Coronavirus Breaking News

The coronavirus disease COVID-19 is currently reaching pandemic levels in various countries.

Mar 31, 2022 • 4:47 am CDT
MustangJoe from Pixabay

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) modified its Travel website on March 30, 2022, saying 'cruise ships may advise all passengers and crew that they do not have to wear a mask when outdoors.'

'Nor inside their cabin.'

And, 'they may also designate areas where masks are not required, such as casinos, bars, spas, entertainment venues, and dining areas as only accessible to passengers and crew who are fully COVID-19 vaccinated according to the cruise ship's policies.'

'Follow ship-specific mask protocols, which may change as the pandemic evolves and differ for passengers based on their vaccination status,' says the CDC website.

'Today's decision by the U.S. CDC to altogether remove the Travel Health Notice for cruising recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since March 2020,' says a press statement issued by the Cruise Line International Association.

Additional cruise ship news is posted at Vax-Before-Travel.com/cruise.

Note: The CDC website post was edited for clarity and manually curated for mobile readers.

Mar 30, 2022 • 9:20 pm CDT
Columbia University Irving Medical Center

An innovative ultraviolet light took less than five minutes to reduce indoor airborne microbes by more than 98%, reported scientists at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and in the U.K.

Even as microbes continued to be sprayed into the room, the level remained very low as long as the lights were on.

And people were found to be safe too!

Far-UVC light (Krypton Chloride excimer lamps) has a shorter wavelength than conventional germicidal UVC, so it can’t penetrate living human skin cells or eye cells.

But it is equally efficient at killing bacteria and viruses, which are much smaller than human cells.

At a room ventilation rate of three air changes per hour, with 5 filtered sources, the steady-state pathogen load was reduced by 98.4% providing an additional 184 equivalent air changes.

“Far-UVC rapidly reduces the amount of active microbes in the indoor air to almost zero, making indoor air essentially as safe as outdoor air,” commented David Brenner, Ph.D., director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and co-author of the study, in a press statement issue don March 25, 2022.

“Using this technology in locations where people gather together indoors could prevent the next potential pandemic.”

The study published in the journal Scientific Reports on March 23, 2022, suggests that far-UVC light from lamps installed in the ceiling could be a highly effective passive technology for reducing person-to-person transmission of airborne-mediated diseases and lowering the risk of the next pandemic. 

The study was supported by grants from the U.K. Health Security Agency and various industry disclosures were included.

Note: This article edited the press release and study for clarity and was manually curated for mobile readers.

Mar 29, 2022 • 3:33 am CDT
Pexels from Pixabay

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, saying "the benefits of providing a tightly controlled outdoor spectating environment — including masking and distancing requirements — counterbalanced the risks associated with the opening (of NFL stadiums to fans)."

"We find it is likely that opening stadiums had no impact on local COVID-19 case counts," commented these researchers in an MIT article issued on March 23, 2022.

"The most remarkable feature of our results is their unremarkable."

"By and large, the synthetic counties are well behaved, and the analysis shows no indication that opening stadiums impacted community spread."

"These results show that the measures adopted by the NFL were effective in safely opening stadiums," says study author Anette "Peko" Hosoi, the Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT.

"If case counts start to rise again, we know what to do: mask people, put them outside, and distance them from each other."

Furthermore, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, like many respiratory viruses, is hard to contract when outdoors.

On March 23, 2022, the U.S. White House stated 'the most common way COVID-19 is transmitted from one person to another is through tiny airborne particles hanging in indoor air for minutes or hours after an infected person has been there. 

The study's co-authors are members of MIT's Institue for Data, Systems, and Society and include Bernardo García Bulle, Dennis Shen, and Devavrat Shah, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

No industry conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Previous mask studies are posted at this link.

Note: This news article edited the study's findings for clarity and was curated for mobile readers.

Mar 28, 2022 • 4:24 pm CDT
from Pixabay

ABC News reported on March 25, 2022, several diagnostic testing companies will no longer offer SARS-CoV-2 virus tests for free to uninsured Americans. The U.S. FDA website confirmed 425 tests and sample collection devices had been authorized during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As an example, Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest testing companies in the country, told ABC News that patients who are not on Medicare, Medicaid, or a private health plan will now be charged $125 ($119 and a $6 physician fee) when using one of its QuestDirect PCR tests.

As of March 28, 2022, the Quest website reflects these pricing changes.

Additional COVID-19 testing news is posted at CoronavirusToday.com/tests.

Note: The ABC article was edited for clarity and manually curated for mobile readers. 

Mar 24, 2022 • 10:31 am CDT
Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

CanSino Biologics Inc. recently announced that its Convidecia™ vaccine had been approved by the Ministry of Health Malaysia and the Indonesian National Agency of Drug and Food Control as a heterologous booster.

Previously, Convidecia has been approved for use as a heterologous booster in China and Argentina, stated the press release issued on March 22, 2022.

Heterologous booster vaccination refers to vaccine boosters from different technology platforms from the prime vaccines, which could improve the overall immune response and enhance protection against other variants.

A recent non-peer-reviewed study published on March 10, 2022, showed that using Convidecia as a heterologous booster, either through intramuscular injection or inhalation, generated greater neutralizing antibody responses than those induced by the homologous inactivated vaccine booster or heterologous recombinant protein vaccine booster.

These researchers wrote, 'Our findings suggest that inactivated vaccine recipients should consider adenovirus-vectored vaccine boosters in China and that aerosolized Ad5-nCoV may provide a more efficient alternative in response to the spread of the Omicron variant.'

The single-dose Convidecia is a genetically engineered vaccine with the replication-defective adenovirus type 5 vector to express the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus spike protein.

Note: This news article edited the Company's press release for clarity and manually curated it for mobile readers.

Mar 22, 2022 • 4:37 pm CDT
Robert Woeger from Pixabay

New York-based Cornell University and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers conducted the study, published in PLOS Pathogens on March 21, 2022. This new study indicates that white-tailed deer (WTD) inoculated with COVID-19–causing SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus shed infectious virus for up to 5 days, resulting in efficient deer-to-deer transmission on day #3.

The Research Article's authors say 'there is potential for deer to become a reservoir for SARS-CoV-2.

'Our results demonstrate a broad tissue tropism of the virus, with active replication taking place in respiratory (nasal turbinate, trachea, bronchus and lung), lymphoid (palatine and pharyngeal tonsil, retropharyngeal, mandibular and tracheobronchial lymph nodes and thymus), and central nervous tissues (olfactory lobes, cerebrum, caudate nucleus of brain and cerebellum).'

'High viral loads were observed in nasal turbinates and lymphoid tissues associated with the oral cavity (tonsils, retropharyngeal and mandibular lymph nodes) or respiratory system (tracheobronchial lymph nodes).'

'We defined that SARS-CoV-2 has a short window of infectivity and transmissibility in WTD, which is similar to what has been described in humans and other animal species and demonstrated that the virus presents a broad tissue tropism and multiple replication sites in this species.'

Note: This study was edited for clarity and manually curated for mobile readers.

Mar 17, 2022 • 5:05 am CDT
Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer

The peer-review Lancet Public Health journal published a new study on March 14, 2022, indicating serious COVID-19 illness is linked to an increase in the risk of long-term adverse mental health effects.

These researchers found people diagnosed with COVID-19 but never bedridden due to their illness were less likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety than those not diagnosed with COVID-19.

The authors state that one explanation for this is that returning to everyday lives is a relief for these individuals.

However, at the same time, those still not infected are still anxious about the risk of infection and burdened by social isolation.

Overall, participants diagnosed with COVID-19 had a higher prevalence of depression and poorer sleep quality than those who were never diagnosed (20.2% vs. 11.3% experienced symptoms of depression.

And 29.4% vs. 23.8% experienced poor sleep quality; equivalent to an 18% and 13% increase in prevalence, respectively, after adjusting for other factors including but not limited to age, gender, education, body mass index, and previous psychiatric diagnosis.

There were no overall differences between participants with or without COVID-19 in anxiety or COVID-related distress rates.

The analysis found an apparent reduction in mental health symptoms such as depression and COVID-19 related distress with time.

By contrast, longer time bedridden was consistently associated with a higher prevalence of mental health effects.

Over 16 months, patients who were bedridden for seven days or more continued to be 50-60% more likely to experience higher depression and anxiety compared to people never infected during the study period.

Study author Professor Unnur Anna Valdimarsdóttir of the University of Iceland stated in a press release issued on March 14, 2022: "Our research is among the first to explore mental health symptoms after a serious COVID-19 illness in the general population up to 16 months after diagnosis."

"It suggests that mental health effects aren't equal for all COVID-19 patients and that time spent bedridden is a key factor in determining the severity of the impacts on mental health."

"As we enter the third year of the pandemic, increased clinical vigilance of adverse mental health among the proportion of patients with a severe acute disease of COVID-19 and follow-up studies beyond the first year after infections are critical to ensure timely access to care."

'These findings motivate continued clinical vigilance and follow-up studies beyond the first year among individuals with the most severe symptomology after COVID-19 infections.'

Note: This study and press release were edited for clarity and curated for mobile readers. This work was primarily supported with grants, and the researchers did not disclose industry conflicts of interest.

Mar 17, 2022 • 4:41 am CDT
Image by b1-foto

Israel's Ministry of Health (MoH) confirmed on March 16, 2022, two cases of a new SARS-CoV-2 virus variant were recorded on passengers arriving at Israel's Ben Gurion airport. In addition, the Omicron sublineage strains BA.1 and BA.2 were identified.

"The two cases of the combined strain, which have been discovered so far, suffered from mild fever symptoms, headaches, and muscle dystrophy, and do not require a special medical response," the MoH added in a media statement.

The MoH COVID-19 dashboard indicates Israel's current virus infectious rate was 11.93% on March 17, 2022.

In the U.S., the CDC's NowCast and Wastewater systems indicate the BA.2 virus variant significantly increased its national infectious rate over the past week.

Note: The Israeli information was edited for clarity and curated for mobile readers.

Mar 16, 2022 • 11:05 am CDT
Image by Ernesto Eslava

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued interim guidance regarding the timely and accurate diagnostic testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus is an essential part of a comprehensive COVID-19 response strategy.

Antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDT) can be performed by individuals who collect their specimen, perform a simple, fast test and interpret their test result in themselves at a time and place of their choosing, termed COVID-19 self-testing.

This interim guidance issued on March 9, 2022, provides a new recommendation that COVID-19 self-testing, using SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs, should be offered as part of SARS-CoV-2 testing services.

It also includes implementation considerations that can guide decisions on whether and how to adopt self-testing in different contexts, including the populations being prioritized; the disease prevalence in that population.

And the impact on the accessibility of testing, health care services, and result reporting.

The WHO says 'Self-testing should always be voluntary and never mandatory or coercive. It is important that in certain settings, such as schools and workplaces, self-testing costs are not borne by students or workers.'

Overall, about 828 million test results have been reported to the U.S. CDC during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional SARS-CoV-2 test news is posted at CoronavirusToday.com/tests.

Note - This news post edited WHO content - WHO/2019-nCoV/Ag-RDTs/Self_testing/2022.1 - for clarity and was curated for mobile readers.

Mar 15, 2022 • 9:24 am CDT
Image by TheAndrasBarta

CNBC reported today France, Switzerland, Italy, and the Netherlands see increased SARS-CoV-2 virus infections, aided by the spread of subvariant BA.2.

Known as 'Deltacron,' the hybrid variant is considered 1.5 extra transmissible than the initial Omicron variant. 

The BA.2 variant is now chargeable for over half of the new cases in Germany, reported AFP.

In France, evidence for a Delta-Omicron virus has been shared by Institut Pasteur via GISAID.

The analysis provides definite confirmation of the structure of a recombinant virus derived from the GK/AY.4 and GRA/BA.1 lineages.

This recombinant virus identified in several regions of France by the EMERGEN consortium has been circulating since early January 2022.

Further investigations are needed to determine if these recombinants derive from a single common ancestor or could result from multiple similar recombination events.

Note: This news post integrated various media reports and was edited for clarity.

Mar 14, 2022 • 4:45 am CDT
Xinhua

Xinhua reported today China's Jilin Province reported 895 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 131 asymptomatic carriers on March 13, 2022.

Of the newly confirmed infections, 453 were reported in the city of Jilin, and 430 were reported in the provincial capital Changchun, with one case in critical condition.

In reaction to the surging COVID-19 cases, local authorities have conducted multiple rounds of mass nucleic acid testing and built makeshift hospitals to contain the latest outbreak.

On March 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of State issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory saying 'Reconsider travel to the People's Republic of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region due to COVID-19 and COVID-19-related restrictions.

Note: This news article was edited content sources for clarity and curated for mobile readers.

Mar 12, 2022 • 9:27 am CST
Walgreens

Illinois-based Walgreens and Labcorp recently announced the nationwide availability of Pixel by Labcorp® COVID-19 at-home collection kit, a PCR test available at no cost to individuals who meet clinical guidelines.

These SARS-CoV-2 virus tests are provided in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which will enable more communities to access reliable, convenient testing services when, where, and how they need them.

John Standley, president, Walgreens, stated in a related press release issued on Mar. 7, 2022, "Through our continued partnership with Labcorp and HHS, communities will have better access to convenient COVID-19 PCR testing."

"This is particularly important for uninsured, socially vulnerable, and medically underserved populations, who continue to be among those most impacted by COVID."

Visit walgreens.com/covid19testing to request a Labcorp COVID-19 at-home kit at no cost for individuals two years of age and older.

Additional COVID-19 test news is posted at CoronavirusToday/tests.

Note: This news article edited the original press release for clarity and curated it to render a mobile experience.

Mar 11, 2022 • 11:23 am CST
Image by Bhuwan Purohit

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on March 10, 2022, schools in the U.S., with mandatory masking during the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant surge, had approximately 72% fewer cases of in-school virus transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

This study, funded by the NIH, included more than 1.1 million students and over 157,000 staff attending in-person school across nine states.

The authors pointed out that their study was conducted when Delta was the dominant variant.

Therefore, their study did not obtain data on school masking in preventing the spread of the Omicron variant.

However, they added that masking remains a critical preventive measure in times with high community infection rates.

As of March 10, 2022, the U.S. CDC confirmed about 98% of the U.S. population is in a location with a low or medium COVID-19 Community Level.

Additional face mask research is posted at CoronavirusToday.com/mask.

Note: This news post aggregated information from the NIH and CDC and was digitally produced for mobile users.

Mar 9, 2022 • 4:13 pm CST
HHS

The U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy announced 'calling for research, data, and personal experiences related to health misinformation to deepen our collective understanding of its sources and impact.'

'During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have been exposed to health misinformation— information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence at the time, stated Dr. Murthy on March 6 2022, in an HHS media statement.

'Health misinformation has caused confusion and led people to decline COVID-19 vaccines, reject public health measures such as masking and physical distancing, and use unproven treatments.'

'It has also led to harassment and violence against public health workers, health care workers, airline staff, and other frontline workers.'

'It can be really hard to know what is true amidst all this misinformation.'

'This is an opportunity to have your voice heard, no matter who you are: a researcher studying the issue, a health care worker, or someone who has seen the effect of health misinformation on their loved ones or community.'

'No dataset is too big, and no story is too small. We want to hear from you!'

As the next step in this work, the Surgeon General is putting out a Request for Information on the Impact of Health Misinformation in the Digital Information Environment in the United States Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The U.S. Senate reconfirmed Dr. Vivek H. Murthy in March 2021 to serve as the 21st Surgeon General of the U.S.

Note: This content was created by the Office of the Surgeon General and edited for clarity and to deliver a mobile user experience.

 

Mar 9, 2022 • 4:04 pm CST
CDC

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published an at-a-glance summary of SARS-CoV-2 virus testing news from around the agency on March 8, 2022.

The FDA confirmed 420 tests and sample collection devices are authorized by the FDA under emergency use authorizations (EUAs).

These authorizations include 290 molecular tests and sample collection devices, 85 antibody and other immune response tests, and 45 antigen tests.

Additionally, there are 70 molecular authorizations and one antibody authorization that can be used with home-collected samples.

Plus one EUA for a molecular prescription at-home test, 2 EUAs for antigen prescription at-home tests, 14 EUAs for antigen over-the-counter (OTC) at-home tests, and 3 for molecular OTC at-home tests.

The FDA has also authorized 25 antigen tests and nine molecular tests for serial screening programs.

Furthermore, the FDA has also authorized 868 revisions to EUA authorizations.

Previously, the U.S. CDC reported on March 4, 2022, the percentage of COVID-19 NAATs (nucleic acid amplification tests) that are positive is decreasing compared to the previous week.

The 7-day average of percent positivity from NAATs is now 3.8%.

And the 7-day average number of tests reported for February 18-24, 2022, was down 15.7% from the previous seven days.

Overall, since the COVID-19 pandemic began one early 2020, over 821 million tests have been reported to the CDC.

Additional lab test news is posted at CoronavirusToday.com/tests.

Note: This news article aggregated information published by the FDA and CDC.