Coronavirus Updates


Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    21 January 2023

With inputs from Dr Monica Vasudev


Updated WHO Covid-19 guidelines 


In its updated guidelines, the WHO strongly recommends universal masking in health care facilities in areas of suspected or known community spread of Covid-19. The extra 3 days of isolation following resolution of symptoms has been removed. Now patients are required to isolate themselves for 10 days from the day of onset of symptoms. For asymptomatic persons, the isolation period is 5 days. WHO also strongly recommends the use of nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (Paxlovid) in high risk patients with mild or moderate Covid-19…(Source: WHO, Jan. 13, 2023).


Mandatory isolation for Covid patients no longer the rule in Hong Kong


Hong Kong will lift the mandatory quarantine rule for Covid-positive patients from January 30 onwards. However, wearing masks is still required except when exercising. This follows the decision to reduce the status of Covid-19 to an endemic disease…(Source: Reuters, Jan. 19, 2023).


Critical COVID cases have reached their peak, says China  


Health authorities in China have stated the number of critically ill Covid patients has peaked. According to reports, almost 60,000 hospitalized Covid-positive individuals have died between December 8 and January 12. But this number may not give an accurate picture as it does not include ill persons who died at home. China is celebrating the Lunar New Year for a week starting today…(Source: Medscape, Jan. 19, 2023).


Less than 2000 active Covid cases in India now


The number of active cases in the country is now 1946, according to latest data from the Health Ministry. A total of 145 new infections were recorded in the last 24 hours. The total number of Covid cases are 4.46 crores; more than 5 crore deaths have been recorded…(Source: PTI, Jan. 20, 2023). 


Omicron subvariants under monitoring 


The WHO is monitoring four sublineages of the Omicron variant namely  BF.7 (BA.5 + R346T mutation in spike), BQ.1 (and BQ.1.1, with BA.5 + R346T, K444T, N460K mutations in spike), BA.2.75 (including BA.2.75.2 and CH.1.1), and XBB (including XBB.1.5), according to the latest edition of the Covid-19 weekly epidemiological update…(Source: WHO, Jan. 19, 2023).


43% Covid cases in the US are caused by XBB.1.5 variant


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that around 43% of Covid cases in the United States last week were caused by the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant. In the first week of January, this number was 30% suggesting rapid spread of the most transmissible variant…(Source: Reuters, Jan. 13, 2023).


XBB.1 shows significant immune escape


Data reported in the New England Journal of Medicine show high immune escape for XBB.1 and BQ.1.1 subvariants compared to the BA.5 variant. Following mono- and bivalent mRNA booster dose, the neutralizing antibody titers against BA.5 were 7 times higher than the titers for BQ.1.1. The antibody levels against BA.5 were17 times higher than the levels for XBB.1 after monovalent booster and 21 times higher than the levels for XBB.1 after bivalent booster…(Source: NEJM, Jan. 18, 2023).


CDC & FDA caution about a link between Pfizer vaccine and ischemic stroke in older adults


In a joint new release, the CDC and FDA have cautioned about a preliminary signal for ischemic stroke detected among people aged 65 years who have taken the Pfizer-BioNTech Bivalent booster dose. However, they do not recommend any change in the vaccination practice stating that “it is very unlikely that the signal in VSD represents a true clinical risk”…(Source: US FDA, Jan. 13, 2023).

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