Hydroxychloroquine promoter dies of cancer at 48

Federal vaccine advisers have urged the FDA to authorize a COVID-19 booster shot that targets omicron subvariants. Two novel, highly infectious and immune-evasive versions of the coronavirus known as BA.4 and BA.5 are now dominant in the United States, and together they could extend the Bay Area’s spring surge well into the future. ‘summer. And with up to one in 20 people walking around unaware they’re infected with the coronavirus, what’s your chance of catching COVID from someone who doesn’t even know they have it?

Promoter of hydroxychloroquine as COVID treatment dies at 48

Dr Vladimir Zelenko, who gained national attention for promoting the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, died Thursday at the age of 48. His death, after a long battle with cancer, was announced on the website of his organization, the Z-Freedom Foundation. At the start of the pandemic in 2020, Zelenko claimed he developed a combination treatment called the Zelenko Protocol that included hydroxychloroquine, antibiotics and zinc, which he said had received Food and Drugs approval. United States Drug Administration. The unproven treatment has been publicly and repeatedly endorsed by Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani. The FDA refuted their claims, warning that hydroxychloroquine could cause serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 and added that it was not a safe or effective treatment for those infected. by the coronavirus.

California’s COVID rate climbs ahead of holiday weekend

California’s coronavirus test positivity rate is now three times the level that public health experts consider acceptable for controlling the spread of the virus. The state’s positive test rate, which tracks the percentage of positive tests for COVID-19, rose to 14.8% on Friday. It has steadily increased since mid-March and is more than double what officials reported on June 1. Wastewater data collected by Stanford confirms that the increase is not just limited to those seeking testing because they are symptomatic. The state is reporting about 43 cases per day per 100,000 population, with the Bay Area level of up to 51 cases per 100,000. The new omicron BA.5 and BA.4 subvariants, which account for more than half of the cases sequenced in the region, are likely behind the latest wave, which comes before California recovered from waves BA.2 and BA.2.12.1. . There are 762 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Bay Area, up 30% in one month. Every county in the region has “high” COVID community levels, according to metrics used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, triggering a recommendation for indoor masking and other safety precautions.

FDA won’t need new trial data to clear updated COVID boosters

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will not require companies to submit clinical trial data on COVID-19 vaccines modified to protect against omicron versions BA.4 and BA.5 in order to authorize these injections, a senior FDA official told Reuters. Earlier this week, the agency asked drugmakers to include components of the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants in its new formulations in hopes of avoiding another surge in the fall. By building on existing vaccine data, they will be able to make vaccines available to the public more quickly.

Mask mandate reinstated for film and television productions in Los Angeles

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, film and television crews in Los Angeles County will once again have to mask up. “With new hospital admissions reaching more than 8 per week per 100,000 population, they will resume indoor masking requirements, along with several other safety measures,” said public health officer Barbara Ferrer. of Los Angeles County, during a briefing Thursday. According to an agreement between unions and film and TV producers, which was last updated in May, there is an “escalation trigger” that brings back several protocols if the region where a production takes place meets to certain COVID measures. This includes the number of hospitalizations mentioned by Ferrer. “This industry has worked closely with its labor partners to put in place COVID safety measures that create safety for all workers while being able to continue important work,” Ferrer said. “We applaud them and many other companies taking advantage of the many tools available to keep workers safe.”

Britain reports signs of new surge as cases rise 32% in a week

COVID-19 infections rose 32% in a week in the UK, with the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants likely to be behind the latest surge, according to the Office for National Statistics. Nearly 2.3 million people in the country have tested positive for the virus, up from 1.7 million the previous week. Hospital admissions are also on the rise across the country. “COVID-19 has not gone away,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, of the Health Security Agency. “It’s also a good idea to wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces,” she said. Britain dropped almost all of its coronavirus measures, including mask-wearing and social distancing, months ago and masks are rarely seen on public transport, reports the Associated Press. Globally, the World Health Organization said this week that COVID-19 is increasing in more than 100 countries around the world. The UN health agency has warned that the relaxation of testing and surveillance measures means it could be harder to catch emerging variants before they spread more widely.

North Korea blames South balloons for COVID-19 cases

North Korea suggested on Friday that its COVID-19 outbreak started in people who had come into contact with balloons from South Korea – a highly questionable claim that appeared to be an attempt to hold its rival responsible amid growing tensions over the North’s nuclear program, the Associated Press reports. Global health authorities say the coronavirus is spread by people in close contact who inhale aerosols and is more likely to occur in enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces than outdoors. South Korea’s unification ministry said there was no chance that South Korean balloons could have spread the virus to North Korea.

How to assess the risk of contracting COVID from an asymptomatic person

How likely are people to catch COVID from an asymptomatic person? It’s not impossible — and maybe more common than people think, health experts say. With coronavirus cases currently stuck at a high level across California as the fast-spreading offshoots of the omicron variant crowd out their competitors, this means the chances of someone asymptomatic contracting COVID are increased. Learn more about the risks.

One in 3 Americans in areas with “high” COVID levels, including the Bay Area

About 33% of the US population now lives in areas designated to have “high” community COVID levels, including all counties in the Bay Area, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the highest proportion of Americans falling under the worst level on the agency’s risk map since the CDC updated its metrics in February. The agency assigns levels based on new cases and hospitalizations per 100,000 population, plus the percentage of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. The CDC urges anyone living in an area classified as having “high” levels to wear masks in public spaces and take other measures to avoid the virus.

FDA recommends components BA.4, BA.5 in vaccine booster doses

Following a meeting with its Vaccine Advisory Committee earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday formally asked COVID-19 vaccine makers seeking to update their formulas to include a omicron spike protein component BA.4 and BA.5 to create a two-component (bivalent) booster vaccine, so that the modified vaccines could potentially be used in early to mid-fall 2022. fall and winter, it is essential that we have protection against circulating and emerging variants to prevent the most severe consequences of COVID-19,” the agency said in a statement.

Free COVID-19 test kits are on offer at the Marin County Fair

After two canceled years, the annual Marin County Fair returns for Independence Day weekend to its usual location near the Civic Center and Veterans Memorial Auditorium. The outdoor event runs from June 30 to July 4 and features the usual favorites, from concerts and roving performers to carnival rides, food and drink and nightly fireworks. In a sign of the times, the Marin County Public Health Department will be offering free COVID-19 test kits at the fair, one per family, while supplies last. The kits will be available at the “Healthy Fair, Healthy Marin” patio next to the auditorium. They could be as popular as the Ferris wheel or the funnel cakes.

Metallica’s European tour disrupted by COVID

Metallica has canceled a gig on its European tour after a member of the band’s “family” tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. The Bay Area hard rock band did not say if it was a band member who was infected, but dropped their show at Frauenfeld Rocks in Switzerland last night. “It is with very heavy hearts that we announce that we will not be performing at Frauenfeld Rocks in Switzerland today, as unfortunately a member of the Metallica family has tested positive for COVID,” the band said. said in a social media post. “We are more than sorry to disappoint those of you who are planning to attend this show.” Learn more about cancellation here.

Judge Thomas wrongly says COVID vaccines are made with ‘aborted children’

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas repeated on Thursday a debunked claim that COVID vaccines are produced with cells from ‘aborted children’ in his dissent on a case involving 16 New York healthcare workers who were seeking a religious exemption vaccination orders. Writing on his own behalf and on behalf of Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, Thomas said the plaintiffs were within their rights to “object on religious grounds to all available COVID-19 vaccines as they were developed at the using cell lines derived from aborted children”. The messenger RNA vaccines available in the United States, produced by Pfizer and Moderna, do not contain any aborted cells. Drugmakers used cells obtained from elective abortions decades ago during the vaccine testing and development process, a common practice that has also been used to test rubella and varicella vaccines. . “Because I would address this issue now in the normal course, before the next crisis again forces us to decide complex legal issues in an emergency posture, I respectfully disagree,” Thomas wrote.