Sources and updates, July 10

  • CDC adds (limited) Long COVID data to its dashboard: This week, the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker added a new page, reporting data from a study of “post-COVID conditions” (more colloquially known as Long COVID). The study, called Innovative Support for Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Infections (INSPIRE), follows patients who test positive for up to 18 months and tracks their continued symptoms. Among about 4,100 COVID-positive patients in the study, over 10% still had symptoms at three months after their infections, and over 1% still had symptoms at 12 months. This is just one study among many tracking Long COVID, but it is an important step for the CDC to add these data to their dashboard.
  • Air change guidance by state: In recognition of the role ventilation can play in reducing COVID-19 spread, some states have put out recommendations for minimum air changes per hour (ACH), a metric for tracking indoor air quality. Researcher Devabhaktuni Srikrishna has compiled the recommendations on his website, Patient Knowhow, with a map showing ACH guidance by state. (I recently interviewed Srikrishna for an upcoming story about ventilation.)
  • COVID-19 is a leading cause of death in the U.S.: A new study from researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute confirms that COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., in both 2020 and 2021. The researchers utilized death records from the CDC in their analysis, comparing COVID-19 to common causes such as cancer and heart disease. COVID-19 was a top cause of death for every age group over age 15, the study found.
  • COVID-19 disparities in Louisiana: Another notable study this week: researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park examined the roles of social, economic, and environmental factors in COVID-19 deaths in Louisiana, focusing on Black residents. “We find that Black communities in parishes with both higher and lower population densities experience higher levels of stressors, leading to greater COVID-19 mortality rate,” the researchers wrote. The study’s examination of environmental racism in relation to COVID-19 seems particularly novel to me; I hope to see more research in this area.
  • Tracking coronavirus variants in wastewater: And one more new study: a large consortium of researchers, led by scientists at the University of California San Diego, explores the use of wastewater surveillance to track new variants. Variants can show up in wastewater up to two weeks earlier than they show up in samples from clinical (PCR) testing, the researchers found. In addition, some variants identified in wastewater are “not captured by clinical genomic surveillance.”
  • Global COVID-19 vaccine and treatment initiative ending: The ACT-Accelerator, a collaboration between the World Health Organization and other health entities and governments, has run out of funding. This is bad news for low- and middle-income countries that relied on the program for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments—many of which are still largely unvaccinated, more than a year after vaccines became widely available in high-income countries. Global health equity initiatives will likely continue in another form, but funding will be a continued challenge.

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