Weekly Covid-19 Update: Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I’m coming to you with a bit of a mini-update this week, as I’ve not had much time to read and summarize Covid research this week. This will be my last update for a while, as my work is back to being insanely busy. Aside from one much-needed mini-vacation, I’m going to be spending the majority of my nights and weekends doing work until at least March. I’ll be back to these updates when I can! If you want to be notified when I’m writing again, please be sure to subscribe to receive updates from this page via email. Until then, here’s the latest in Covid research:

1) Different nations have taken different approaches to prioritizing vaccinations in people with asthma. A peer-reviewed study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine sought to understand whether adults with asthma were at increased risk of severe Covid-19. The study analyzed data from people in Scotland, of whom over 4 million had been diagnosed with asthma. Amongst those, 7% had a confirmed case of Covid-19 between March 2020 and July 2021. Of those, 12.3% were admitted to hospital due to Covid. The study found that adults with asthma were at an increased risk of hospitalization due to Covid, and those who had required two or more courses of oral corticosteroids or had been admitted to hospital due to asthma at some stage were also at greater risk of ICU admission and death. The authors concluded that “patients with a recent asthma attack should be considered a priority group for booster COVID-19 vaccines.” You can read the full study here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(21)00543-9/fulltext

2) Research published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) examined whether the Pfizer vaccine provided protection against multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a disease that can occur between 2–6 weeks after a Covid infection. Using data from 102 MIS-C patients and 181 hospitalized controls (children without MIS-C), the estimated effectiveness of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 12–18 against MIS-C was 91%. Of the 102 MIS-C patients, 95% were not vaccinated. A total of 38 MIS-C patients required life support, none of whom were vaccinated. The researchers concluded, “Receipt of 2 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is highly effective in preventing MIS-C in persons aged 12–18 years. These findings further reinforce the COVID-19 vaccination recommendation for eligible children.” You can read the full study here: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7102e1.htm?s_cid=mm7102e1_w

3) Researchers in Canada studied the functional mobility of adults aged 50 or over after having Covid-19. The study involved 24,114 people who were over 50 and lived in a community and found that these individuals had a two-fold increase in their odds of worsening mobility (such as their ability to engage in household activities) and physical function (such as standing up after sitting in a chair) after Covid-19 than those who never had the virus. The majority of participants (94.2%) in the study had mild-to-moderate cases of Covid and were never hospitalized. The authors concluded, “This cohort study among older adults in Canada found that receiving a COVID-19 diagnosis was significantly associated with worse mobility and functioning outcomes even in the absence of hospitalization. These findings suggest that interventions may be needed for individuals with mild to moderate COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization.” This study was peer-reviewed and published in the journal JAMA Network Open. You can read the full text here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2787975

4) Now for a quick world update. In the US, the latest daily number of cases reported was 712,051 yesterday, although this contains data anomalies since many states did not report data on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday. The two-week average number of daily new cases is 790,553, which is a 62% increase over the past two weeks. Hospitalizations have increased 54% over the past two weeks and deaths have also increased 54% over this time period. Per capita, the states with the highest rates of infection include Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Vermont, Delaware, and Utah. In the entire population of the US, 63% of people are fully vaccinated. Amongst age 12 and up, the number is 72%. Of those age 65+, the number is 88%. The Biden administration’s government website for free rapid tests has gone live, and you can access it here: https://www.covidtests.gov/
— In the UK the daily number of new cases today was 94,432. Over the past two weeks there has been a 43% decrease in new cases but a 107% increase in deaths. Today there were 468 deaths, the highest number in 11 months. There are currently 19,450 people in hospital, which is 468 less than this time last week. Today Reuters News Agency reported that they saw a document stating that rapid tests would no longer be offered for free in the UK as of June 2022.
— Elsewhere, France set a new record today for its daily number of infections at 464,769. Italy also recorded a very high number of cases today with 228,179. Australia recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic with 74 deaths. The CDC in the US has warned against travel to Australia, as has the European Union.
Sources:
US numbers: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/covid-cases.html
UK numbers: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/united-kingdom-covid-cases.html
UK rapid test info: https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/exclusive-britain-preparing-end-june-switch-paid-covid-tests-document-2022-01-18/
World updates: https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2022/jan/18/coronavirus-news-live-poland-enters-fifth-covid-wave-australia-reports-record-daily-death-toll?filterKeyEvents=false&page=with:block-61e70a728f08d4a2252dc44d#block-61e70a728f08d4a2252dc44d
Australia deaths: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/covid-restrictions-omicron-cases-news-live-b1995038.html#post-542079

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this. Please stay safe!

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Weekly wrap-up of the latest Coronavirus research and news for those who want a one-stop shop for peer-reviewed research findings written in a way that is easy to understand.

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Andrea Geurin

Andrea Geurin

Social scientist with a Ph.D. and a journalism background.

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