Sources and updates, February 12

  • CDC committee recommends adding COVID-19 to childhood vaccine schedule: The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which makes guidance on vaccination policies, issued a report this week recommending that COVID-19 vaccines be added to the standard childhood immunization regimen. Under the new guidelines, most children ages six months and older should receive two doses of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, followed by a bivalent/Omicron-specific booster shot. Immunocompromised children are eligible for additional doses.
  • KFF’s latest COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor focuses on winter surge: The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released the January 2023 update of its Vaccine Monitor project, which tracks U.S. sentiment around COVID-19 vaccines (and other pandemic topics) over time. In the latest round of surveys, KFF researchers found that about 38% of U.S. adults reported that “their households experienced either COVID-19, the flu, or RSV over the past month or so.” About 46% of adults reported that the news of these viruses made them more likely to take safety precautions. The report also includes data on bivalent booster shot uptake, behavior among immunocompromised people, and more.
  • New variants have yet to emerge from China, study suggests: A new paper from researchers at the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, published in The Lancet this week, found that COVID-19 cases in China during November and December 2022 were primarily driven by the Omicron subvariants BA.5.2 and BF.7. Both of these lineages entered China from other countries, rather than evolving during the country’s surge following the end of its “zero COVID” policies. The new paper is good news for global health experts who’ve been worried about new variants emerging from China, though outside reviewers have cautioned that it’s only one small snapshot of cases in the country, according to reporting by POLITICO EU
  • Wastewater surveillance has a global health equity problem: Another study that caught my attention this week was a paper from the COVIDPoops19 team at the University of California Merced, summarizing findings from their global wastewater dashboard. The team reviewed wastewater surveillance projects at over 200 universities, 1,400 sites, and 55 countries, and found that monitoring primarily occurred in high-income countries. The researchers also examined open access to data, finding that high-income countries were better at sharing information with researchers and with the public. For wastewater-based epidemiology to reach its full potential, “show us the data,” the team writes in their paper’s abstract.
  • Microbiome research shows promise for understanding ME/CFS: In one more piece of research news: two recent studies suggest that the gut microbiome could play a role in causing myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a debilitating chronic disease that often occurs after viral infection. In research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, scientists found specific changes to gut bacteria that were associated with ME/CFS patients. These changes could potentially be used as biomarkers to diagnose ME/CFS and as starting points for treatment. The new research also has potential implications for Long COVID, as many Long COVID patients meet the diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS.

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