In the Media
Biden Administration Makes a Plea for More COVID-19 Funding to Avoid 'Dire' Measures
From The Associated Press: "The White House is planning for 'dire' contingencies that could include rationing supplies of vaccines and treatments this fall if Congress doesn’t approve more money for fighting COVID-19. In public comments and private meetings on Capitol Hill, Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus coordinator, has painted a dark picture in which the U.S. could be forced to cede many of the advances made against the coronavirus over the last two years and even the most vulnerable could face supply shortages. Biden administration officials have been warning for weeks that the country has spent nearly all the money in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was dedicated directly to COVID-19 response."
Effects of Long COVID Often Overlooked in Older Adults
From Kaiser Health News: "Only now is the impact on older adults beginning to be documented. In the largest study of its kind, published recently in the journal BMJ, researchers estimated that 32% of older adults in the U.S. who survived covid infections had symptoms of long covid up to four months after infection — more than double the 14% rate an earlier study found in adults ages 18 to 64. (Other studies suggest symptoms can last much longer, for a year or more.)"
Another Effect of Long COVID: Dashed Retirement Plans
From MarketWatch: "In addition to the health issues long haulers are forced to deal with, there are also financial challenges, especially for the older sufferers. The best new idea in retirement for people dealing with long-term COVID symptoms is a sobering one: Take a look at your plans, and see if they need to change. Document your symptoms, and begin applying for financial aid if necessary as soon as possible."
One million COVID-19 Deaths in U.S.: Four Times Higher than Predicted in Early 2020
From WebMD: "One million deaths is a number no one thought possible in the early months of the pandemic, says Chris Beyrer, MD, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins .He says it is four times the highest number that Anthony Fauci, MD, and Deborah Birx, MD, predicted when leading the nation’s COVID-19 response team in March 2020. 'One of the things this tragically underscores is that you can never get back the early phase of a response to a disease outbreak,' Beyrer says. 'Very quickly, the response got politicized into red and to blue. We did not have the kind of mobilization many other countries did.'"
Cases Climb, Deaths Continue to Decrease, Hospitalizations Tick Up
Total coronavirus cases have reached 83,080,655 as of May 20, according to the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker. The seven-day average of new cases is 105,713 as of May 20, a dramatic rise from a seven-day average of 42,830 one month earlier. Despite the rise in cases, deaths continue to slow, with a 284 seven-day average as of May 20, down from a 359 seven-day average a month earlier. The most recent available seven-day averages for hospitalizations, May 14-20, is 3,335, a 16.3% increase from the previous average. As of May 22, 82.6% of the total U.S. population five and older has received at least one dose of vaccination, with 77.8% fully vaccinated. Half of the booster-eligible population has not received a booster dose. The death total from COVID-19 now exceeds 1 million.
CDC OKs Boosters for Children 5-11
After the agency's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices came out in support of the move, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its recommendation for COVID-19 vaccine booster doses to children as young as five, administered no fewer than five months after the initial vaccine series. The CDC also strengthened its recommendation that those 12 and older receive a second booster dose at least four months after their first booster.
Surgeon General Releases Advisory on Health Worker Burnout
Describing a health care system "already at a breaking point" for worker burnout prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new advisory from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presses for systemic changes. Among the recommendations: a more diverse workforce, reduced administrative burdens, more community partnerships, accessible mental health and substance use care, and an increase in "human-centered technology."
FDA OKs Nonnrescription COVID-19 Test That Can Also Detect Flu and RSV
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first at-home test, available without a prescription, that can screen for COVID-19, influenza A and B, and respiratory syncytial virus. Users collect nasal swab samples and send them to testmaker Labcorp for analysis. Individuals are notified of the status of their tests via an online portal. The tests can be administered to children as young as two years old with adult supervision.
New in Research
Analysis of Private Health Insurance Claims Reveals Most Patients With Long COVID Were Never Hospitalized for Initial COVID-19 Infection (pdf)
An analysis of 78,252 patients diagnosed with long COVID revealed that 75.8% of the individuals were never hospitalized for COVID-19. The study also found disparities related to males and females, with 81.6% of females with long COVID never receiving hospitalization, compared with 67.5% of males. The analysis also linked certain diagnoses with age groups among those with long COVID: multisystem inflammatory syndrome in infant to 12-year-old patients, heartbeat abnormalities among patients 13 to 22, generalized anxiety disorder in patients 23 to 35, and hypertensive diseases in patients 65 and older. Researchers identified the three most common symptoms exhibited by patients: abnormalities in breathing, cough, and fatigue. The study, conducted and published by FairHealth, focused on patients who were commercially insured.
Position Paper Targets Stroke Recovery During COVID-19 Pandemic
An American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine interdisciplinary special interest group has developed a set of recommendations to respond to disruptions in stroke care created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Authors of the paper write that "A generation of people who survived a stroke during [the pandemic] may be living with additional fallout … which may include additional unmet and long-term needs." The group's recommendations, published in The Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, address institutional, societal, health care delivery, and individual levels.
Study of Nearly 30k COVID-19 Infections Points to Link Between Vaccination and Reduced Risk of Long COVID
Researchers from the United Kingdom tracked outcomes of 28,356 individuals found that a first vaccine dose was linked to a 12.8% decrease in the likelihood of developing long COVID, with a second vaccine correlated to an 8.8% likelihood decrease initially and a 0.8% weekly decrease after that. Because the study's follow-up time was limited to 67 days after the second vaccination, researchers say more study is needed over longer time periods. The study was published in BMJ.