Comparison of SARS-CoV-2 Test Positivity in NCAA Division I Student Athletes vs Nonathletes at 12 Institutions

Question  Was participation in collegiate athletics associated with increased SARS-CoV-2 test positivity?

Findings  In this cross-sectional study using data for 555 372 student athlete and 3 482 845 nonathlete student SARS-CoV-2 tests reported from 12 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I institutions, participation in collegiate athletics was not associated with increased test positivity in student athletes compared with nonathlete students.

Meaning  This finding suggests that collegiate athletics may be held safely in the COVID-19 pandemic without associated increases in test positivity among student athletes.

(J. Harris: I would have guessed otherwise.)


1. Pre-infection 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels and association with severity of COVID-19 illness

(J. Harris: Your doctor can check a Vit D level with a simple blood test. Too much Vit D can be harmful as well.)

2. Signs That You May Have Had COVID-19

(J. Harris: A quick, useful slide show)

Protection against the Omicron Variant from Previous SARS-CoV-2 Infection

”…Overall, in a national database study in Qatar, we found that the effectiveness of previous infection in preventing reinfection with the alpha, beta, and delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 was robust (at approximately 90%), findings that confirmed earlier estimates.1-3 Such protection against reinfection with the omicron variant was lower (approximately 60%) but still considerable. In addition, the protection of previous infection against hospitalization or death caused by reinfection appeared to be robust, regardless of variant.

(J. Harris: Easy letter to read; most of the patients were in their mid 30’s.)


1. US CDC ACIP MEETING The US CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met on February 4 to provide updates to clinical considerations for utilization of COVID-19 vaccines. Topics of discussion included the FDA-approved Spikevax SARS-CoV-2 vaccine from Moderna, vaccination recommendations specific to immunocompromised individuals, and lengthening the gap between the first two doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

ACIP voted unanimously to recommend the use of a 2-dose primary series of Spikevax among US adults aged 18 years and older, and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed the recommendation later that day. ACIP members also discussed concerns regarding the risk of myocarditis following vaccination. Results of investigations into 13 deaths from myocarditis following mRNA vaccination found that the myocarditis was not caused by vaccination, and most other myocarditis cases among mRNA vaccine recipients were resolved within 90 days with no reported impact on quality of life. Additional discussions centered on potentially widening the time interval between initial mRNA vaccine doses from the current 21-28 days to 8 weeks apart. The change might reduce the risk of myocarditis among some recipients and increase vaccine effectiveness. However, no official vote was taken on the suggestion.

Officials also presented anticipated changes to vaccine guidance for certain immunocompromised individuals. The proposed revised guidance notes that people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a booster dose at least 3 months—instead of the current 5 months—after the last dose of a 3-dose primary series of mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. For immunocompromised individuals who received the single-dose J&J-Janssen vaccine, the guidance likely will change from the current recommendation—a primary dose followed by a booster 2 months later—to a 3-dose schedule of an additional mRNA dose at least 28 days after the initial dose and then an mRNA booster dose 2 months after the second dose. The guidance was expected to be updated on February 7 but the new recommendations are not yet published on the CDC’s website.

OMICRON-ONLY VACCINES As noted in previous briefings, both Moderna and Pfizer are pursuing the development and testing of Omicron variant-specific vaccines. Some health officials, such as those from the European Medicines Agency, support the efforts. However, research from the US National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center posted on February 3 to the preprint server bioRxiv suggests that an Omicron variant-specific booster developed by Moderna might not provide additional or greater protection beyond the company’s already authorized mRNA vaccine booster dose. The research, which is not yet peer-reviewed, tested the boosters in primates. These findings mirror the results of other small animal studies testing vaccines targeting other individual variants. But predicting the future emergence or dominance of SARS-CoV-2 variants is difficult, with scientists uncertain if a new dominant variant might evolve from Omicron, a past variant, or have mutations very different from either Omicron or other past variants. This concern has led some scientists and health officials to advocate publicly for broad protection in future vaccines—to multiple variants, all betacoronaviruses, or even all coronaviruses. Several NIAID researchers recently published a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) calling for a universal coronavirus vaccine to help mitigate the impacts of any future coronavirus pandemic.

2. ANTIBODY DURABILITY Researchers are continuing to gain insight into SARS-CoV-2 immune responses—and the durability of antibody production—following infection. A study published February 3 in JAMA Network Open suggests that antibodies targeting the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein can persist for up to 20 months in unvaccinated individuals who reported test-confirmed COVID-19. While the data are encouraging, it remains unclear how the antibody levels correlate to protection against future infections, especially with new variants. Another study, published February 7 in Nature Microbiology, had similar results, with researchers finding the magnitude of persistent antibody responses were correlated with COVID-19 severity in unvaccinated individuals. They note that while the neutralizing antibody (nAb) response seen in most individuals in the study would be sufficient to provide protection against reinfection and severe infection at 480 days from disease onset, people who had asymptomatic or mild infections likely would need to be vaccinated to maintain antibody-mediated protection against future SARS-CoV-2 infection. With more people becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 and recovering from COVID-19, the future of the pandemic may see surges of infections due to new variants, but hopefully those cases will result in fewer hospitalizations and deaths. Vaccination remains the most reliable way to help prevent infection, severe disease, and death.


Denmark, Overflowing With Virus Cases, Embraces a ‘Bring It On’ Attitude

”…“Omicron has turned the epidemiological situation into a Rorschach test where you can see what you want to see in it…The country is reporting one of the world’s highest Covid-19 cases per capita, and hospitalizations have reached an all-time high… With the current surge of infections, it may seem counterintuitive to lift restrictions, but the country’s authorities say that deaths and hospitalizations are rising much more slowly than Covid cases, and that the number of patients in I.C.U.s is at its lowest level in months…[BUT] it was the right moment to benefit from Omicron’s seeming mildness and the country’s high vaccination rate — 81 percent of the entire population has been fully vaccinated, and 62 percent have received an additional shot…There is no guarantee that the next variant of concern might be as mild as Omicron for most, virologists say, warning that Denmark’s reopening could soon backfire…

(J. Harris: They have the Omicron BA-2 Variant which, early on, might be easier to catch but less virulent — let’s hope so because it likely will wind up here in a month or two???)


How Sneezing Hamsters Sparked a COVID Outbreak in Hong Kong

I’m vaxxed, boosted, and just had Covid-19. Can I relax now?

(J. Harris: I don’t know this publication, but I basically agree with this article IF you are youngish and slim and healthy, and, if you keep up with Vaccine boosters and wear masks when in doubt, then you can CAUTIOUSLY RELAX while maintaining vigilance indefinitely. 




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