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Too Soon to Tell if Omicron Will End Pandemic: Fauci

It's too soon to determine whether Omicron's rapid spread will turn a pandemic virus into an endemic disease, America's top infectious disease expert says.

That "would only be the case if we don't get another variant that eludes the immune response to the prior variant," Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week during the Davos Agenda, a virtual event being held this week by the World Economic Fo...

Which Kids Are Most Vulnerable to Severe COVID-19?

TUESDAY, Jan. 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- As a record number of American kids are being hospitalized with COVID-19, a new study helps clarify which ones are at the highest risk for serious complications.

The study tracked over 3,200 children and teenagers who landed in an emergency room with

  • Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter
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  • January 18, 2022
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  • Surge of U.S. Military Medical Personnel to Ease Medical Worker Shortages

    President Joe Biden plans to announce Thursday that a "surge" of U.S. military medical personnel will soon be deployed to hospitals struggling with staff shortages amid soaring COVID-19 cases.

    More than 1,000 will begin arriving at hospitals nationwide starting next week, and that deployment will be in addition to other federal medical personnel who have already been sent to states to off...

    COVID Hospitalizations Rising in Kids Too Young for Vaccine

    While COVID-19 has taken the lives of many children and caused serious illness for many more, it is generally agreed that the virus is much less likely to inflict severe damage in the young.

    But new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed a concerning...

    Could Binge Drinking Set Your Heart Rhythm Off-Kilter?

    Binge drinking on Super Bowl Sunday or other special occasions could put you at risk for a dangerous heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation (a-fib), even if you've never had it, researchers warn in a new study.

    "Worldwide, alcohol is the most popularly consumed drug, and it now is clear that alcohol consumption is an important risk factor for atrial fibrillation," said senior au...

    As Omicron Rages, How Important Are Case Counts Anymore?

    The record-breaking numbers surrounding the Omicron surge are dizzying, with so many Americans falling prey to the highly infectious COVID-19 variant.

    The United States reported more than 1.3 million COVID cases on Monday, the h...

    U.S. COVID Hospitalizations Pass Last Winter's Peak

    The United States has passed another grim milestone in the pandemic as the Omicron variant races across the country: COVID hospitalizations have now eclipsed a previous peak, which was seen last January.

    There were 142,388 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday, more than the previous record of 142...

    Breakthrough COVID Cases Overwhelmingly Mild for Vaccinated People: Study

    A review of cases from 465 U.S. hospitals underscores the protection provided by COVID-19 vaccines.

    The new review -- by researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health -- found that vaccinated adults who got breakthrough infections rarely got severely ill. Respiratory failure, the need for treatment i...

    U.S. Hospitals Seeing Record Numbers of Young COVID Patients

    COVID-19 hospitalizations among children are surging across the United States just as students return to school and the highly transmissible Omicron variant begins to dominate the country.

    At least nine states have reported record numbers of COVID-related pediatric hospitalizations: They include Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylv...

    Scientists Spot Clues to Why Omicron Infections Are Milder

    New animal research offers a compelling explanation as to how the Omicron variant causes less severe disease than some of its predecessors: It seems to settle in the nose, throat and windpipe, rather than traveling down to the lungs.

    “It’s fair to say that the idea of a disease that manifests itself primarily in the upper respiratory system is emerging,” Roland Eils, a computational...

    Could the 'Alzheimer's Gene' Raise Risks for Severe COVID-19?

    A certain gene mutation known as APOE4 has long been known to raise the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

    Now, researchers report it may also predispose people to increased susceptibility to COVID-19 infection and severe symptoms, including small brain bleeds.

    Researchers in Finland, where abou...

    Big Weight Loss May Help Prevent Severe COVID-19

    By now, most folks know obesity is a leading risk factor for severe COVID-19, but a new study suggests that losing a significant amount of weight can reduce that risk.

    "The research findings show that patients with obesity who achieved substantial and sustained weight loss with bar...

    ERs Can Boost Efforts to Stamp Out Opioid Addiction

    A program meant to encourage the use of a drug that can help people overcome opioid addiction led to dramatic increases in its use in emergency rooms, researchers report.

    Buprenorphine is a medication that stabilizes opioid withdrawal and soothes cravi...

    As Omicron Spreads, Child Hospitalizations Climb 30% in Past Week

    Child hospitalizations for COVID-19 jumped 30% this past week as the Omicron variant spread like wildfire throughout the United States.

    By Dec. 28, the country had an average of 260 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations each day, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Cont...

    Omicron Resists Pfizer Vaccine But Causes Less Severe Disease: Study

    Compared to previous coronavirus variants, Omicron appears to cause less severe illness, but is more resistant to the Pfizer vaccine, researchers at South Africa's largest health insurer report.

    The team at Discovery Health analyzed 211,000 positive coronavirus cases during the country's fourth wave, including 78,000 attributed to

  • Robert Preidt
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  • December 14, 2021
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  • Months After New Rule, More Than Half of U.S. Hospitals Still Don't Disclose Prices Online

    Big "surprise" medical bills may still be a problem for Americans.

    According to a new study, more than half of U.S. hospitals haven't complied with recent regulations requiring that they disclose their prices online for all services, to help prevent unexpected bills for patients.

    About 55% of hospitals have yet to comply with the

  • Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter
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  • December 13, 2021
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  • U.S. Surgery Rates Rebounded Quickly After Pandemic Shutdowns

    U.S. operating rooms got busy once again soon after the first round of pandemic shutdowns, according to a study that challenges the widely held belief that operations have been curtailed indefinitely during the age of COVID-19.

    "It's an untold story," said senior study author Dr. Sherry Wren, a professor of general surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, in California. "It's t...

    Coronavirus Takes Aim at Fat Cells, Study Shows

    The coronavirus appears to target both fat cells and certain immune cells within body fat, which may explain why overweight and obese people are more likely to develop severe COVID-19, researchers report.

    When the virus gets into those cells, it triggers a damaging inflammatory response that "could well be contributing to severe disease,” study co-senior author Dr. Catherine Blish, a pr...

    COVID Booster Cuts Death Rate by 90%, Israeli Study Finds

    Booster doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine set recipients up to effectively withstand the ravages of both the Delta and Omicron variants, a group of new studies suggest.

    Boosted folks are 90% less likely to die from a Delta infection than people relying solely on the initial two-dose vaccination, Israeli data show.

    That protection will be critically important during the next coup...

    Survivors of Severe COVID Face Doubled Risk for Death a Year Later

    People who recovered from a severe case of COVID-19 may have more to worry about: New research finds that patients hospitalized with COVID are 2.5 times more likely to die within the year than people who never contracted the coronavirus.

    They also are nearly twice as likely to die as people who had a mild case of COVID, researchers say.

    The risk of death is even higher for hosp...

    Kids With Uncontrolled Asthma at Higher Odds for Severe COVID-19

    Asthma is a tough disease for kids and their parents to manage well, but not keeping it under control may make these children up to six times more likely to wind up in the hospital with severe COVID-19, new research shows.

    With the cold and flu season about to kick in and COVID-19 rates climbing again in some areas, kids with asthma should make sure their disease is under tight control, s...

    Hot Days Can Send Even Younger Folks to the ER

    Extreme heat brings a jump in emergency room visits by adults of all ages, a new study shows.

    While it's well known that extreme heat puts adults aged 65 and older at increased risk of hospitalization and death, it's been less clear how it affects young and middle-aged adults.

    To find out, the researchers analyzed the associations between heat and ER visits among more than 74 millio...

    1 in 5 Avoided Health Care During Pandemic, Study Finds

    One in five adults avoided seeking health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, even when they had symptoms suggesting the need for urgent medical attention, according to researchers in the Netherlands.

    "Health care avoidance during COVID-19 may be prevalent amongst those who are in greater need of it in the population, such as older individuals," a team led by Silvan Licher, of Erasmus Univ...

    Rural Hospitals' ERs Just as Effective as Urban Ones: Study

    If you live the country life, new research brings a reassuring finding: Your chances of surviving a heart attack, stroke or other potentially life-threatening medical emergency at a rural emergency department are similar to odds at a city ER in the United States.

    Researchers analyzed more than 470,000 outcomes among Medicare beneficiaries treated at rural and urban ERs between 2011 and 20...

    Across America, Black People Have Worse Health Outcomes

    Race-based gaps in health care and health outcomes persist in every region of the United States, a new state-by-state report card shows.

    Racial and ethnic disparities woven throughout America and its system of health care mean that people of color are more likely to die younger from preventable illnesses than white people, according to a racial equity scorecard developed by The Commonweal...

    Nearly 1 in 3 U.S. Hospital Personnel Still Unvaccinated

    Nearly a third of health care staff in U.S. hospitals were not vaccinated against COVID-19 as of mid-September, a new study shows.

    Researchers analyzed data on more than 3.3 million health care workers at more than 2,000 hospitals nationwide between Jan. 20 and Sept. 15.

    "Our analysis revealed that vaccine coverage among U.S. hospital-based [health care personnel] stalled significan...

    Low-Dose CT Scans Can Diagnose Appendicitis

    CT scans expose patients to radiation even as they help doctors spot serious health problems. Now a new study finds low-dose scans can readily spot appendicitis while reducing patients' radiation exposure.

    "The results of this study suggest that the diagnostic CT scan radiation dose can be significantly decreased without impairing diagnostic accuracy," said lead study author Paulina Salmi...

    Pandemic Puts 'Outdated' Infection Control Practices Under Scrutiny

    The COVID-19 pandemic has offered some lessons on respiratory disease transmission, and now a new review suggests that hospitals could use those insights to create even smarter infection-control policies.

    The review, published Nov. 9 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that some longstanding infection-control tactics at hospitals are "outdated."

    And certain changes, like gr...

    More Proof That COVID Vaccines Guard Against Severe Disease

    The risk of serious illness or death is lower among vaccinated people who get breakthrough COVID-19 infections than among unvaccinated people who get infected, two new studies confirm.

    An ongoing study of 780,000 U.S. veterans found that all three vaccines available in the United States provide strong protection against severe disease and death, despite a significant decline in their effe...

    Supply Chain Issues Bring Shortages of Drugs, Devices to U.S. Hospitals

    The word went out late last month throughout Utah -- if you've got a spare set of aluminum crutches lying around, you should donate them to your local hospital.

    An international shortage of aluminum has caused delays in shipments of crutches and walkers, so Utah hospitals banded together for #LeanOnUtah -- a community drive to collect gently used durable medical supplies.

    No patient...

    Guard Dogs, Panic Buttons: Nurses Under Threat From Rising Violence

    Emergency room nurse Grace Politis was catching up on paperwork during her shift when she suddenly realized her head hurt badly. Then she blacked out.

    "Later on, I found out I was hit in the head twice with a fire extinguisher by a patient," said Politis, who works at Lowell General Hospital in Lowell, Mass.

    A disturbed man awaiting psychiatric evaluation had fractured Politis' skul...

    U.S. COVID Cases Fell 60% Since September, But Vigilance Still Needed: Health Officials

    Coronavirus cases have plunged by 60% since mid-September's Delta-driven peak, U.S. health officials said earlier this week. But with winter on the way, they warned that Americans still need to protect themselves and others against COVID-19.

    "We are now heading in the right direction ... but with cases still high, we must remain vigilant heading into the colder, drier winter months," Dr. ...

    Language Can Make the Difference Between Home, Hospital Care: Study

    It helps to speak English if you're a home care patient in the United States.

    A new study of home health care found that patients who speak a language other than English have higher rates of hospital readmission.

    Readmission rates among New York City patients whose first language wasn't English were highest among Spanish and Russian speakers. They were lower among Chinese and K...

    Cheap Antidepressant Might Help Keep COVID Patients Out of Hospital

    A cheap and widely available antidepressant drug called fluvoxamine may reduce COVID-19 patients' risk of serious illness requiring hospitalization, according to a new study.

    The trial included almost 1,500 unvaccinated outpatients in Brazil. All of the patients tested positive for infection with SARS-CoV-2 and were deemed to be at high risk for a severe case of illness.

    Fluvoxamine...

    Routine Ventilation of Surgical Patients Won't Raise COVID Transmission Risk

    Routine face mask ventilation during an operation doesn't increase the surgical team's risk of coronavirus infection, according to a new study.

    Face mask ventilation is typically used for surgical patients under general anesthesia. However, its designation as an "aerosol-generating procedure" by the World Health Organization has altered operating room procedures and efficiency during the ...

    Out-of-Pocket Medical Bills for COVID-19 May Average $3,800 in 2021: Study

    Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 could now face thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket medical costs, according to a new report.

    In 2020, most health insurance companies waived co-pays, deductibles and other cost-sharing for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, but many stopped doing that early this year, the University of Michigan researchers noted.

    "Many insurers claim that it is ju...

    Big Worry for Folks Heading to Hospital: Who'll Care for My Pet?

    Dr. Tiffany Braley works with patients who have experienced strokes and other serious health conditions, treating them at the Michigan hospital where she works as they begin their recovery.

    Braley noticed there was a trend among patients who resisted being admitted to or staying in the hospital: They just wanted to get home, because they had no one to care for their beloved pets.

    "I...

    COVID Hospitalizations Are Rising Among Unvaccinated Pregnant Women

    Since the rise of the Delta variant, one Texas hospital has seen a surge in severe COVID-19 among pregnant women — nearly all unvaccinated.

    Researchers at the Dallas hospital found that in late August and early September, 10% to 15% of pregnant patients who tested positive for COVID-19 needed to be hospitalized for severe illness.

    That was more than double the percentage of a year...

    Pfizer Vaccine 90% Effective Against Severe COVID-19 for at Least 6 Months: Study

    Full vaccination with the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been 90% effective in protecting against hospitalization for at least six months, a new study shows.

    That includes the time during which the highly contagious Delta variant has been circulating in the United States.

    For the study, researchers analyzed Kaiser Permanente Southern California data on more than 3.4 milli...

    Merck to Ask FDA for Emergency Approval of Its New Antiviral Pill for COVID

    Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. said Friday that it will seek federal approval for emergency use of its new antiviral pill molnupiravir, after a clinical trial showed the drug halved the risk of hospitalization or death when given to high-risk people shortly after infection with COVID-19.

    The new medication is just one of several antiviral pills now being tested in studies, and experts s...

    Parents of Hospitalized Kids Need More Info on Costs: Study

    Having a child in the hospital is distressing for families, and not knowing what that stay might cost can add to that stress, researchers say.

    A new study has found that three-quarters of U.S. families want to have conversations about the costs of care. Yet only 7% of families actually have had this financial counseling with hospital staff.

    The research suggests that patients and th...

    Which Kids Are at Highest Risk From COVID?

    Older children and kids with chronic diseases are those most likely to wind up in the hospital with COVID-19, researchers have found.

    Conditions such as obesity, diabetes and neurologic problems, among others, put kids at risk for severe COVID-19, according to a new U.S. study.

    "There's a myth circulating out there that children don't get sick from COVID-19, and that's kind of ...

    Doctors Often Miss Signs of Type 1 Diabetes in Kids

    Potentially dangerous symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children are not always immediately recognized by primary care providers, new research suggests.

    In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas fails to make enough insulin, the hormone that helps regulate blood sugar used for energy by cells. Between 5% and 10% of cases of diabetes are type 1, which often first surfaces in childhood.

    The Swed...

    Study Spots People at High Risk of Severe Breakthrough COVID

    A study of millions of people vaccinated against COVID-19 has identified those at greatest risk of hospitalization and death after breakthrough infection.

    The most vulnerable are those who are immunosuppressed from chemotherapy, a recent bone marrow or solid organ transplant, or HIV/AIDS. Also at risk are people with neurological disorders (such as dementia and Parkinson's disease), nur...

    Opioid Use Disorder Is as Deadly as Heart Attack: Study

    Hospitalized opioid addicts die at a rate similar to people who have a heart attack after leaving the hospital.

    Nearly 8% of patients addicted to opioids died within 12 months of hospital discharge, according to researchers from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

    "We need systems that can address comprehensive needs of people with substance use disorder and serious medical i...

    Hospitalizing the Unvaccinated Has Cost U.S. Nearly $6 Billion

    The cost of providing hospital care for unvaccinated Americans has reached $5.7 billion in just three months, CBS News reported.

    Between June and August, about 287,000 people who were not vaccinated were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United States, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and the Peterson Center on Healthcare, which collaborated to track healt...

    After an ICU Stay, Social Support Crucial for Seniors' Survival

    Older adults who are socially isolated are more likely to experience serious disability or die after a stay in the intensive care unit (ICU), new research reveals.

    "This important research finding sheds light on a crucial health care issue that has become more dire during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr. E. Albert Reece, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, in Baltimore....

    Death From COVID 11 Times More Likely If You're Unvaccinated: Study

    There's more sobering news for anyone still unvaccinated against the new coronavirus: Your odds of dying from COVID-19 are 11-fold higher than someone who's fully immunized, new research shows.

    The data comes from one of three studies published Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    "Looking at cases over the past two months when the Delta variant was the pre...

    Vaccinated Have 1 in 13,000 Chance of Breakthrough Case Needing Hospitalization

    With tens of millions of Americans now vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of August, so-called "breakthrough" cases are bound to occur. But there's reassuring news from new data: Most such cases are mild and those leading to hospitalization are exceedingly rare.

    Overall, the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that as of Aug. 30, there have been...

    Average COVID Hospitalization Is 150 Times More Expensive Than Vaccination

    While the cost of administering COVID-19 vaccines is nominal -- and free to consumers in the United States -- the cost of paying for hospitalizations for people who've contracted the virus is dramatically higher.

    The average financial cost of hospitalization for a COVID-19 patient insured by Medicare - at $21,752 -- is about 145 times the reimbursement Medicare pays for vaccinating one pe...