COVID-19 Timeline: February 2022
October 4, 2022
At Bioethics.com we have kept up with the spread of COVID-19 and the related bioethical questions that this pandemic brings. The posts that follow highlight news from February 2022 and were originally posted at Bioethics.com. These posts focus on the bioethical issues that medical professionals, bioethicists, public health officials, and scientists grappled with as SARS-CoV-2 swept the globe.
Feb 1: “Pandemic Pits Health Care Experts Against the Media” by Sara Fischer and Caitlin Owens, Axios
Health care professionals and scientists no longer feel that they can rely on media and tech companies to effectively combat misinformation, so they’re hitting the airwaves themselves.
Feb 1: “China’s Most Used COVID Shots Effective Against Delta Variant—Study” Reuters
China’s two most widely used COVID-19 vaccines, developed by Sinovac (SVA.O) and Sinopharm, were shown to be effective against the Delta variant of the coronavirus, a study based on real-world data in the country showed on Tuesday.
Feb 1: “Virus Infections for Olympic Athletes, Coaches Rising Faster” by Graham Dunbar, Associated Press
Athletes and team officials are testing positive for COVID-19 at much higher rates than other people arriving in China for the Beijing Olympics, organizers said Tuesday [February 1].
Feb 1: “U.S. Covid-19 Hospitalizations Extend Their Fall While Deaths Keep Rising” by Bertrand Benoit, Noemie Bisserbe and Denise Roland, Wall Street Journal
The number of hospital patients with Covid-19 continues to fall in the U.S., adding to signs that the Omicron wave of the pandemic is ebbing, even though deaths from the virus are on the rise.
Feb 2: “WHO Says the New Omicron Subvariant Doesn’t Appear to Be More Severe than the Original” by Spencer Kimball, CNBC
The World Health Organization on Tuesday said there’s no indication omicron’s new sister variant, BA.2, causes more serious infections than the original version, though initial data shows it’s more transmissible.
Feb 2: “Remdesivir Takes Top Spot for US Hospital Spending: Report” by Deena Beasley, Reuters, re-posted on Medscape
Gilead Sciences Inc’s COVID-19 drug remdesivir last year overtook AbbVie Inc’s 20-year-old arthritis drug Humira as the medicine that U.S. hospitals spent the most on, according to Vizient Inc, a purchasing group used by about half the nation’s hospitals.
Feb 2: “Patients Go Without Covid-19 Treatments Amid Drug Shortage” by Julie Wernau, Jared S. Hopkins and Melanie Evans, Wall Street Journal
Doctors and patients are trying to figure out how to obtain Covid-19 treatments under a patchwork system set up by states that are directing the distribution of limited supplies. A shortage of antiviral pills and effective antibody drugs—and difficulties obtaining them—are frustrating efforts to keep Covid-19 patients out of overwhelmed hospitals.
Feb 2: “Pfizer Asks FDA to Authorize COVID Vaccine for Kids Under 5” by Oriana Gonzalez, Axios
Pfizer and BioNTech on Tuesday asked the Food and Drugs Administration to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old.
Feb 2: “’Take Back Life’: More Nations Ease Coronavirus Restrictions” by Jamey Keaten, Associated Press
Step by step, many countries are easing their COVID-19 restrictions amid hopes the omicron wave may have passed its peak. The early moves to relax precautions, based on declining or flattening case counts in recent days, represent what could be another turning point in a nearly two-year pandemic that has been full of them.
Feb 2: “Pandemic Pushed Death Rates to Historic Highs” by Heidi Splete, Medscape
The COVID-19 pandemic is now associated with the highest number of excess deaths worldwide since the 1918 flu pandemic, sometimes known as the ‘Spanish flu.’
Feb 2: “Scientists Deliberately Gave People COVID—Here’s What They Learnt” by Ewen Callaway, Nature
Healthy, young people who were intentionally exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus developed mild symptoms — if any at all — finds a first-of-its-kind COVID-19 human challenge study.
Feb 2: “Experts Question Unusual Authorization Plan for Covid Vaccine for Kids Under 5” by Helen Branswell, STAT News
The Food and Drug Administration’s willingness to consider authorizing a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for children under the age of 5 — without evidence yet that it would be protective — is raising concerns among some vaccine experts who fear the plan could backfire and undermine vaccine uptake in this group.
Feb 3: “Fraudulent Covid-19 Test Sites Proliferate, Triggering Consumer Warnings” by Jennifer Levitz, Wall Street Journal
Officials nationwide are trying to stay ahead of a proliferation of Covid-19 test sites that they say are offering fraudulent services to the public.
Feb 3: “Strained US Hospitals Seek Foreign Nurses Amid Visa Windfall” by Amy Taxin, Associated Press
With American hospitals facing a dire shortage of nurses amid a slogging pandemic, many are looking abroad for health care workers.
Feb 3: “South African Scientists Copy Moderna’s COVID Vaccine” by Amy Maxmen, Nature
Researchers at a South African biotechnology company say they have nearly created a copy of Moderna’s messenger-RNA-based vaccine against COVID-19, without Moderna’s involvement.
Feb 3: “A Deluge of Medical Waste Is Swamping the Globe, a U.N. Report Says” by Adeel Hassen, New York Times
A new report from the World Health Organization has highlighted the overabundance of medical waste around the world caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Feb 4: “Blood Supplies Run Low as Omicron Limits Donations” by Renee Onque, Wall Street Journal
Blood is in short supply in the U.S., with donation drives stalled amid Covid-19 and demand rising as people resume medical care they put off earlier in the pandemic.
Feb 4: “Omicron Infections May Not Protect Well Against Future Spread” by Caitlin Ownes, Axios
The extent to which Omicron’s rapid spread leaves the world better off in its fight against COVID depends on a few big questions, including how long infection-induced immunity actually lasts.
Feb 4: “Boosted Americans 97 Times Less Likely to Die of COVID Than Unvaccinated” by Carolyn Crist WebMD, re-posted on Medscape
Americans who have received a COVID-19 booster shot are 97 times less likely to die from the coronavirus than those who aren’t vaccinated, according to a new update from the CDC.
Feb 4: “US Death Toll from COVID-19 Hits 900,000, Sped by Omicron” by Mark Kennedy and Ken Sweet, Associated Press
With the brutal omicron wave rapidly loosening its grip, new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. are falling in 49 of 50 states, even as the nation’s death toll closes in on another bleak round number: 900,000.
Feb 4: “Covid-19 Vaccines Linked to Menstrual Cycle Changes” by Nidhi Subbaraman, Wall Street Journal
Since widespread immunization against Covid-19 began last year, doctors and medical researchers have been fielding reports of painful cramps, delayed periods and other changes in menstrual cycles among some who got the vaccines. Now research confirms that the shots can affect menstrual cycles, with one recent study linking vaccination to a slight increase in menstrual-cycle length.
Feb 4: “Does Omicron Hit Kids Harder? Scientists Are Trying to Find Out” by Max Kozlov, Nature
Such paediatric hospitalizations might seem concerning, but estimates show that the individual risk of a child with Omicron being hospitalized is, in fact, lower — by one-third to one-half — than it was when the Delta variant was dominant.
Feb 4: “The C.D.C. Add Wastewater Data to Its Covid-19 Tracker” by Emily Anthes, New York Times
More than a year after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established its National Wastewater Surveillance System, the agency added wastewater data to its Covid-19 data tracker on Friday [February 4], providing a quick glimpse of whether the levels of coronavirus are rising or falling in hundreds of communities across the country.
Feb 4: “Lockdowns Only Reduced COVID-19 Death Rate by 0.2%, Study Finds: ‘Lockdowns Should be Rejected Out of Hand’” by Paul Best, Fox News
Lockdowns during the first COVID-19 wave in the spring of 2020 only reduced COVID-19 mortality by .2% in the U.S. and Europe, according to a Johns Hopkins University meta-analysis of several studies.
Feb 7: “The Kids’ Vaccine Dilemma” by Caitlin Owens, Axios
Federal health regulators will soon face their next controversial vaccine decision: whether to authorize Pfizer’s vaccine for children younger than 5, despite ongoing questions around dosing and effectiveness.
Feb 7: “An Omicron Subvariant Gains in Europe, But Is Unlikely to Alter the Picture Very Much, Experts Say” by Ron DePasquale, New York Times
For now, scientists are not expecting the subvariant, known as BA.2, to do significantly more damage than the version of Omicron that remains dominant in the rest of the world, BA.1. But they are concerned that BA.2 could extend the global Omicron surge, because it seems to be even more infectious than BA.1, which was already extremely contagious.
Feb 7: “Two Years After His Death, the Chinese Doctor Who Warned of the Virus Is Remembered” by Joy Dong, New York Times
Two years after the death of Li Wenliang, the doctor who tried to warn China about the coronavirus only to succumb to it himself, his memory remains a source of equal parts grief, anger and hope for many Chinese.
Feb 8: “Evidence Builds That U.S. Omicron Wave Is Waning as Cases Fall” by Denise Roland and Stephen Fidler, Wall Street Journal
Evidence mounted that the Covid-19 wave driven by the Omicron variant is waning in the U.S. as a downturn in cases and hospitalizations continued over the weekend and deaths of people diagnosed with the disease appear to have stopped climbing.
Feb 9: “Hospitals Are Relying More on Expensive Travel Nurses in a Cycle That Has No End in Sight” by Marin Wolf, Dallas Morning News
Hospitals are relying more and more on expensive travel nurse agencies to fix staffing shortages, an issue that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Feb 9: “New COVID Surge Batters Afghanistan’s Crumbling Health Care” by Kathy Gannon, Associated Press
Only five hospitals in Afghanistan still offer COVID-19 treatment, with 33 others having been forced to close in recent months for lack of doctors, medicines and even heat. This comes as the economically devastated nation is hit by a steep rise in the number of reported coronavirus cases.
Feb 10: “Covid-19 Pandemic Led to Smaller-Than-Expected Baby Bust, New Data Suggest” by Janet Adamy and Anthony DeBarros, Wall Street Journal
The new births data, released Monday along with final data for 2020, show the pandemic has had a more muted impact on childbearing than expected.
Feb 10: “America Is Removing Its Masks…Again” by Tina Reed, Axios
Ready or not, states across the U.S. have begun another great unmasking as they prepare to enter the post-Omicron phase of the pandemic.
Feb 10: “COVID Increases Risk of Pregnancy Complications, Study Says” by Ralph Ellis, WebMD, re-posted on Medscape
Women infected with COVID-19 have a higher chance of complications during pregnancy than women who are not infected, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health says.
Feb 10: “Unlocking the Mystery of the ‘Never COVID’ Cohort” by Eileen Drage O’Reilly, Axios
Some people don’t get COVID despite being exposed to the virus — a mystery researchers are trying to unravel.
Feb 10: “Heart-Disease Risk Soars After COVID—Even with a Mild Case” by Saima May Sidik, Nature
Even a mild case of COVID-19 can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular problems for at least a year after diagnosis, a new study shows.
Feb 10: “Novavax Says Protein Vaccine Works for Kids as Young as 12” Associated Press
Novavax announced Thursday that its COVID-19 vaccine proved safe and effective in a study of 12- to 17-year-olds.
Feb 11: “Coronavirus Can Destroy the Placenta and Lead to Stillbirth” by Lindsey Tanner, Associated Press
New research suggests the coronavirus can invade and destroy the placenta and lead to stillbirths in infected women. It’s an uncommon outcome for any pregnancy but women with COVID-19 face an elevated risk.
Feb 11: “They Lived in a Pandemic Bubble. Now Covid Has Arrived” by Grace Browne, Wired
Surrounded by the sheer expanse of the world’s biggest ocean, many Pacific island nations were among the last parts of the world untouched by Covid-19.
Feb 14: “The F.D.A. Delays Action on Covid Shots for Young Children” by Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland, New York Times
In a striking reversal, federal regulators said on Friday that they would wait for data on whether three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine are effective in children younger than 5 before deciding whether to authorize a vaccine for the age group.
Feb 14: “Hong Kong ‘Overwhelmed’ as COVID Infections Hit Record” by Farah Master and Twinnie Siu, Reuters
The latest wave of COVID-19 infections has ‘overwhelmed’ Hong Kong, the city’s leader said on Monday [February 14] as daily cases surged by some 20 times over the past two weeks, leaving hospitals short of beds and struggling to cope.
Feb 14: “CDC: COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness Wanes After Four Months” by Natalia Mesa, The Scientist
Booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines protected against hospitalization during this winter’s Omicron surge, but lose a substantial amount of effectiveness after about four months, according to a new study published Friday (February 11) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Feb 15: “Pandemic Hit Poor and Minority Americans Harder” by Linda Carroll, Reuters, re-posted on Medscape
The wellbeing of minority and poor families in the U.S. took harder hits during the pandemic in the realms of financial worry, food insecurity, family routines, child sleep, and child health access, a new study finds.
Feb 15: “U.S. ‘Excess Deaths’ During Pandemic Surpassed 1 Million, with Covid Killing Most But Other Diseases Adding to the Toll, CDC Says” by Joel Achenbach, Washington Post
The United States has recorded more than 1 million “excess deaths” since the start of the pandemic, government mortality statistics show, a toll that exceeds the officially documented lethality of the coronavirus and captures the broad consequences of the health crisis that has entered its third year.
Feb 16: “WHO: New COVID Cases Drop by 19% Globally, Deaths Stable” Associated Press
The number of new coronavirus cases globally fell by 19% in the last week while the number of deaths remained stable, according to the World Health Organization.
Feb 17: “Estimated 73% of US Now Immune to Omicron: Is That Enough?” by Carla K. Johnson, Associated Press
The omicron wave that assaulted the United States this winter also bolstered its defenses, leaving enough protection against the coronavirus that future spikes will likely require much less — if any — dramatic disruption to society.
Feb 17: “California Adopts Nation’s First ‘Endemic’ Virus Policy” by Don Thompson, ABC News
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced the first shift by a state to an “endemic” approach to the coronavirus pandemic that emphasizes prevention and quick reactions to outbreaks over mandates, a milestone nearly two years in the making that harkens to a return to a more normal existence.
Feb 18: “As Omicron Surged, Non-Covid-19 Patients Contracted Virus in Hospitals in Higher Numbers” by Melanie Evans, Wall Street Journal
As the Omicron variant surged through communities across the U.S., it also spread inside hospitals and infected non-Covid-19 patients, reaching a record number, a Wall Street Journal analysis of U.S. government data found.
Feb 18: “Vaccination Reduces Chance of Getting Long COVID, Studies Say” by Carolyn Crist, WebMD, re-posted on Medscape
Vaccination against COVID-19 reduces the risk of developing long COVID and improves long COVID symptoms among those who were unvaccinated when infected, according to a new comprehensive review by the U.K. Health Security Agency.
Feb 18: “Six African Countries to Receive mRNA Vaccine Technology” by Samuel Petrequin, ABC News
The first African countries selected to receive the technology necessary to produce mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 are Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia, a summit meeting of European Union and African Union nations heard on Friday [February 18].
Feb 22: “The Science Behind Why Children Fare Better with Covid-19” by Sarah Toy, Wall Street Journal
Children’s seeming imperviousness to Covid-19’s worst effects has been one of the biggest mysteries—and reliefs—of the pandemic. Now the reasons are coming into focus, scientists say: Children mobilize a first line of defense known as the innate immune system more effectively than adults.
Feb 22: “Omicron Variant No More Severe Than Original Strain: WHO” AFP, re-posted on Medical Xpress
The BA.2 variant of the Omicron coronavirus strain is not more severe than the original, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday [February 22].
Feb 22: “Doctors Find Limited Use for Less Effective COVID Pill” by Pien Huang, NPR
If you’re just getting sick with COVID-19, and you’re at high risk for severe disease, there are two kinds of pills – scattered across pharmacies in the U.S. – that could help prevent you from getting worse. But doctors say the two pills are not equal.
Feb 23: “WHO Works to Spread COVID Vaccine Technology to More Nations” Associated Press
The World Health Organization is creating a global training center to help poorer countries make vaccines, antibodies and cancer treatments using the messenger RNA technology that has successfully been used to make COVID-19 vaccines.
Feb 23: “CDC: Some People Should Wait Longer for 2nd COVID Shot” by Mike Stobbe, Associated Press
Some people getting Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should consider waiting up to eight weeks between the first and second doses, instead of the three or four weeks previously recommended, U.S. health officials said.
Feb 23: “Rise in Non-Covid-19 Deaths Hit Life Insurers” by Leslie Scism, Wall Street Journal
U.S. life insurers, as expected, made a large number of Covid-19 death-benefit payouts last year. More surprisingly, many saw a jump in other death claims, too.
Feb 23: “Sanofi and GSK to Seek Authorization for COVID Vaccine” by Oriana Gonzalez, Axios
Sanofi and GSK on Wednesday said that their coronavirus vaccine has a 100% efficacy against severe infection and hospitalization in a phase 3 clinical trial.
Feb 23: “Fast-Spreading Covid-19 Omicron Type Revives Questions About Opening Up” by Peter Landers and Miho Inada, Wall Street Journal
A more infectious type of the Omicron variant has surged to account for more than a third of global Covid-19 cases sequenced recently, adding to the debate about whether countries are ready for full reopening.
Feb 24: “Mask Mandates Ending in All But One State” by Carolyn Crist, WebMD, re-posted on Medscape
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline across the U.S., all states but one — Hawaii — have dropped their mask mandates or have announced plans to do so in coming weeks.
Feb 24: “Canada Authorizes First Plant-Based COVID-19 Vaccine” Associated Press
Canada has become the first country to authorize use of a plant-based COVID-19 vaccine.
Feb 25: “Children and COVID: The Omicron Surge Has Become a Retreat” by Richard Franki, Medscape
The Omicron decline continued for a fourth consecutive week as new cases of COVID-19 in children fell by 42% from the week before, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
Feb 25: “CDC to Significantly Ease Pandemic Mask Guidelines Friday” by Zeke Miller, Associated Press
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday will announce a change to the metrics it uses to determine whether to recommend face coverings, shifting from looking at COVID-19 case counts to a more holistic view of risk from the coronavirus to a community.
Feb 25: “Another Casualty of Russia’s Invasion: Ukraine’s Ability to Contain the Coronavirus” by Adeel Hassan, New York Times
While Ukraine is under attack by Russia, Ukraine’s civilian population is also under siege from the coronavirus, a situation only likely to worsen.
Feb 28: “Five Million Children Have Lost a Caregiver to COVID-19” by Roxanne Nelson, Medscape
By Oct. 31, 2021, more than 5 million people worldwide had died from COVID-19, and about 5.2 million children had lost a parent or caregiver, according to new research published in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.
Feb 28: “Pfizer Covid Vaccine Is Less Effective in Kids 5 to 11, Study Finds” by Helen Branswell, STAT News
Newly emerging data suggest the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine works substantially less well at preventing infection and hospitalizations in children aged 5 to 11 than it does in those aged 12 to 17 — a finding that is raising questions about whether the companies chose the wrong dose for the younger children.