Friday, January 07, 2022

Pandemic roundup: Omicron threatens economic recovery; there's good news about remdesivir; babies born to Covid-infected moms are at higher risk of health issues

Here's a roundup of recent news stories about the pandemic and vaccination efforts:

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a 30-day state of emergency Tuesday due to the coronavirus. Covid-19 hospitalizations rose more than 500% in the past seven weeks, overwhelming hospitals. 

Babies born to Covid-infected moms are 60% more likely to be born very prematurely, increasing their risk of death or long-term health problems such as cerebral palsy, asthma, hearing loss, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and kidney disease. Boys could be even more vulnerable. Read more here.

The pandemic is compounding rural hospitals' struggles with staffing and bed space. The Omicron variant is more contagious than previous iterations, but patients don't tend to get quite as ill. That means that, even when patients must go to the hospital, fewer are taking up intensive-care beds

Mounting Omicron infections among workers threaten economic recovery as businesses scramble to remain open. Read more here.

People who test positive for Covid-19 and stay home to recover and isolate are not eligible for unemployment insurance. Under federal law, Americans must be "able and available" to work to qualify for the assistance, but it's not meant to be a substitute for paid sick leave, said a Labor Department senior adviser. Read more here.

The antiviral drug remdesivir reduces recovery time in hospitalized Covid-19 patients, but a recently published study found that it's even more effective when administered earlier in the course of illness, before a patient must be hospitalized. Another recent study suggests that remdesivir could eventually be administered by inhalation instead of by infusion. That could make the drug more accessible to patients who aren't hospitalized. Two oral antiviral pills have just received emergency authorization but supplies are limited.

Though scientists have made remarkable breakthroughs in coronavirus treatments and preventatives, experts say it's just as important to increase funding for local health departments so testing, vaccines and treatments can be effectively administered. Read more here.

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