Sources and updates, May 28

  • New Long COVID papers from the Patient-Led Research Collaborative: Speaking of new Long COVID research: the Patient-Led Research Collaborative, a group of long-haulers who do and support research on their condition, has recently published two new papers. The first, published in Nature and based on a patient survey, discusses Long COVID’s intersection with common psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety. The second, published in Fronteirs in Rehabilitation Science, is a review paper going over the reproductive health impacts of Long COVID. Long COVID frequently causes disruptions to the menstrual cycle, gonad function, fertility, and other areas of reproductive health, yet these symptoms are understudied.
  • FDA fully approves Paxlovid: The FDA has provided full approval to Pfizer for its antiviral COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid. Millions of Americans have received Paxlovid since it earned Emergency Use Authorization in late 2021, and many studies have shown that it’s effective in reducing the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms. With the federal public health emergency’s end, the FDA has encouraged pharmaceutical companies to apply for full approval for their COVID-19 products so that they can permanently remain on the market; Paxlovid is a high-profile example of that trend.
  • Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines protect, but wane: The CDC published another study this week evaluating the bivalent (or Omicron-specific) COVID-19 booster shots. These vaccines clearly provide additional protection against severe COVID-19 symptoms, the study finds, but this immune system boost goes away after several months. In the study, vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization declined from 62% in early weeks post-vaccination, to 24% at three to six months post-vaccination. The study shows that additional boosters and/or newer vaccines are needed for vulnerable adults.
  • Value of regular testing for controlling outbreaks: Another notable new study: researchers at the University of Wyoming compared how well different mitigation strategies work for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases, using a model informed by both epidemiological and economic factors. They found that frequent testing—paired with isolation for people who tested positive—was more effective at reducing disease spread than physical distancing measures, like closing businesses or having employees work from home. The paper suggests that testing can help reduce illness while keeping businesses open.
  • Funding for a WHO disease surveillance initiative: The Rockefeller Foundation and World Health Organization recently announced a new partnership, with the foundation providing $5 million to support the WHO’s Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence. This Hub was established in 2021, with goals including fostering global collaboration on disease surveillance, providing better (and more complete) data, and improving tools for public health decisions. Rockefeller’s support will help with scaling up genomic surveillance, real-time data collection, and more.

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