2/24/23 – Weekly Health Update

2/24/23 – Weekly Health Update

CHAP’s Weekly Health Update
In this “one-stop-shop” update, CHAP will provide a roundup of important COVID-19, Flu, and other information from various federal sources.

All health care providers should be monitoring COVID-19 incidence rates in their state/county on an ongoing basis.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC provides weekly data about case rates, deaths, testing, and vaccine administration on their COVID tracker webpage.


COVID-19 Variants by Region & Map Key

Seasonal Flu Data – Note the state in dark blue and red that have very high flu rates at this time. Please take proper infection control actions in these areas.


CDC and Other Federal Health Updates

No federal updates this week.

COVID-19 News Headlines:

CIDRAP unveils roadmap for advancing better coronavirus vaccines (2/21/23)

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the warning signs for newly emerging and deadly coronaviruses were already flashing bright red. Researchers were still working on SARS-CoV studies in 2012 when the even deadlier MERS-CoV arrived on the scene in the Middle East, repeatedly jumping from camels over the years and sparking large healthcare-related outbreaks.

As scientists track the rapidly changing SARS-CoV-2 evolution, others are testing and sequencing animal samples to sift out the ones that might pose the next threat to humans. Taken together, the developments have led to a stark realization: The vaccines that worked so well to cut severe illness and death during COVID-19 aren't enough to protect people from the current virus, which has become a moving target, or the novel coronaviruses that will certainly follow.

To help jump-start the search for better vaccines, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota today released the Coronavirus Vaccines Research and Development (R&D) Roadmap (CVR), a strategy to develop broadly protective vaccines—suitable for use in all world regions—to tackle both threats. Armed with $1 million in support from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CIDRAP
pulled together an international collaboration of 50 scientists who mapped out a strategy to make the new vaccines a reality.

Brain changes may be linked to anxiety, depression in long COVID (2/21/23)

People who have long COVID and experience anxiety and depression following a mild infection may have brain changes that affect its structure and function, Brazilian researchers reported yesterday at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) annual meeting in Boston. Long-COVID patients who had anxiety and depression had shrinkage in the brain's limbic area, which is involved in memory and emotional processing. However, the brain scans of COVID patient who had no anxiety and depression, as well as those who didn't experience COVID, revealed no signs of shrinkage.

There are at least 500 coronaviruses. We must develop next-gen vaccines now, experts say (2/21/23)

In some ways, we've been lucky with the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus that causes it is highly contagious but not as lethal as others in its coronavirus family. The initial SARS virus killed roughly 1 in 10 of those infected; a relative called Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, still kills 1 in 3. But we may not always be so lucky. With animals, including bats, colonized by hundreds of coronaviruses, another one might come along with the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 and the death rate of MERS. Hoping to prevent that, scientists on Tuesday unveiled a "road map" for developing a new vaccine that would be broadly protective against all coronaviruses.

COVID-19 vaccination associated with fewer heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular issues (2/20/23)

Analyzing the most extensive datasets in the United States, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have revealed that vaccination against COVID-19 is associated with fewer heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular issues among people who were infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Immunity acquired from a Covid infection is as protective as vaccination against severe illness and death, study finds (2/16/23)
Immunity acquired from a Covid infection provides strong, lasting protection against the most severe outcomes of the illness, according to research published Thursday in The Lancet — protection, experts say, that’s on par with what’s provided through two doses of an mRNA vaccine. Infection-acquired immunity cut the risk of hospitalization and death from a Covid reinfection by 88% for at least 10 months, the study found.

Moderna to offer free COVID vaccine shots to uninsured after emergency ends (2/16/23)
Moderna will offer free COVID-19 vaccines for "uninsured or underinsured people," the company announced Wednesday, pledging to ensure continued access to the shots after the public health emergency ends in May and government-bought supplies run out. The announcement comes as the vaccine maker has come under scrutiny for plans to raise its price on the commercial market.

Rivals Pfizer and BioNTech have already confirmed plans to list their COVID-19 vaccines starting at $110 per dose, more than triple the cost the Biden administration paid for a bulk purchase of updated COVID boosters last summer.