America’s health care workers are ’emotionally exhausted’

America’s health care workers are “emotionally exhausted,” survey finds

Health care workers in the US who were already struggling before the COVID-19 pandemic say the past two years have made things worse, jeopardizing the quality of care patients receive. A three-year survey study by Duke University researchers analyzed 107,122 responses to measure ” emotional exhaustion” among the workers before and during the pandemic, from 2019 to 2021. The results were published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open. In the study period, conducted in three waves, the estimated rates of emotional exhaustion increased proportionally by 26.9% among those surveyed. Physicians, who reported a decline from 2019 to 2020 — from 31.8% to 28.3% experienced a sharp increase in 2021, with 37.8% saying they felt emotionally exhausted. Among nurses, meanwhile, affirmative responses rose from 40.6% in 2019 to 46.5 % in 2020 and 49.2% in 2021 and 2022. “The challenges posed by COVID-19 have been an excessive test to human well-being around the world,” the authors wrote. “Few groups experience d this stress more acutely than the health care workers who persistently placed themselves in harm’s way to serve patients.”

Fauci on lab-leak theory: “There’s always a suspicion”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that the COVID-19 pandemic may have started with a lab leak but cautioned that there is no evidence currently available to support the theory. “There’s always a suspicion. There’s always the issue that something really nefarious has happened — which is understandable because there’s always a possibility,” Fauci said Wednesday during a wide-ranging conversation about the pandemic as part of The Atlantic Festival 2022. “I think you’ve to keep an open mind for every possibility. But an open mind and a possibility does not equate with a probability.” He asserted that despite many conspiracy theories, he does not control the world’s scientific community.

Fauci also shared his thoughts on becoming the target of “people who want to decapitate me because I’m ruining the economy.” He said that he is not intimidated by the threats but is bothered by the “vicious attacks” on his family members. “I have a great deal of faith in the American public despite the fact that we have so much divisiveness and I myself am the target for a lot of the attacks,” Fauci said. “I still have a great deal of faith in the prevailing better angels of the American public.” He added that he hopes that everyone at some point comes to the realization that when dealing with an unprecedented public health emergency, “there is such a thing as a communal responsibility that you have to society.”

Cases stable, deaths down and new variants emerging, WHO reports

The number of new weekly COVID cases globally remained stable last week, with around 3.2 million new cases reported, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization. The number of new weekly deaths decreased by 17% from the previous week, with around 9,800 fatalities reported. The UN health agency also said the descendent omicron lineages of BA.5 remain the dominant variants with a global prevalence of 76.6%, followed by lineages of BA.4 with 7.5% prevalence. The WHO said six virus lineages are currently being monitored, including BA.2.75, due to nine additional mutations in the spike as compared to its parent lineage BA.2. “Four of these mutations are within the receptor binding domain, and at least one of these RBD mutations has been associated with immune escape,” the bulletin said. Health officials are also monitoring the emerging variants BA.5.1 + V445 (the latter number indicates the pooled amino acid substitutions), BA.5.2 + K444, BA.5.2.1 + R346, BA.5.2. 1 + K4 44, and BE.1.1.

Fungal deaths rose during the pandemic, CDC study finds

Deaths from fungal infection increased during the 2020 to 2021 period compared with previous years, primarily driven by COVID-19-associated deaths, according to a recent study commissioned by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report says more than 13,000 US residents died from fungal infections during the first two years of the pandemic, with at least 22% related to COVID-19, particularly those involving Aspergillus (a common mold) and Candida (a yeast that lives on the skin and inside the body. The findings also highlighted that the rates of fungal deaths were higher in non-white and non-Asian populations, particularly when associated with COVID-19. “Our analysis demonstrates the substantial burden of fungal infections in the United States and highlights an increase in fungal deaths during the first two years of COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote. “These data might help increase clinician awareness and support public health planning, with the ultimate goals of d ecreasing morbidity and mortality rates associated with fungal infections.”

Moderna says it expects to resolve bivalent booster shortage “in the coming days”

Moderna expects to resolve supply issues for its new COVID-19 booster “in the coming days,” according to a company statement to MarketWatch. Moderna’s updated bivalent booster is not yet widely available in the US due to the Food and Drug Administration’s inspection of a production plant in Bloomington, Ind. The FDA on Tuesday said that inspection was completed and allowed 10 delayed batches of vaccine to ship, saying in a statement that “the agency has no concerns with the safety, effectiveness, or quality of these batches.” Modern expects to fulfill its plan to deliver 70 million doses of the reformulated COVID-19 booster — which protects against the original strain of the virus as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of omicron by the end of the year. The updated booster protects against the original strain of the virus as well as the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. “We continue to see high demand in certain areas of the country,” Moderna said in an email. “We anticipate that th ese availability constraints will be resolved in the coming days.”

Stress, anxiety levels for women at a 10-year high, survey shows

Women were more stressed, anxious, worried, sad and angry in 2021 than at any point in the past decade, according to a new report from the analytics firm Gallup and medical tech company Hologic. In one of the largest surveys of its kind, the Global Health Index Women’s Health Index includes insights from 66,000 women in 122 countries, tracking the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors founds that more than four in 10 women in 2021 said they experienced worry (43%) and stress (41%) ) during a lot of the day before the survey, nearly one in three experienced sadness (32%), and more than one in four experienced anger (26%) — all at record levels.

Among the other insights delivered by the report is that while women’s ability to meet their basic needs — such as affording food — fell, men’s ability to do so did not change. Also, worldwide, just 12% of women in 2021 were tested for any type of cancer in the past 12 months, which means more than 2 billion of the world’s women went untested. “The lack of progress and, in some cases, backward momentum justify an even louder wake-up call for world leaders to do more for women, whose well-being underpins the health of families, communities, societies and economies,” said Hologic president and CEO Steve MacMillan.

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