The COVID-19 Booster: Numbers rise again despite predicted decline

Weekly COVID-19 cases have jumped by another 18%, with a slight increase in nationwide hospitalisations.

It comes despite hopes expressed by some experts last week that Australia’s COVID curve would begin to flatten at the end of November.

New South Wales continues to lead the nation’s infections with the highest daily average in cases since the end of August. 37,796 cases were reported in the state last week.

That figure is likely to be at least four times as many, based on some estimates designed to compensate for the levels of testing and reporting seen in previous waves.

Victoria also saw over 4,000 more cases reported this week than previously.

Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania reported around 11,000 new cases this week – up from around 10,000 the week prior. South Australia and the ACT had smaller increases, this week reporting 9684 and 2239 cases respectively.

The Northern Territory has more than doubled the number of new cases week-on-week, jumping from 329 reported in the previous seven days to 750 for the current period. It has now had over 100,000 cases during the pandemic.

COVID-19 by the numbers

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Case numbers sourced from individual state and territory reporting.

COVID-19 news in brief

High triglyceride levels may heighten severe COVID risk

Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology have analysed blood samples against thousands of genomic markers and found that a high triglyceride count can cause severe COVID-19.

Triglycerides are a type of fat – or lipid – found in the blood and can cause heart disease. The researchers suggest lipid-lowering drugs such as statins and fibrates, which are sometimes prescribed to address high cholesterol levels, could be a suitable treatment to prevent severe COVID-19.

“Our genetic causality analyses found that higher levels of triglycerides, a type of fat that is a cardiovascular disease biomarker, was strongly linked to increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease,” says senior author Professor Dale Nyholt.

“This fits with the observation that hospitalised patients who died, or were in ICU, had significantly higher levels of triglycerides compared to those who were discharged or had a mild case.

“Our finding provides a genetic explanation for the greater severity of disease for people with higher triglycerides.”

Chronic health, low income leaves teens prone to long COVID.

A study from Geneva University in Switzerland has found low socioeconomic status and chronic health conditions might leave teenagers susceptible to long COVID.

The study in more than one thousand children aged 6 months to 17 years, found older children were more likely to have ongoing COVID symptoms than their younger counterparts, had lower socioeconomic status and ongoing health issues such as asthma. Long COVID was also 8% more common in those children who had repeat infections.

Large study finds childhood COVID-19 vaccination reduces death-risk

A study of over 844,000 Argentinian children has found approved vaccines against Delta have at least a 60% success rate in young children and 67% in teenagers.

That effectiveness dropped away during Argentina’s subsequent Omicron wave to between 16 and 26%, but was still able to prevent death in 98% of adolescent cases.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, concluded “vaccine effectiveness in preventing mortality remained high in children and adolescents regardless of the circulating variant”.

Longer reads

Does RAT effectiveness wane with each new COVID variant?

COVID-19 is on the rise in Australia, but do new sublineages mean old RATs are not calibrated to target them?

Story by Matthew Agius

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