- In today’s Recommendation for Industry, we discuss how cases seem to be improving and moving across the country, as shown through the CDC community levels map and our weekly matrix. Read more below.
- Global COVID-19 cases fall 11%, deaths drop 3%. Since January, cases have steadily fallen over the world. Some areas of the Americas continue to rise according to WHO. Pediatric cases have doubled in the past 4 weeks in the US. National officials reported more than 3.3 million cases in the week ending May 29, with more than 9,600 deaths. COVID-19 killed older Americans at vastly higher rates during this winter’s Omicron surge than it did last year.
- COVID severely disrupted global cardiac care, increasing deaths. There are severe disruptions in cardiovascular-related hospitalizations, diagnostic and interventional procedures, and outpatient visits during the first two years of COVID. Across all countries, there was a 22% decline in hospitalizations for severe ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and a 34% drop in less serious non-STEMI heart attacks.
- According to data collected from New York Times, during the Omicron wave, death rates soared for older people. Almost as many Americans 65 and older died in four months of the Omicron surge as did in six months of the Delta wave, even though the Delta variant, for any one person, tended to cause more severe illness. Deaths have fallen from the heights of the winter wave in part because of growing levels of immunity from past infections.
Pfizer asks the FDA again to authorize COVID vaccine for youngest kids. The age group in question is 6 months to 4 years old. The FDA is looking into this request and if approved they could grant emergency use authorization for those ages later this month. Pfizer’s request also included a clinical trial that found 3 doses of the vaccine for the youngest children were safe and generated a strong immune response.
Public Health & Food Safety:
- There’s still no HIV vaccine. The science behind coronavirus shots may help. Scientists are thinking since the mRNA vaccines can be created and tested in shorter than a year, maybe it is better to pursue that direction of research rather than traditional technologies. HIV vaccine will be a series of shots that will nudge the immune system at specific times. Recent vaccinations have been focusing on T cells and other types of antibodies.
- Avian flu in 35 states requires a costly response, says Food Safety News. The Secretary of Agriculture is currently ready to pour money into the fight against the avian flu. In the month since the last fund transfer, avian flu was discovered in 151 additional flocks in nine states, affecting more than 10.8 million commercial and backyard birds. APHIS has mobilized 1,125 employees both physically and virtually to respond to the outbreak. In March, Vilsak approved the first $130 million in emergency funding for APHIS to address the problem. The Secretary added $263 million to the HPIA work in late April. And just this past week, Vilsack transferred another $400 million.
- Grower says organic strawberries linked to hepatitis A outbreak were from Mexico. As of May 31, there were 17 confirmed illnesses — 15 in California and one each in Minnesota and North Dakota — and 12 hospitalizations in the United States, according to the Food and Drug Administration. In Canada, 10 patients have been identified with four of them requiring hospitalization. Since the strawberries are past their shelf life, the FDA is now recommending that anyone who purchased them to throw them away. The product labels should say either “Product of Mexico” or “Distributed by Meridien Foods.”
- Legislation introduced to improve food safety and hold FDA accountable. A bill that was introduced in the U.S. Senate is calling for stricter regulation of “Generally Recognized as Safe” substances and the creation of a new FDA office to assess the safety of chemicals in America’s food supply. This bill is introduced as Ensuring Safe and Toxic-Free Foods Act and makes sure Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fulfills its responsibilityto promote the health and well-being of American families by directing the Food and Drug Administration to strengthen the Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) Rule, which exempts companies from seeking pre-market approval for some food additives. This bill also discusses if bisphenols and PFAS are safe for families to consume. Legislation copy is here.
Recommendations for Industry
Cases Seem to be Improving and Moving Across the Country
Shown both in TAG’s weekly risk matrix as well as CDC community levels map, COVID cases are decreasing in some regions of the United States. As we look at this week’s matrix, we see an increasing number of states with TPR>10% and case rates >25 cases/100K. Similarly, five states and D.C. now have a TPR <10% but case rates greater than or equal to 25 cases/100K. The most dominant variant of COVID, at this time, is the Omicron subvariant – BA.2.12.1. However, with many individuals testing at home now, it is also difficult to fully count all those that are truly infected.
Case rates in some locations are dropping, especially in those Northeastern states that initially had higher rates for the past few weeks. This includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New York.
Additionally, we are seeing declines in states like Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in the Midwest.
According to matrix data, eastern states are starting to decrease in case rates while central and western states seem to have an increasing trend: the cases are seen to be “moving across the country.” As could be expected, while TPRs are still high, the effective rate of transmission is moving downwards; this indicates that the surge of cases is coming back down. Overall, COVID trends are beginning to see improvement throughout the country, but haven’t made a complete turnaround.
In Case You Missed It:
- In Tuesday’s Recommendation for Industry, we discussed COVID masking and the Hepatitis A outbreak. Read more here.
- Vaccines lower risk of long COVID 15%, death by 34%, data show. The vaccines were shown to be the most effective for lung disorders and blood clots. Those who tested positive for COVID-19 after vaccination faced a higher risk of death after the first 30 days of illness. They also were at higher risk for persistent symptoms including cardiovascular, blood-clotting and hematologic, gastrointestinal, kidney, mental, metabolic, musculoskeletal, and neurologic disorders.
- Asymptomatic COVID-19 may not spread as easily as symptomatic. A study published by PLOS Medicine concluded that in 46 contact-tracing or outbreak studies, the total share of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases was 19%. Relative to symptomatic infections, the rate of viral spread from asymptomatic index patients to contacts was about two-thirds lower.
- Study finds recent influenza vaccination is associated with an appreciable reduction in the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity, News Medical. The protection mechanism is as yet unexplained but could be due to a general rise in immunologic responsiveness enhancing nonspecific immunity or trained specific immunity. The former does not usually last beyond some weeks, and given that even specific COVID-19 vaccines are known to wane in efficacy quite rapidly, it may not play a long-term role in protection.
- Flu cases are rising in Australia as the southern hemisphere flu season begins.
- CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 7.3 million flu illnesses, 74,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths from flu. The majority of influenza viruses detected are A(H3N2). H3N2 viruses identified so far this season are genetically closely related to the vaccine virus. One influenza-associated pediatric death was reported this week. There have been 25 pediatric deaths reported this season. This week, 6 jurisdictions experienced moderate activity and 2 jursidictions experienced high or very high activity.
Public Health & Food Safety:
- Hepatitis news reported by Health Map and results published by Precision Vaccinations. The World Health Organization (WHO), the U.K, Europe, Canada, the USA, and other countries have reported about 650 acute liver inflammation infections of unknown etiology among children, with 99 additional cases pending classification, in thirty-three countries. According to the WHO and European CDC on May 27, 2022, most researchers involved in these acute liver investigations have not formulated a hypothesis and continue to question causality vs. coincidence.
- WHO says monkeypox containable, but nations should be on alert. More than 20 countries have logged more than 300 confirmed cases. Massachusetts General Hospital became the first facility in the US to vaccinate health care workers exposed to monkeypox.
- Fresh organic strawberries likely spread hepatitis A in U.S. and Canada. Strawberries branded as FreshKampo and HEB, purchased between March 5, 2022- April 25, 2022 could be contaminated. These products are sold at Aldi, HEB, Kroger, Safeway, Sprouts Farmers market, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Weis Markets, and WinCo Foods. If you are unsure about the purchase, it is recommended to throw them away. Current reports are in California, Minnesota and Canada.
- FDA efforts to result in millions of additional bottles of infant formula to further increase U.S. supply. Recent reports state that Bubs Australia is providing 1.25 million cans of several varieties of infant formula. On Tuesday and Thursday, the FDA also announced steps that will lead to tens of millions of additional bottles of infant formula, including specialty infant formula that is in short supply for infants with certain allergies or critical health conditions.