COVID-19: Weekly Update (August 16, 2022)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ended recommendations for social distancing and quarantine after exposure to COVID-19. In addition, a new study suggests that mRNA vaccines are safe during pregnancy.

As of August 10, the 7-day moving average of daily new cases was 103,614. It decreased 13.8% compared with the previous 7-day moving average (120,151), according to the CDC Covid Data Tracker Weekly Review.

Test positivity is 18%, and test volume is down, suggesting that many cases are undetected due to unreported home testing and people simply not testing as much with reinfections.

The 7-day moving average of new deaths remains around 400.

As of August 11, 2022, there were 1,275 (39.6%) counties, districts, or territories with a high COVID-19 Community Level, 1,309 (40.7%) counties with a medium Community Level, and 636 (19.8%) counties with a low Community Level.

The Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 remain predominant in the US, accounting for 5.3% and 88.8% of cases, respectively.

The CDC updates COVID-19 guidance

The CDC on Thursday updated guidelines on COVID-19 control measures. The agency ended quarantine for people who have been exposed to the disease but remain asymptomatic, regardless of their vaccination status.

Social distancing that was put in place at the very beginning of the pandemic is also no longer recommended.

The new guidance means changes in COVID-19 prevention efforts at schools, as it no longer recommends cohorting — limiting contacts by keeping students in the same group.

Additionally, the CDC dropped the test-to-stay (TTS) practice. Instead, students and staff who have been exposed to the disease and do not show symptoms are recommended to wear a high-quality mask for ten days and get tested on day five.

The TTS strategy was evaluated in several school districts, including Los Angeles, California. The non-TTS schools lost over 92,000 in-person school days, while the TTS schools lost none. The secondary infection risk was 0.7%.

The FDA recommends three at-home tests

The US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) issued a recommendation to take three at-home COVID-19 antigen tests instead of two in order to reduce the risk of false negative results.

The new guidance applies to asymptomatic people who have been exposed to the disease, while people who show symptoms can continue using two tests.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe during pregnancy

A new study, published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet, suggests that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are safe during pregnancy. In an analysis which adjusted for age, trimester, and previous COVID-19 infection, pregnant vaccinated women vs. pregnant unvaccinated controls were 2.4 times as likely to have a significant health event within seven days of dose 2 with any mRNA vaccine and 4.4x as likely after dose 2 of Moderna.

According to the study's authors, significant health events require time off work or school or medical attention. Headaches, fatigue, and a general feeling of being unwell were the most commonly reported health events.

The study, conducted by the Canadian National Vaccine Safety Network, suggests that vaccination should be encouraged given the increased risk of serious COVID-19 illness among pregnant women compared to non-pregnant individuals.

Reassuringly, the authors also report that pregnant women experienced lower rates of side effects after vaccination compared with non-pregnant vaccinated women.


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