COVID-19 Timeline: May 2022

October 4, 2022

At 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 May 2022 and were originally posted at 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.

May 2: “Shanghai COVID Outbreak Shows Signs of Waning as Cases Fall” Associated Press

The COVID-19 outbreak that has shut down most of Shanghai appears to be waning, with the number of new cases falling below 10,000 a day over the weekend. Authorities have begun a limited easing of a citywide lockdown that has disrupted the lives of millions of residents and dealt at least a temporary blow to China’s economy.

May 2: “Paxlovid’s Failure as a Preventative Measure Raises Questions, But Doctors Still Back It as a Therapeutic” by Matthew Herper, STAT News

Pfizer released news late Friday that Paxlovid, the antiviral currently subject to a big push from the U.S. government, failed to prevent people living with Covid patients from catching the infection. The news is one of several bad headlines for the new Covid pill, but one experts say doesn’t affect the medicine’s primary use: treating people who are already sick.

May 3: “U.S. CDC Says Travelers Should Still Wear Masks on Airplanes” by David Shepardson, Reuters

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday recommended travelers continue to wear masks in airplanes, trains and airports despite a judge’s April 18 order declaring the 14-month-old transportation mask mandate unlawful.

May 5: “WHO: Nearly 15 Million Deaths Associated with COVID-19” by Maria Cheng, Associated Press

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 15 million people were killed either by coronavirus or by its impact on overwhelmed health systems during the first two years of the pandemic, more than double the current official death toll of over 6 million.

May 5: “FDA: ‘No Evidence’ Second Pfizer COVID Pill Stops Repeat Symptoms, Contradicting CEO” by Herb Scribner, Axios

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official said Wednesday that there is “no evidence” that a second round of the Pfizer COVID pill Paxlovid will help patients who suffer a relapse in symptoms. Why it matters: The FDA’s comments contradict Pfizer chief executive officer Albert Bourla, who said patients experiencing COVID-19 symptoms after their first treatment can take more of the pill.

May 5: “FDA Limits Use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 Vaccine, Citing Clotting Risk” by Helen Branswell, STAT News

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday announced it was limiting access to Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine because of the risk of a clotting disorder that was discovered weeks after the vaccine was first put into use in the spring of 2021.

May 5: “Prisons Didn’t Prescribe Much Paxlovid or Other Covid-19 Treatments, Even When They Got the Drugs” by Nicholas Florko, STAT News

Federal prisons used just a fraction of the antiviral drugs they were allocated to keep incarcerated people from getting seriously ill or dying of Covid-19, according to new internal records from the Bureau of Prisons.

May 5: “CDC Tracked Millions of Phones to See If Americans Followed COVID Lockdown Orders” by Joseph Cox, VICE News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bought access to location data harvested from tens of millions of phones in the United States to perform analysis of compliance with curfews, track patterns of people visiting K-12 schools, and specifically monitor the effectiveness of policy in the Navajo Nation, according to CDC documents obtained by Motherboard. The documents also show that although the CDC used COVID-19 as a reason to buy access to the data more quickly, it intended to use it for more-general CDC purposes.

May 9: “Covid-19 Cases Rise in Parts of U.S. with High Vaccination Rates” by Jon Kamp and Arian Compo-Flores, Wall Street Journal

Some of the places that have avoided the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, including Puerto Rico and Northern New England states, are coping with elevated cases and hospitalizations as the latest highly contagious iterations of the virus circulate.

May 9: “’Like a Prison’: Shanghai, Beijing Ratchet Up COVID Restrictions” by Martin Quin Pollard and Brenda Goh, Reuters

“China’s two largest cities tightened COVID-19 curbs on Monday, fuelling public angst and even questions about the legality of its uncompromising battle with the virus that has battered the world’s second largest economy.”

May 9: “Rare Cases of COVID Returning Pose Questions for Pfizer Pill” by Matthew Perrone, Associated Press

As more doctors prescribe Pfizer’s powerful COVID-19 pill, new questions are emerging about its performance, including why a small number of patients appear to relapse after taking the drug.

May 10: “BioNTech Complete Phase II Trial of COVID-19 Vaccine in China” Reuters

Vaccine developer BioNTech completed a Phase II clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine in China in January but has yet to release its results, a registry of such trials showed on Tuesday [May 10].

May 10: “The ‘Five Pandemics’ Driving 1 Million U.S. Covid Deaths” by J. Emory Parker, STAT News

One way to start understanding how a country as advanced as the U.S. lost so many people is to look at the ocean of public health data that was gathered as 1 million individual tragedies rippled through civic life. Analysis of the data will continue for years, but it is clear that, when it comes to deadliness, there were five different pandemics — depending on when and where you lived, and who you were: Earlier vs. later, older vs. younger (but there’s fine print), unvaccinated vs. vaccinated, rural vs. urban, poorer vs. wealthier.

May 12: “South African Firm Says It May Close Its COVID Vaccine Plant” by Andrew Meldrum and Maria Cheng, Associated Press

The first factory to produce COVID-19 vaccines in Africa says it has not received enough orders and may stop production within weeks, in what a senior World Health Organization official described Thursday [May 12] as a “failure” in efforts to achieve vaccine equity.

May 13: “North Korea Says 6 Dead as Covid-19 Spread ‘Explosively’” by Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times

Health officials made the rare admission of an emerging public health crisis after the country reported its first outbreak of the virus — after long insisting it had no infections and refusing outside humanitarian aid to fight any spread.

May 13: “U.S. Factory Destroyed More Covid-19 Vaccine Doses Than Previously Thought, Lawmakers Say” by Liz Essley Whyte, Wall Street Journal

Hundreds of millions more doses of Covid-19 vaccines than previously disclosed were destroyed due to quality problems at Emergent BioSolutions Inc.’s Baltimore plant, according to a new report from Congress.

May 16: “South Africa in New Surge of COVID from Versions of Omicron” by Andrew Meldrum, Associated Press

South Africa is experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases driven by two omicron sub-variants, according to health experts.

May 16: “North Korea Covid-19 Surge Accelerates as Unvaccinated Population Keeps Working” by Alastair Gale, Wall Street Journal

Over 390,000 people came down with fever in the 24 hours through Sunday [May 15] evening, Pyongyang’s state media said, bringing the official total to over 1.2 million since the first fever cases were reported a week ago.

May 16: “India Wrangles with WHO Over COVID-19 Death Figures” SciDevNet

A WHO report, claiming that nearly a third of 15 million estimated global deaths from COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 occurred in India, is being hotly contested by the Indian government for its reliance on so-called “excess deaths” data.

May 16: “FDA Rejects Antidepressant Seen as Possible Covid-19 Treatment” by Jason Mast, STAT News

In an unusual two-page summary — the FDA does not generally disclose the reasoning behind rejections — regulators said that the doctors failed to provide adequate evidence of effectiveness of the drug, called fluvoxamine.

May 16: “’A Pretty Big Deal’: U.S. Makes COVID-19 Technologies Available for Use in Developing Countries” Science

The government cut a deal to provide the federally funded inventions with the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

May 17: “FDA Clears COVID Booster Shot for Healthy Kids Ages 5 to 11” by Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press

U.S. regulators on Tuesday [May 17] authorized a COVID-19 booster shot for healthy 5- to 11-year-olds, hoping an extra vaccine dose will enhance their protection as infections once again creep upward.

May 18: “Children and COVID: New Cases Up by 50%” by Richard Franki, Medscape

The latest increase in new child COVID-19 cases seems to be picking up steam, rising by 50% in the last week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

May 18: “FDA Greenlights Nonprescription Test for Covid, Flu and RSV” by Berkeley Lovelace, Jr., NBC News

It’s a question that’s plagued Americans since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic: Do I have Covid or the flu? It may be easier to answer soon: On Monday [May 16], the Food and Drug Administration authorized the first nonprescription test that can detect Covid, influenza A and B, as well as respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

May 19: “CDC Urges Pfizer Booster for Children Ages 5 to 11” by Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press

Kids ages 5 to 11 should get a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, advisers to the U.S. government said Thursday [May 19].

May 19: “WHO Clears China’s CanSino COVID Vaccine for Emergency Use” Associated Press

The World Health Organization said Thursday that it has granted an emergency use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine made by China’s CanSino Biologics, the 11th such shot to receive the green light.

May 19: “North Korea’s Suspected COVID-19 Caseload Nears 2 Million” by Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press

North Korea on Thursday reported 262,270 more suspected COVID-19 cases as its pandemic caseload neared 2 million — a week after the country acknowledged the outbreak and scrambled to slow infections in its unvaccinated population.

May 20: “Moderna Ready to Ship Covid-19 Shots for Young Children as Early as June, CEO Says” by Peter Loftus, Wall Street Journal

The Food and Drug Administration is planning to hold a meeting of outside advisers sometime in June to consider Moderna’s request for authorization of the use of its vaccine in children 6 months to 5 years old.

May 20: “Latest Covid-19 Wave Expands to More of U.S.” by Jon Kamp and Brianna Abbott, Wall Street Journal

Fueled by highly contagious versions of the Omicron variant, the tide is posing a test of how much new infections matter in a changing pandemic.

May 23: “Pfizer Says 3 COVID Shots Protect Children Under 5” by Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press

Three doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine offer strong protection for children younger than 5, the company announced Monday [May 23], another step toward shots for the littlest kids possibly beginning in early summer.

May 24: “China’s Bet on Homegrown mRNA Vaccines Holds Back Nation” by Huizhong Wu and Aniruddha Ghosal, Associated Press

As early as the spring of 2020 a Chinese pharmaceutical company, Fosun Pharma, reached an agreement to distribute — and eventually manufacture — the mRNA vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech. It still has not been cleared in mainland China, despite being authorized for use by separate authorities in Hong Kong and Macao.

May 24: “As Reports of ‘Paxlovid Rebound’ Increase, Covid Researchers Scramble for Answers” by Jason Mast, STAT News

Almost 90% effective at preventing hospitalizations from Covid-19, Pfizer’s antiviral pill has quickly become one of the most powerful additions to the pandemic arsenal since the advent of mRNA vaccines. But as it’s become more widely available, a growing number of people have found the drug only temporarily effective.

May 25: “Long COVID Affects More Older Adults; Shots Don’t Prevent It” by Lindsey Tanner, Associated Press

New U.S. research on long COVID-19 provides fresh evidence that it can happen even after breakthrough infections in vaccinated people, and that older adults face higher risks for the long-term effects.

May 25: “Pfizer to Sell Vaccines and Drugs at Lower Price in Poorer Countries” by Erin Doherty, Axios

Pfizer announced Wednesday [May 25] that it will sell its vaccines and medicines that are available in the U.S. or European Union at not-for-profit prices in some of the world’s poorest countries.

May 26: “Dominant Coronavirus Mutant Contains Ghost of Pandemic Past” by Laura Ungar, Associated Press

The coronavirus mutant that is now dominant in the United States is a member of the omicron family but scientists say it spreads faster than its omicron predecessors, is adept at escaping immunity and might possibly cause more serious disease. Why? Because it combines properties of both omicron and delta, the nation’s dominant variant in the middle of last year.

May 26: “Rhode Island to Open First Federally Backed COVID Site Providing Anti-Viral Pills” by Ivana Saric, Axios

The first federally backed “test to treat” site is slated to open in Rhode Island on Thursday, an initiative aimed at expanding access to COVID-19 anti-viral pills as virus cases are rising across the country.

May 27: “Long COVID Cures May Need to Go Beyond Vaccines” by Andriel Bettelheim and Caitlin Owens, Axios

New research casting doubt on vaccines’ ability to protect against “long COVID” suggests that as the virus itself becomes endemic, its lingering aftereffects aren’t going anywhere without new treatments or vaccines.

May 27: “Why a Massive New Covid Wave Has Escaped the Data” by Josh Zumbrun, Wall Street Journal

Today, there are abundant home tests that typically aren’t reported to health agencies, and thus never get included in case counts. State-run testing centers, which once fed case totals directly into the numbers, have been curtailed.

May 31: “Novavax (Finally) Prepares for Takeoff in the U.S.” by Tina Reed, Axios

As one of America’s first big bets under Operation Warp Speed, Novavax’s COVID vaccine is notably late to the party as the Maryland biotech seeks a potential FDA emergency use authorization for its COVID shot. But company leaders say they see a clear runway to market success for its protein-based product — not only as a booster for the vaccinated but as an alternative first-line defense for those who’ve refused mRNA shots.

May 31: “During the Omicron Wave, Death Rates Soured for Older People” by Benjamin Mueller and Eleanor Lutz, New York Times

Despite strong levels of vaccination among older people, Covid killed them at vastly higher rates during this winter’s Omicron wave than it did last year, preying on long delays since their last shots and the variant’s ability to skirt immune defenses.

May 31: “Faulty Oxygen Readings Delayed Covid Treatments for Darker-Skinned Patients, Study Finds” by Usha Lee McFarling, STAT News

Covid-19 care, including distribution of lifesaving therapies, was significantly delayed for Black and Hispanic patients due to inaccurate oxygen readings from devices that can work poorly in darker-skinned individuals, according to a study published Tuesday [May 31].

May 31: “Shanghai Ready to Exit Lockdown as Covid Cases Drop” by Rachel Liang, Shen Lu and Liyan Qi, Wall Street Journal

After four straight days with no Covid-19 deaths and with new cases at their lowest levels since early March, Shanghai is preparing to end more than two months of lockdowns.


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