Omicron BA.2 On The Rise, Threatening Another Surge
Health officials in Washington state say the "stealth omicron" subvariant now accounts for 25% of local covid cases. The Fresno Bee covers the rise of BA.2 in California. Covid in children, safe organ transplants from covid patients, sewage surveillance, and more are also in the news.
Omicron Subvariant Found In 25% Of Cases Tested At UW Lab
Health officials say the subvariant of omicron known as BA.2 accounts for about one-fourth of COVID-19 cases sequenced in Washington. The Seattle Times reports the subvariant has steadily spread in the state, and across the country and Europe, but researchers are hopeful any potential wave of the new strain won’t cause as many infections, hospitalizations and deaths as the original version of the variant did. (3/23)
BA.2 COVID Subvariant Rising In California. Is Surge Coming?
As a more contagious subvariant of omicron known as BA.2 represents a steadily climbing portion of COVID-19 cases in California, experts are still working to determine whether that means another surge is on the horizon — and if so, when and how severe it might be. For now, California has nestled into one of its lowest points of COVID-19 activity of the two-year pandemic. The only period with lower case rates and hospital numbers was spring 2021, after vaccines began to roll out but before the delta variant took hold. (McGough, 3/23)
And more news on the spread of the novel coronavirus —
Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Nevada Surpasses 10K Total COVID-19 Deaths
Nevada this week crossed a major milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, more than two years after the virus first caused shutdowns and restrictions around the world — 10,000 deaths. The state reported 82 deaths over the preceding week, with data updated through Monday. That increase was reported despite the 14-day moving average of daily deaths dropping from four to three. Divided by seven, the number of deaths reported over the last week represent an average of over 11 per day — well above the daily number on the dashboard. (Dylan, 3/23)
Study: Kids' Antibody Responses After COVID-19 Greater Than Adults'
US infants and toddlers previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 had significantly higher levels of antibodies against the virus than did adults, finds a prospective study yesterday in JCI Insight. Researchers with Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared concentrations of receptor binding domain (RBD) antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and neutralizing antibodies in serum samples from children 0 to 17 years old with those from adults aged 18 to 62. (3/23)
Why Don't Kids Get Covid Badly? Scientists Are Starting To Understand
One of the enduring mysteries of the Covid-19 pandemic, a global health crisis that has led to over 6 million fatalities, is that children have been spared by the virus — for the most part — and have not experienced anywhere near the severity of illness that adults have. When Covid emerged in late 2019 and began to spread around the world, scientists scrambled to understand the virus and how to combat it, with hospitals trying different techniques to save the worst-off Covid patients in intensive care units. Mercifully, few of those patients were children, posing a mystery for public health experts as to why kids were not becoming severely ill or dying with Covid. (Ellyatt, 3/24)
Organ Transplants From Donors Who Had COVID-19 Are Safe, Study Shows
For those waiting during the pandemic for a new kidney or liver, new research is reassuring: Organs from deceased donors who had COVID-19 did not cause infection in recipients and posed no risk to healthcare workers. In a study that began in September 2021, the Duke University School of Medicine team assessed transplants in which two livers and two kidney/pancreas combinations from four donors who tested positive for COVID-19 were given to four recipients. (3/23)
Simple Home Oxygen Monitors Signal When To Seek COVID Care
COVID-19 patients can safely use inexpensive pulse oximeters at home to watch for a drop in blood oxygen that signals they need to seek advanced care, according to a systematic review published yesterday in The Lancet Digital Health. ... "Remote monitoring reduced unnecessary contact of health-care professionals with patients with COVID-19, which could control the risk of infection transmission and enable resources to be redirected to those who need them the most," the study authors wrote. For example, one study found that only 5 of 162 remote patient monitoring participants required in-person assessment. Another study of 279 participants estimated savings of about $845,000 over 6 months. (Van Beusekom, 3/23)
Health Officials See Bright Future In Poop Surveillance
One of Patrick Green’s first orders of business each day is to open a tap and fill a bottle with sludge. A utilities plant operator in Modesto, a city of nearly a quarter-million people in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Green helps keep the city’s sewers flowing and its wastewater treated to acceptable levels of safety. But in recent months, he and his colleagues have added covid-19 sleuthing to their job description. At the treatment plant where Modesto’s sewer pipes converge, larger items, ranging from not-supposed-to-be-flushed baby wipes to car parts, are filtered out. What remains is ushered into a giant vat, where the solids settle to the bottom. It’s from that 3-feet-deep dark sludge that researchers siphon samples in their search for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid. (Barry-Jester, 3/24)
White House Once Again Urges Congress To Pass Funding For Covid
The White House on Wednesday continued to press Congress to provide emergency funding it says it needs to buy additional Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and other critical pandemic tools. Without the funds, the U.S. faces major cutbacks in its Covid response efforts, including a critical shortage of monoclonal antibody treatments and an insufficient supply of fourth vaccine doses that may be needed for the general public this fall, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said at a briefing. (Lovelace Jr., 3/23)