The Perfect Enemy | These virus strains caused kids’ severe illness most often - San Francisco Chronicle
May 15, 2024

These virus strains caused kids’ severe illness most often – San Francisco Chronicle

These virus strains caused kids’ severe illness most often  San Francisco Chronicle

Next pandemic will be “harder to fight,” says UCSF’s Wachter

The heavy politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic will make the next pandemic “even harder to fight,” according to Dr. Bob Wachter. The UCSF chair of medicine, who has  large Twitter following of his COVID risk calculations, told the Jewish News of Northern California that the pandemic has opened the floodgates for misinformation. “I think when there’s a pandemic next time, the misinformation will start on Day One. And the pushback against anything that relates to public health will be tremendous and make it even harder to fight than it was for this one,” he said. Noting the experts’ predictions of more, potentially deadlier, infectious disease outbreaks to come, he said, “Imagine something that is this infectious, or maybe even more so, but is as deadly as Ebola. Not 1 in 100 or 200 people die, but 1 in 5. We got lucky with COVID that it was not that kind of case-fatality rate,” he said.

Wachter reiterated he intends to remain COVID-free by any reasonable means, primarily because of long COVID risks. He estimated that there is between a 5% and 10% chance of an infected person having prolonged symptoms that will disrupt their life, and bring higher risk for heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. “You can make different choices. But at least do it with your eyes open,” he said. Wachter added, “It’s so easy to forget the fact that over a million people have died. The numbers are so staggering that our brains almost want to push it away. The extent of the tragedy is unfathomable, and I think in our effort to get on with our life, we’ve collectively forgotten that.” 

These variants caused the most severe disease in children

More than 14 million children have been infected with COVID-19, representing about 18.6% of all cases in the U.S. A recent study published in the Lancet Regional Health examines how severe outcomes among children differed during the periods when the alphadelta, and omicron variants were dominant. Using electronic health record data from Beaumont Health, a large healthcare system in the Detroit region providing care for approximately 2.2 million people, researchers evaluated emergency visits, hospitalization, and severe COVID-19 disease in pediatric patients, during each variant’s period of predominance. They found that 24.4% of admissions occurred during alpha, 31.6% during delta, and 44.0% during omicron. But based on the primary outcome of severe disease that involved intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), myocarditis or death, they found that “while omicron cases had the highest admission frequency, the incidence of severe illness was lower than delta and alpha variants.” 

S.F. supervisor proposes extending eviction protections

San Francisco tenants who can’t pay their rent due to COVID-related hardship would be protected from eviction for another two months after the city ends its mayoral state of emergency under a new proposal from Supervisor Dean Preston. Preston’s Tuesday prooposal is to create a 60-day “wind-down period” for eviction protections the city put in place during the pandemic. Currently, San Francisco landlords are not allowed to evict tenants over COVID- related rent debt that accumulates between July 2022 and whenever Mayor London Breed’s pandemic emergency proclamation ends. While the city’s public health emergency for COVID ended last month, a separate emergency proclamation from the mayor is still in effect. The city has not said when it will terminate, althhough the federal government’s COVID emergency will end May 11. Read more about Preston’s proposal here. 

Parent’s religious objection does not bar vaccination of child in group home, court says 

Vaccinations against COVID-19 are recommended, but not required, for schoolchildren in California. When a judge orders vaccination for a youngster living in a group home, however, a state appeals court says the youth must comply despite a parent’s religious objection. In its decision Monday, the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles quoted a 1944 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the limits of religious exemptions from secular laws: “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease.”

The child, identified as Matthew M., was experiencing mental health problems when his mother relinquished custody, allowing child-welfare officials to place him in a group home in 2021, the court said. A Juvenile Court commissioner ordered COVID vaccination for the youth that same year, when he turned 12, which at the time was the minimum age for COVID vaccines approved by the CDC. The commissioner said the youth was vulnerable and would be close to many other children at school and the group home. Read more about the case and the ruling.

Why deaths are rising in vaccinated population

The proportion of COVID-19 deaths among vaccinated people rose sharply toward the end of last year. But that is not a measure of the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, according to a new report from the American Medical Association. “Fortunately, there are a lot more people who are vaccinated now,” said Elisa Choi, an infectious diseases physician and a member of the American College of Physicians’ delegation to the AMA House of Delegates.

“When you start with a denominator of a greater number of people, then when you draw from that larger number of vaccinated people versus unvaccinated, the total population of those who are vaccinated is greater. So the number of deaths may be higher in vaccinated individuals because there are far more vaccinated than unvaccinated individuals,” she said. “A greater number of vaccinated individuals is a function of the success of COVID-19 vaccination, which is a good thing.” 

The AMA noted that when the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants were dominant, people who received the updated COVID-19 bivalent booster were 14 times less likely to die compared with those who received no vaccine and three times less likely to die compared with those who received only the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reach Aidin Vaziri: