Sources and updates, April 17

  • A Poor People’s Pandemic Report: This new report, compiled by the Poor People’s Campaign (a national activist group that advocates for low-income Americans) as well as U.N. economists and other researchers, shows the pandemic’s disproportionate impacts by income levels. Overall, people in poorer counties died of COVID-19 at nearly twice the rate of those in richer counties, the report found. On this dashboard, users can see the correlations of COVID-19 death rates with income, population density, and other factors. This article from the Guardian includes more context on the findings.
  • SARS-CoV-2 in Animals: I recently learned about this dashboard while working on an upcoming Documenting COVID-19 story: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports on COVID-19 cases in animals, identified through both PCR and antibody tests. In addition to the case numbers, the dashboard includes announcements of notable cases and recent research in this area. It’s important to note that these numbers are likely undercounts, because the U.S. doesn’t actively monitor animals for COVID-19, unlike some other countries.
  • The Role of Wastewater Data in Pandemic Management: This new report from the Rockefeller Foundation examines how state and local public health agencies are using wastewater surveillance. The foundation surveyed 12 state and 194 local agencies, many of which have been monitoring wastewater for a year or more; this report includes findings on the populations served by wastewater surveillance, data used to make pandemic management decisions, barriers that agencies face for expanding their surveillance, and more.
  • GAO report on Wastewater Surveillance: Speaking of wastewater, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) also released a report on the monitoring tool this week. The GAO report provides an overview of how wastewater surveillance works and its potential for providing early warnings of outbreaks, along with challenges faced by agencies seeking to start testing their wastewater. From the report’s highlights: “the lack of national coordination and standardized methods pose challenges to wider adoption.”
  • Protection from vaccination and previous infection: A new study, published in the CDC MMWR this week, assesses the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination for people who had a prior infection. During the Omicron surge, the study shows, people who had been previously infected and vaccinated were less likely to be hospitalized due to a COVID-19 reinfection, compared to those who weren’t vaccinated. Vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization was 35% for those who had two doses, and 69% for those who had received a booster.
  • Pfizer seeks booster shot for 5-11 year olds: This week, Pfizer announced that it’s asking the FDA to authorize a booster shot for children in the 5 to 11 age group. The company cited new data showing that kids who got a booster shot six months after their primary series experienced a significant increase in antibodies that protect against COVID-19. These data have yet to be published in a scientific report or vetted by experts, though. Also, still no news on Pfizer’s vaccine for younger children (which could also require three doses).

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