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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, October 18th

“Sluggish” booster uptake


  • COVID vaccines may help protect against dangerous inflammation and stillbirth in pregnancy. (CIDRAP).
  • It now seems likely that we’ll need annual COVID boosters for the foreseeable future, and some with higher risk will need it more than once a year. (HuffPost)
  • A Boston research lab tested a lab-made hybrid version of SARS-CoV-2. They met local and university safety guidelines but didn’t inform NIAID, who is investigating. (STAT)
  • New variants BQ1 and BQ1.1 seem to evade monoclonal antibody treatments that are key in protecting and treating immunocompromised people. They now make up over 10% of US cases. (Politico)
  • Booster uptake remains “sluggish” with under 7% of the more than 209 million people who are eligible actually having gotten their updated boosters. (SF Chronicle)
  • Gov. Newsome will end California’s COVID emergency in February. (AP)
  • The Trump administration interfered with CDC guidance for political purposes, a congressional panel found. (The Hill)

Public Health & MPX News:

  • A healthcare worker got MPX through a needlestick. (CDC)
  • Hurricane Ian is to blame for a rise in Vibrio cases in Florida, which can cause life-threatening skin infections. (USA Today)
  • A TikTok-famous emu is fighting for his life after an avian flu outbreak killed 99% of the birds on his farm. (CBS)
  • The Gates Foundation will commit $1.2 billion to eradicate polio globally. (AP)
  • A new Ebola vaccine is being produced to help fight the Uganda outbreak. (Reuters)
  • The European Medicines Agency recommended authorizing a new dengue vaccine, which could be a game-changer for the widespread and potentially fatal disease. (AP)
  • 1 in 6 people with insulin-dependent diabetes - that’s 1.3 million Americans - have been forced to ration their doses due to the cost of the drug. (USA Today)
  • MPX vaccines still aren’t reaching Black Americans. (The 19th)

Mental Health News:

  • A major study from 1979 said that depressed people had a more realistic view of their influence over events. A newer study is calling that into question. (NY Times)
  • Seasonal depression can affect people as the days get shorter, with women at slightly higher risk. (US News)
  • The Biden Administration has announced plans to expand 24/7 mental health and substance abuse care by offering millions of dollars in grant money for more communities around the country. (Seattle Times)

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:

I’m hearing the new COVID boosters aren’t as effective with the newest variants. Should I still get it?

Actually, the updated bivalent boosters work better against the newest variants than the original vaccine. The new booster is called bivalent because it’s targeted for two types of variants - the original virus and the Omicron variants. The latest subvariants circulating are BQ1 and BQ1.1, which are both in the Omicron family. Getting the updated booster will significantly reduce your risk of getting seriously sick or dying if you get infected this winter.

Is flu season already here?

Unfortunately, it looks like the flu season has started already. Nationally the numbers are still under 4% positivity of tests, but in the Southeast, they’re already at 10%. And that’s just for people who went to the doctor and got tested for flu. The real number of cases is likely much higher. Plus, there are increased respiratory viruses overall, which doesn’t bode well for the flu season. If you’ve been waiting to time your flu shot for when cases pick up, now’s a good time to go get one. Most flu experts we know - including us - have already gotten them.

If I test negative for COVID, can I go to work?

No, not if you still have symptoms. You may have the flu, RSV, or another virus that can infect others. You may have some other illness - we’ve seen strep, Hep A, and even E.coli where people had symptoms that they suspected were COVID. Plus, rapid at-home antigen tests don’t always pick up COVID in one test - you may test negative on your first day of symptoms and positive on your second or third. It’s best to stay home until your symptoms have resolved.

If my child was sick with COVID symptoms but tested negative, do I need to wear a mask at work?

Ultimately, this depends on your company’s mask policy, but we think the answer should be yes. Anytime you have a child who is sick at home with something that is likely infectious - a cold, flu, COVID, or stomach bug - you should assume that you are exposed and may get sick. Wearing a mask for 10 days is a reasonable and low-cost way to reduce the risk that you pose to others that work.

Best Read:

Dr. Anthony Fauci: long Covid is an ‘insidious’ public health emergency

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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.