I hope you had a wonderful long weekend with your loved ones! Finally, sun and warmth!
Let’s review the state of the COVID pandemic. I will be pulling back from these a bit in the coming months. Each month, I hear from many of you that you value them, and I am happy to help educate. But after 83 weeks of research, I need a bit of a break.
Please let me know what you find most valuable or if there is other content you would prefer to see. This newsletter is for you!
Worldwide, almost 12 BILLION COVID-19 vaccines have been given. This means that 66% of the world’s population has received one dose, and nearly 60% have received two or more. In addition, 91% of eligible Canadians (5 years +) have received one dose, and 86% received at least two doses.
Hospitalizations are decreasing across most of Canada, though 600 people died of COVID last week. Ontario still has over 1200 people in hospital and more than 150 in ICU.
North Korea is experiencing a significant surge of COVID cases, with over a quarter-million new cases and over 2 million cases.
Cases are rising rapidly in South Africa as well. Two Omicron sub-variants seem to be the cause, BA.4 and BA.5.
Most asked questions this week
Do we know anything new about hepatitis in kids?
The CDC has been investigating 180 cases of children who suddenly developed severe hepatitis across 36 states over the last seven months. Though rare, it is important to connect with your healthcare provider if your child is unwell, particularly with jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
There is mounting evidence that unrecognized COVID is causing severe hepatitis we see worldwide.
Last week’s report in medRxiv (not yet peer-reviewed) shows that most kids with acute hepatitis do not report previous COVID-19, but many are infected with adenovirus 41F. Adenovirus is not found to cause hepatitis on its own.
Last week, a separate team published in the prominent journal The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Their research shows that these young children, who are too young to receive a COVID vaccine, have a mild or asymptomatic COVID infection. Then the adenovirus-41F virus leads to an overreaction of the immune system. As a result, high amounts of inflammatory proteins may ultimately damage the liver. They found that the children with hepatitis had stool samples which to confirmed prior COVID infection. The authors think that the spoke protein acts as a ‘superantigen’ that leads to a significant and damaging immune response, leading to hepatitis.
What is new in Long COVID research?
New research in China shows that half of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are still experiencing at least one symptom two years later. The most common symptoms they found are muscle weakness and fatigue.
Another study published last week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that many people with COVID return to the hospital within a month of being discharged. Their study looked at more than 46,000 hospitalized adults in Ontario and Alberta and found that 9% were readmitted within 30 days of discharge, and 2% died. Those readmitted tended to be male, older, have multiple comorbidities and have previous hospital visits and admissions. They were also more likely to be discharged to a long-term care facility or with home care.’
Is there anything new with the Moderna vaccine for kids?
Data published in the New England Journal of Medicine from Moderna’s COVID vaccine trial in kids 6-11 resulted in 88% efficacy. Moderna has a two-dose regimen of 50 ug each. The phase 2/3 part of the trial-tested 50 ug and 100ug doses, and the researchers found that the 50 ug dose produced an excellent antibody response and was safe.
What about boosters in kids?
Last week, the CDC recommended that kids aged 5-11 receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster at least five months after completing their initial vaccination series. All but one member of a CDC expert panel voted in favor of starting the administration of boosters for the age group in the United States.
Is asymptomatic COVID infection a concern?
Research shows that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is causing a more significant proportion of asymptomatic infections than earlier variants did. Health experts say the high rates of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission highlight the need for continued safety precautions, especially in protecting vulnerable individuals like the immunocompromised and children five years and younger.
My silver lining of the week
I was away in the U.S. for a few days last week as my son received some medical treatment at the University of Florida. As many of you know through Instagram, our 7-year-old was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes seven weeks ago. It has rocked our world, but he is a superstar and has managed to roll with the punches. He has taught us a lot about resilience and optimism!
We are not quite ready to talk about our trip, but he and I are eager to share once he has recuperated in a couple of weeks.
I am grateful for scientific discoveries and the opportunity to treat illness in new ways. And for his health and safety!
Have a wonderful week, friends!
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.