ELLSWORTH — With the guidance and news on COVID-19 ever changing, here are a few recent updates.
- On Feb. 22, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its vaccine guidance, which included lengthening the interval between first and second doses of mRNA COVID vaccines to decrease the risk of myocarditis for certain populations, specifically young men ages 12 to 39 years. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart. It remains rare following vaccinations, according to the CDC, but has been a concern voiced since the onset and availability of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.
- In other vaccine news, a study still in preprint and conducted by researchers from the New York State Department of Health found that the lower dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine given to children ages 5 to 11 was not as effective in preventing infection as the higher dose given to children 12 and over and adults. According to a Feb. 28 report in NPR, the vaccine was still effective in preventing serious illness but the effectiveness in preventing infection dropped from 68 percent to 12 percent for kids in the younger age group.
- In its partnership, The Jackson Laboratory and Maine CDC discovered the state’s first two cases of the BA.2 variant, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah announced via Twitter Feb. 28. The variant is one of the “sub-lineages of the Omicron family,” Shah explained, noting that the variant is increasing in proportion to other Omicron sub-lineages but there is a global decline of cases overall. Early studies suggest that it is harder to catch this new variant after being infected with Omicron and that current vaccines may “stack up” against BA.2.
- Maine data reported by the Maine CDC March 1 show hospitalizations continuing to decline, with 158 patients hospitalized with COVID. The number of those in intensive care is up slightly at 44 and nine people are on a ventilator, the lowest figure since August.