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Student Killed Himself After Bullying About His Vaccination Status: Lawsuit

New York Post reported:

A 15-year-old boy who was initially targeted by a false rumor that he was unvaccinated was bullied relentlessly until he took his own life in January, a lawsuit claims.

The suit filed Monday against the Latin School of Chicago alleges administrators at the private college prep school — which charges more than $40,000 annually in tuition — committed “willful failure” to stop the incessant bullying, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Cook County filing named the school, several employees and parents of the alleged bullies as defendants. The late teen, identified as N.B. in the suit, transferred to the school due to its in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic, the complaint states.

A student whose parents are named in the lawsuit then started spreading a rumor that the 10th-grader, Nate Bronstein, was unvaccinated, according to the lawsuit. Nate actually had been vaccinated, the lawsuit claims, but he was still harassed on a regular basis due to his perceived status.

Moderna Seeks to Be 1st With COVID Shots for Littlest Kids

Associated Press reported:

Moderna on Thursday asked U.S. regulators to authorize low doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 6, a long-awaited move toward potentially opening shots for millions of tots by summer.

Moderna submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration that it hopes will prove two low-dose shots can protect babies, toddlers and preschoolers — albeit not as effectively during the Omicron surge as earlier in the pandemic.

Moderna’s vaccine isn’t the only one in the race. Pfizer is soon expected to announce if three of its even smaller-dose shots work for the littlest kids, months after the disappointing discovery that two doses weren’t quite strong enough.

Even When the Pandemic Fades, the Depression It Has Wrought Will Linger

STAT News reported:

The masks are mostly off, group events have become almost normal, and many people believe — or at least hope — that the pandemic is waning. So it’s not surprising that Americans also want to move on from talking about COVID-19’s mental health impact. But walking away from the losses of the past two years will be harder than ditching our KN95s.

As part of the COVID States Project, since the beginning of the pandemic, we and our colleagues at four U.S. universities have been surveying about 20,000 adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia every six weeks about topics ranging from mask-wearing and vaccines to politics and mental health. In our latest survey, published Wednesday, 4 in 10 respondents said they knew at least one person who had died of COVID-19; 1 in 7 said they’d lost a family member.

Americans continue to feel these losses — and all the other losses wrought by COVID-19 — acutely. Our survey also found that 27% of adults reported levels of depression that would typically trigger a referral for further evaluation. Young adults have been hit especially hard: Even now, half of the respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 described symptoms of depression.

Princess Cruise Ship Has 253 Coronavirus Cases in 5 Weeks

The Washington Post reported:

A Princess Cruises ship that reported two recent coronavirus outbreaks had passengers test positive again while it docked in San Francisco last week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, the public health agency is investigating the Ruby Princess and placing the ship under observation.

The ship reported 37 cases on a trip that docked April 23, the San Francisco Department of Public Health said in an email. The ship was returning from an Alaska tour, according to Seattle news station KOMO.

SFDPH said 95% of crew and passengers on ships disembarking in San Francisco must be fully vaccinated per an agreement between cruise lines and the Port of San Francisco. The trip had a 100 percent vaccination rate for crew, and 99% for guests.

Princess Cruises also requires that passengers show proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test to board. The cruise line did not immediately respond to a request for comment related to its latest outbreak.

Fauci Walks Back Coronavirus Comments, Says Pandemic Not Over in U.S.

U.S. News & World Report reported:

Leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci this week walked back his comments that the U.S. is “out of the pandemic phase.”

“I want to clarify one thing,” Fauci told NPR on Wednesday. “I probably should have said the acute component of the pandemic phase, and I understand how that can lead to some misinterpretation.”

On Tuesday, Fauci told PBS NewsHour that “we are certainly, right now, in this country, out of the pandemic phase. Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now. So, if you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country? We are,” he said.

The White House, however, defended its COVID-19 protocols. But risk concerns did prompt Fauci to back out of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner this weekend while Biden will no longer attend the dinner portion of the event.

Another Rare Virus Puzzle: They Got Sick, Got Treated, Got COVID Again

The Washington Post reported:

Shortly after he served on a jury in March, Gregg Crumley developed a sore throat and congestion. The retired molecular biologist took a rapid test on a Saturday and saw a dark, thick line materialize — “wildly positive” for the coronavirus.

Crumley, 71, contacted his doctor two days later. By the afternoon, friends had dropped off a course of Paxlovid, a five-day regimen of antiviral pills that aims to keep people from becoming seriously ill.

The day he took his last dose, his symptoms were abating. He tested each of the next three days: all negative. Then, in the middle of a community Zoom meeting, he started feeling sick again. Crumley, who is vaccinated and boosted, thought it might be residual effects of his immune response to the virus. But the chills were more prolonged and unpleasant. He tested. Positive. Again.

Infectious-disease experts agree that this phenomenon of the virus rebounding after some patients take the drug appears to be real but rare. Exactly how often it occurs, why it happens and what — if anything — to do about it remain matters of debate.

Houston ER Doctors Say They Were Urged to Work Through Illness and Avoid COVID Testing in New Lawsuit

Houston Chronicle via MSN reported:

Several Houston emergency room doctors say representatives for their employer compelled them to work through illnesses and discouraged them from testing for COVID-19 during the most recent surge, according to a lawsuit filed last month in Harris County.

American Physician Partners, a Tennessee-based hospital management company, independently staffs and manages emergency room doctors at 15 Houston Methodist facilities through a contract with the hospital system. The petition in the 113th District Court centers on a financial dispute between APP and eight doctors, who allege the organization violated its contract, in part, by underpaying them to save money.

Text messages show “APP’s unethical practices of requiring doctors with COVID-19 to work,” the lawsuit alleges.

‘Perfect Storm’ of Disease Ahead With Vaccines Delayed and Measles Cases up, WHO and UNICEF Say

CNN Health reported:

The World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund warned of an increased risk of measles spread, with worldwide cases up nearly 80% so far in 2022 compared with 2021.

Pandemic-related disruptions, increasing inequalities in access to vaccines, and the diversion of resources from routine immunization are leaving too many children without protection against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases,” the organizations said, adding that as cities and countries relax COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, measles outbreaks become more likely.

Once Dead, Twice Billed: GAO Questions COVID Funeral Awards

Associated Press reported:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency may have been double-billed for the funerals of hundreds of people who died of COVID-19, the Government Accountability Office said in a new report Wednesday.

The GAO identified 374 people who died and were listed on more than one application that received an award from the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance fund. That amounts to about $4.8 million in assistance that could have been improper or potentially fraudulent payments, the report said.

India’s Speedy Approvals of COVID Vaccines Come Under Fire

Science reported:

A COVID-19 vaccine named Corbevax looked like a triumph for India’s burgeoning drug industry. Because its U.S. developers hadn’t claimed a patent on it, an Indian manufacturer named Biological E was able to sell the two-dose protein-based vaccine to the government at the extraordinarily low price of 145 rupees ($1.90) per dose. In March, the country began to give the shots to 12- to 14-year-olds, a group for which India did not yet have a licensed COVID-19 vaccine.

In February, CDSCO authorized the use of Corbevax for adolescents ages 12 to 18. But within weeks, the Indian media outlet The Wire Science revealed that the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), an expert group that advises the health ministry on which vaccines to add to the national immunization program, had questioned whether Biological E had shown the vaccine is effective.

In adolescents, who are at a lower risk of severe COVID-19, the benefits of a vaccine should be beyond any doubt, NTAGI member Jayaprakash Muliyil tells Science: “Anytime you vaccinate children, you have to be extremely careful.”

South Africa Is Being Hit Hard by COVID Again. What That Means for the U.S., if Anything, Remains Unclear.

USA TODAY via MSN reported:

COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in South Africa, as they did in the earliest days of the Omicron outbreak. It’s too soon to know whether that will have any implications for the United States, but Omicron exploded here right after Thanksgiving, only a few weeks after it took off there. The viruses now spreading in South Africa are variants of Omicron, dubbed BA.4 and BA.5.

The original Omicron variant, called BA.1, now represents only about 3% of cases in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control data. It was pushed out by BA.2, which accounts for 68% of current infections, and BA.2.12.1, which is approaching 30% of cases nationwide, after arising in New York state.

BA.4 and BA.5 have arrived in Texas and likely other U.S. states, Dr. Jacob Lemieux, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said in a call this week with media.

COVID Treatment, Keytruda Boost Drugmaker Merck in Q1

Associated Press reported:

Merck soared past first-quarter expectations, helped by sales of its long-standing blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda and a new COVID-19 treatment that also topped forecasts.

The drugmaker raised its 2022 forecast Thursday after its coronavirus treatment molnupiravir brought in almost $3.2 billion in sales in the quarter.