Commentary Suggests Thinking of Long COVID as an "Episodic Disability"
Effectively working with individuals experiencing long COVID (postacute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2) will require an approach that conceptualizes the condition as an "episodic disability" similar to disability patterns associated with HIV, write authors of a recent commentary in BMJ Global health. They assert that the reframing could help refine outcome measures and strengthen the role of rehab.
Rates of Daily New Cases Decrease; Deaths Near 700k
Total coronavirus cases have reached 43,289,203 as of Sept. 29, according to the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker. The seven-day average of new cases is 106,395 — a 13% decrease over the previous seven-day average. A total of 694,701, people have now died from the virus to date.
Tennessee Leads the Nation in COVID-Related School Closures
A recent report from the CDC found that Tennessee recorded the most school closures due to COVID-19 this school year, with more than 400 shutdowns. Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas were the next highest. In all, more than 900,000 students have been affected by closures across the country.
"Benefits of Vaccine Outweigh Potential Risks" for Pregnant and Postpartum People
A Sept. 29 health alert recommends more urgent steps to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among people who are pregnant or postpartum, asserting that these populations are at increased risk of severe illness compared with non-pregnant people. The CDC estimates that as of Sept. 18, only 31% of pregnant people were fully vaccinated.
HHS Issues Guidance on COVID-19, Vaccinations, and HIPAA
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has produced a guidance document answering common questions about HIPAA's effects on a business’s or individual's ability to ask about a person's COVID-19 vaccination status, as well as an employer's ability to require employees to disclose whether they have received a full or partial vaccine. In both instances, HHS writes, HIPAA restrictions do not apply.
NIH Announces $36 Million in Funding for "Pan-Coronavirus" Vaccines
In an effort to anticipate the emergence of different types of coronaviruses and variants in the future, NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded $36.3 million to three university research centers to investigate coronavirus diversity and infectious potential with the goal of developing vaccines capable of protecting against a broad spectrum of variants. The centers are at the University of Wisconsin, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Duke University.
In the Media
Obesity Rates Increased During Pandemic
From NPR: "New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed 16 states now have obesity rates of 35% or higher. That's an increase of four states — Delaware, Iowa, Ohio and Texas — in just a year. The findings confirm what several recent research studies have found: Many Americans have gained significant weight since the COVID-19 crisis started, likely fueled by an increase in sedentary behavior, stress and troubles such as job and income loss that make healthy eating harder."
Merck Develops Pill for COVID-19
From AP: "In a potential leap forward in the global fight against the pandemic, drugmaker Merck said Friday that its experimental pill for people sick with COVID-19 reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half. If cleared by regulators, it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19, adding a whole new, easy-to-use weapon to an arsenal that already includes the vaccine."
Trial Data for Vaccine Use in Children Aged 5-11 Shows Promise
From Reuters: "Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE on Tuesday submitted initial trial data for their COVID-19 vaccine in 5-11 year olds and said they would make a formal request to U.S. regulators for emergency use in the coming weeks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said earlier this month it would look to complete its data review for this age group as quickly as possible, likely in a matter of weeks rather than months. That could mean an authorization of the shot for children by the end of October, sources have told Reuters."
18 States Have Yet To Achieve at Least 50% Fully Vaccinated Rate
From CNN: "A recent CNN analysis showed the average rate of Covid-19 deaths in the 10 least vaccinated states was more than four times higher over the past week than the rate in the 10 most vaccinated states. There remain 18 states that have yet to fully vaccinate at least half of all residents, data shows: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming."
Poll: Uptick in Vaccinations Tied More to Concerns About COVID than Mandates
From Kaiser Family Foundation: "More than 7 in 10 adults (72%) in the U.S. now report that they are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, with the surge in disease and death driven by the Delta variant serving as the chief impetus in recent weeks, finds the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor. Adults who got vaccinated since June 1 cite as major reasons the increase in COVID cases due to the Delta variant (39%), reports of local hospitals filling up (38%), and knowing someone who became seriously ill or died (36%). Thirty-five percent also say a major reason was to participate in activities where vaccinations are required, such as traveling or attending events. Fewer people say being mandated by their employer (19%) or the FDA granting full approval to the Pfizer vaccine (15%) were major factors.
Vaccine Mandates Haven't Caused Significant Employee Losses
From Axios: "Coronavirus vaccine mandates imposed by employers seem to be working so far, suggesting that most vaccine holdouts would rather get the shot than lose their job."
New in Research
70% of Patients Hospitalized for COVID-19 Experience Fatigue, Dyspnea Seven Months After Discharge
A study published in Switzerland’s Respiration journal tracked individuals in four hospitals in Madrid, Spain, who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 and found that the most persistent symptoms experienced seven months after discharge were fatigue and difficult or labored breathing. Fatigue was present in 61% of 1.142 patients, 55% experienced dyspnea with activity, and 23.5% reported dyspnea at rest.
COVID-19 Vaccination Breakthrough Infections Relatively Uncommon in VA Patients
Researchers analyzing data from vaccinated patients in the U.S. Veterans Administration health system found infection breakthrough rates of 0.37%, and hospitalization rates of 0.07%. The Pfizer-Biotech and Moderna vaccines were found to be slightly more protective against breakthrough infection than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The study was published in the Journal of Infection.
Physical Activity Declined During Early Pandemic Shutdowns, and Doesn't Seem To Be Bouncing Back
Physical activity rates steadily dropped during a series of stay-at-home orders put in place in the United Kingdom, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports. While 20% of survey respondents reported achieving WHO-recommended levels of PA during the first and second lockdowns in spring and summer of 2020, the level dropped to 15% during a period of eased restrictions August-September of 2020, and further declined to 14% during restrictions reactivated in late 2020. Higher socioeconomic status, better quality of life, and higher levels of PA before the pandemic were associated with greater probability of meeting WHO guidelines during the pandemic.
Bats in Laos Found To Have Virus Strikingly Similar to SARS-CoV-2
In a study published in Nature, researchers report identifying a bat-borne virus nearly identical to SARS-CoV-2, and likely capable of transmission to humans, among bats in northern Laos. "These viruses may have contributed to SARS-CoV-2’s origin and may intrinsically pose a future risk of direct transmission to humans," authors write.