The COVID Booster: ivermectin, out; long COVID; mental health and more…

Cosmos checks out the data, stories and new research into COVID-19 emerging around the world.

What’s the data today?

Globally, there are 590, 659, 276 confirmed cases and 6, 440, 163 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.

In Australia, over 95% of eligible Australians have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 70% of people over 16 have received a booster, and over 38% of eligible people have received a fourth dose.

There are 185,747 estimated active cases in Australia (decreasing).

Of these, 3,726 (decreasing) are hospitalised, 122 (decreasing) are in ICU and 41 (no change) are currently ventilated.

There have been over 9.8 million cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and 12,653 deaths. Data.

COVID-19 cases and deaths per million people

COVID news in brief

Remember those early remedies? They don’t work

Therapeutics like ivermectin, fluvoxamine and metformin were touted as potential remedies for COVID-19 in the earliest days of the pandemic, but their efficacy as a treatment for the novel virus was swiftly dismissed. Now randomised trials led by a Minnesota University team has added another nail in their coffin as a COVID treatment. Results published in the New England Journal of Medicine found these drugs failed to prevent hypoxemia (reduced blood oxygen), emergency department visits, hospitalisation or death associated with COVID-19. 

Brain drain: Risk of neurological, psychiatric conditions still high two years after COVID-19.

Research from Oxford University involving over 1.25 million health care patients has found that while the risk of some illnesses like depression and anxiety is short-lived, certain nerve and brain conditions like dementia and psychosis remains higher two years after COVID-19.

“It is worrying that some other conditions, such as dementia and seizures, continue to be more frequently diagnosed after COVID-19, even two years later,” says lead author Dr Max Taquet.

Long COVID: Healthcare burden could be six months longer due to ongoing symptoms

A US study of almost 130,000 patients suggests extra resources will be required to deal with COVID-19 patients with long COVID six months after infection. The research from Kaiser Permanente Southern California found higher use of healthcare by positive cases six months after infection, most frequently for reasons such as alopecia (hair loss), bronchitis, pulmonary embolism (artery blockages) or deep vein thrombosis, and dyspnoea (breathing difficulties). Researchers suggest this will require “long-term strategic resource allocation”.

Credit: andresr / E+ / Getty.

Longer reads

One mask to rule them all?

With talk of COVID-19’s next wave building for later in the year, research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has added more weight to the use of one type of mask’s effectiveness, at least in health care settings.

Story by Evrim Yazgin

Weekly: An empty building might solve COVID-19 and high energy prices

A world-leading experiment is looking at ways to improve ventilation without increasing energy use – potentially improving measures against pathogen-spread and hip-pocket costs at the same time.

Story by Petra Stock

Next generation: Britain first to approve Omicron-targeting vaccine

Moderna’s double-edged vaccine targets both the original, and Omicron strains of SARS-CoV-2. The UK has approved it for adult use – what’s the status in Australia?

Story by Matthew Agius

Mental health: A third of women report ‘significant’ mental health, fatigue and parenting stress

A study conducted during Victoria’s second lockdown has found the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated underlying mental health difficulties or brought on first-case depression and anxiety among some Australian women.

Story by Ellen Phiddian

Keep blowing: Aerosols from instruments don’t pose more risk

Hear that? That’s the sound of the trumpets calling you back to live music.

For a long time during the pandemic, concert hall stages have sat empty, devoid of the musicians and audiences. But both groups can breathe easier following research into the particles produced by brass and woodwind.

Story by Clare Kenyon

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