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Coronavirus weekly need-to-know: Holidays, booster shots, parosmia, diabetes & more

Solome Walker, 9, looks down at her bandage after getting her first Pfizer COVID-19 shot at a vaccination clinic for young students at Ramsey Middle School on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 in Louisville, Ky.

Solome Walker, 9, looks down at her bandage after getting her first Pfizer COVID-19 shot at a vaccination clinic for young students at Ramsey Middle School on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 in Louisville, Ky.

AP

Each week, we offer you a roundup of our noteworthy coronavirus coverage.

More than 48.1 million people in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Friday morning, Nov. 26, according to Johns Hopkins University. That includes more than 775,000 people who have died nationwide.

Globally, there have been more than 260 million confirmed cases of the highly infectious virus, with more than 5.1 million reported deaths.

More than 196 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Nov. 24 — about 59% of the total population, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows. More than 37.4 million people have received a booster dose.

Here’s what happened between Nov. 19 to Nov. 24.

All adults can now get a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 booster shot

Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 booster shots have been authorized for all U.S. adults to ensure “continued protection” against the disease as evidence shows immunity may wane over time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday, Nov. 19.

The FDA’s amendment to the emergency use authorizations for both vaccines means any adult can receive a booster shot at least six months after they received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or at least two months after they received their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot.

Some states, however, had already opened eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots for all adults, including California, Colorado, New York, Kentucky, West Virginia, Massachusetts and Kansas.

COVID-related smell loss worries doctors — and it can lead to parosmia

Millions of people experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms long after their infection subsides, including loss of taste and smell. But it’s unclear if and when affected people will recover their senses. Now, new research reveals just how widespread the burden may be.

Estimates from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggest between 700,000 and 1.6 million people in the U.S. are experiencing chronic smell loss or distortion because of COVID-19.

Included in the projections are those who suffer from parosmia — a change in the normal perception of odors that can distort pleasant smells into foul ones. Often, people first lose their sense of smell and taste then go on to develop the condition.

Continue reading to learn more about parosmia and COVID-19.

COVID-19 patients with poorly managed Type 2 diabetes 50% more likely to go to ICU

Diabetes is a well-known risk factor for COVID-19, but new research suggests not all people with the condition face the same consequences.

COVID-19 patients with Type 2 diabetes who fail to properly manage their blood sugar levels over two to three years are nearly 50% more likely to end up in the intensive care unit compared to those with a more controlled blood sugar history.

Put another way, a 1% increase in hemoglobin A1C — the percentage of red blood cells that have proteins called hemoglobin coated in sugar — is “directly associated” with a 12% boost in the likelihood of winding up in the ICU due to COVID-19, according to the study.

Here’s what else the study found.

Doctors had ‘no hope’ for comatose mom with COVID-19. She woke up just in time

Doctors had “no hope” for a comatose mom with COVID-19 until the unexpected happened.

The day before Bettina Lerman, 69, was going to have her life support pulled, she woke up just in time on Oct. 29 at Maine Medical Center in Portland, her son Andrew Lerman, 41, told McClatchy News over the phone.

“It was right down to the minute,” he said. “If she didn’t wake up that day, the next day she would have been terminated on life support.”

Should you take an at-home COVID-19 test before holiday gatherings?

Another holiday season complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic has arrived, except this time we have a line of defense made up of widely available vaccines.

Infection after vaccination is still possible, however, so other coronavirus preventive measures — such as testing — are just as important this holiday seasons as they were last year, especially as the delta variant continues to spread.

Traditionally, you would go to a pharmacy to complete a PCR test — a molecular test that looks for traces of coronavirus genetic material — and receive your results in a couple days.

Now, federal health officials have authorized several rapid “antigen” tests that you can buy and take at home. Within minutes, these tests can reveal if you are harboring even the tiniest amount of coronavirus by detecting bits of its proteins.

Health experts say it’s a good idea. Here’s why.

Follow more of our reporting on Full coverage of coronavirus in Washington


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Katie Camero is a McClatchy National Real-Time Science reporter. She’s an alumna of Boston University and has reported for the Wall Street Journal, Science, and The Boston Globe.



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