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CDC Plans to Stop Reporting Suspected COVID Cases to Ease Burden

Bloomberg reported:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to simplify the COVID-19 hospital data it collects as the demands of the pandemic evolve and some assembled information has become outdated or redundant.

The agency is likely to stop collecting data from hospitals on suspected COVID cases that haven’t been confirmed by tests, for example, and may also wind down federal reporting from rehabilitation and mental health facilities that aren’t major intake points for virus cases, according to a draft of the plan that was viewed by Bloomberg News.

The agency is also suggesting that the U.S. stop collecting COVID vaccination data from hospitals because it isn’t required to be reported, isn’t widely used and hospital workers are required to report their vaccine status via a different mechanism.

Kids Under 5 Could Pose Major Challenge for Maine’s COVID Vaccine Effort

Bangor Daily News reported:

Slow progress in vaccinating kids aged 5 to 11 could foretell a harder slog getting younger children inoculated both in Maine and across the country when shots likely become available for the latter population this summer.

Only the states of Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have higher vaccination rates for the 5-11 group, which is the youngest demographic now authorized for COVID-19 vaccines, according to a New York Times tracker. But the 44% of fully vaccinated children in Maine has only ticked up by 7 percentage points since early January.

It shows much of the progress comes at first and that getting additional shots into younger children could be a daunting task.

Patient Group Calls for Recurring COVID Boosters to Cut Through Vaccine Apathy

USA TODAY via Yahoo!News reported:

Fewer than one in three Americans have received an extra shot of the COVID-19 vaccine and one patient safety group thinks that’s a public health challenge.

The nonprofit ECRI said in a position paper that adopting a booster shot schedule targeting emerging variants would create certainty and convince more Americans to get boosted and help reduce COVID-19 spread in communities.

Federal health agencies have cleared vaccine boosters for adults and teens, and last week, for kids ages 5 to 11. The FDA is reviewing Moderna’s vaccine for younger children. Pfizer-BioNTech on Monday said its COVID-19 vaccine appears to be safe and effective for kids under 5. Federal health officials authorized a second booster shot for adults over 50 and immunocompromised people over 12.

If the vaccine booster became routine like annual flu shots, Marcus Schabacker, president and CEO of ECRI, believes more people would be willing to take the extra COVID-19 jab.

We’re in the ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’ Phase of the Pandemic

CNN reported:

Heading into what seems like a fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with cases almost quadrupling over the last two months and hospitalizations beginning to increase as well, much of the country seems content to simply go about its business. Stores are full of maskless shoppers, baseball stadiums are crowded and there are lines outside many popular restaurants.

According to a recent Axios/Ipsos poll, a third of the country appears to be “done with COVID.”

If only. The pandemic is not over, nor have we arrived in the gauzy realm referred to as endemic infection in which all COVID-19 spikes are local, not national, and each of us is left to just deal with it. No, instead, the COVID-19 pandemic is still barreling along — and will be for the foreseeable future.

But, thankfully, the pandemic has changed. The newest dominant sub-variant, Omicron BA.2.12.1, causes less severe disease, though it is no walk in the park for many, and hospitalization and death rates have been slower to rise than with previous waves.

NYC Still at High COVID Alert Level as New CDC Map Slashes Number of Riskiest Counties

NBC New York reported:

The latest COVID-19 wave overtaking the tri-state in recent weeks appears to be ebbing, based on the CDC‘s latest update, just as the wildly contagious strain that has been spreading rampantly in New York for weeks asserts national dominance.

The number of U.S. counties deemed to be at high risk for community COVID spread dropped to 250 in the CDC’s Friday update, a 16% decline from the 297 with that distinction last week. At the time, 54 of New York state’s 62 counties — or 87% of the total — met the CDC’s threshold for high COVID community spread risk, accounting for nearly a fifth of all U.S. counties that had the same distinction.

The situation has changed, with the number of New York counties meeting that standard slashed to a third of the total (30). The state added more green, representing a low risk for community COVID spread, according to the CDC, since last week when Orange County was New York’s lone representative in that category.

Coronavirus Hasn’t Developed Resistance to Paxlovid. How Long Can That Last?

STAT News reported:

Resistance is the hobgoblin of antiviral medicine, even with antivirals as effective as Paxlovid. After doctors deployed nearly every new virus-killing infusion or pill in history, strains popped up — either immediately or eventually — with machinery warped in just the right way to evade the threat.

Exactly how much of a problem resistance will be for Paxlovid is complicated. In some patients, the coronavirus will inevitably find ways to evade the pill, as it did prior COVID-19 drugs.

“If there is anything we know about viruses and antiviral drugs is that eventually, we will see some sort of resistance,” Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah Health, said in an email.

Long COVID Cures May Need to Go Beyond Vaccines

Axios reported:

New research casting doubt on vaccines’ ability to protect against “long COVID” suggests that as the virus itself becomes endemic, its lingering aftereffects aren’t going anywhere without new treatments or vaccines.

Long COVID is emerging as the next phase of the global healthcare crisis. However, it’s still unclear how many more people will come down with serious health aftershocks as variants continue to evolve and the population continues to develop more immunity.

A Department of Veterans Affairs study of almost 34,000 vaccinated people who had breakthrough infections in 2021 found the shots only cut the likelihood of long COVID by about 15%.

Breakthrough Infections May Be Less Contagious; Vaccine Protection Wanes Faster in Cancer Patients

Reuters reported:

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.

Fully vaccinated individuals who get infected with the coronavirus spread the infection to fewer people and are contagious for less time compared to people who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, a small study from South Korea suggests.

COVID-19 vaccines are effective in most cancer patients, but less so than in the general population and the efficacy wanes more quickly, according to a large study.

North Korea Stockpiled Chinese Masks, Vaccines Before Reporting COVID Outbreak

Reuters reported:

In the months before it acknowledged its first official COVID-19 outbreak, North Korea suddenly imported millions of face masks, 1,000 ventilators, and possibly vaccines from China, trade data released by Beijing showed.

North Korea is not known to have conducted any significant COVID-19 vaccine campaign. In February, however, China exported $311,126 worth of unidentified vaccines to its neighbor, according to the data released this month. China reported no other vaccine exports to North Korea for any other month this year or all of last year.