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.