Sources and updates, August 13

  • CDC identifies continued Long COVID risk: A new study from the CDC this week, published in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, summarizes data from the CDC and Census Household Pulse Survey examining Long COVID prevalence in the U.S. According to the survey, Long COVID prevalence declined slightly from summer 2022 to early 2023, but has remained consistent this year at about 6% of all U.S. adults. The survey also found that about one in four adults with Long COVID consistently report “significant activity limitations” from the condition, meaning they are less able to work and participate in other aspects of daily life. Treating Long COVID and supporting long-haulers should be priorities for the healthcare system, the study’s authors write.
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction in Long COVID: Another new paper, published this week in Science Translational Medicine, demonstrates the role that mitochondria may play in Long COVID. Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia studied tissue samples from autopsies and animals infected with COVID-19, finding that the coronavirus led to malfunctioning mitochondria in several key organ systems. These malfunctions may contribute to Long COVID symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog, and could be a target for future treatments. Elizabeth Cooney at STAT News covered the study in more detail.
  • Benefits of vaccination during pregnancy: One more notable new study: researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (or NIAID, part of the NIH) tracked the impacts of COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant people. The study included 240 vaccinated participants who contributed blood samples, between July 2021 through January 2022. Both the parents and their newborns developed antibodies against the coronvirus following infection, the researchers found. While previous papers have demonstrated the value of vaccination for new parents, this study is one of the largest so far to show that protection is conferred to newborns.
  • Wastewater surveillance webinar from the People’s CDC: If you’ve been following wastewater data to keep up with COVID-19 trends but have had questions about how this form of surveillance works, you may find it helpful to watch this recorded webinar from health advocacy organization the People’s CDC. In the video, Marc Johnson, a professor at the University of Missouri and director of the state’s wastewater surveillance program, talks through how wastewater is tested for the coronavirus (and variants), how to interpret wastewater data, cryptic lineages, and more. Understanding this novel data source is increasingly important now, as traditional healthcare data on COVID-19 are less reliable.
  • New federal heat surveillance dashboard: Finally, in other public health news, the federal government has launched a new dashboard to track heat-related health issues. The dashboard compiles data from Emergency Medical Services reports across the country, representing responses to 911 calls for any health reason related to heat stress. (You can see the list of potential health events in the dashboard’s documentation.) Currently, many southern states are experiencing high levels of heat-related health problems, according to the dashboard. Many of the same states are also experiencing COVID-19 upticks right now—trends that may be related, as more people gather inside during hot weather.

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