Latest updates on vaccines and the ongoing pandemic toll

Biden and global health agencies seek to get virus tests and antiviral pills to low- and middle-income nations

This week at his second international COVID-19 summit, a virtual gathering of world leaders aimed at energizing the international pandemic response, President Biden is to emphasize “global test to treat.” Vaccinations remain a high priority, but Biden will also use the summit to call on wealthy nations to donate $2 billion to purchase COVID treatments and $1 billion to purchase oxygen supplies for low- and middle-income countries, the New York Times reported, citing a senior administration official involved with the planning.

Millions of people suffer from long COVID but steps toward treatment are embryonic

The terrifying, conflicting paths that long COVID takes in the bodies of its millions of sufferers reveal the still-murky nature of the syndrome. It’s mystified doctors and left drug companies unsure about where to direct their treatment investments. Read how long COVID has bewitched and confounded patients and health experts and drugmakers alike.

What’s ahead in the vaccine world, for kids and adults

As society starts learning how to live with the coronavirus for years or even decades to come, researchers are studying various combinations of existing vaccines to determine which cocktail would be the most effective in the long-term. Read about the changes that are most likely to unfold in the next several months, and when to expect them.

Two different realities in a Sierra Nevada county

A hospital manager in Tuolumne County said the delta and omicron coronavirus surges were“far beyond” anything she had ever experienced, including the AIDS epidemic. At the same time, county supervisors questioned facts about the pandemic, including whether vaccines even worked. One drew applause by comparing possible mandates to Japanese internment during World War II. Read how the pandemic cleaved this Sierra Nevada county into two realities.

Tips for surviving this round

Nobody knows if the current rise in COVID infections “will be a swell or a surge,” Santa Clara County health officials say. They posted five tips for people to “live with COVID and feel prepared: Spend more time outdoors as transmission is less likely than indoors. “Get boosted, even if you had COVID” and especially if you are over 50. Wear tight fitting masks indoors and on public transit, even if it’s not required. Use home rapid tests before and after social events or travel, or if you have symptoms. And know where you can get treatment pills if you do get infected.

Omicron as deadly as previous variants, large study finds

Despite early assumptions made about its more transmissible but “milder” nature, the health impacts of the omicron variant of the coronavirus are as severe as previous mutations after adjusting for vaccinations, demographics and comorbidities, according to a study by scientists at Harvard Medical School. Risks of hospitalization and death “were nearly identical” they found in comparing the omicron phase with the times when alpha and delta were dominant the U.S. The findings, which are awaiting peer review, were based on records of 130,000 COVID-19 patients over the past two years. What made the omicron surge apparently less severe was widespread vaccination and prior infections.

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