Sources and updates, October 1

  • CDC publishes Long COVID data from national survey: Every year, the CDC conducts the National Health Interview Survey, a detailed look at population health in the U.S. through interviews of about 30,000 adults and 9,000 children. In 2022, the survey included questions about Long COVID, defining the condition as symptoms for at least three months after an initial COVID-19 case. This week, the CDC published data from the 2022 survey. Among the findings: about 6.9% of adults had ever experienced Long COVID, and 3.4% had it at the time of their interview. These figures were 1.3% and 0.5% for children, respectively. Women were more likely to experience it than men, and the survey identified other demographic differences (race, income, etc.). While many of the findings align with other Long COVID data, this CDC survey is unique in providing data on Long COVID in kids—which can be devastating for the small (yet significant) number of people impacted.
  • Molnupiravir could lead to new coronavirus mutations: A new study, posted in Nature this week ahead of its final publication, identifies potential dangers of using the antiviral molnupiravir. (Molnupiravir, made by Merck, is a similar drug to Paxlovid but tends to be less effective, so it’s not used as widely.) For this study, researchers at the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and colleagues examined coronavirus sequence data and found that certain mutations were likely to increase after molnupiravir use. Researchers have already known that this antiviral could lead to more viral evolution, but the paper provides more details on specific mutation risks; further research may examine the drug’s implications for immunocompromised patients.
  • Accessibility issues for COVID-19 websites: Many state and territorial COVID-19 websites don’t meet accessibility guidelines, making their key health information difficult for people who are blind or visually impaired to access, according to researchers at North Carolina State University. The researchers recently replicated a study that they’d first done in 2021, running checks on state sites against standard web accessibility guidance. “In 2021, none of these public-facing COVID-19 sites met all the checked WCAG guidelines, and things did not get any better in 2023,” study author Dylan Hewitt said in a statement. Issues include incompatibility with screen readers, limited color contrast, and no alt text for images.
  • Polling data indicate higher interest in flu shots than COVID-19 shots: The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has published a new round of polling data from its COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, focusing on vaccinations this fall. About 58% of adults in the poll said they would get a flu shot this year, compared to 47% who said they would get an updated COVID-19 shot. Vaccine interest continues to be partisan, the poll suggested, with Democrats much more likely to express confidence in the updated COVID-19 vaccines’ safety than Republicans. Democrats were also more likely to respond to increased COVID-19 spread, with 58% of those polled saying they recently took more precautions in response to the surge this summer.
  • New behavioral health survey data from the CDC: One more CDC update from this week: the agency has just published 2022 data from its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS involves interviews of more than 400,000 adults each year, including questions about alcohol use, tobacco use, immunizations, cancer screenings, mental health, and more. While the data aren’t directly related to COVID-19, this surveillance system may be a valuable source for reporters or researchers seeking contextual data about health behaviors in a particular state, city, or county.

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