Covid-19 Policy Update #532
Effects of Previous Infection and Vaccination on Symptomatic Omicron Infections: Study
"No discernable differences in protection against symptomatic BA.1 and BA.2 infection were seen with previous infection, vaccination, and hybrid immunity."
"Vaccination enhanced protection among persons who had had a previous infection."
"Hybrid immunity resulting from previous infection and recent booster vaccination conferred the strongest protection."
Americans Reflect on Nation’s COVID-19 Response: Via Pew
"Majorities of both Republicans (69%) and Democrats (57%) say the country has given too little priority to meeting the educational needs of K-12 students."
"When it comes to the central goal of protecting public health, Americans have decidedly mixed views: 43% say the country has given about the right amount of priority to protecting public health, while 34% say this has received too little priority and 21% say it has received too much."
"The overall findings reflect two competing critiques of the nation’s response. One, widely expressed among Republicans, is that the country has not focused enough on business concerns and respecting individual choices. The other, more widely held by Democrats, centers concern around efforts to protect public health and limit health risks for vulnerable populations."
NCES School Pulse Survey: New Results:
87% of public schools reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted student socio-emotional development during the 2021–22 school year.
72% report an increase in chronic absenteeism.
77% reported that finding substitute teachers has become more difficult during the pandemic.
47% of public schools reported having at least one student in quarantine (compared to 30% in April).
ED: "Parents Defending Education, and America First Legal filed a joint federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Department of Education, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and the department's National Parents and Families Engagement Council."
"The groups suing the Biden administration say the newly created council violates multiple provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) that require balance and transparency."
Answering Your Questions About Getting Kids Vaccinated Against Covid: Via former CDC Director Tom Frieden.
The FDA Owes Parents an Explanation About Why It Delayed Authorizing Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine for Young Kids: Argues Jorge Caballero in Stat
"As a health data scientist and policy advocate, I agree with the implication that something other than good science and due process is responsible for the delay."
"I say this not based on anonymous sources in press reports, but because my own review of the meeting presentations and FDA documents have led me to this conclusion. After combing through the data, carefully reviewing each document, and watching once again more than 12 hours of presentations, question and answer sessions, and discussions, I believe there were at least three earlier dates when Moderna’s application for using its Covid-19 vaccine in children under age 5 should have been considered submitted for review and inexplicably was not."
"From a scientific standpoint, there is no justification for the FDA’s failure to move forward with Moderna’s application in February, March, or April. No member of the panel justified their vote to authorize Moderna’s vaccine for use in children age 6 months to 5 years based on data that was collected after Feb. 11. Based on the FDA’s own documents, it appears that Moderna’s application collected dust for several months due reasons unrelated to the scientific process."
Update on Variants: Via Katelyn Jetelina
"In Europe, BA.4/5 is driving a case surge. Hospitalizations in Portugal finally peaked and are well on their way down. Hospitalizations in other European countries continue to rise, though."
"In the U.K., it’s clear that hospitalizations rising are both with and for COVID19. The distribution seems to be stubbornly consistent since a switch during the first Omicron wave last winter, when hospitalizations for COVID19 took the lead."
"BA.2.75 carries eight additional mutations on the spike protein compared to BA.2. There are two mutations in particular that are cause for concern: G446S and R493Q. G446S is at one of the most potent sites of escape from antibodies. As the Bloom Lab interestingly pointed out in the figure below, BA.2.75’s impact will be dependent on infection history. Among those with a previous BA.1 infection, the probability of immune escape at spot 446 (and thus infection) is lower than those without a previous infection."
"This makes the fall booster conversation interesting. Last week, the FDA authorized a BA.4/5 vaccine formula. However, one could make the argument that the original BA.1 vaccine formula would be better with this BA.2.75 news. But, chasing variants is never going to work. Our goal should be broaden protection. An Omicron vaccine will do that, regardless of the sub-variant circulating."
Related via CIDRAP: "Relative to BA.2, the BA.2.12.1 subvariant was about 80% more resistant (1.8-fold) after three vaccine doses, but BA.4 and BA.5 were at least 4.2 times more resistant, increasing the likelihood of breakthrough infections."
What the BA.5 Subvariant Could Mean for the U.S.: Via the NYT.
"In places where BA.4 and BA.5 have been dominant for weeks or months, the subvariants have caused increases in cases and hospitalizations, despite some population immunity from previous waves."
"The C.D.C. says there is so far no evidence that BA.4 or BA.5 is inherently more severe than other Omicron subvariants, but when more people become infected, the number of people hospitalized because of the virus may also rise."
Doctors Want More Clarity on Paxlovid Prescribing Amid Covid-19 Rebound Concerns: Via Stat:
"STAT spoke with providers who said they and their colleagues aren’t on the same page about when to prescribe Paxlovid or the criteria that separates those who need it from those who do not."
"They also said it is unclear whether they can give a second course when patients test positive again after taking Paxlovid, a phenomenon known as a rebound."
"And nearly all the experts who spoke with STAT said that they are clamoring for more data on rebounds, which is complicating and sometimes changing their calculus about when to give the drug."
"Scientists don’t yet have a clear understanding of why rebounds happen, or how prevalent they are. That has physicians uncertain about how much to take them into account when prescribing."
“I think the sense of likely risk-benefit has changed over time,” said Walid Gellad, an internal medicine physician and health policy researcher at the University of Pittsburgh. “So I have a little more reluctance now than I did at the very beginning on prescribing."
The Need for a National COVID Commission: Via Niskanen.
WHO Covid Briefing: "Dr. Bruce Aylward said failing to keep COVID-19 at the top of the agenda risks further economic harm and unleashing more civil unrest."
"But Aylward said the pandemic is forgotten at the peril of all nations. Economic growth is being hindered by supply chain issues linked not just to the Russian war in Ukraine, but also to ongoing COVID-19 impacts."
"And the civil unrest unleashed in wealthy countries — including the anti-COVID-19 restriction convoys that paralyzed downtown Ottawa and multiple border crossings earlier this year — will only get worse if the economy and inflation aren't stabilized, he said."
"The World Health Organization was aiming for 70% of the world's population to be vaccinated by now, but more than 130 countries and territories are below that goal, and in Africa, fewer than one in five people have been fully vaccinated and fewer than 100 have had a booster dose."
"We still don't have the tools we need. We don't have enough companies making enough tools, innovating fast enough to stay ahead of this virus."
CDC Director Met with Parents Once: Via Fox: "Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), met with parents just one time leading up to the release of school reopening guidance last year, her internal calendar reveals."
Median Time From Symptom Onset or Positive PCR Test: Study which suggests about half of people with Omicron are likely still contagious at day 8 or later.
Arizona: "Chandler Flex is a van service that offers many of the features of an Uber or Lyft, without the higher cost."
"The city received a two-year grant to run the micro-transit program and is hoping to secure more funding to continue, and expand the program in the future."
“It could be a huge benefit to students at CUSD, particularly high school and junior high students. We actually got funded to operate the service for two years through A for Arizona, because they saw such potential in assisting students getting to and from school.”
California: State public health officials announced their public health guidance for the 2022-2023 K-12 school year with no mask requirement for students or staff, reports NBC.
"The guidance includes recommendations that students get vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear a mask indoors but does not require that they do either."
"California students will not be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine until at least July 1, 2023, provided that the vaccine is fully approved by federal regulators for all age groups."
"Schools are encouraged to implement strategies to address student mental and behavioral health. Schools should review guidance and resources available to support social and emotional learning and mental health resources for youth, including California's Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids Project."
Texas: Dallas ISD:
"More than 7,300 elementary and middle school students participated in the “Summer Cool” program, where they spent two hours on math and two hours on reading each day. In the afternoons, they did “camp” activities that also build social skills."
"Across all of its summer offerings – which includes chess camps and credit recovery – the district is working with roughly 15,000 students. Officials explicitly marketed summer learning this year as fun, enriching and free. About 85% of Dallas’ students come from low-income families."
China: Millions tested in Shanghai as China grapples COVID resurgence.
New Zealand: Principals voice alarm as students fail to return to school after Covid lockdowns.
"I’ve already taken 42 children off the roll totally, because they’d been away more than 20 days – that’s in term one,” said Shirley Maihi, the principal of Finlayson Park school in Manurewa, south Auckland, which has a roll of about 960. “Since then, we’ve still got something like 22 that we are trying to trace.” She said as well as the children who had disappeared off rolls completely, a large chunk of children were attending only intermittently – just two or three days a week."
Inflation: Facing soaring inflation, a Japanese zoo has resorted to offering cheaper fish to its sea animals. The penguins are very unimpressed, refusing to even look at them. The otters are throwing the offerings aside. More via Vice.
The Grade With a Profile of NPR's K-12 Education Reporter Anya Kamanetz: Article
‘We could have been a lot louder."
“I knew that we didn’t have a scientific consensus” around the need for school closings, she told me recently. “We needed social science expertise, not just medical expertise, to decide what was best.”
"For example, her June 2020 story What Parents Can Learn From Child Care Centers That Stayed Open During Lockdowns was among the first — and only — national education stories about schools and centers created to serve the kids of essential workers in NYC and other places."
"We know a lot of kids are missing, but we can’t find them because the districts can’t find them. And so the story doesn’t get told.”
The George W. Bush Institute: Announces Holly Kuzmich stepping down as executive director; names David J. Kramer as successor.
Holly will join the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, the largest global venture philanthropy firm supporting early stage, high impact social entrepreneurs, to expand its presence in Texas.
Duke Women's Basketball: "Be someone who handles hard better."
"We wait in life for things to get easier."
"It will never get easier. What happens is that you handle hard better."
"So make yourself a person that handles hard well. Not someone who waits for the easy."
"Because if you have a meaningful pursuit in life, it will never be easy."