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The Executive Briefing - Friday, December 2nd

COVID got deadlier for young people


  • Twitter has stopped enforcing its COVID misinformation policy. (CNN)
  • COVID was deadlier for young people in 2021 than in 2020. (CIDRAP)
  • Almost half of people with COVID antibodies didn’t know they’d been infected. (CDC)
  • Long COVID may cost the US economy $3.7 trillion. (CNBC)
  • You can now report your at-home COVID test anonymously to public health teams at makemytestcount.org. This could help get a slightly more accurate understanding of COVID rates and surges. (NIH)
  • The FDA paused authorization for the last remaining monoclonal antibody treatment because COVID evolution made it ineffective. (The Hill)
  • Paxlovid is safe for pregnant COVID patients and fetuses. (CIDRAP)
  • Babies had the same COVID hospitalization rate as seniors 65+ during this summer’s Omicron wave. (LA Times)
  • COVID ages teenage brains faster due to stress. (USA Today)

Public Health & Mpox News:

  • Nearly 3,000 Americans have died from the flu so far this year, and flu season is normally just beginning. (CDC)
  • The FDA approved a first-of-its-kind fecal transplant therapy for C. difficile, a dangerous bacteria that can cause severe diarrhea and kills 15-30,000 Americans each year. (Reuters)
  • The rate of Americans dying by guns hit the highest level in 30 years. (AP)
  • The CDC will award over $3 billion to strengthen the US public health system after the pandemic put severe stress on them. (Reuters)
  • The FDA has issued guidelines for rapid antigen Mpox tests. (FDA)
  • The CDC will expand wastewater testing for polio in Michigan and Pennsylvania. (Washington Post)
  • A Virginia resident died of Mpox, the first in the state. (Washington Post)

Mental Health News:

  • Drug and alcohol deaths are increasing among adults over 65. (CNN)
  • NYC will hospitalize mentally ill homeless people against their will, according to the mayor. (AP)
  • A widespread outage shut down 988 for a few hours on Thursday, but it’s back up and running and the text line was not affected. (AP)
  • A company that offers psychedelic-enhanced therapy will offer a free month of ketamine-assisted therapy to people who have been recently laid off to support their mental health. (Fortune)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions:

An employee with strep reports they can’t afford their prescription. How can we get them back to work?

Strep throat is easily treatable - people with a strep diagnosis can return to work just 24 hours after starting their antibiotic because they’ll no longer be contagious. But without antibiotics, someone can be contagious for two to three weeks, which is a long time to be out of work. There are cheap generic antibiotics that work well against strep, many under $15. Sometimes doctors prescribe more expensive brand-name antibiotics, so the first step if someone can’t afford antibiotics after a diagnosis is to have them discuss with their doctor or pharmacist to see whether a generic version exists, and to check if there are any programs at the pharmacy for discounts, which may apply with or without insurance. Most pharmacists are well-versed in these programs and may be able to help people find more affordable options. And remember, a sore throat without a positive strep test might be COVID, flu, or one of many other illnesses, so don’t just assume it’s strep!

Is there a good match between this year’s flu and the flu shot?

There’s not a ton of data yet, but what we’ve seen so far does look like it’s a good match. That’s great news. We’re seeing similar information from the Southern Hemisphere, so we’re generally hopeful that it will continue to be a good match throughout the season. A small bright spot in this already-concerning flu season!

An employee reports they received an antibiotic injection. Is that really a current treatment?

There are widespread shortages of certain antibiotics, particularly liquid or chewable amoxicillin. Amoxicillin is given for a wide range of bacterial infections and to patients who have viral infections like COVID or flu who develop secondary bacterial infections (like pneumonia or bronchitis). In many cases, there are injections or even IV versions that may be more readily available during this shortage, so that’s not out of the realm of possibility at all!

I don’t think I’ve had COVID but read on Tuesday that 95% of Americans have had it. Can I find out if I did?

It’s possible to find out if you’ve had a COVID infection, even if you’re vaccinated, but it’s not easy. All of the available vaccines target the spike protein, so a special test exists that looks at a different protein on antibodies to see if you’ve developed “natural” immunity. It’s not very easy to get, and there’s not really much reason to check for it. If you don’t have any, it’s still possible you had COVID, just long enough ago that your immunity has waned. Overall, we don’t recommend antibody testing unless you have long COVID and need documentation to get treatment or insurance coverage.

Best Read:

COVID-19 in China and global concern - by Katelyn Jetelina

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.