Sources and updates, July 24

  • New CDC report on drug overdose deaths during the pandemic: Drug overdose deaths increased by 30% from 2019 to 2020, according to a new CDC report compiling data from 25 states and D.C. But this increase was higher for Black and Native Americans: deaths among these groups increased by 44% and 39%, respectively. The full report includes more details on how overdose deaths disproportionately occurred in Black and Native populations, as well as the need for more easily accessible treatments for substance abuse.
  • CDC survey of public health workers: Another CDC report that caught my attention this week presented results from a national survey of state and local public health workers in 2021. Almost three in four of the workers surveyed were involved with COVID-19 response last year. The survey provides further evidence of burnout among public health workers: 40% of those surveyed reported that they intend to leave their jobs within the next five years.
  • COVID-19 testing options: COVID-19 Testing Commons is a research group at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions that has compiled comprehensive information about COVID-19 tests available worldwide. You can search the database for tests by company, platform, type of specimen collected, regulatory status, and more. The group also recently compiled a report summarizing these testing options in the pandemic to date.
  • Congressional hearing on Long COVID: This week, Congress’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis held a hearing specifically about Long COVID. Congressmembers heard from Long COVID patient advocates and researchers about the impacts of this condition and the urgent need for more research and support. I highly recommend reading or listening to the testimony of Hannah Davis, cofounder of the Patient-Led Research Collaborative, for a powerful summary of these impacts and needs. (If you’re watching the video: her testimony starts at about 28:50.)
  • CDC recommends Novavax vaccine: The CDC has officially authorized Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, following the FDA authorization that I mentioned in last week’s issue. Novavax’s vaccine is protein-based, which is an older type of vaccine but has been less common for COVID-19; some experts are hopeful that people who have hesitated with the mRNA vaccines may be more likely to get Novavax. Dr. Katelyn Jetelina has a helpful summary of this vaccine’s potential impact at Your Local Epidemiologist.
  • NYC prevalence preprint updated: I’ve linked a couple of times to this study from a group at the City University of New York, with the striking finding that an estimated one in five New Yorkers got COVID-19 during a two-week period in the BA.2/BA.2.12.1 surge. The researchers recently revised and updated their study, based on some feedback from the scientific community. Their primary conclusions are unchanged, lead author Denis Nash wrote in a Twitter thread, but the updated study includes some context about population immunity and NYC surveillance.

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