Sources and updates, May 15

  • COVID-19 deaths that could’ve been prevented with vaccines: A new analysis from the Brown University School of Public Health suggests that almost 319,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths could have been avoided if all adults had gotten vaccinated against the disease. This number differs significantly by state; there were 29,000 preventable COVID-19 deaths in Florida, compared to under 300 in Vermont. For more context on the analysis, see this article in NPR.
  • CDC dashboard in Spanish: The CDC has translated its COVID-19 Data Tracker into Español. At a glance, the Spanish version appears to include all the major aspects of the tracker: cases, deaths, vaccinations, community transmission, variant prevalence, wastewater, etc. Of course, it would have been great if the agency could’ve devoted resources to this translation effort well below spring 2022, when the number of people looking to the agency for COVID-19 guidance is pretty low.
  • CDC may lose access to COVID-19 data: According to reporting from POLITICO, the CDC and other national health agencies may no longer have the authority to require COVID-19 data reporting from states and individual health institutions if the Biden administration allows the country’s federal pandemic health emergency to end this summer. Such a change in authority could lead to the CDC (and numerous other researchers across the country) losing standardized datasets for COVID-19 hospitalizations, transmission in nursing homes, PCR testing, and other key metrics. Considering that hospitalizations are considered the most reliable metric right now, this could be a major blow.
  • COVID-19 testing declines globally: Speaking of losing reliable data: this report from the Associated Press caught my eye. The story, by Laura Ungar, explains that the U.S. is not the only country to see a major decrease in reported COVID-19 tests (a.k.a. Lab-based PCR, not at-home rapid tests) in recent months. “Experts say testing has dropped by 70 to 90% worldwide from the first to the second quarter of this year,” Ungar writes, “the opposite of what they say should be happening with new omicron variants on the rise in places such as the United States and South Africa.”
  • More promising data on Moderna kids’ vaccine: While Pfizer’s vaccine for children under five remains in development, Moderna continues to release data suggesting that this company is further ahead in providing protection for the youngest age group. This week, Moderna announced a half-dose of its vaccine provides a “strong immune response” in children ages six to 11; the announcement was backed up by a scientific study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (so, more rigorous than your typical press release). The FDA is currently evaluating a version of Moderna’s vaccine for children between ages six months and six years.

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