The demand for at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests — sparked by the fast-spreading omicron variant in December — has continued in 2022. With that demand have come questions about the tests’ efficacy, how to use them and where to get them. We answer those queries and more.
Increase in COVID-19 VAERS Reports Due To Reporting Requirements, Intense Scrutiny of Widely Given Vaccines
Expanded reporting requirements and intense scrutiny of the hundreds of millions administered COVID-19 vaccine doses have driven record reporting of potential side effects to one of the government’s vaccine safety monitoring systems. Social media posts, however, have misleadingly insinuated that the increase in reports means the vaccines are unsafe.
It’s not known yet whether the omicron variant causes more or less severe COVID-19 than the delta variant, although some preliminary indications suggest omicron infections might be milder. A Facebook post nevertheless claims, without evidence, that the “toxicity” of omicron is 5 times higher than delta and that its mortality rate is higher.
On Nov. 24, South Africa told the World Health Organization that amid a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, it had identified a new variant — later named omicron — with a high number of mutations, raising concerns that it could spread more easily than other variants of the coronavirus. We’ll go through what we know so far about omicron.
With the release of its pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer switched the buffer used in its formulation to increase the stability of the product, allowing it to remain at refrigerator temperatures for longer. The Food and Drug Administration OK’d the change, which is also being made to some doses for teens and adults. Social media posts, however, misleadingly suggest that the ingredient swap is dangerous or was added to prevent heart attacks in children.
Republicans say a letter from a National Institutes of Health official is an admission that the agency funded so-called gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in China, with some falsely linking the work to the pandemic coronavirus. But the research, which the NIH maintains is not gain-of-function, could not have led to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.