your severe exhaustion and avoid them for a while. Adjust your daily schedule to include built-in rest periods, for both your mind and your body, to prevent "severe" crashes. If you suffer from shortness of breath, often yoga-based breathing exercises can be helpful — long, slow deep breaths in and out through your nose. Typically, long Covid patients don’t have any lung function damage so shortness of breath may relate to the muscles and nerves that control breathing, rather than injury within the lung.


Friday, May 6th

  • On May 4th, according to NBC News' latest tally, 1 million people in the U.S. died because of Covid, and the number would have been much higher if it wasn't for vaccines. According Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in Baltimore and spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, some of the biggest mistakes happened at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, when the government chose "evasion" rather than a proactive approach, giving the virus a head start to spread. Timely and widespread testing was crucial to isolate infected people, but there were constant problems including faulty test kits, delayed test results, bottlenecks in labs and long lines at testing sites before at-home COVID tests became available. Frustratingly, testing issues have lingered, with problems continuing. There’s also been minimal investment in public health infrastructure and hospital capacity, leading to recurring problems. "The biggest mistake has been to allow politicians to be in charge of the response. We need pandemic preparedness and the CDC to be more independent." The COVID-19 vaccines saved almost a quarter-million lives and prevented almost 1.2 million hospitalizations in the first six months of 2021. Adalja was surprised by the vaccine hesitancy, noting it has led to many preventable deaths.
     

  • Two new strains of COVID that appear to be more transmissible than even "stealth Omicron," and that have the ability to evade antibodies from vaccination and prior infection, have arrived in the U.S. — and they could mean a new wave is coming. BA.4 and BA.5 — like the original Omicron, BA.1—originated in South Africa. Cases are surging there despite the fact that almost all South Africans have been vaccinated or had COVID, Bloomberg reported last week. The country's National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported nearly 4,000 new infections on Sunday alone. Of those who were tested for COVID, 22% received positive results.
     

  • Since the Covid virus has continued to spawn new variants, development of a broadly protective COVID-19 vaccine that can potently neutralize existing and potential future variants is critical to preparing for the next chapter of COVID-19. Moderna may have a new 'better' vaccine. The pharmaceutical company says it may soon be able to produce a new and improved COVID-19 vaccine that will be more effective against variants of the virus. It is called a "bivalent" vaccine and the company has been working on it for more than a year. Bivalent is the medical term for a vaccine that stimulates an immune response against two antigens (both the original strain and the beta variant).

  • In an update on their studies, the company said their vaccine demonstrated superiority against Beta, Delta and Omicron variants one month after administration, which continued six months after administration for Beta and Omicron variants. Clover Biopharmaceuticals is another company working on a bivalent vaccine, which combines the trimeric spike antigens from the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and the Omicron variant. The company said that their vaccine has elicited broad neutralization against all Variants of Concern (VoC), including Omicron, in both primary vaccination and booster settings. Their studies are at the preclinical testing stage.


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