Army Public Health Weekly Update- 26 February 2021

Date Published: 2/26/2021
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​The Army Public Health Update is a collection of articles taken from public sources to offer awareness of current health issues and the media coverage given to them. The articles do not necessarily represent U.S. Army Medical Command opinions, views, policy, or guidance, and should not be construed or interpreted as being endorsed by the U.S. Army Medical Command.

The Army Public Health Weekly Update does not analyze the information as to its strategic or tactical impact on the U.S. Army and is not a medical intelligence product. Medical intelligence is available from the National Center for Medical Intelligence External Link .

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Table of Contents

    ​ANNOUNCMENTS 

    APHC: Child health, safety, and well-being

    Children may be especially susceptible to developing illnesses, and can also transmit disease to you, other family members, or their friends. Learn about childhood diseases and conditions, disinfection, and vaccination. APHC

    U.S. MILITARY

    Commission soon to begin examining problem of sexual assault in military

    22 February- The commission to examine the problem of sexual assault in the military should begin work soon, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is looking forward to their recommendations, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a news conference this afternoon. The commission has 90 days to compile its recommendations. Kirby said the secretary will not wait until the end of the commission to implement recommendations he feels would be helpful. Kirby also said DOD officials will consult with congressional leaders as the commission comes together. Austin met with senior Pentagon leaders today to give them his feedback on their inputs for combating sexual assault. "As you know, it was his first directive on his second day in office to ask the services to provide him input on what they felt they were doing right, what they needed to improve and the ideas they had going forward," Kirby said. "He had the opportunity to review that work and talk to them about that today. It was a good productive discussion." Austin told the leaders, which included the service chiefs, that by the end of the week he will formally announce the formation, make-up and start of the 90-day commission. With more granularity and more detail. Kirby was also asked about the dearth of information about extremism in the ranks. He said everyone would like better information on the extent of the problem of extremism in the department but it is not really something people readily admit to. "We get a sense that the problem is largely driven by conduct and behavior," Kirby said. Even then it is sometimes difficult to ascertain if the conduct is driven by ideology or some other factor, he said. Defense.gov External Link

    DHA's TBI-focused caregiver & family member study continues at TBICoE

    19 February- For the family members of some service members or veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), caregiving is a 24/7 job. Those who live this daily life of caring for others are celebrated today with National Caregivers Day. This may include assistance with daily activities, social interaction, and financial management. Without proper resources, these essential responsibilities can take a physical and psychological toll on the caregiver and the rest of their family. In 2010, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, now known as the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence, launched the Caregiver and Family Member Study. This 15-Year Longitudinal TBI Study, led by TBICoE researchers at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Maryland is a congressionally mandated study that examines the effects of TBI incurred by service members. The specific focus of the study is on those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom, and how those effects impact family members. The Caregiver and Family Member Study aims to better understand the impact of the service member's or veteran's TBI on their family. Now in its eleventh year, the Caregiver and Family Member Study has found that the time commitment and burden of caregiving is correlated with physical and psychological distress, poor sleep and disrupted family life. Frequently, caregivers balance their commitments toward their service member or veteran with childcare and other work duties, often receiving no help and having little time for themselves. Caregivers also have unmet health care and care provision needs. These unmet needs can evolve to worse caregiver health and well-being. However, the study also highlights that not all caregivers report negative outcomes. In fact, some report high levels of satisfaction and resilience and healthy family relationships. Health.mil External Link

    DOD participates in new COVID-19 antibody combination prevention trial

    23 February- While the Military Health System continues to support the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to counter the ongoing public health threat of the disease, it's investing in other efforts to counter the SARS-CoV-2 virus. One of those includes evolving therapeutics as part of the U.S. government's COVID-19 response through clinical trials of a long-acting antibody combination medicine to prevent COVID-19 among people who have been exposed to the disease. The intramuscular long-acting antibody product, called AZD7442 and developed by AstraZeneca, is undergoing a phase III clinical trial at five Department of Defense sites to study its efficacy among eligible MHS beneficiaries who have recently been exposed to others with SARS-CoV-2 infection. "This study will run for one year, although interim and primary analyses will likely occur much earlier in 2021," said Dr. Simon Pollett, associate scientific director and COVID-19 research area director at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science's (USU) Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Program (IDCRP). Under the name STORM CHASER, Pollett's program is coordinating teams of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and clinical research staff at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington, William Beaumont Army Medical Center in Texas, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Virginia, and USU in Maryland. The lead investigators at these sites are Army Col. Viseth Ngauy, Army Col. Anjali Kunz, Dr. Gina Kubicz, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tida Lee, and Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Livezey, respectively. This study is designed to prevent the development of illness in people who have been exposed to COVID-19 in care homes and sites with enhanced risk of disease transmission, under the sponsorship of AstraZeneca with support from the U.S. health information technology and clinical research firm IQVIA. IDCRP is supported through a cooperative agreement with The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. health.mil External Link

    Service member hearing protection emphasized on World Hearing Day

    19 February- The World Health Organization has designated March 3 as World Hearing Day. The WHO estimates 466 million people have disabling hearing loss. By 2050, that figure will almost double, affecting one in 10 people. While the Army trains in order to maintain Soldier readiness, protecting those Soldiers' hearing remains a key safety component. "Hearing loss prevention is the cornerstone of a hearing conservation program," said Capt. Theresa Galan, the chief of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Hearing Conservation Clinic. "Our goal is always to educate and equip our service members to protect their hearing when in hazardous noise in order to prevent hearing loss. Good hearing enhances the survivability and the lethality of our joint warfighters and improves their quality of life." For example, Soldiers and Marines that use the Multi-purpose Anti-armor Anti-personnel Weapon System could potentially be exposed to incredibly high noise levels if adequate hearing protection isn't used. "The MAAWS is the loudest shoulder-fired weapon in the military's arsenal with noise levels exceeding 188 decibels and personnel must wear double hearing protection with deeply fitting foam earplugs and earmuffs," said Galan. "Our warfighters must train as they fight, so it is important to choose the right kind of hearing protection for the task." Army.mil External Link

    Trained military personnel ready to help with COVID-19 vaccinations

    23 February- The United States military stands ready to contribute its large-scale logistical and medical capabilities to support the government's COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The Department of Defense has a long history with its medical personnel, medics, corpsmen, and other trained technicians providing a wide array of vaccinations to service members, DOD personnel, their employees, and families. This support can be deployed across the country on shorter notice than federal agencies or the private sector. President Joe Biden has pledged to get 100 million COVID-19 shots into the arms of adult Americans in the first 100 days of his administration. The government is purchasing an additional 200 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be added to the national stockpile for availability by the end of July. Deals also have been announced by the federal government to send doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to participating drug store and grocery chains across the country. "It may take until June, July and August to finally get everyone vaccinated," predicted Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and Biden's chief medical adviser. "When you hear about how long it's going to take to get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated, I don't think anybody disagrees that that's going to be well to the end of the summer and we get into early fall." As vaccine supplies continue to be restocked to inoculate some 300 million Americans – or virtually the entire adult population – armed services' trained personnel are likely to be called in to assist state and local efforts. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently approved a Federal Emergency Management Agency request to augment and expedite COVID-19 vaccinations across the country. "The DOD must help the federal government move further and faster to eradicate the devastating effects of the coronavirus," he said. Austin ordered the first contingent of more than 1,000 active duty military personnel to support California state vaccination sites. Additional vaccination missions will follow. Training for such eventualities goes on all year long. Training courses throughout the military branches have been preparing for the civilian COVID-19 immunization efforts as an added part of their curriculum in instructional and practical courses on immunizations. Trained military personnel can provide vaccinations to civilians under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. The PREP Act allows the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a declaration to provide legal protections to certain military personnel involved in mass vaccination efforts. health.mil External Link

    GLOBAL

    Almost a third of people with 'mild' Covid-19 still battle symptoms months later, study finds

    19 February- It's been almost a year since Michael Reagan, 50, came down with Covid-19. "I woke up first thing in the morning and I felt really hot and out of breath," he said, recalling the morning of March 22, 2020. "I went into the bathroom trying to catch my breath, and I immediately coughed up blood into the sink. ... I ended up in the hospital that day and tested positive for Covid." Reagan said he spent two months in and out of the hospital last spring, with acute Covid-19. But for as hard as that was, what he's been through since could be considered just as bad, if not worse: His current symptoms include constant pain in his chest, painful nerve pain in his hands and legs, seizures, tremors, and the loss of vision in one eye. "Since then it has been a roller coaster," he said, with ups and downs, new symptoms, a whole series of doctors, medications and tests. "I realized that I have a lot of damage from Covid and it's changed my life completely," he said. He has not been able to return to anything near the active life he enjoyed before. Unlike Reagan, when 34-year-old Stephanie Condra got sick with Covid-19 last summer, she didn't have to be hospitalized. Her symptoms were comparatively mild: fatigue, shortness of breath, stomach pain and cramping, and a low-grade fever. But, after it appeared she had recovered from her acute illness, Condra says she began developing a wide array of health problems that that waxed and waned but did not clear up: terrible sinus pain, nausea and loss of appetite, bone-crushing fatigue, dizziness, a burning sensation in her chest, a dry cough, brain fog, confusion, concentration issues and problems with word retrieval. CNN External Link

    Disease-detection device can sniff cancer and COVID-19 like a dog's nose

    20 February- Trained dogs are known to be good detectors of cancer and even COVID-19 through sniffing a person with their sensitive noses that can distinguish several odors. Now, the researchers have unveiled that a small disease-detection device with the same capacity as a dog's nose could be an effective and artificial replacement for the canines. The study was made possible through the collaboration of Medical Detection Dogs, an organization that trains dogs for disease-detection assistance in the UK, together with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and some universities and other groups. Researchers have been thinking of a good substitute for a dog's nose in detecting diseases since the process could be time-consuming. Now, a device was patterned to recognize the air sample through its microbial and chemical content. According to the study, the said device was more sensitive than a canine's nose, so more accurate results can be produced. Tech Times External Link

    Drug supply chain issues aren't going away, report says

    22 February- In a new American Society of Health-system Pharmacists (ASHP) report, 92% of its "2021 Pharmacy Forecast" panelists say global issues like trade restrictions, pandemics like COVID-19, or climate change will increase the potential for more drug shortages, and almost 90% say a major technology failure or breach could cause widespread disruptions in the delivery of US healthcare supplies. To help mitigate these issues, 90% of panelists also predicted that at least 75% of health systems will develop allocation guidelines. In the report, the ASHP notes a 36.6% increase in ongoing drug shortages from 2017 to 2020, with 276 shortages occurring in 2020. The first chapter of the ninth edition of ASHP's pharmacy forecast, which was released earlier this month, is called, "The Certainty of Uncertainty for a Global Supply Chain." Written by Erin Fox, PharmD, and Aaron Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH, the section reflects on responses to an ASHP survey from 272 experts in health-system pharmacy. Allocation guides, a push for domestic supply chains, manufacturing quality scrutiny, and more were all topics the panelists thought would be highly relevant for the next 5 years, and the authors agree. "With a global pandemic and continuing uncertainty regarding the stability and quality of the medication supply chain, health-system pharmacists must be prepared for significant disruptions to 'normal' healthcare delivery, including disruption of medication procurement," they write. To help combat this, Fox and Kesselheim recommend further allocation guidelines, better information sharing, and more contingencies for pandemic-related issues like demand surges or distribution needs (eg, vaccine rollout). They also advocate for drug acquisition contracts that include periodic reports on quality measures as well as for legislative action that facilitates both lower spending and better pharmaceutical product quality. CIDRAP External Link

    How do you mend a broken heart? It usually fixes itself

    23 February- After Americans recently celebrated a COVID-19 version of Valentine's Day, with its accompanying isolation, video dating, and physical distancing, it's no wonder that the subject and the science of Broken Heart Syndrome is receiving renewed attention. You might have found an occasional story about it in years past, but in 2021 the tone has shifted from a curiosity tale to a deadly serious topic. "The only thing we really like about it is it usually goes away," said Dr. Mark Haigney, professor and director of cardiology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. "With most people who come in with heart failure, you don't get much improvement, even over time. Broken Heart Syndrome is one of the so-called reversible causes of heart failure. The heart can spontaneously recover its function. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen, and sometimes people die from it." From a military readiness perspective, love and matters of the heart may seem trivial. But heart healthiness is not just about solid nutrition and enough exercise. It also goes to the Total Force Fitness (TFF) domains of spiritual, social, and ideological fitness — that is, the beliefs and practices that strengthen one's connectedness with sources of hope, meaning, purpose, and even love. The heart is not just a powerful red symbol of our inner selves. Our emotions connect directly to our entire health, head to heel. Haigney remembers the first case of Broken Heart Syndrome that he ever saw, sometime in the late 1990s. It was a woman in her 40s getting a breast biopsy, when suddenly her blood pressure dropped, and the anesthesiologist had to give her a large dose of adrenaline. Her electrocardiogram (EKG) had changed drastically. They stopped the procedure, took her to the intensive care unit where Haigney was working, and saw via ultrasound that her heart was not contracting in a normal way — it looked like she was having a major heart attack. But upon being rushed into a cardiac catheterization procedure, it was evident that her arteries were clear and normal. "It was really mysterious because she had all the EKG changes suggesting a heart attack, and the pumping function of her heart was severely reduced, and yet the usual cause was not there. It got better over time and everything went back to normal, but it really had us perplexed," Haigney recalled, citing a paper on the subject that came out years later from a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. Health.mil External Link

    Risk of carbon monoxide poisoning highest during winter months

    17 February- As blustery winter weather has swept through much of the U.S. this week, residents are relying on heating systems to keep them as warm as possible as temperatures have reached below freezing in some areas. Texas in recent days has been hit with a powerful winter storm that's behind the death of at least one person, also leaving millions of customers without power. Major cities in the Midwest and Northeast are expected to get a foot or more of snow by the end of Tuesday. Heavy snow and freezing rain are slated to spread across the Great Lakes and New England, with the trailing cold front from this system to bring heavy rain and possible severe weather for the Southeast and Florida. It's during bouts of extreme winter weather when we rely on our heating systems to run for hours on end that the risk of accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning increases, according to a federal agency. Fox News External Link

    Single-Shot Chikungunya vaccine candidate launches phase 3 clinical lot consistency study

    22 February- France-based Valneva SE announced that it had initiated the clinical lot-to-lot consistency Phase 3 study for its single-shot chikungunya vaccine candidate, VLA1553. This is the only chikungunya vaccine candidate in Phase 3 clinical trials. This study aims to show the vaccine's manufacturing consistency by demonstrating that three consecutively manufactured lots elicit equivalent immune responses measured by neutralizing antibody titers on Day 29 after vaccination. Lyophilized VLA1553 will be administered as a single intramuscular immunization.  This study will run parallel to the ongoing, pivotal Phase 3 study, VLA1553-301, which includes the determination of seroprotection based on an immunological surrogate. Juan Carlos Jaramillo, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Valneva, commented in a press statement issued on February 22, 2021, "The chikungunya virus continues to represent a major public health threat, and we are working as fast as we can to bring a preventive solution to those who need it most. We want to thank our employees, partners, and study participants for making this trial possible despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic." "This study initiation signifies another important step in the development of VLA1553 towards licensure." Precision Vaccinations External Link

    Teachers may play role in in-school COVID-19 transmission

    22 February- Teachers may play an important role in the transmission of COVID-19 within schools, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday, citing a study conducted in elementary schools in a Georgia school district. The report comes after researchers from the agency last month said there was little evidence that schools were spreading COVID-19 infections in the country - based in part on a study of schools in Wisconsin - easing concerns about allowing in-person learning. The Wisconsin study found significantly lower virus spread within schools compared with transmission in the surrounding communities. An investigation involving about 2,600 students and 700 staff members of a Georgia school district's elementary schools showed nine clusters of COVID-19 cases involving 13 educators and 32 students at six elementary schools, the CDC said. Of these, two clusters involved probable teacher-to-teacher transmission that was followed by teacher-to-student transmission in classrooms, the agency said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Transmission from teachers resulted in about half of 31 school-related cases, according to the investigation. The study was subject to some limitations including difficulty in determining whether coronavirus transmission happened in school or out in the local community, the agency noted. Reuters External Link

    INFLUENZA

    CDC: Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

    Key Updates for Week 6, ending February 13, 2021-

    Influenza-Associated Hospitalizations: The Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET) conducts population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations in select counties in 14 states and represents approximately 9% of the U.S. population. Between October 1, 2020, and February 13, 2021, FluSurv-Net sites in 14 states reported 173 laboratory confirmed influenza hospitalizations for an overall cumulative hospitalization rate of 0.6 per 100,000 population. This is much lower than average for this point in the season and lower than rates for any season since routine data collection began in 2005, including the low severity 2011-12 season. During the 2011-12 season, the rate was 1.6 times higher at this time in the season. Hospitalization rates stratified by age will be presented once case counts increase to a level that produces stable rates by age.

    Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality: No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 6. CDC External Link

    VETERINARY/FOOD SAFETY

    48.4 tons of ineligible beef from China caught and recalled

    22 February- China, CA-based GLG Trading Inc. late Monday recalled almost 97,000 pounds of beef tallow products that were imported from the People's Republic of China, an ineligible country for beef, without the benefit of FSIS import re-inspection, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said...The products subject to recall do not bear a Federal mark of inspection. These items were shipped to distributors, retail locations and restaurants in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, New York and Texas. The entry attempt was discovered during verification activities. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions related to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider. Food Safety News External Link

    WELLNESS

    Can covid herd immunity be reached without vaccinating kids? It's complicated

    22 February- Amid a race to vaccinate as many people as possible against the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 28 million people and killed about 500,000 in the United States, the 10-year-old son of a Washington Post reader posed a pertinent question — one even experts are struggling to answer with any real certainty. It's a complicated question, as health experts have differing ideas about what constitutes a herd immunity threshold for the coronavirus. Add to that the challenges with virus mutations, vaccine hesitancy and, of course, the current inability to vaccinate children and the answer becomes even murkier. It makes herd immunity a challenging target to hit even assuming both adults and children took the vaccine. Without vaccinating children, it makes it that much more difficult. But failure to reach that threshold does not mean failure to control the disease. Herd immunity occurs when a large number of people in the community have developed immunity either by getting infected or by being vaccinated, so they are less likely to spread infection. The herd immunity threshold refers to the level of herd immunity needed so that when people return to their normal pre-covid lives, transmission of the virus cannot be sustained. That does not mean that the virus will completely disappear, but it will spread only among certain individuals rather than among the community at large, preventing new outbreaks, said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. For the coronavirus, the herd immunity threshold is thought to be between 70 and 90 percent of the population. The Washington Post External Link

    USAFRICOM

    Ebola case reported in the Kankan region of Guinea

    21 February- Health authorities in Guinea have reported a confirmed case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Kankan region–outside the Gouecké, Nzérékoré and Conakary areas. This is the first case of Ebola recorded in Léro in the prefecture of Siguiri. On Saturday, the regional health director of Kankan, Dr. Mohamed Sacko Sylla discussed the case: "It is a man in his thirties who left the forest region to go to Lero, in the prefecture of Siguiri who was confirmed to be carrying the Ebola virus in Léro. It is the prefectural directorate of health of Siguiri who informed of the situation in order to make arrangements to evacuate him. The patient is from N'zérékoré. We immediately dispatched an ambulance to find him on site to evacuate him to the epidemiological treatment center of Nzérékoré", he said. Outbreak News Today External Link

    USCENTCOM

    Israel eases restrictions following vaccine success

    21 February- Israel is easing lockdown restrictions as studies there reveal the Pfizer vaccine is 95.8% effective in preventing hospitalizations and death. From Sunday, shops, libraries and museums can open but social distancing and masks are still required. The health ministry says it is the first stage of returning to normal life. Israel has the highest vaccination rate in the world. More than 49% of people have received at least one dose. The country entered its third lockdown on 27 December after a resurgence of the virus. Under the easing measures, people are now able to enter shopping malls and tourist attractions such as zoos. A number of other facilities are now able to reopen including gyms, hotels and synagogues. However they require a "green passport", a certificate that can only be obtained once you have been vaccinated. A small number of people who have recovered from the virus and are not currently eligible for the vaccine are also able to obtain the certificate. The passport, which is contained in an app, is issued by the health ministry and will be valid for six months, one week after the second dose. Crowds are now allowed back at concerts and sporting events have reopened at 75% capacity but they have a cap of no more than 300 people inside and 500 outside. Despite the easing of restrictions, Israel's airport will remain closed for another two weeks. BBC News External Link

    USEUCOM

    England: National lockdown continues, 'you must stay at home'

    20 February- The United Kingdom government updated the latest guidance this week concerning the ongoing national lockdown in England due to the COVID-19 (more than 4.1 million cases/120K deaths): Officials say the single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. You should follow this guidance immediately. This is the law. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Russia reports 7 human H5N8 avian influenza cases

    20 February- Russian officials are reporting human infections with the A(H5N8) bird flu virus, according to a Russian News Agency TASS news report.  The virus infected workers of a poultry farm in southern Russia, where an outbreak was recorded among the birds in December, Head of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing Anna Popova said at a briefing today. The workers did not suffer any serious health consequences, she added. "Information about the world's first case of transmission of the avian flu (H5N8) to humans has already been sent to the World Health Organization,", Popova said. "The Vector Center of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing has already added to the international GISAID database the data of a whole genome sequencing of the А(H5N8) virus with those mutations that allowed it to cross the interspecies barrier," she added. "So far we can see that the novel agent of the A(H5N8) bird flu is capable of transmission from birds to humans – it crossed the interspecies barrier. Yet as of today, this version of a flu virus is not transmitted from human to human," she said. Outbreak News Today External Link

    USINDOPACOM

    New Caledonia reports spike in leptospirosis in early 2021

    22 February- The New Caledonia Department of Health and Social Affairs reports an increase in leptospirosis cases in the first two months of 2021. From January 1 to February 21, a total of 80 cases were reported. New Caledonia saw a total of 69 cases and four deaths in all of 2020. Communes reporting the most cases to date include Ponérihouen with 11, and six each in Païta and Poindimié. Leptospirosis is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Leptospira, is often referred to as "rat fever" due to the principal role rats play in spreading the disease (scientists refer this type of animal as a reservoir host).  Other animals can also be important reservoirs of the disease. Outbreak News Today External Link

    USNORTHCOM

    U.S.: New York- Reports first case of South African COVID-19 variant in Nassau County

    21 February- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today the first case of the South African variant has been identified in a resident of New York State. The sequencing, involving a Nassau County resident, was conducted at Opentrons Lab works Inc.'s Pandemic Response Lab, a New York City based commercial lab, and verified at the Wadsworth Center in Albany. Last week, a Connecticut resident who had been hospitalized in New York City was found to have the South African variant. Cuomo also announced that for the first time since late November, the state's COVID-19 positivity rate dropped below 3 percent–now at 2.99 percent. "We continue to see a reduction in positivity and hospitalizations throughout the state, which is good news, and this progress is allowing us to reopen the valve on our economy even further," Governor Cuomo said. "But with the discovery of a case of the South African variant in the state, it's more important than ever for New Yorkers to stay vigilant, wear masks, wash hands and stay socially distanced. We are in a race right now — between our ability to vaccinate and these variants which are actively trying to proliferate — and we will only win that race if we stay smart and disciplined." To date, New York has seen about 1.6 million COVID-19 cases, including 46,812 deaths. Outbreak News Today External Link

    USSOUTHCOM

    Polio vaccination campaign starts Monday in Cuba

    21 February- The Cuban Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud Pública de la República de Cuba) announced today that a polio vaccination campaign will begin Monday. From February 22 to 27, Campaign 60 for Bivalent Oral Polio Vaccination will begin with the purpose of keeping polio eliminated in Cuba. Some 330,000 children under three years of age will receive the first dose, and 124,000 children of nine years of age will also be reactivated with the vaccine. Vaccination points were set up in medical offices that, together with the vaccinations of the polyclinics, will prevent crowds and bring service to the community. Poliomyelitis is a vaccine-preventable disease caused by poliovirus that causes acute flaccid paralysis with notable motor disability in infants. In Cuba, only two diseases preventable by vaccines were eliminated before 1962: yellow fever, in 1908, and smallpox, in 1923. Between 1962 and until 2021, several other vaccine-preventable diseases remain eliminated. Tetanus, Haemophilus influenza type b meningitis, typhoid fever and meningococcal disease are no longer a health problem with rates below 0.1 per 100,000 inhabitants. Outbreak News Today External Link