News Scan for May 19, 2022

News brief

Only 25% of long-COVID patients were hospitalized for their infections

Three quarters of US adult and pediatric patients with long COVID were never hospitalized for their infections, and 31% had no preexisting chronic conditions, concludes an observational Fair Health report released yesterday.

The New York City-based nonprofit analyzed its collection of private healthcare claims data from 78,252 long-COVID patients from Oct 1, 2021, to Jan 31, 2022.

Most patients (75.8%) were never hospitalized for their infections, including 81.6% of females and 67.5% of males, and 30.7% had no underlying medical conditions. Of all long-COVID patients, 34.6% were in the 36- to 50-year-old age-group, and 59.8% were female.

The most common long-COVID symptoms, regardless of age or sex, were breathing problems (23.2%), cough (18.9%), and fatigue and malaise (16.7%). Distribution of certain conditions varied by age-group, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) in those aged 0 to 12, abnormal heart rhythms in 13- to 22-year-olds, generalized anxiety disorder in 23- to 35-year-olds, and high blood pressure in those 65 and older.

The rate of other and unspecified weakness of the voluntary muscles was 11.1 times higher than that in the same population before COVID-19 infection, while blood clots in the lungs occurred 2.6 times more often, and brain disorders such as post-viral fatigue syndrome were diagnosed twice as often. Long-COVID patients of all ages were also at elevated risk for higher healthcare use and costs.

"We hope these findings prove helpful for all individuals diagnosed with post-COVID conditions, as well as for providers, payors, policy makers and researchers," Fair Health President Robin Gelburd, JD, said in a press release.

The report follows the organization's Jun 15, 2021, white paper on the same subject.
May 18 Fair Health white paper and press release


CARB-X receives new round of funding from BARDA, Wellcome

The Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) today announced renewed funding from the US government's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and UK charitable foundation Wellcome.

Under the renewed agreement, BARDA will provide CARB-X with up to $300 million over 10 years to support its existing portfolio of antibiotics, therapeutics, diagnostics, and preventive measures against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and launch new funding rounds. Wellcome will provide an additional $70 million over 3 years. BARDA and Wellcome together had provided $355 million in funding to help launch CARB-X in 2016.

Since its launch, CARB-X has become a key player in efforts to revitalize the antibiotic pipeline and boost other methods of tackling the emergence and growth of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Focusing on early-stage research and development (R&D), CARB-X has funded and provided technical support to 92 innovative projects in 12 countries, including 19 novel-class antibiotic candidates, 16 non-traditional therapeutics, 8 vaccines, 4 preventives, and 12 diagnostics.

"We are grateful for the leadership and commitment demonstrated by BARDA and Wellcome in addressing the global challenge of antimicrobial resistant bacteria," Kevin Outterson, JD, executive director of CARB-X, said in a press release. "AMR is a top-tier global killer. With today's funding announcements, CARB-X will continue to invest to support early-stage R&D for new antibacterial therapies, preventatives, and diagnostics."
May 19 CARB-X press release 


CDC reports more unexplained hepatitis cases as global total climbs to 621

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday reported 71 more unexplained hepatitis cases in kids, raising the total to 180 in 36 states.

In a statement, the CDC emphasized that many of the cases are retrospective, with the investigation covering illnesses reported since October 2021. With the catch-up reporting, as details unfold, some cases might not end up being linked to the current investigation.

No new deaths were reported, and with the addition of more cases, the percentage of kids that needed liver transplants declined from 15% to 9% since the last report on May 5.

So far, scientists haven't established a definitive cause. Adenovirus was detected in nearly half of the children and remains a strong lead.

The CDC said severe hepatitis in kids is rare, but parents and caregivers should be aware of symptoms, notably jaundice, and contact healthcare providers with any concerns.

Meanwhile, in a new update today, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said the global total as of today has grown to 621 cases in 31 countries, including 14 deaths.
May 18 CDC statement
May 19 ECDC update

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Flu Scan for May 19, 2022

News brief

Swine-variant H1N1 flu infects German resident of pig farming region

Germany recently reported a swine-origin variant H1N1 (H1N1v) influenza infection, which was identified during routine surveillance, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in a statement.

The patient is an adult aged 30 to 40 from North Rhine-Westphalia state whose symptoms began on Mar 21. A nasal swab was collected on Mar 24, and influenza A was detected on Mar 29. Follow-up sequencing at the national flu lab at the Robert Koch Institute revealed a Eurasian avian-like swine H1N1 virus. Further characterization is under way.

The patient didn't have contact with pigs but lives in a region where there are many swine farms. Some of his or her contacts are swine farmers. The patient was not hospitalized and has recovered. No related illnesses were found in the patient's contacts.

Human infections with swine variant flu viruses are sporadically reported and typically result in mild illness. The WHO said they are still considered a rare and unusual event.
May 19 WHO statement


Avian flu strikes more poultry in 7 states, wild birds in Oregon

In its latest update, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported more highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks in seven states, including two that reported outbreaks at commercial farms.

Minnesota reported an outbreak at a commercial turkey breeding farm in Kandiyohi County in the central part of the state that housed 4,700 birds. Minnesota also reported an outbreak involving backyard birds in Clay County.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania reported an outbreak at a commercial duck breeder in Berks County that had 7,200 birds.

The virus continues to strike backyard facilities, with four outbreaks reported in Idaho's Ada and Canyon counties. Similar reports came from Illinois (Boone County), North Dakota (Burke County), Oregon (Lane County), and Washington (Thurston County).

In related developments, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) yesterday reported more wild bird avian flu detections, alongside its notification about the Lane County backyard bird outbreak. It said the virus was found in Canada goose goslings from a park in Eugene, part of a larger outbreak at the location.

The virus was also found in a red-tailed hawk and an osprey from the Eugene area. The ODA said the cases mark the state's first detections of the virus in wild birds.
USDA APHIS poultry avian influenza page
May 18 ODA statement

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