CLEVELAND, Ohio – More than 90% of free at-home COVID-19 tests ordered through a federal government website have been shipped, and COVID-19 vaccine protection was weaker during omicron wave, CDC study suggests.
Cleveland.com is rounding up some of the most notable coronavirus news making headlines online. Here’s what you need to know for Friday, Feb. 25.
Federal government has shipped majority of free at-home COVID-19 test
More than 90% of free at-home COVID-19 tests ordered through a federal government website have been shipped, the White House said recently.
Last month, the White House said about 60 million orders for the free tests were received within 10 days of the launch of the COVIDtests.gov site. The huge demand was driven by concerns about the COVID-19 omicron variant.
The White House initially said that the tests would “typically ship within 7 to 12 days of ordering,” but millions of Americans waited weeks to receive their tests. They were shipped on a first-come, first-served basis, according to news reports.
Vaccine protection weaker during omicron wave, CDC study suggests
While COVID-19 vaccine shots provided protection during the omicron wave, the protection was weaker than during other surges, suggests new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The change resulted in much higher rates of infection, hospitalization and death for fully vaccinated adults — even those who received boosters, the CDC said.
The decline in protection was due to the vaccines’ reduced effectiveness over time, and the increasing contagiousness of the delta and omicron waves, researchers said.
Before delta struck the United States in July, there were five to 10 cases of COVID-19 for every 100,000 fully vaccinated adults each week, while the rate for unvaccinated people was 50 to 90 cases.
During the delta wave, unvaccinated people were five times as likely to get COVID-19 as vaccinated people. With omicron, that difference dropped to less than three times as likely, the CDC said.
Vitamins don’t lower risk of COVID-19 death, Toledo study suggests
Taking vitamin C, zinc or vitamin D supplements doesn’t lower the risk of dying from COVID-19, a new study from the University of Toledo suggests.
“A lot of people have this misconception that if you load up on zinc, vitamin D or vitamin C, it can help the clinical outcome of COVID-19,” but that “hasn’t been shown to be true,” said lead study author Dr. Azizullah Beran, an internal medicine resident at the University of Toledo’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences.
Beran and his colleagues analyzed 26 peer-reviewed studies that were conducted worldwide and included more than 5,600 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Patients treated with vitamin D, vitamin C or zinc did not have a lower risk of death than those who didn’t receive the vitamin supplements, researchers said.
Vitamin D was associated with lower rates of requiring a ventilator and shorter hospital stays, but further research is needed to confirm that finding, according to the study authors.
Political affiliation may have swayed prescribing of ineffective COVID drugs, study suggests
Two ineffective treatments against COVID-19 — hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin — were more heavily prescribed in U.S. counties with a higher Republican vote share in the 2020 presidential election, according to new research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“We’d all like to think of the health care system as basically non-partisan, but the COVID-19 pandemic may have started to chip away at this assumption,” said Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management and lead author of the study.
The study compared prescription rates for hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin with rates for two control medications that have not been proposed as COVID-19 treatments. Researchers looked at patient data from January 2019 through December 2020 from roughly 18.5 million Americans, U.S. Census data and 2020 U.S. presidential election results.
Overall, the volume of hydroxychloroquine prescribed from June through December 2020 was roughly double what it had been the previous year, the study said. Ivermectin prescribing volume was seven times higher in December 2020 than it had been the previous year, researchers found.
After June 2020 — coinciding with when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine — prescribing volume for the drug was significantly higher in counties with the highest Republican vote share as compared to counties with the lowest vote share.
Prescribing volume of ivermectin was significantly higher in the highest versus lowest Republican vote share counties in December 2020, and 964% higher than 2019 overall prescribing volume.
Neither control drug had differences in overall prescribing volume or in prescribing by county Republican vote share.
The study was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine.