The COVID-19 Booster: Is Australia’s case curve flattening now?

Australia’s COVID-19 cases have seen a week-on-week decrease, which may indicate the start of the curve-flattening forecast by health authorities several weeks ago.

While the official case numbers are not a perfect snapshot of the current Omicron wave, owing to lower positive test reporting, the 6% increase in case numbers on last week’s total is far lower than the 18% jump the week before.

Sadly, reported deaths jumped by 84 nationwide. It’s the largest increase in mortality since states and territories shifted to reporting data every seven days.

New South Wales continues to lead the nation in reported new cases – with over 40,000, a number not seen since August this year.

Victoria added 27,000 new cases to its tally – an increase of around 800 from last week’s total.

A similar increase was recorded in WA (12,383 new cases), while Queensland added over 13,000 cases this week – almost 2,500 more than last week’s figure.

Other states and territories have seen more modest increases this week with similar jumps to the week prior. South Australia added 9986 new case, Tasmania 4030, the ACT 2610 and the Northern Territory 827.

COVID-19 in Australia by the numbers

Covid dashboard2
^Data sourced from individual state and territory reporting. * Data from Australian health department reporting. All other data from World Health Organization
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Case numbers sourced from individual state and territory reporting.

News in brief

COVID-19 myocarditis more deadly than rare vaccine side effect

University of Hong Kong researchers have found myocarditis-related mortality is higher in unvaccinated patients who develop the irregularity from SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, compared to the risk of taking the rather than a vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

The analysis of over 866 patients with myocarditis, published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, attributed one death – or 1% of the total number of vaccinated patients – to the heart inflammation.

Comparatively, myocarditis was more likely to be lethal in those who were unvaccinated: 84 of 762 unvaccinated myocarditis patients passed away. That equates to a 92% risk reduction for those who had received a vaccine dose.

“Because this difference has already been adjusted for a certain variety of clinical histories and medication use, as well as demographic information, this finding may suggest a potentially distinct etiology [cause] of myocarditis conditions related to mRNA vaccines, as distinguished from those otherwise acquired such as viral infection,” say the authors.

Severe COVID-19 linked to signs of brain aging

Harvard Medical School has found COVID-19 leaves its mark on the brain. A study published in Nature Aging detected molecular signatures similar to those caused by the brain’s natural aging processes among those who recovered from the disease.

“Given the strong associations between aging-regulated pathways and severe COVID-19, we sought to directly test whether COVID-19 is associated with similar gene expression patterns as natural aging in the human brain,” the authors say.

“Aging is a major risk factor for the development of cognitive deficits. Our results, together with previously reported residual cognitive deficits reported in recovered cases, imply that aging-associated and cognitive decline-associated gene expression changes observed in individuals with COVID-19, may lead to increased rates of cognitive decline.”

If COVID sends you to hospital, you’re far more likely to get long COVID

Sweden’s Karolinska Institute has analysed the post-COVID symptoms of over 200,000 positive cases and found 32% of those treated in intensive care developed long COVID. That’s compared to 6% of hospitalised cases and just 1% of non-hospitalised infectees.

While those in hospital and ICU appeared to have no other associations with the likelihood of having a post-COVID condition (or PCC), there are more pronounced correlations among non-hospitalised settings.

Among the non-hospitalized, women, those with asthma and a pre-existing mental health condition were more likely to be diagnosed with a post-COVID condition.

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