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Positive for Covid, Fauci has ‘mild’ symptoms

Almost inevitably, the influence of Covid has lead White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, 81, touched. He is fully vaccinated and double refreshed. Axios reports that new Omicron variants are “gaining ground” and circumventing protective measures, and NBC News notes that reinfections “will stay here.”

NPR: Dr. Anthony Fauci tests positive for COVID-19 but has mild symptoms

dr Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has tested positive for COVID-19. The 81-year-old is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and has been boosted twice, according to the National Institutes of Health. He has mild symptoms and will continue to isolate and work from home. He has also been prescribed Paxlovid, the anti-COVID drug, according to an agency representative. Fauci has helped lead the US government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic since the initial outbreak. (Diaz, 15.6.)

In other news about the spread of Covid —

Axios: CDC: New Omicron variants on the rise

New strains of omicron, capable of evading immune protection and causing breakthrough infections, now account for more than 21% of all COVID cases in the US, according to updated CDC figures. The virus continues to evolve, with the BA.4 and BA.5 lines accounting for a larger proportion of the approximately 105,000 new cases daily. (Bettelheim, June 15)

NBC News: ‘Part of a new normal’: Covid reinfections are here to stay

In 2020, reinfections with Covid were considered rare. In 2021, breakthrough infections could occur in vaccinated people, but again the risk was low. In 2022 this will no longer be the case for either of them. As more and more immune-evading coronavirus variants emerge, reinfection and breakthrough infections appear increasingly normal. The United States is not currently tracking Covid reinfections. However, British researchers have found that the risk of reinfection during the Omicron wave was eight times higher than during last year’s Delta wave. (Syal and Miller, 6/16)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: This COVID wave is worse than we know. But the peak can be here

The St. Louis region is in the midst of another COVID-19 surge. And doctors and health officials say the numbers are likely far worse than records show. But due in large part to built-up immunity, this wave is not making as many residents sick as previous waves. The spike in infection rates is as bad as any, said Dr. Charles Crecelius, medical director for two nursing homes in the area and geriatric care specialist at BJC Medical Group. “But thank God milder,” he said. “If it were as bad as others, we would be in for another disaster with very crowded hospitals.” (Merrilees, 6/15)

Los Angeles Times: Being “fully vaccinated” but not boosted won’t stop Omicron

Two vaccinations with the COVID-19 vaccine without an additional booster dose provide essentially no long-lasting protection against infection with Omicron, and coronavirus infection is as effective as a recent booster dose in preventing a new disease caused by Omicron, researchers reported Wednesday. At the same time, any immunity to the highly contagious variant, whether through infection or vaccination, appears to offer significant and lasting protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death, the researchers found. And if you didn’t have the virus or the vaccine, doctors urged, it’s better to get the vaccine. (Purtil, 15.6.)

When testing —

ABC News: Low testing levels may be hiding a COVID surge in Texas: experts

A look at the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would give the impression that COVID-19 is generally under control in Texas. The federal agency’s map of community spread of COVID-19 shows most of the state’s counties are classified as “low” or “moderate.” But public health experts said that didn’t tell the real story and that the case numbers in Texas were artificially low due to the low levels of testing reported to public health officials. (Kekatos, 15.6.)

NBC News: Rapid Covid tests give many false negatives, but that could mean you’re not contagious

dr Calvin Hwang, a clinical assistant professor at Stanford, and two other disease experts said rapid tests (also known as antigen tests) are good indicators of when a person might be contagious. “Only the people who are shedding the most viruses will be positive on a rapid test, but those are the people you want to identify specifically because they’re the most contagious,” said Dr. Sheldon Campbell, associate professor of laboratory medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research. (Bendix, 15.6.)

CIDRAP: Study shows similar antigen tests for Omicron as for previous variants

A new study based on COVID-19 testing conducted on 723 Stanford University student-athletes showed that rapid antigen tests (RAT) were highly specific in detecting infections caused by the Omicron variant, but had low sensitivity compared to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. similar to results from previous SAR-CoV-2 variants. The study was also published today in the JAMA Network Open. (6/15)

KHN: At a test-to-treat location in the Bay Area, there are few takers for free antivirals

After avoiding movie theaters, restaurants and gyms for more than two years, Helen Ho decided to take her first big risk since the pandemic began to attend her graduation. In late May, 32-year-old Ho flew to Cambridge, Massachusetts to complete her Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University. A few days after returning home to the Bay Area, she tested positive for Covid-19. At first, the Ivy League-trained researcher didn’t know what to do. (Scheier, 6/16)

On long Covid —

San Francisco Chronicle: Virus update: COVID can cloud brain for half a year, study finds

The neurological effects of COVID-19 infection often persist after other symptoms have subsided, according to a first round of research published Wednesday by scientists at UCSD. A majority of patients in the study, published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, reported symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, memory problems and decreased concentration for up to six months after a mild or moderate case of COVID-19. Some also had coordination and cognitive problems. While symptoms generally improved after half a year, only a third of participants said they had completely disappeared by that time. None of the people in the study had a history of pre-existing neurological conditions prior to their infection. (Vaziri and Ho, 6/15)

The Atlantic: Long COVID could be a ‘mass deterioration event’

In late summer 2021, during the delta wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation issued a disturbing wake-up call: It calculated that more than 11 million Americans were already suffering from COVID. The academy dashboard has since been updated daily and now puts that number at 25 million. Again, this can be a big undercount. The dashboard calculation assumes that 30 percent of COVID patients will develop lasting symptoms and then applies that rate to the 85 million confirmed cases on the books. However, many infections go unreported, and blood antibody tests suggest that as of February 2022, 187 million Americans had contracted the virus. (Many more have since been infected.) If the same proportion of chronic diseases exist, the country should now have at least 56 million long-sick patients with COVID. That’s one for every six Americans. (Mazer, 15.6.)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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