Researchers from the Netherlands have developed a mobile app that identifies people with Covid-19 through their voices, over 40% of adults hospitalized with Covid-19 in the spring were fully vaccinated and boosted, and more in this week's roundup of Covid-19 news.
- CDC has awarded a $9 million five-year grant to Indiana University (IU) and the Regenstrief Institute to help them enhance surveillance of and detect trends related to long Covid. In collaboration with CDC and other partners, the institutions will develop a comprehensive population-based surveillance system for long Covid using EHR data from the Indiana Network for Patience Care research database. In addition to using existing data, researchers are also planning to enroll children, adolescents, and adults into the study to track the progression of recent Covid-19 infection to better understand the outcomes and potential burden of the disease. "Anecdotal information about long COVID abounds, but what we need is accurate, comprehensive scientific evidence," said Shaun Grannis, VP of data and analytics at Regenstrief and a professor of family medicine at the IU School of Medicine. "Our study will provide critical information for public health, patients and the clinicians who care for people with long COVID." (Fox, Healthcare IT News, 9/7; Regenstrief Institute, EurekAlert!, 9/7)
- Patients who reported psychological distress, including loneliness, depression, and anxiety, had an increased risk of developing long Covid after a coronavirus infection, according to a prospective cohort study published in JAMA Psychiatry. For the study, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed data from 54,960 participants from three ongoing longitudinal studies (the Nurses' Health Study II, the Nurses' Health Study 3, and the Growing Up Today Study) who completed a questionnaire between April and September 2020 and were followed through November 2021. The mean age of participants was 57.5 years, and 38% were active health care workers. A positive Covid-19 test was reported by 6% of participants through the follow-up period. Overall, the researchers found that probable depression, probable anxiety, worry about Covid-19, loneliness, and perceived stress were associated with a 1.32 to 1.46 times greater risk of long Covid among participants who tested positive for the virus. In addition, participants who reported two or more types of distress had an almost 50% increased risk of long Covid. "We found that psychological distress is even more strongly associated with long COVID compared to ... established risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, and hypertension," said Siwen Wang, one of the study's authors. According to Wang, the study's findings could help identify new areas of research into the mechanism of Covid-19 infection, as well as long Covid symptoms. "In consideration of how high the prevalence of depression [and] anxiety are in the United States and worldwide, future research might want to look at whether treatment or better management of psychological distress might mitigate symptoms of long COVID or prevent the development of long COVID," she said. (DePeau-Wilson, MedPage Today, 9/7)
- Similar labeling on the original Covid-19 vaccines and the recently authorized updated boosters has some physicians concerned that some people will not receive the correct vaccine when coming in for a booster. According to NBC News, Pfizer-BioNTech's updated booster is packaged in vials with a gray cap and gray labeling, which are the same colors as its original vaccine, while Moderna's updated booster and its vaccine for children ages 6 to 11 both have a dark blue cap. "Front-line healthcare workers are already busy; they have a lot going on," said Ofer Levy, director of the precision vaccines program at Boston Children's Hospital. "While both Pfizer and Moderna's labels say what vaccine is inside, making the vaccine vials easy to tell apart prevents providers from grabbing the wrong one." According to physicians, changing the colors of the vaccine caps would help prevent any potential mistakes. In addition, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the agency is aware of physicians' concerns about potential mix-ups and is "actively working" to distribute photos of the updated boosters and educate vaccine administrators to "minimize confusion." (Lin/Money, Los Angeles Times, 9/7; Carbajal, Becker's Hospital Review, 9/7; Lovelace, NBC News, 9/7)
- Researchers from the Institute of Data Science at Maastricht University in the Netherlands have developed a mobile app that uses artificial intelligence to identify people with Covid-19 by the sound of their voices, Becker's Hospital Review reports. To use the app, people enter basic information about their medical history and record themselves breathing, coughing, and speaking. So far, the AI model has been tested using 893 audio samples from people with and without Covid-19 and has an overall accuracy of 89%. According to the researchers, once the results are validated with a larger participant pool, it could be used as a cheaper alternative to PCR testing in low-income countries. (Bean, Becker's Hospital Review, 9/7)
- According to a new CDC report, 44% of adults hospitalized with Covid-19 in the spring were fully vaccinated and boosted. The report, which analyzed hospitalization data between March 20 and May 31 when the omicron subvariant BA.2 was dominant, found that roughly 39% of hospitalized patients were fully vaccinated and boosted, and 5% were fully vaccinated and had received two boosters. In addition, hospitalization rates increased threefold among adults ages 65 and older and 1.7-fold for adults under 65 between April and May. "Older adults and those with underlying medical conditions, including those who have been vaccinated, might still be at risk for severe disease as demonstrated by the fact that nearly one half of hospitalized patients during the BA.2 period had received a primary series and ≥1 booster or additional dose," CDC said. However, unvaccinated adults still had a greater risk of hospitalization from Covid-19 overall, with data showing that their hospitalization rate was 3.4 times higher than that of vaccinated adults. (Bean, Becker's Hospital Review, 9/6)