New in Research
Physical Activity Lowers Odds of Adverse COVID-19 Outcomes
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has uncovered a link between higher levels of physical activity and lowered severity and death rates related to COVID-19. Researchers analyzed data from 194,191 adults who had COVID-19 between Jan. 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021, and found that individuals reporting "some [physical] activity" had 1.43 times higher odds of hospitalization, 1.83 times higher odds of deterioration, and 1.92 times higher odds of COVID-19-related death compared with individuals in the "always active" category. "There were protective associations of physical activity for adverse COVID-19 outcomes across demographic and clinical characteristics," authors write, adding that "Public health leaders should add physical activity to pandemic control strategies."
Nearly 19 Million U.S. Adults May Have Long COVID
Researchers investigating the prevalence of long COVID believe that an estimated 19 million adults in the U.S. could be experiencing the condition, with 25% of that group reporting that long COVID impacted their day-to-day activities "a lot." The findings, based on a population-representative survey of 3,042 adults, also revealed the staying power of the condition, with 28% of respondents with long COVID reporting that they had a SARS-CoV-2 infection more than a year ago. The study was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
COVID-19 Reinfection Increases Risk of Hospitalization, Death, and Symptoms Associated With Long COVID
Results of a study using data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs show that SARS-CoV-2 reinfection is associated with greater risk for death, hospitalization, and sequalae associated with long COVID, such as pulmonary, mental health, and musculoskeletal disorders. Compared with individuals who experienced no reinfection, those who experienced a second infection had 3.32 times higher odds of hospitalization and 2.17 times higher odds of death. The risks increased with the number of reinfections experienced. The study was published in Nature Medicine.
Analysis of Symptom Patterns Establishes Four Subtypes of Long COVID
Researchers who conducted a machine-learning analysis of nearly 35,000 patient records of more than 137 symptoms associated with long COVID believe they've taken the first steps in identifying subphenotypes of the condition. Their study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, analyzed data from two separate patient groups — one from New York and another in Florida. Researchers identified four major symptom patterns of long COVID and their prevalence among the two groups: cardiac and renal (33.75% in the New York group and 25.43% in the Florida group); respiratory, sleep, and anxiety (32.75% and 38.48%); musculoskeletal and nervous system (23.37% and 23.35%); and digestive and respiratory system (10.14% and 12.74%).
U.S. COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, Deaths on the Rise
Total coronavirus cases in the United States have reached 100,622,056 as of Dec. 28, according to the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker. The weekly case count per 100,000 individuals was 121 as of Dec. 28, up from a Nov. 30 rate of 91.3. The most recent available seven-day averages for hospitalizations, Dec. 22-28, is 5,639, a 3.6% increase from the previous average. Weekly deaths were 2,530 as of Dec. 28, compared with a weekly total of 1,780 a month earlier. The U.S. death total from COVID-19 is now estimated at 1,088,481.
FDA Will Look at Whether COVID-19 Vaccines Should be Modified
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it will hold a Jan. 26 meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee to focus on the current adequacy of the primary doses of available COVID-19 vaccines, given the evolution of new strains of the disease and the emergence of boosters. The meeting will include presentations from drug manufacturers on possible production timelines.
In the Media
New XBB.1.5 Variant Rapidly Takes Hold, Especially in Northeast U.S.
From CNN: "The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Covid-19 variant dashboard revealed a new dark horse that could soon sweep the field: XBB.1.5. The CDC estimates that XBB.1.5 has more than doubled its share of the Covid-19 pie each week for the last four, rising from about 4% to 41% of new infections over the month of December. In the Northeast, the CDC estimates, XBB.1.5 is causing 75% of new cases."
COVID-19 Drugs Proving Less Effective as New Variants Emerge
From Politico: "Once heralded as game-changers for Covid patients considered at risk for getting seriously ill — one was used to treat then-President Donald Trump in 2020 — monoclonal antibodies are now largely ineffective against current Covid variants. Easier-to-administer antiviral drugs, such as Paxlovid, have largely taken their place but aren’t safe for all immune-compromised people because they interact with many other drugs."
Health Experts Weigh in on What Surprised Them About the Pandemic
From Stat: "In the hope that important lessons for next time can be found in the things we didn’t anticipate this time, STAT asked 23 experts what had surprised them the most about the pandemic. The ["too long; didn't read"] version: We have a lot of learning left to do."
Individuals with Long COVID Face Hurdles in Obtaining Workplace Disability Insurance
From CNBC: "[Mike Yada] was suffering from 'long Covid' …. More than two years and many doctor’s appointments later, he is still fighting those symptoms. Yada, who worked in the tech field, also has had to wage another battle: maintaining income replacement through disability insurance, an employee benefit through his now ex-employer. While he recently won an appeal to restore those benefits after the insurer suddenly ended them, he’s not sure it will stick."
APTA offers multiple resources on COVID-19 and long COVID, including a long COVID clinical summary, links to research articles, a report on the pandemic's effects on the physical therapy profession, and more.