News Scan for Oct 11, 2022

News brief

New global estimate suggests 6.2% had long-COVID symptoms

A new global estimate of people who experienced long-COVID symptoms after having symptomatic COVID infection suggests that 6.2% reported one of three long-term symptom clusters, an international research group reported yesterday in JAMA.

The experts, called the Global Burden of Disease Long COVID Collaborators, based their modeling estimates on data pooled from 54 studies and 2 medical record databases, which spanned 1.2 million people from 22 countries who were sick in 2020 and 2021, a period that largely didn't include the Omicron variant wave. They estimated proportions of people who had at least one of three symptom clusters 3 months after COVID infection.

The symptom clusters were lingering respiratory problems, persistent fatigue with body pain or mood swings, and cognitive problems.  Ongoing respiratory problems were the most common cluster, at 3.7%, followed by persistent fatigue at 3.2% and cognitive problems at 2.2%.

The risk was greater in females and in people who were hospitalized for their COVID infections.

The authors said the long-COVID sex difference is distinct from severe COVID infection, which is more common in males. They said the difference suggests that the underlying long-COVID mechanism may be different, suggesting a possible autoimmune role for long-COVID development.

The group also found that the sex difference were similar in those younger than 20. They estimated that the mean symptom duration was 9 months in hospitalized patients and was 4 months in nonhospitalized people. Of those who experienced long-COVID symptoms 3 months after the initial illness, 15.1% still has symptoms at 12 months, the team estimated.

Establishing the burden of long COVID can help policymakers plan for services to support people and may shed more light on biologic characteristics, which could lead to new treatment or disease prediction methods, the authors concluded.
Oct 10 JAMA study


80% of COVID Omicron patients still positive 5 days after symptom onset

Among 63,000 US adults and children tested for COVID-19, cough and sore throat were reported more often during the Omicron BA.1 period than amid the pre-Delta and Delta eras, and 80% of those retested during Omicron remained positive for 5 days after symptom onset.

A team led by University of California San Francisco researchers published the findings yesterday in JAMA Network Open.

The researchers studied symptoms and duration of COVID-19 positivity on rapid antigen tests among 63,277 participants at a testing site in San Francisco during the pre-Delta (Jan 10 to May 31, 2021), Delta (Jun 1 to Nov 30, 2021), and Omicron (Dec 1, 2021, to Jan 30, 2022) periods.

Median age was 32 years, and 68.5% were Latino. Among the 28.9% who reported symptoms, 24.9% tested positive.

During Omicron, 41.6% of 7,283 symptomatic participants tested positive for COVID-19, with more reporting cough and sore throat than before or during Delta (cough, 67.4% vs 51.3% of 1,065 for pre-Delta vs 60.0% of 468 for Delta; sore throat, 43.4% vs 29.6% vs 29.1%, respectively).

Congestion was more common amid Omicron than pre-Delta (38.8% of 3,032 vs 27.6% of 1,065), while loss of taste or smell and fever were less common (5.3% vs 17.2% and 30.4% vs 34.7%, respectively).

Fever was less common among infected vaccine booster recipients than among positive, unvaccinated participants (22.5% of 432 vs 36.2% of 116, respectively), and fever and muscle pain were less common among booster recipients than among recipients of a primary vaccine series (fever, 22.5% of 432 vs 32.8% of 1,705; muscle pain, 26.6% of 432 vs 34.0% of 1,705, respectively).

Amid Omicron, 5 days after symptom onset, 31.1% of 1,613 infected people said their symptoms were similar, and 5.9% reported worse symptoms. Among infected participants, 80.2% of retested participants were still positive 5 days after symptoms began.

"These findings highlight the importance of work assurances (ie, sick leave) to protect workers and requirements for rapid antigen testing to shorten isolation to protect the workplace," the researchers wrote.
Oct 10 JAMA Netw Open study


Uganda confirms Ebola death in Kampala

Health officials in Uganda today said tests on samples from a man who died on Oct 7 at a hospital in the country's capital of Kampala were positive for Ebola, according to the BBC, which cited health ministry officials.

The man was a known contact of an earlier case, and Ruth Jane Aceng Ocero, MBChB, MPH, Uganda's health minister, told the BBC that the man was from outside the city and had run away from his village to visit a traditional healer in another region. He died at Kiruddu National Referral Hospital, and Aceng said the man had arrived at the hospital seriously ill and that the team that treated him were aware of the threat and had protected themselves.

So far, 42 people who had contact with the man have been identified as contacts for follow up. Aceng said there are no other confirmed cases in Kampala, which is located about 90 miles east of Mubende, the outbreak's epicenter.

Health officials told the BBC that Uganda has now recorded 54 lab-confirmed cases and that the man's death is the 19th confirmed to be from Ebola, up from 48 confirmed cases and 17 confirmed deaths reported yesterday. Earlier in the outbreak, officials also reported 18 probable cases, all apparently fatal.

In another outbreak development today, Ocero said on Twitter that five healthcare workers have been discharged from an isolation center in Entebbe after recovering from Ebola. The outbreak has taken a high toll on health workers, with at least four deaths reported so far.

The outbreak involves the rarer Ebola Sudan strain, for which there no vaccines or treatments. Health officials have said the risk of further spread is high, owing to the outbreak's proximity to a busy highway, a highly mobile population, and because the virus may have circulated undetected for as many as 3 weeks before the first cases were confirmed.
Oct 11 BBC story
Oct 11 Ocero tweet

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