According to 2022 year end estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 4 U.S. adults and older teens had still not caught COVID-19, while 77.5% had antibodies from at least one prior infection. These figures were based on the final batch of results from the agency’s nationwide studies of antibodies in Americans ages 16 and up.
For the very first time, my wife and I self tested positive - me on Sunday 12/17/2023, and my wife two days later, In spite of getting all COVID-19 vaccinations/boosters (last booster received in September 2023), washing hands, avoiding big crowds and large gatherings, wearing masks when cannot avoid crowds, and so on. For us it was a long run - almost 4 years- avoiding COVID-19 infections. We both are high risk seniors in our late 70s. So why did I test myself? Although I rarely catch colds, my last cold over 5 years ago developed high fever, and a visit to urgent care diagnosed pneumonia and prescribed Azithromycin that quickly and successfully worked. On the day of my COVID-19 self test, I sensed a cold coming on, got a normal temperature reading and as a proactive precautionary measure decided to take an Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test that to my complete surprise gave a positive result. I immediately had my wife self tested with a negative result. I went to my medical group’s urgent care, where a nurse practitioner (NP) confirmed that I had COVID-19 and determined that no prescription was necessary since I had no fever, no sore throat, no nasal/chest congestion, no body aches and so on. She gave me a copy of the CDC recommendations for people with COVID-19 and told me to isolate myself at home for at least 5 days, wear a mask, and watch for COVID-19 symptoms, especially fever, do a self-check at day 6 and keep wearing a mask at home snd, thereafter, in public for 5 more days. The following day, I contacted my pulmonologist for guidance on my CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine usage and his office NP told me to continue usage in an isolated bedroom.
When my wife tested positive, urgent care told her not to come in (at least a 4-hour wait that day) and transferred her call to telehealth that made a video appointment via her cell phone with a NP. When the NP contacted my wife, he asked her what COVID-19 symptoms she had, she responded none and that she was asymptomatic. After checking off his list of COVID-19 symptoms and based on her current prescriptions, the NP prescribed molnupiravir (Lagevrio) that did not require stopping any of her current medications. I related to the NP that I also had tested positive, but was not prescribed any medication. He informed me about a 5-day period starting from the first time noticing any COVID-19 symptom or first time testing positive, within which to get, if needed, a prescription. I subsequently retested positive within this 5-day window, made a video appointment with a NP, who assessed that as a high-risk person needed to take Paxlovid and stop my cholesterol statin medication during the Paxlovid treatment. A nurse called my wife every day during her treatment to assess her condition. Both my wife and I were told to stay at home for five days after completing our medications and then self test for COVID-19. On January 1, 2024, five days after completing my Paxlovid treatment, I self-tested negative, but my wife tested positive, seven days after completing her Lagevrio treatment. Her nurse told her that it might take 10 or more days to test negative. Finally, on January 3, 3024, she tested negative.
So we experienced a heck of a way to end 2023 (i.e., in isolation during the holiday season) and are now fortunate to start the new year in good health. We also were very fortunate not getting infected at the front end of the COVID-19 pandemic and as recent survivors did not become a statistic for the following alarming ongoing charts showing provisional COVID-19 deaths by week in the U.S .
Trends in United States COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Deaths, Emergency Department (ED) Visits, and Test Positivity by Geographic Area
NATIONAL CENTER FOR HEALTH STATISTICS, NATIONAL VITAL STATISTICS SURVEILLANCE
Provisional Weekly COVID-19 Deaths in the United States
More than three years into the pandemic, hundreds of Americans are still dying from COVID-19 every week.
For the week ending Dec. 9, the last week of complete data, there were 1,614 deaths from COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The last four weeks of complete data show an average of 1,488 weekly deaths.
By comparison, there were 163 weekly deaths from the flu for the week ending Dec. 9, according to CDC data.
According to Dr. Cameron Wolfe, a professor of infectious diseases at Duke University, The current "weekly rate of COVID mortality is similar to what we were getting per day at [the worst] parts of the pandemic. So, proportionally, we’re in a completely different place than where we were, thankfully. But there’s still a pretty significant mortality; 1,500 patients dying every week is unacceptable, frankly.
For those interested, while in isolation, here’s what I researched and found about our two oral antiviral treatments, according to GoodRx Health.
Paxlovid vs. Molnupiravir (Lagevrio): How Do They Compare for COVID-19? Updated on June 8, 2023
• Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir) and molnupiravir (Lagevrio) are two oral antiviral treatments that are available for mild to moderate COVID-19. These COVID-19 pills are only recommended for people with a high risk of developing severe illness.
• Both Paxlovid and molnupiravir are taken by mouth twice daily for 5 days. They should both be started within 5 days of first feeling symptoms.
• It’s possible for COVID-19 symptoms to return after initially improving with either Paxlovid or molnupiravir. But symptom rebound may be more common with untreated COVID-19 than it is after taking these medications.
Probably the most notable difference between Paxlovid and molnupiravir is how effective they are.
In its initial clinical trials, Paxlovid was nearly 90% effective at preventing hospital stays or death due to COVID-19 in high-risk people. Other studies suggest that the benefits of Paxlovid are especially evident for older adults.
On the other hand, molnupiravir lowered the risk of COVID-19 hospital stays or death by about 30% in high-risk people in initial studies. This difference in effectiveness may be one of the reasons experts suggest using molnupiravir only if other treatments aren’t available or appropriate.
Currently, molnupiravir isn’t known to interact with any medications. This is still being studied and may change as more information becomes available.
It’s important to note that these levels of effectiveness were recorded when study participants started Paxlovid or molnupiravir within 5 days of first feeling symptoms. The medications’ effectiveness is lower if the medications are started after this timeframe. This data was also collected before the Omicron variant became predominant.
I also found this:
Can you take Paxlovid and molnupiravir together for COVID-19?
No, this combination hasn’t been studied for any use, including treating COVID-19. An interaction between Paxlovid and molnupiravir isn’t listed by either Pfizer or Merck. But, due to the lack of research about whether it is safe or effective, this combination isn’t suggested.
Apologies for my long post, but finally here’s another interesting find, since I daily take Culturelle, a lactobacillus probiotics.
Probiotics Reduce COVID Symptoms and Delay Disease Among Unvaccinated
Published December 18, 2023
DURHAM, N.C. – Probiotics, specifically lactobacillus, demonstrated significant ability to delay a COVID infection and reduce symptoms among a group of unvaccinated people who had been in contact with someone in their household diagnosed with COVID.
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW article
Front. Nutr., 27 October 2023
Sec. Nutrition and Microbes
Probiotics for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19: a rapid systematic review and meta-analysis
Background: Although numerous modalities are currently in use for the treatment and prophylaxis of COVID-19, probiotics are a cost-effective alternative that could be used in diverse clinical settings. Hence, we conducted a meta-analysis to investigate the role of probiotics in preventing and treating COVID-19 infection.
Methods: We searched several databases from inception to 30 May 2023 for all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and comparative observational studies that evaluated probiotics (irrespective of the regimen) for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. We conducted our meta-analysis using RevMan 5.4 with risk ratio (RR) and mean difference (MD) as the effect measures.
Results: A total of 18 studies (11 RCTs and 7 observational studies) were included in our review. Probiotics reduced the risk of mortality (RR 0.40; 95% CI: 0.25–0.65, I2 = 0%). Probiotics also decreased the length of hospital stay, rate of no recovery, and time to recovery. However, probiotics had no effect on the rates of ICU admission. When used prophylactically, probiotics did not decrease the incidence of COVID-19 cases (RR 0.65; 95% CI: 0.37–1.12; I2 = 66%). The results for all outcomes were consistent across the subgroups of RCTs and observational studies (P for interaction >0.05).
Conclusion: The results of this meta-analysis support the use of probiotics as an adjunct treatment for reducing the risk of mortality or improving other clinical outcomes in patients with COVID-19. However, probiotics are not useful as a prophylactic measure against COVID-19. Large-scale RCTs are still warranted for determining the most efficacious and safe probiotic strains.