Non-Vaccinated Fuel Hospitalizations; Genetic link to serious illness; and infection rate in children
“This virus will evolve”: concerns grow over variants, a new wave among the unvaccinated
Much as public health officials feared, the combination of too many unvaccinated people and the more contagious delta strain of the coronavirus has led to new outbreaks of COVID-19 across the country.
The vast majority of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated, says Sergio Segarra, MD, chief medical officer at Baptist Hospital, part of Baptist Health South Florida. And a lot of them are young adults in their twenties and thirties who get extremely sick.
“From the start it was a concern for me – that we weren’t getting a substantial part of the population immunized,” said Dr Segarra, who has been interviewed by CNN this week on the latest increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Florida and nationwide.
The latest update from the Florida Health Department shows that 58% of the state’s population over the age of 12 has been vaccinated. Among the most populous counties in South Florida, Miami-Dade recorded a 73% vaccination rate; Broward 66% and Palm Beach 62%, according to the latest data.
But there is a persistent group of people who for some reason do not get the vaccine. The more people who are infected, the greater the likelihood that the virus will evolve into multiple variants, said Dr Segarra.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD on Thursday released the first opinion of the general surgeon from his time with the Biden administration, describing the “urgent threat” posed by the rise in misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. “Misinformation has caused confusion and has led people to refuse COVID-19 vaccines, to reject public health measures such as masking and physical distancing, and to use unproven treatments,” the advisory reads.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that the delta variant was responsible for 58% of new confirmed cases nationwide from June 20 to July 3. COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States effectively protect people against serious illness if they become infected with the delta strain of the virus, according to the CDC.
“With a greater number of people infected with the virus, whether they have minor symptoms or become seriously ill and end up in hospital, there is a greater chance that a variant will occur,” says Dr Segarra. . âThe virus will evolve.
The worst-case scenario, which fortunately did not happen, says Dr Segarra, is the emergence of a variant resistant to currently available vaccines.
âIt hasn’t happened yet, but it’s something that keeps me awake,â says Dr Segarra. âThis is something that worries me. And I would hate to think that in 10 years they will say, ‘Wow, these people in 2021 could have been vaccinated, but they didn’t. And now there is a terrible variant that is creating all kinds of havoc. So that worries me. “
Study: Human genetics affect sensitivity and severity of COVID
For more than a year since the start of the pandemic, researchers and clinicians have been trying to understand why some people develop severe COVID-19 disease, while others have little or no symptoms. Risk factors included age and underlying medical conditions.
However, variations in the human genome have not been extensively studied as a possible risk factor that determines a mild or severe response to COVID-19 infection. That is to say until now.
A new study published in Nature, led by the COVID-19 Host Genomics Initiative (HGI), confirms or newly identifies 13 genes that appear to play a role in susceptibility to coronavirus, or that have an effect on the severity of the disease. Researchers established an international collaboration when the pandemic began to focus on genetics. This collaboration included approximately 3,000 researchers and clinicians and data from 46 studies involving more than 49,000 people with COVID-19.
HGI teams involved in the analysis include both academic labs and private companies from two dozen countries, including the United States. Several of the 13 important genes identified by the researchers had previously been linked to other diseases, including autoimmune diseases.
An example is the TYK2 gene. Variants of this gene may increase susceptibility to infections with other viruses, bacteria and fungi, the study authors write. People with certain TYK2 mutations are at increased risk of being hospitalized or developing serious illness from COVID-19. Another example is the DPP9 gene. The authors have found a variant of this gene that increases the risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. It is the same variant that can increase the risk of a rare lung disease characterized by scarring of lung tissue.
âThis study is important not only for advancing our understanding of human susceptibility to COVID-19; it also underlines the value of global collaborations in clarifying the human genetic basis for the variability of susceptibility to infectious diseases, âsays an additional item to the study published in Nature.
Pediatricians: Children represent a growing share of COVID-19 infections
Children account for a growing share of COVID-19 infections in the United States, while serious illnesses from the coronavirus remain rare among young children and adolescents. The researchers caution, however, that studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of COVID-19 on children’s health.
According to American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children accounted for about 2% of infections at the start of the pandemic last year. At the end of May this year, children accounted for 24% of new weekly infections, the AAP said. The cumulative percentage of COVID-19 cases involving children is around 14%, the organization says.
More than 4 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States, 18,500 have been hospitalized and 336 have died from the disease, according to the latest update from the AAP.
âAt this time, it still seems that serious illnesses from COVID-19 are rare in children,â says the AAP. “However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on the long-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including the ways in which the virus may adversely affect the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its effects on the disease. emotional and mental health. “
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone aged 12 and over get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves against COVID-19. Currently, children 12 years of age and older can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. In May, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents after a clinical trial involving 2,260 children aged 12 to 15 found that the vaccine’s effectiveness Pfizer-BioNTEch was 100%. “This official CDC action opens vaccination to approximately 17 million adolescents in the United States and strengthens our country’s efforts to protect even more people from the effects of COVID-19,” said CDC director Rochelle Walensky, in a statement.