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Tuesday, January 17, 2023 | Kaiser Health News

Tuesday, January 17, 2023 | Kaiser Health News

Tuesday, January 17, 2023 | Kaiser Health News

Airplane Wastewater Screening Among Tools Used To Keep Up With Variants

Efforts to scan for potential new covid variants include bio surveillance for international passengers at U.S. airports — including airplane bathroom waste. Meanwhile, CIDRAP covers a relevant statistic: nearly 1 in 4 screened air passengers from China were covid positive.


NPR:
U.S. Airport Screening For COVID Variants Expanded


It’s early morning at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C.,and Ana Valdez is already hard at work at one of the international gates. “Hello everybody. Welcome,” she shouts with a big smile as arriving travelers flood through two large swinging doors. “Do you like to help the CDC to find new variants for COVID?” Valdez works for a year-old program that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently expanded to try to spot new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, coming into the country. The most recent expansion was prompted by China’s abrupt decision to abandon its zero-COVID policy. (Stein, 1/14)


CIDRAP:
Almost A Fourth Of Air Passengers Screened From China Had COVID-19, Report Reveals 


Italian officials who screened 556 airline passengers from two Chinese provinces in late December found that almost a quarter of them tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with one flight having 42{cfdf3f5372635aeb15fd3e2aecc7cb5d7150695e02bd72e0a44f1581164ad809} of passengers infected, according to a report yesterday in Eurosurveillance. (Wappes, 1/13)

In related news from China —


Reuters:
In China, Doctors Say They Are Discouraged From Citing COVID On Death Certificates 


During a busy shift at the height of Beijing’s COVID wave, a physician at a private hospital saw a printed notice in the emergency department: doctors should “try not to” write COVID-induced respiratory failure on death certificates. Instead, if the deceased had an underlying disease, that should be named as the main cause of death, according to the notice, a copy of which was seen by Reuters. (Pollard and Tham, 1/17)


Reuters:
In China, No Easy Way To Get Pfizer’s COVID Drug Paxlovid 


Chinese authorities have acknowledged that supplies of Paxlovid are still insufficient to meet demand, even as Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said last week that thousands of courses of the treatment were shipped to the country last year and in the past couple of weeks millions more were shipped. (Yu and Pollard, 1/15)

Maternal Death Risks Increase With Covid Infection During Pregnancy: Study

New research identifies other dangers that covid can cause for patients who are pregnant, including a greater risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit and developing pneumonia. The chances of preterm birth and other severe outcomes are also higher for newborns.


The Washington Post:
Covid During Pregnancy Increases Risk Of Maternal Death 


Pregnant people infected with the coronavirus have a seven times higher risk of dying compared with pregnant individuals who are not infected, a finding that arrives amid renewed calls for vaccination of those who are expecting a baby. Researchers, whose findings were published Monday in the journal BMJ Global Health, pooled patient data from more than 13,000 pregnant individuals included in 12 studies from 12 countries, including the United States. Along with a higher death rate, infected pregnant people had a greater risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit, needing a ventilator or developing pneumonia if they have a coronavirus infection. (Malhi, 1/16)

In other covid research —


The Wall Street Journal:
Exercise Helps Blunt The Effects Of Covid-19, Study Suggests 


People who exercise regularly had lower rates of hospitalization and death from Covid-19 in a study published recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. … This latest study goes a step further and suggests that even people whose age or health conditions make them higher-risk have better outcomes if they are regular exercisers. (Janin, 1/16)

More on the spread of covid —


Fox News:
Omicron Subvariant XBB.1.5 Possibly More Likely To Infect Those Who Are Vaccinated, Officials Say


“Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 now accounts for 73{cfdf3f5372635aeb15fd3e2aecc7cb5d7150695e02bd72e0a44f1581164ad809} of all sequenced COVID-19 cases in NYC,” the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tweeted on Friday. “XBB.1.5 is the most transmissible form of COVID-19 that we know of to date and may be more likely to infect people who have been vaccinated or already had COVID-19.” (Musto, 1/14)


Axios:
WHO Questions Severity Of XBB.1.5 COVID Subvariant As U.S. Cases Rise


The Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 is still gaining ground within the United States, accounting for at least 43{cfdf3f5372635aeb15fd3e2aecc7cb5d7150695e02bd72e0a44f1581164ad809} of sequenced cases from the last week, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (Scribner, 1/14)


The Atlantic:
Let’s Call XBB.1.5 The ‘Kraken’ Coronavirus Subvariant


A new subvariant of SARS-CoV-2 is rapidly taking over in the U.S.—the most transmissible that has ever been detected. It’s called XBB.1.5, in reference to its status as a hybrid of two prior strains of Omicron, BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75. It’s also called “Kraken.” Not by everyone, though. The nickname Kraken was ginned up by an informal group of scientists on Twitter and has caught on at some—but only some—major news outlets. (Engber, 1/13)


San Francisco Chronicle:
Virus Spread Among Animals “Much Wider Than Previously Thought”


The coronavirus has been detected in nearly 400 domestic pets, including cats and dogs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has also been detected in captive zoo animals such as tigers, lions, gorillas, snow leopards, and otters. But experts say transmission among wild species is also common, even though federal officials have so far only detected the virus that causes COVID-19 in three so far —mink, mule deer, and white-tailed deer. (Vaziri, 1/13)

On long covid —


The Washington Post:
For Long Covid Fatigue, A Strategy Called “Pacing” Helps, But At A Cost 


What is it like to live with the chronic fatigue of long covid? It feels like dragging your body through wet cement, says Judy Schaefer, 58, a once avid hiker who lives in Seattle. It’s knowing that simple tasks, like showering or cooking dinner, will be exhausting, says Alyssa Minor, 36, a physiotherapist in Calgary. It’s trying to exercise and instead, landing in the ER, says Harry Leeming, 31, of London. (Morris, 1/16)

On the “tripledemic” —


Los Angeles Times:
‘Tripledemic’ Has These LAUSD Parents Seeking Mask Mandate


At the first sign of a sniffle or stormy weather ahead Lourdes Lopez keeps her 10-year-old daughter, Alison, home from school. Alison has Down syndrome and is more vulnerable to illness. A cold can be a major hardship, Lopez said, not only for her daughter but her entire family living in an overcrowded apartment in South Los Angeles. (Reyes-Velarde and Blume, 1/16)


CIDRAP:
US Flu Activity Declines Further 


Flu activity continues in the United States, but markers continue to decline across most of the country, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its weekly update, which covers the week ending Jan 7. The percentage of outpatient visits for flulike illness dropped from 5.4{cfdf3f5372635aeb15fd3e2aecc7cb5d7150695e02bd72e0a44f1581164ad809} to 4{cfdf3f5372635aeb15fd3e2aecc7cb5d7150695e02bd72e0a44f1581164ad809} last week. Twenty-three jurisdictions reported high (21) or very high (2) flu activity, another indicator of clinic visits for flu, down from 39 in the previous reporting week. Sites still reporting very high flu activity include New York City and New Mexico. (Schnirring, 1/13)