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Gates Foundation Investing $40 Million to Help African Manufacturers Produce mRNA Vaccines

The Hill reported:

The Gates Foundation announced Monday it will invest $40 million in several African manufacturers to produce and provide access to mRNA vaccines on the continent.

The $40 million investment will advance a research platform from Quantoom Biosciences that was developed with an early-research Grand Challenges grant made to its parent company, Univercells.

African-based vaccine manufacturers Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) and Biovac will receive $5 million each in funding from the foundation, while $10 million will be distributed to other manufacturing companies yet to be identified, according to the release.

Quantoom Biosciences will receive $20 million from the foundation to ensure low- and middle-income countries “can benefit from the next-generation mRNA health tools.”

Rand Paul Says ‘Without Question’ Fauci Belongs in Jail

The Hill reported:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he thinks former White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci deserves jail time. Paul has a fiery history with Fauci, brimming from disagreements around the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic to vaccinations. He has also argued that the former infectious diseases doctor lied to Congress by flip-flopping on where the COVID virus began in public and in private.

“We now have proof in Anthony Fauci’s own words, we have his emails,” Paul said in his interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

“In public, he’s saying, ‘Oh, if you say it came from the lab, you’re a conspiracy theorist, you’re crazy, it’s a fringe theory,’” he continued. “But in private, he’s saying … ‘We’re very concerned because the virus appears to be manipulated. And we’re also very concerned because we know they’re doing gain-of-function research in Wuhan.’”

Paul outlines his beliefs in his upcoming book: “Deception: The Great COVID Cover-Up,” which is expected to be released next week. When talking to Hannity, the senator teased that more action could come against Fauci. “I think the book will go a long way to convincing the rest of America that this man was a traitor to his country,” Paul later added about Fauci.

People Who’ve Had COVID at Least 5 Times Describe How the Illness Changed With Each Reinfection

NBC News reported:

Nearly four years after COVID’s emergence, plenty of people have tested positive at least twice. But an unlucky group has been hit with reinfection after reinfection.

“I’ve seen a few patients with five infections,” said Dr. Grace McComsey, vice dean for clinical and translational research at Case Western University. “Sadly, they were immunized and they still got COVID five times.”

Three people said their later infections were all less severe than the first — though there wasn’t necessarily a clear pattern of milder symptoms with each new illness. Even so, having COVID was still mentally and emotionally exhausting each time, they said, since it disrupted their work and time with loved ones.

Long COVID Rare Among Children: CDC

The Hill reported:

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shed light on the rate at which long COVID affects children, indicating the condition occurs among only a small minority of them.

In a new survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the CDC found that 1.3% of children had long COVID in 2022 and 0.5% now have it.

The NCHS survey involved a sample size of 7,464, with interviews being conducted continuously throughout the year.

Excessive Drinking During the Pandemic Increased Rates of Liver Disease, Transplants

ABC News reported:

Excessive drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to skyrocketing rates of alcohol-associated liver disease to the point of needing transplants, according to doctors.

Transplant centers across the United States are reporting more patients in need of a new liver than ever before, sometimes seeing double the number of patients needing transplants compared to pre-pandemic levels.

In fact, alcohol-related liver disease has surpassed other conditions such as hepatitis C and fatty liver disease as the number one reason for liver transplants.

“It’s a nationwide phenomenon where, since the pandemic, there has been a notable increase in alcohol use, including harmful alcohol use where there is associated liver disease, and it has led to increased hospitalization of patients with liver injury due to alcohol,” Dr. Maarouf Hoteit, medical director of liver transplants at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said.

Updated Novavax COVID Vaccine Shipped to Distributors, to Be Available This Week

Reuters reported:

Vaccine maker Novavax Inc. (NVAX.O) on Monday said it has shipped millions of doses of its updated COVID-19 shots to distributors after receiving the go-ahead from U.S. regulators.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the updated vaccine last week for emergency use in individuals aged 12 years and older, but batches of the shots needed additional clearance from the FDA before they could be released.

Novavax said it expects the shots to be available at U.S. pharmacies this week.

Novavax, whose protein-based shot uses a technology employed for decades to combat diseases, missed out on the pandemic vaccine windfall enjoyed by mRNA rivals due to manufacturing issues that delayed filing for approval when COVID was raging.

COVID Metrics Trend Down Across U.S.

CIDRAP reported:

Today in its weekly update on COVID-19 activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said several markers of the virus were trending downward, including emergency department visits and test positivity.

Test positivity from September 24 to September 30 was 10.9%, down 1.2% from the previous week, and emergency department visits dropped to 1.6%, down 14.5% from the previous week. Deaths, however, while still at low levels, were up 3.8%.

In total 18,139 people were admitted to the hospital in the last week of September for COVID-19, down 6% from the previous week. Hospitalization hot spots include communities in Montana, Idaho, Missouri, and Kansas. Those are the only states with a high rate of hospitalizations in some counties.

Overall, the summer spike in activity seen in August and early September has seemed to wane. As seen last week, data from wastewater analytics Biobot show a decline in SARS-CoV-2 levels.

COVID Might Raise Odds for Immune Disorders Like Crohn’s, Alopecia

U.S. News & World Report reported:

In rare cases, some patients may develop an autoimmune disease following a bout of COVID, Korean researchers report.

Conditions such as alopecia (hair loss), psoriasis, vitiligo (white skin patches), vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, adult-onset Still’s disease (painful skin rash), Sjogren’s syndrome (autoimmune disease), ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis) and sarcoidosis (enlarged lymph nodes) can all be triggered by COVID-19 infection, according to the new report.

“Our findings highlight a significant association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and the development of autoimmune and auto-inflammatory disorders. This emphasizes the need for a comprehensive medical approach that encompasses both the acute manifestations and potential long-term complications of COVID-19,” said lead researcher Dr. Sung Ha Lim, from the Department of Dermatology at Yonsei University’s Wonju College of Medicine in South Korea.

This study underlines previous findings, said Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

U.S. Data Show Many COVID Patients Received Antibiotics on Admission

CIDRAP reported:

A new study by researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that despite a decrease in overall antibiotic use, most U.S. adults hospitalized with COVID-19 continued to receive antibiotics beyond the first year of the pandemic.

The findings, published late last week in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, show that antibiotic use in non-critically ill patients with COVID-19 was highest in 2020 and declined thereafter. However, even in 2022, nearly two-thirds of non-critically ill patients were treated with antibiotics, and most of them received an antibiotic as soon as they were admitted to the hospital.

Ceftriaxone was the most commonly used antibiotic, frequently in combination with azithromycin, which was thought in the early months of the pandemic to potentially lessen COVID-19 severity. Use of both antibiotics declined significantly over the study period, particularly azithromycin, after several studies found it had no effect.

But the study authors also note that while National Institutes of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines say that empiric antibiotics can be administered if bacterial pneumonia is suspected, they observed increases in other antibiotics not recommended as first-line therapy for bacterial pneumonia. Vancomycin, cefepime, and piperacillin-tazobactam were among the antibiotics that saw increases.

‘Long Colds’ Are a Thing, Like Long COVID Say Experts

BBC News reported:

“Long colds” can be a thing in the same way that “long COVID” is, with some people experiencing prolonged symptoms after an initial infection, according to a U.K. study. Common long cold symptoms included a cough, stomach pain and diarrhea.

The findings come from 10,171 adults who completed questionnaires. The idea that a respiratory virus — or indeed other viral infections — can cause longer-lasting illness is not new, but the recent COVID pandemic has brought fresh attention to the phenomenon.

The study, published in The Lancet’s eClinical Medicine journal, asked people to report any respiratory illness and other symptoms they had in the first two months of 2021 — when the COVID pandemic was entering its second year and vaccines were starting to be rolled out. All of the participants were yet to have their COVID jab.

People who recently had COVID were more likely to report problems with smell and taste, brain fog, dizziness and sweating than people who had prolonged symptoms after a cold or flu.