Real Paxlovid study comes to impressive results

Paxlovid reduces COVID hospitalizations by 31%, adverse outcomes by 53% and deaths by 75% compared to not taking an oral antiviral, according to a pre-release study released Thursday by researchers at the University of Hong Kong. It is believed to be one of the first real studies on the effectiveness of oral antiviral pills against the Omicron variant. Molnupiravir, the other and less widely used oral antiviral drug, reduces side effects by 36% and deaths by 39%, the study found. It doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in hospital stays. The study examined medical records of about 1 million non-hospitalized people with COVID who took paxlovid or molnupiravir during the BA.2.2 wave in Hong Kong from late February to early May. About half of the patients took paxlovid and the other half took molnupiravir.

California woman jailed for 15 months for hitting flight attendant over mask

A Sacramento woman who slapped a Southwest Airlines flight attendant in the face during a flight and broke her teeth has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison, the Associated Press reports. Vyvianna Quinonez, 29, got angry during the plane’s final descent when the attendant asked her to buckle her seat belt, stow her tray table and put on her face mask properly. The incident was part of an escalation of unruly behavior from airline passengers amid the coronavirus pandemic. Quinonez was also ordered by a federal judge in San Diego to pay nearly $26,000 in damages and a $7,500 fine for the May 23, 2021 attack on a flight between Sacramento and San Diego. She has a three-year flight ban.

The antiviral COVID pill Paxlovid is now delivered to your home by mail

San Francisco-based primary and emergency care provider Carbon Health has partnered with COVID test maker Detect to announce a new service that will allow people to self-test, consult a doctor online or over the phone who may have antiviral pills can prescribe and have the pills delivered — all without leaving home. Read more about how the increased availability of the breakthrough treatment brings us one step closer to a world where COVID-19 is endemic and manageable.

Another picture in SF from last Memorial Day weekend

As the recent wave of coronavirus continues to swell in the Bay Area, San Francisco’s daily COVID-19 cases over Memorial Day weekend are substantially higher than a year ago. The city, an international travel and tourist destination, on Friday reported a seven-day rolling average of about 507 new daily cases, compared with just 13 on the same day a year ago during the pause between vaccine rollouts and the summer delta Rise. San Francisco’s coronavirus test-positive rate was 0.5% then, compared to 11.5% today. The health authorities urged residents to do so get testedvaccinated and strengthenedhowever, stopped reinstating any mandates to contain pandemics ahead of the holiday.

At least 4,500 people have died from the flu this season after a historically low year

Preliminary estimates of the flu burden for the 2021-2022 season suggest that between 4,500 and 13,000 people have died from influenza this season, based on data from Oct. 1 to May 21, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday. During the same period, 293,522 Americans died from COVID-19, according to federal data. The agency reported that at least 7.3 million cases of flu have been reported so far this season, with between 74,000 and 100,000 patients hospitalized with flu-related symptoms. The CDC did not calculate the cumulative influenza burden for the 2020-2021 season due to historically low activity. The total burden of influenza in the 2019-2020 pre-pandemic season was an estimated 35 million influenza-related illnesses, 380,000 influenza-related hospitalizations and 20,000 influenza-related deaths.

California coronavirus test positive rate reaches 7%

California’s seven-day coronavirus test positive rate hit 7% on Friday, up 1.5 percentage points from the previous seven-day period, according to state data released on Friday. The rate has been rising steadily since falling to 1.2% in mid-March following the Omicron winter surge. The state is averaging over 12,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, almost doubling the number at the start of the month. The Bay Area’s nine counties, along with rural Del Norte County, lead the state with the most infections per 100,000 people. Nineteen California counties rose from “low” to “moderate” COVID-19 community levels on Friday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in California top 2,000

According to data from The Chronicle, there were more than 2,000 patients in California hospitals with COVID-19 for the first time in almost three months on Friday. The state reported 2,056 people hospitalized with the virus, triple the number a month ago. There were 244 patients in intensive care units with COVID, an 86% increase over the same period. Hospitalizations in the Bay Area are also increasing, with the region reporting 575 patients with COVID-19, more than double the 244 on April 27. Bay Area COVID deaths continue to decline and are holding at levels last recorded before the Omicron wave began in December , 2021.

Japan will reopen to tourists in June, but with restrictions

Japan will reopen its borders to foreign tourists from June for the first time since imposing strict pandemic travel restrictions about two years ago, the Associated Press reports. However, visitors are only allowed to enter the country on package tours with fixed schedules and tour guides, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said. “The free and active exchange of people is the basis of the economy and society and the development of Asia,” Kishida said on Thursday in a Tokyo hotel. Japan will gradually welcome more tourists to pre-pandemic arrival levels while monitoring the infection situation, he added.

SF schools report most COVID cases since January

San Francisco public school students and staff reported 472 COVID-19 cases last week, up from 320 the previous week. This number is consistent with numbers reported to schools during the first and last weeks of January during the winter Omicron surge. That marks an eightfold rise in school cases since the San Francisco Unified School District dropped its mask mandate in April — a reflection of the surge in community across the city, which is one of the country’s COVID-19 hotspots. San Francisco’s positive coronavirus test rate hit 11.7% on Thursday, nearly double California’s overall rate of 6.6%. SFUSD reported 7,421 cumulative cases among approximately 62,800 students and staff in its 2022 spring semester. The academic year ends on June 1st.

California is a red state on the CDC virus transmission map

Nearly every county in California has crossed the threshold for high community transmission of COVID-19, according to data released Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only four of the state’s 58 counties were not marked red, denoting the highest level of transmission, and these are in sparsely populated rural areas. About 61% of all US counties fall into the high community transmission category, a 7.3% increase over the previous seven-day period. California is averaging nearly 11,000 new cases per day, up from about 8,700 two weeks ago. New hospital admissions for patients with COVID-19 have been trending upwards since early April and are now reaching the same level as during the tail of the Omicron winter surge.

White House plans to make Paxlovid available in more locations in anticipation of summer’s COVID surge

The White House on Thursday announced additional steps to make antiviral treatment Paxlovid more accessible in the United States as it expects COVID-19 infections to spread further during the summer travel season, the Associated Press reports. Confirmed infections in the US have quadrupled since late March, from about 25,000 a day to more than 105,000 a day now. But the number of deaths, which has tended to delay infections by three to four weeks over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, has been steadily declining and is now fewer than 300 a day. It’s the first time in the course of the pandemic that the two have not trended together, said White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. However, he also attributes a more than fourfold increase in prescriptions to vaccines to the highly effective drug Paxlovid in the last six weeks. “What’s been remarkable about the recent spike in infections we’re seeing is how steadily serious illnesses, and particularly deaths, are occurring after eight weeks,” he said. “COVID is no longer the killer it was a year ago.”

BA.4 and BA.5 detected in Santa Clara County sewage

On Thursday, Santa Clara County public health officials confirmed to The Chronicle the presence of Omicron variant coronavirus sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 in the county’s sewage samples. The strains were recently reclassified as “variants of concern” by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. While they currently represent less than 1% of the COVID-19 recorded in the region’s catchment area, public health experts fear the highly transmissible variants could quickly trigger another wave of cases, as they are currently doing in South Africa and some European countries. “Preliminary studies indicate a significant change in the antigenic properties of BA.4 and BA.5 compared to BA.1 and BA.2, particularly compared to BA.1 (the original Omicron variant),” the agency wrote in their bulletin. The variants show signs of evading immunity, meaning even those previously infected with Omicron are vulnerable to reinfection. “The currently observed growth advantage for BA.4 and BA.5 is likely due to their ability to evade prior infection and/or vaccination-induced immune protection, particularly when this has waned over time,” the agency said.

Summer vacation in a COVID wave: How to manage the risks of travel

As Memorial Day approaches and many people in the Bay Area make plans for summer travel, COVID continues to pose a threat, with highly transmissible omicron variants driving the recent surge. Read what experts say you should include in your summer vacation image.

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