The Perfect Enemy | COVID in California: Moderna expects to resolve bivalent booster shortage soon
September 29, 2022

COVID in California: Moderna expects to resolve bivalent booster shortage soon

COVID in California: Moderna expects to resolve bivalent booster shortage soon  San Francisco ChronicleView Full Coverage on Google News

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Fauci on lab-leak theory: “There’s always a suspicion”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that the COVID-19 pandemic may have started with a lab leak but cautioned that there is no evidence currently available to support the theory. “There’s always a suspicion. There’s always the issue that something really nefarious has happened — which is understandable because there’s always a possibility,” Fauci said Wednesday during a wide-ranging conversation about the pandemic as part of The Atlantic Festival 2022. “I think you’ve to keep an open mind for every possibility. But an open mind and a possibility does not equate with a probability.” He asserted that despite many conspiracy theories, he does not control the world’s scientific community.

Fauci also shared his thoughts on becoming the target of “people who want to decapitate me because I’m ruining the economy.” He said that he is not intimidated by the threats but is bothered by the “vicious attacks” on his family members. “I have a great deal of faith in the American public despite the fact that we have so much divisiveness and I myself am the target for a lot of the attacks,” Fauci said. “I still have a great deal of faith in the prevailing better angels of the American public.” He added that he hopes that everyone at some point comes to the realization that when dealing with an unprecedented public health emergency, “there is such a thing as a communal responsibility that you have to society.”

Fungal deaths rose during the pandemic, CDC study finds

Deaths from fungal infection increased during the 2020 to 2021 period compared with previous years, primarily driven by COVID-19-associated deaths, according to a recent study commissioned by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report says more than 13,000 U.S. residents died from fungal infections during the first two years of the pandemic, with at least 22% related to COVID-19, particularly those involving Aspergillus (a common mold) and Candida (a yeast that lives on the skin and inside the body. The findings also highlighted that the rates of fungal death were higher in non-white and non-Asian populations, particularly when associated with COVID-19. “Our analysis demonstrates the substantial burden of fungal infections in the United States and highlights an increase in fungal deaths during the first two years of COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote. “These data might help increase clinician awareness and support public health planning, with the ultimate goals of decreasing morbidity and mortality rates associated with fungal infections.”

Moderna says it expects to resolve bivalent booster shortage “in the coming days”

Moderna expects to resolve severe supply issues for its new COVID-19 booster “in the coming days,” according to a company statement to MarketWatch. Moderna’s updated bivalent booster is not yet widely available in the U.S. due to the Food and Drug Administration’s inspection of a production plant in Bloomington, Ind. The FDA on Tuesday said that inspection was completed and allowed 10 delayed batches of vaccine to ship, saying in a statement that “the agency has no concerns with the safety, effectiveness, or quality of these batches.” Modern expects to fulfill its plan to deliver 70 million doses of the reformulated COVID-19 booster, which protects against the original strain of the virus as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants by the end of the year. “We continue to see high demand in certain areas of the country,” Moderna said in an email. “We anticipate that these availability constraints will be resolved in the coming days.”

Stress, anxiety levels for women at a 10-year high, survey shows

Women were more stressed, anxious, worried, sad and angry in 2021 than at any point in the past decade, according to a new report from the analytics firm Gallup and medical tech company Hologic. In one of the largest surveys of its kind, the Global Health Index Women’s Health Index includes insights from 66,000 women in 122 countries, tracking the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors founds that more than four in 10 women in 2021 said they experienced worry (43%) and stress (41%) during a lot of the day before the survey, nearly one in three experienced sadness (32%), and more than one in four experienced anger (26%) — all at record levels.

Among the other insights delivered by the report is that while women’s ability to meet their basic needs — such as affording food — fell, men’s ability to do so did not change. Also, worldwide, just 12% of women in 2021 were tested for any type of cancer in the past 12 months, which means more than 2 billion of the world’s women went untested. “The lack of progress and, in some cases, backward momentum justify an even louder wake-up call for world leaders to do more for women, whose well-being underpins the health of families, communities, societies and economies,” said Hologic president and CEO Steve MacMillan.

Denmark’s queen tests positive after attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral

The Queen of Denmark has tested positive for the coronavirus for the second time this year, according to a statement from the Danish Royal Court. The 82-year-old Queen Margrethe II, who this week became Europe’s longest-serving head of state, was one of 2,000 guests who attended Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral on Monday. She and Queen Elizabeth were third cousins, both descended from Queen Victoria, according to the BBC. “HM The Queen tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday evening and is now residing at Fredensborg Palace,” the royal court said Wednesday. “The Queen’s activities this week have thus been canceled.”

Biden clarifies COVID comments: Pandemic “not where it was”

President Biden on Tuesday aimed to address some of the criticism he received for his comments on Sunday saying “the pandemic is over,” which many public health experts considered premature. At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York City ahead of his speech Wednesday to the United Nations General Assembly, The Hill reports Biden acknowledged his remarks were divisive but said that the pandemic is “basically is not where it was.”

California eases mask rules for prisons and shelters

California health officials on Tuesday updated their COVID-19 recommendations to allow masks to come off in congregate settings such as correctional facilities, homeless and emergency shelters, and cooling centers when the community COVID-19 levels are low, as designated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The change goes into effect Friday. It does not affect rules for health care and long-term care settings. “This shift in masking is consistent with California’s SMARTER Plan and gives Californians the information they should consider when deciding when to wear a mask, including the rate of spread in the community and personal risk,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón.

U.K. countries note a rise in excess deaths due to an irregular heartbeat

The number of deaths in England and Wales due to an irregular heartbeat saw a sharp increase in the first half of 2022, according to a report published Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics. Excess deaths due to cardiac arrhythmias were 37.1% above average in March and 23.1% in April, the data show. “Further work needs to be done to understand any link between the long-term effects of COVID and increasing cardiac deaths,” said Sarah Caul, the ONS head of mortality analysis. The total number of excess deaths due to all causes registered between March 2020 and June 2022 was 137,447. The agency’s report said that while COVID-19 accounted for many of these deaths, the higher-than-expected numbers “could be caused by a combination of factors.”

The demographics are changing for who dies now from COVID

As California settles into a third year of pandemic, COVID-19 continues to pose a serious threat of death. But the number of people dying — and the demographics of those falling victim — has shifted notably from the first two years. The virus remained among the state’s leading causes of death in July, trailing heart disease, cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease but outpacing diabetes, accidental death, and a host of other debilitating diseases. More non-Latino white people are dying now and fewer Latinos, while older people are still hit hardest. Read more about the changing profile of COVID’s victims in California.

Feds crack down on largest COVID fraud scheme to date

Federal authorities charged 47 people in Minnesota with conspiracy and other counts on Tuesday in what they called the largest fraud scheme yet to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by stealing $250 million from a federal program that provides meals to low-income children, reports the Associated Press. Prosecutors say the defendants created companies that claimed to be offering food to tens of thousands of children across Minnesota, then sought reimbursement for those meals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food nutrition programs. Prosecutors say few meals were actually served, and the defendants used the money to buy luxury cars, property and jewelry. “This $250 million is the floor,” Andy Luger, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, said at a news conference. “Our investigation continues.” Many of the companies that claimed to be serving food were sponsored by a nonprofit called Feeding Our Future, which submitted the companies’ claims for reimbursement.

UCSF’s Wachter: COVID will be a leading cause of death in the U.S. indefinitely

Despite President Biden’s hopeful remarks on Sunday that the “pandemic is over,” COVID-19 is likely to remain a leading cause of death in the United States indefinitely, according to Dr. Bob Wachter. “It’s likely, when we think of the causes of death in our society, that COVID’s on the list probably forever,” the chair of UCSF’s department of medicine told NBC News. “Whether we call it a pandemic or not, it’s still an important threat to people.” COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for the past two years, behind heart disease and cancer, according to provisional data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the past three months, the nation has averaged about 400 deaths per day due to the virus. Public health experts say if that trend holds, the U.S. will be tracking between 113,000 to 188,000 COVID deaths annually. By comparison, influenza kills between 12,000 to 52,000 people each year. Wachter interpreted the comments from the White House to mean that the nation has moved out of the crisis mode of the pandemic and into a more stable era for the virus. “They are feeling like we have to shift our mindset to the long game here,” Wachter said. “This is no longer an acute threat in the same way it was.”

Scientists develop a mask that detects coronavirus, flu exposure

Chinese scientists have developed a face mask with a built-in electronic sensor that can detect exposure to the coronavirus or influenza virus, according to a peer-reviewed report published Monday in the scientific journal Matter. The researchers at Tongji University in Shanghai said the “wireless bioelectric mask” can successfully detect airborne SARS-CoV-2, H5N1, and H1N1 influenza viruses within 10 minutes and send a notification to a smart device. They hope the development will “facilitate wireless and real-time monitoring for personal protection and prevent infectious diseases in advance,” they wrote.