Sources and updates, September 25

  • CDC adds data on new booster shots: The latest addition to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker is the Omicron-specific, bivalent booster shots, authorized a couple of weeks ago. So far, the CDC has only provided a total count of Omicron booster recipients (4.4 million, as of September 21) and incorporated these boosters into total counts of Americans who’ve received “first” and “second boosters. A note at the top of the dashboard explains the CDC is working to provide more granular data about the new boosters as separated out from past boosters.
  • Evidence Commons (ASU): Researchers at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions have compiled this detailed dashboard of scientific publications related to COVID-19 tests, supported with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. The dashboard incorporates information from over 3,000 papers, sorted by the type of test under study, methodology, analysis location, and more. It’s a helpful tool to sort through diagnostic details that are often buried in technical documents.
  • Helix announces new CDC partnership: Speaking of testing, the viral sequencing and population genomics company Helix announced this week that it has an “extended agreement” with the CDC to sequence coronavirus samples for the agency’s analysis. While Helix has been working with the CDC on variant tracking for some time, the new partnership extends this important effort: Helix (and research partners) will sequence over 3,000 coronavirus samples per week for the next year, “with the option to double the number of samples during surge moments,” according to the company’s press release.
  • Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence: The CDC has also directed new surveillance funding to five state health departments that will test out new genomics technologies and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. These five departments—Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Virginia, and Washington—are receiving $90 million over the next five years; the funding came out of $1.7 billion allocated for genomic surveillance in the American Rescue Plan. I’m glad to see this sustained funding going beyond COVID-19, though I wish more than five states were getting the money!
  • Long-term nervous system damage from COVID-19: Ziyad Al-Aly and his team at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Healthcare System have published a new paper on long-term impacts from a COVID-19 infection. The study used a large dataset of electronic health records from a national VA database, including 154,000 people with COVID-19 and over five million controls. COVID-19 patients had an elevated risk of strokes, cognition and memory problems, seizures, mental health disorders, encephalitis, and more. While the VA population isn’t the best representation for the U.S. population as a whole (it skews older and male), the study still provides evidence for long-term neurological complications from COVID-19.
  • Long COVID estimates in Europe: And one more piece of Long COVID news for this week: the World Health Organization’s European division has produced new estimates on Long COVID for the continent. Between 10% and 20% of COVID-19 cases in Europe have led to mid- or long-term symptoms, the WHO found, impacting up to 17 million people. The study also found women are more likely to develop Long COVID.

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