News Scan for Oct 20, 2021

News brief

Overweight, obesity linked to more, longer mild COVID-19 symptoms

COVID-19 outpatients were more likely to have more respiratory symptoms if they were overweight or obese, according to a study published yesterday in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.

The researchers enrolled 522 people, 63.8% of whom were considered overweight or obese, from June 2020 to January 2021 within 2 weeks of a known household exposure to COVID-19. During a 28-day follow-up in which participants reported their symptoms and sought regular testing, 85.1% ended up positive for COVID-19 (261 adults, 61 adolescents 12 to 17 years old, and 148 children).

COVID-19 outpatients who were overweight or obese had more symptoms (median, 3 vs 2, P = 0.037), particularly coughing or experiencing shortness of breath. Overweight or obese adolescents were more likely to be symptomatic compared with adolescents who were not (66.7% vs 34.2%, P = 0.008), and their respiratory symptoms lasted longer (median, 7 vs 4 days, P = 0.049). Children 12 years and younger, on the other hand, showed no symptom association with body mass index (BMI) categorization and, compared with older participants, had fewer symptoms (median, 2 vs 3, P < 0.001) for less time (median, 5 vs 7 days, P < 0.001).

While the study focused on mild COVID infections, three people did experience COVID-related hospitalizations (ages 13, 18, and 45 years at obese, normal, and overweight BMIs, respectively).

The authors say their findings are in line with previous studies that showed an increased risk of severe outcomes in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and overweight or obesity. They add that obesity disproportionately affects Hispanic, Black, and low-income communities, as does COVID-19, and vaccination against COVID-19 is imperative for those above a normal weight.
Oct 19 Influenza Other Respir Viruses study


WHO urges greater linkages between AMR, sustainable development

The World Health Organization yesterday released guidance on how the United Nations (UN) can incorporate antimicrobial resistance (AMR) into its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The document, which was developed by the WHO in collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the UN Environment Programme, lays out the case for why AMR and sustainable development are interconnected. It notes that progress in many of the SDGS, such as improved access to clean water and sanitation, sustainable food production, and appropriate use of antimicrobials in humans and animals, will help address AMR. At the same time, rising levels of AMR threaten the ability to achieve the SDGs for health, poverty reduction, food security, and economic growth.

To help stimulate action on AMR and help support the implementation of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the document calls on the UN to include AMR as a risk in the Common Country Analysis (CCA), in which countries collect national-level data on development issues, and the Cooperation Framework, which requires countries to identify areas with the greatest potential for transformative and inclusive development.

"Integration of AMR into CCAs and then into the Cooperation Framework should be a priority, given the risk AMR poses to sustainable development in countries, and the capacity of the UN and other organizations to support collaborative and impactful actions to address the issue," the document states. "AMR should be meaningfully linked to broader development issues such as One Health, pandemic preparedness and response, UHC [universal healthcare], sustainable food systems and environmental issues."

The document proposes that concrete AMR outputs for improved data collection, coordination, regulation, and prevention be included in the Cooperation Framework.
Oct 19 WHO guidance


USDA announces new efforts to reduce Salmonella linked to poultry

The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced it is mobilizing a stronger and more comprehensive effort to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with poultry products. The goal is to reduce US Salmonella illnesses by 25%.

"Far too many consumers become ill every year from poultry contaminated by Salmonella," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a USDA news release yesterday. "We need to be constantly evolving in our efforts to prevent foodborne illness to stay one step ahead of the bad bugs. Today we're taking action to help prevent Salmonella contamination throughout the poultry supply chain and production system to protect public health."

The effort includes a pilot program that will establish new ways of testing Salmonella in poultry plants and encourage breeders and growers to reduce bacteria on the birds before they enter processing plants. FSIS said it will also collaborate with the National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria in Foods to determine which strains and how much bacteria will likely result in illness.

FSIS estimates that more than 1 million consumer illnesses due to Salmonella occur annually, and over 23% of those illnesses are caused by consumption of chicken and turkey.
Oct 19 USDA
press release

This week's top reads

Our underwriters