Jill Biden tests positive for Covid as ‘Pirola’ variant spreads fast across US — latest

CDC Data Confirms Covid-19 Hospital Admissions Climb Per Capita

Jill Biden, 72, has tested positive for Covid and is experiencing mild symptoms, the White House said in a statement.

Case counts are rising across the US, and public health experts are monitoring a worrisome new variant.

Doctors warned that the BA.2.86 variant – unofficially called “Pirola” – may be cause for concern as it is a newly-designated, highly-mutated variant of Omicron which triggered a surge in cases in a number of countries including the US.

According to a Thursday bulletin in Yale Medicine, the new variant has more than 30 mutations to its spike protein – located on the outer surface of a coronavirus – which helps it enter and infect human cells.

“Such a high number of mutations is notable,” infectious disease specialist Dr Scott Roberts said. “When we went from [Omicron variant] XBB.1.5 to [Eris] EG.5, that was maybe one or two mutations.

“But these massive shifts, which we also saw from Delta to Omicron, are worrisome.”

A separate mini-wave of Covid cases is being fueled by the newest dominant variant EG.5, or “Eris”. It has caused hospitalisations to increase by 39 per cent since the end of July.

CDC Covid tracker

15,067 hospitalisations from 13 August to 19 August


Watch: Vancouver anti-mask protest turns into fight

A recent protest about Covid precautions in Vancouver turned violent.

Maggie O’Neill5 September 2023 12:00


Dr Fauci pushes back against study claiming masks don’t work

Dr Anthony Fauci criticised a study claiming that masks do not work to stop the spread of Covid-19.

In a new interview CNN’s Michael Smerconish, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease said he’s concerned about anti-mask rhetoric, given that Covid cases are rising in the US.

Dr Fauci responded by saying that other research has highlighted the efficacy of masks. “When you’re talking about the effect on the epidemic or the pandemic as a whole, the data are less strong, but when you talk about an individual basis of someone protecting themselves or protecting themselves from spreading it to others, there’s no doubt that there are many studies that show that there is an advantage” to wearing masks, he said.

Maggie O’Neill5 September 2023 09:00


World Health Organization says continued Covid surveillance is vital for understanding the impact of the virus

Maggie O’Neill5 September 2023 05:45


Reported number of Covid-19 cases may be grossly underestimated, experts warn

Doctors are warning that the summer wave of Covid-19 currently gripping the US might be more serious than authorities realise.

Orlando-based physician Aftab Khan, MD, tweeted 3 September, “I have been seeing a rise in [Covid] cases…I am treating more patients than I treated during [the] first half of 2023…Something is missing from current federal data.”

Maggie O’Neill5 September 2023 02:45


Covid may be spreading rapidly at the US Open

An illness is reportedly spreading at the US Open—affecting players and audience members—and some experts are speculating that Covid may be to blame.

This year, ticket holders are not required to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test, nor are they required to wear face masks.

Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg recently tweeted that “people in the press room and player lounge sure are coughing and sniffling a lot.”

Tennys Sandgren tweeted that he is ill, and Ons Jabeur is reportedly experiencing flu-like symptoms, per The New York Times. Jabeur said in a press conference that she’s “taking a lot of medicine.” ESPN commentator John McEnroe has also tested positive for Covid, per ESPN.

Experts say it’s important not to rule out the possibility that Covid is circulating at the tournament and causing the illnesses. “The thing is, nobody knows whether it’s Covid…I’d wager that at least some of the players with illnesses that some are calling ‘a flu,’ really have Covid,” Jeremy Faust, MD, an ER physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and instructor at Harvard Medical School, wrote in a Substack post published Monday.

Maggie O’Neill4 September 2023 23:45


Lack of access to free tests may fuel Covid waves this fall

As Covid deaths and hospitalizations rise, experts are stressing the importance of testing yourself if you’ve been exposed to—or are showing symptoms of—Covid-19.

However, some worry that without access to free at-home testing, it might be challenging to contain future waves.

“One of the things we could have thought about from a federal point of view is continuing to make testing materials widely and freely available,” William Schaffner, MD, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told The Independent.

Dr Schaffner said he’s planning to need to test for Covid regularly in the coming days. “I expect to expend a fair amount of money,” he said. “If people don’t have the resources, they won’t do that.”

Maggie O’Neill4 September 2023 20:45


WHO tracking new Covid variant BA. X amid fears it could lead to new explosion of cases

The World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring a new coronavirus variant that could potentially lead to a rise in Covid-19 cases.

The BA.X strain which is also known as BA.2.86, was placed under the health body’s monitoring list on Thursday due to the “large number of mutations it carries”.

Only three cases of the new strain have been detected in Denmark and Israel and later another was found in the US.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar reports:

Ariana Baio4 September 2023 17:45


Mysterious new long Covid symptom identified by scientists

A new symptom of long Covid has been revealed by scientists at the University of Leeds.

Though most people who contract Covid recover within a few days or weeks of experiencing initial symptoms, some people can experience longer, more persistent symptoms – termed long Covid or post Covid-19 syndrome by the NHS.

Ariana Baio4 September 2023 16:00


Ohio is third state to report worrying new Covid strain

A virulent new Covid-19 strain has been detected in wastewater testing in Ohio, the third state to report the vaccine-resistant variant.

Experts are keeping a close eye on the BA.2.86 variant due to its potential to infect people who have previously had Covid or received vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a risk assessment released on Wednesday.

The CDC said it was too early to determine whether BA.2 86, also known as the “Pirola” variant, may cause more severe illness than previous strains, but was concerned due to the large number of genetic mutations compared to previous ones.

Further testing is required to confirm whether the variant is Pirola, the CDC said.

The discovery came as new Covid hospitalisations leapt by 21.6 per cent this week, with an estimated 2,000 Americans requiring specialist care per day, according to figures released by the CDC this week.

The public health agency is projecting hospitalisations to accelerate markedly in the coming weeks, and has replaced a previous forecast that admissions would remain stable.

Ariana Baio4 September 2023 14:00


Lionsgate tells employees to wear masks amid new Covid variant

Lionsgate has told nearly half of its employees to wear masks in the workplace as Covid cases rise in the United States.

The entertainment production company, which has a London-based film division, recently told staff at their flagship quarters in Santa Monica, California that those on the third and fifth floors of the five-storey building must use medical-grade protection.

Ariana Baio4 September 2023 11:00

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