Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the Web

Companies revert to more normal operations as COVID wanes

AP - February 16, 2022

For the first time in two years for many people, the American workplace is transforming into something that resembles pre-pandemic days. Tysons Foods said Tuesday it was ending mask requirements for its vaccinated workers in some facilities. [Walmart and Amazon] will no longer require fully vaccinated workers to don masks in stores or warehouses unless required under local or state laws. Tech companies like Microsoft and Facebook that had allowed employees to work fully remote are now setting mandatory dates to return to the office…

Americans’ Trust in Scientists, Other Groups Declines

Pew - February 16, 2022

Trust in scientists and medical scientists, once seemingly buoyed by their central role in addressing the coronavirus outbreak, is now below pre-pandemic levels. Overall, 29% of U.S. adults say they have a great deal of confidence in medical scientists to act in the best interests of the public, down from 40% who said this in November 2020.

In reversal, FDA puts brakes on COVID shots for kids under 5

AP - February 14, 2022

COVID-19 vaccinations for children under 5 hit another monthslong delay Friday as U.S. regulators abruptly put the brakes on their efforts to speed review of the shots that Pfizer is testing for youngsters. The FDA, worried about the omicron variant’s toll on kids, had taken the extraordinary step of urging Pfizer to apply for OK of the extra-low dose vaccine before it’s clear if tots will need two shots or three.

US authorizes new antibody drug to fight omicron

AP - February 14, 2022

The FDA said it cleared the Eli Lilly drug for adults and adolescent patients with mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19. … The Biden administration has purchased 600,000 doses before the authorization and will begin shipping initial supplies to state health authorities for distribution.

Hong Kong to vaccinate 3-year-olds amid new COVID-19 surge

AP - February 14, 2022

The announcement late Sunday came ahead of another surge in cases. The city reported a record 2,071 new cases on Monday, with that number expected to double the next day with more than 4,500 preliminary positives identified.

Novavax says protein vaccine works for kids as young as 12

AP - February 11, 2022

Novavax announced Thursday that its COVID-19 vaccine proved safe and effective in a study of 12- to 17-year-olds. … Its shots have been cleared for use in adults by regulators in Britain, Europe and elsewhere and by the WHO, and are under review by the FDA. Armed with the new data, Novavax plans to soon seek expanded use of its shots down to age 12. Later this year, it plans to begin testing in younger children.

After hopeful early signs, study of popular heartburn drug shows mixed results against Covid-19

CNN - February 11, 2022

In the clinical trial, people with mild to moderate Covid-19 who took very high doses of famotidine, the active ingredient in Pepcid, had some improvement in their symptoms more quickly than those who took a placebo … Among the 55 study participants, those who were assigned to take famotidine had an estimated 50% reduction in symptoms at 8.2 days, and those who were assigned a placebo saw that reduction in 11.4 days.

Coronavirus can destroy the placenta and lead to stillbirths

AP - February 11, 2022

New research suggests the coronavirus can invade and destroy the placenta and lead to stillbirths in infected women. It’s an uncommon outcome for any pregnancy but women with COVID-19 face an elevated risk. Authorities believe vaccination can help prevent these cases.

Beijing’s ambitious Olympic COVID bubble: So far, so good

AP - February 11, 2022

One week into the 17-day event, China seems to be meeting its formidable COVID-19 Olympic challenge with a so-called “bubble” that allows Beijing Games participants to skip quarantine but tightly restricts their movement so they don’t come in contact with the general population. There have been 490 confirmed cases — many of them positive tests on symptomless visitors — and no reports of any leaking out to date.

In rural America, patients are waiting for care — sometimes with deadly consequences

NPR - February 11, 2022

But hospitals all over the Pacific Northwest at the time were swamped with a surge of COVID-19 patients. And like health care systems in many parts of the country, the patient load means there's often nowhere to transfer even the most critical cases. … Eiselein says there's no way to know if his daughter would have ultimately survived had she been moved to another hospital. "But she never even had the chance," he says.

Hospitals begin to limp out of the latest COVID-19 surge

AP - February 9, 2022

Across the U.S., the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has tumbled more than 28% over the past three weeks to about 105,000 on average, according to the CDC. But the ebbing of the omicron surge has left in its wake postponed surgeries, exhausted staff members and uncertainty over whether this is the last big wave or whether another one lies ahead.

Air Force approves 9 religious exemptions for COVID vaccine

AP - February 9, 2022

The Air Force became the second military service to approve religious exemptions to the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, granting requests from nine airmen to avoid the shots, officials said Tuesday. The nine approved so far represent just a tiny fraction of the more than 6,400 requested by Air Force troops…

Pandemic Has Been Devastating to Mental Health of Disabled Americans

HealthDay - February 9, 2022

Even before the pandemic, individuals with disabilities were more likely to experience social isolation than their peers without disabilities. But this survey of 441 adults conducted between October and December of 2020 found that 61% of respondents who self-reported a disability had signs of a major depressive disorder. About 50% had probable anxiety disorder.

US death toll from COVID-19 hits 900,000, sped by omicron

AP - February 7, 2022

Propelled in part by the wildly contagious omicron variant, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 hit 900,000 on Friday, less than two months after eclipsing 800,000. The two-year total, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of Indianapolis, San Francisco, or Charlotte, North Carolina.

CDC backs Moderna COVID-19 shots after full US approval

AP - February 7, 2022

The CDC on Friday continued its endorsement of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for adults, now that U.S. regulators have given the shots their full approval. The decision has little practical effect. Tens of millions of Americans have already gotten Moderna shots, following its emergency authorization by the FDA more than a year ago.

Study suggests Omicron-specific booster may not provide more protection

STAT - February 7, 2022

A new study conducted in primates suggests there may not be a benefit from updating Covid-19 vaccines to target the Omicron variant at this time. The work, by scientists at the NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center, shows that animals boosted with the original vaccine had similar levels of protection against disease in the lungs as did primates that received an updated booster based on the Omicron strain.