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

CDC advisers weigh delaying second Covid shots to 8 weeks

NBC News - February 7, 2022

A wider gap between the first two doses of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines could improve the shots' effectiveness and help reduce the risk of a rare type of heart inflammation called myocarditis, experts told a CDC advisory committee on Friday.

China’s pandemic Olympics begin, with lockdown and boycotts

AP - February 4, 2022

The country where the coronavirus outbreak emerged two years ago launched a locked-down Winter Olympics on Friday, proudly projecting its might on the most global of stages even as some Western governments mounted a diplomatic boycott over the way China treats millions of its own people. The opening ceremony began just after the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at the same lattice-encased National Stadium that hosted the inaugural event at the 2008 Olympics.

Medicare opens up access to free at-home COVID-19 tests

AP - February 4, 2022

The Biden administration, seeking to fill a frustrating gap in coverage for COVID-19 tests, Thursday announced that people with Medicare will be able to get free over-the-counter tests much more easily in the coming weeks. CMS said Medicare will cover up to eight free tests per month, starting in early spring. The tests will be handed out at participating pharmacies and other locations.

Gay and lesbian adults had higher COVID-19 vaccination rates than heterosexual adults: CDC

ABC News - February 4, 2022

Gay and lesbian adults are more likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 than heterosexual adults, federal officials said Thursday. A new study from the CDC found 85.4% of gay and lesbian Americans above age 18 had received at least one vaccine dose as of October 2021. By comparison, 76.3% of heterosexuals reported receiving at least an initial dose … gay and lesbian adults were more likely to be concerned about COVID-19 and to believe in the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

Surgeon General Reassures Parents that COVID Vaccine Will Be Rigorously Analyzed for Kids Under 5

PEOPLE - February 4, 2022

The U.S. surgeon general is reassuring parents that the FA will rigorously analyze data on Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine before approving it for use in kids under 5 years old. … Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said that it will be thoroughly researched. "Please know that the FDA will not cut any corners in their review process. They know that they are the gold standard that all of us rely on”…

Once struggling, anti-vaccination groups have enjoyed a pandemic windfall

NBC News - February 4, 2022

The pandemic has been a boon for the anti-vaccine community, with Bigtree’s Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), one of the country’s best-funded anti-vaccine organizations, among the biggest beneficiaries, according to newly filed tax records. … The funding underscores how lucrative the pandemic has been for a handful of groups that spread health misinformation and undermine public faith in vaccines.

COVID-19 linked to risk of dangerous blood clots in stroke patients

American Heart Association - February 4, 2022

Older stroke patients who had a history of COVID-19 were more likely to develop dangerous blood clots in the veins than those who did not have the coronavirus-driven disease, a new study from the CDC shows.

Stroke Risk Highest for Older COVID Patients Soon After Diagnosis

HealthDay - February 4, 2022

A new study from the CDC found the risk of COVID-related ischemic stroke appears greatest in the first three days after you're diagnosed with the virus. Not just higher, but 10 times greater than during the period before a person contracts COVID-19.

Pfizer asks FDA to allow COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5

AP - February 2, 2022

Pfizer on Tuesday asked the U.S. to authorize extra-low doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5, potentially opening the way for the very youngest Americans to start receiving shots as early as March. In an extraordinary move, the FDA had urged Pfizer and its partner BioNTech to apply earlier than the companies had planned — and before it’s settled if the youngsters will need two shots or three.

COVID hospitalizations amid omicron 23 times higher among unvaccinated than those who got boosters: report

ABC News - February 2, 2022

During the omicron wave, unvaccinated Americans had much higher rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization than fully vaccinated people -- especially those who received a booster shot, officials said Tuesday. In a new report published by the CDC…

Pandemic takes toll on heart health: 41% report at least 1 issue in survey

TODAY - February 2, 2022

The pandemic has been taking a toll on Americans’ hearts — even those who’ve never had COVID-19 — with 41% reporting they have experienced at least one cardiac-related issue since March 2020, according to a Cleveland Clinic survey released on Tuesday. The most common problems included shortness of breath, which affected almost one-fifth of respondents; dizziness and increased blood pressure, each cited by 15%; and chest pain, reported by 13%.

‘Take back life’: More nations ease coronavirus restrictions

AP - February 2, 2022

Late-night disco partying. Elbow-to-elbow seating in movie theaters. Mask-free baring of faces in public, especially in Europe and North America: Bit by bit, many countries that have been hard-hit by the coronavirus are opening up and easing their tough, and often unpopular, restrictive measures aimed to fight COVID-19 even as the omicron variant — deemed less severe — has caused cases to skyrocket.

Researchers are asking why some countries were better prepared for covid. One surprising answer: Trust.

Washington Post - February 2, 2022

“We found no links between covid outcomes and democracy, populism, government effectiveness, universal health care, pandemic preparedness metrics, economic inequality or trust in science,” Bollyky said. … Instead, better outcomes appear to have gone hand in hand with high levels of trust in government and other citizens. Perception of government corruption was correlated with worse outcomes.

Early data indicate vaccines still protect against Omicron’s sister variant, BA.2

STAT - January 31, 2022

New data show that vaccines still protect against a spinoff of the Omicron variant, a welcome sign as the world keeps a close eye on the latest coronavirus iteration. BA.2, as the sublineage is known, is part of the broader Omicron umbrella. Scientists are paying more attention to it as it begins to eat into the dominance of the more common Omicron strain, which is technically called BA.1.

A cocoon of vaccination provides ‘substantial’ protection for unvaccinated kids, studies find

CNN - January 31, 2022

[There's] new evidence that they can get significant protection from the coronavirus if everyone around them is vaccinated. Two new studies done in Israel found that vaccinating people in a household reduces the transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19. The studies were published Thursday in the journal Science.

In Super-Vaxxed Vermont, Covid Strikes — But Packs Far Less Punch

Kaiser Health - January 31, 2022

Although nearly universal vaccination could not keep the highly mutated omicron variant from sweeping through the state, Vermont’s collective measures do appear to be protecting residents from the worst of the contagion’s damage. Vermont’s covid-related hospitalization rates, while higher than last winter’s peak, still rank last in the nation. And overall death rates also rank comparatively low.