Coronavirus update: FDA says annual vaccination may be needed

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Scientists say mild cases of the virus can alter the brain

COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 81,519,193 (81,448,159)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 994,807 (994,019)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 515,082,443 (514,358,501)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,241,652 (6,238,647)‌

Annual COVID-19 shot may be needed, FDA says

Top officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say Americans may need an annual COVID-19 shot, just like getting an annual flu shot. They say vaccines will likely be updated each year to head off the latest variant.

Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research; Principal Deputy Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock; and new FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf expressed that opinion in a paper published in the journal JAMA.

"Widespread vaccine- and infection-induced immunity, combined with the availability of effective therapeutics, could blunt the effects of future outbreaks,” the officials wrote. “Nonetheless, it is time to accept that the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is the new normal. It will likely circulate globally for the foreseeable future, taking its place alongside other common respiratory viruses such as influenza. 

Scientists think COVID-19 may damage the brain

COVID-19 has only been around for a couple of years, and scientists are still learning about its long-term effects. They say there is some evidence that mild cases of the virus can permanently affect the brain.

In the U.K., one study led by the Wellcome Center for Integrative Neuroimaging at the University of Oxford examined brain scans on patients before and after being infected with the virus. The examination showed that the people who had mild cases of the coronavirus lost some gray matter.

“We saw cortical thinning in areas associated with the sense of smell,” Winkler said. “We noticed a blurring of the contrast between the gray and white matter and we also saw changes in the diffusion of water molecules,” said Dr. Anderson Winkler, a senior associate scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Washington dinner spreads COVID-19 among journalists

Last weekend’s White House Correspondents Dinner – the first since 2019 – may have been a “superspreader” event. Several journalists and other attendees have now tested positive for the virus.

According to Politico, reporters and other staffers from CNN, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, and Politico have tested positive for the virus. The report said ABC's Jon Karl, who shook hands with President Biden, is one of the journalists who now has COVID-19.

Around the nation

  • California: Federal money to pay for COVID-19 tests for the uninsured has run out, but California is still providing the tests and absorbing the cost. State officials say there are already programs in place that can pay for the tests. They say it helps that demand for testing has dropped sharply.

  • Florida: Prosecutors continue to level fraud charges against individuals that they claim ripped off COVID-19 relief programs. A Croatian citizen has been extradited to Florida to stand trial on charges of defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program to the tune of $7.2 million.

  • Massachusetts: All of a sudden, Massachusetts is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak while new cases remain subdued in other areas of the country. On Tuesday, state health officials reported more than 2,600 new COVID-19 cases across the state, a 12% increase in seven days. Hospitalizations surpassed 500 patients for the first time in months.

  • Michigan: White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci says Detroit’s Black population is being targeted on social media with misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. “I don’t have an easy solution except to tell people that if you look at things like vaccination, the evidence for vaccines protecting you from severe disease and death, compared to unvaccinated people is overwhelmingly obvious. You just need to look at the data,” he said.

  • Missouri: A Kansas City school has moved to year-round learning to help combat COVID-19 learning loss. Officials at Gordon Parks Elementary School say the extension of the school year may force families to alter summer plans, but it will allow the school to support students throughout the year.

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