Sources and updates, September 18

  • COVID-19’s impact on the workforce: Economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research released a new working paper this week, showing that COVID-19 has “persistently” reduced the U.S.’s labor supply. Using data from the Census’ Current Population Survey, the researchers found that workers who had to take off at least a week from work due to COVID-19 were seven percentage points less likely to still be in the labor force a year later, compared to those who didn’t miss a week. Overall, Long COVID pushed about 500,000 people out of the workforce, the paper estimates. Notably, this estimate is much lower than the analysis from the Brookings Institution published last month; the gap between these two reports suggests a need for more robust data collection on Long COVID and work.
  • Long COVID prevalence from a population survey: Last week, I shared a new preprint from Denis Nash and his team at the City University of New York, reporting on the results of a national survey used to determine true COVID-19 prevalence during the BA.5 surge. This week, Nash et al. shared another preprint from that same survey, focused on Long COVID. Based on the nationally-representative survey (sample size: about 3,000), the researchers estimate about 7.3% of U.S. adults are currently experiencing Long COVID symptoms—matching estimates from the Household Pulse Survey. One-quarter of those Long COVID patients surveyed reported that their day-to-day life activities were significantly impacted.
  • Lancet COVID-19 Commission shares lessons from the pandemic: The Lancet COVID-19 Commission is an interdisciplinary group of scientists convened by the journal to study the COVID-19 crisis and make recommendations for the future. In the group’s final report, released this week, the scientists focus on “failures of international cooperation” that have contributed to unnecessary illness and deaths. Those failures include delays in acknowledging that the coronavirus spreads through the air, not enough funding for low- and middle-income countries, “the lack of timely, accurate, and systematic data,” and more.
  • COVID-19 archive of Dr. Fauci’s emails: The COVID-19 Archive is a project aiming to compile digital documents tracing the early phases of the pandemic. Its prototype iteration allows users to search and sort through the early-COVID inbox of Dr. Anthony Fauci, via email records contributed by investigative reporter Jason Leopold. (MuckRock, where I work part-time, is a collaborator on the project, but I’m not personally involved with it.)
  • U.S. has active circulation of vaccine-derived polio: This week, the CDC and World Health Organization formally announced that the polioviruses spreading in New York state constitute active circulation of vaccine-derived polio. Most other countries that meet this WHO classification are developing nations in Africa, as well as Israel, the U.K., and Ukraine. For more on what exactly “vaccine-derived polio” means and how the disease made a comeback in the U.S., I recommend reading Maryn McKenna in WIRED.
  • Neurological symptoms associated with monkeypox: Here’s one study in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that caught my eye this week: the agency has identified two cases in which monkeypox patients faced inflammation in their brains (called encephalomyelitis), leading to neurological symptoms. Both patients were hospitalized and required weeks of rehab, including use of walkers. The CDC says these symptoms are rare but worth monitoring, and is encouraging local health agencies to report any further cases.

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