HomeHealthCOVID after the emergency: How the pandemic response developed in 2023 :...

COVID after the emergency: How the pandemic response developed in 2023 : Photographs

COVID after the emergency: How the pandemic response developed in 2023 : Photographs


Specialists say the brand new COVID boosters are a a lot nearer match to at present circulating variants than prior vaccines and boosters.

Frederick J. Brown/AFP by way of Getty Photos


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Frederick J. Brown/AFP by way of Getty Photos


Specialists say the brand new COVID boosters are a a lot nearer match to at present circulating variants than prior vaccines and boosters.

Frederick J. Brown/AFP by way of Getty Photos

In spring 2023, COVID hospitalizations and deaths hit their lowest ranges for the reason that begin of the pandemic. Masks got here off and faculties and a few workplaces have been again in individual. The nation emerged from the three-year COVID nightmare – and entered a tentative, new regular.

And with the official finish of the federal public well being emergency in Might, the U.S. well being care system reverted to the way in which it normally works: Individuals’s medical insurance, or lack of it, as soon as once more dictates their entry to COVID-related exams, vaccines and shortly – in 2024 – to remedies.

“Our well being care system has well-known and documented disparities,” says Dr. Mandy Cohen, who took the helm of the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention in July. “So once we return to the ‘regular course of enterprise,’ it does not make for the equitable distribution of issues.”

Whereas business-as-usual resumed for a lot of, the nation was completely modified in blatant and delicate methods which might be nonetheless shaking out. Listed below are tales on the COVID beat from NPR’s well being reporters that present a few of the classes realized – and never realized — because the pandemic developed in 2023.

From left to proper: Lengthy COVID sufferers Linda Rosenthal, Julia Landis and Shelby Hedgecock proceed to undergo from extreme signs.

Courtesy of Linda Rosenthal, Julia Landis and Shelby Hedgecock


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Courtesy of Linda Rosenthal, Julia Landis and Shelby Hedgecock


From left to proper: Lengthy COVID sufferers Linda Rosenthal, Julia Landis and Shelby Hedgecock proceed to undergo from extreme signs.

Courtesy of Linda Rosenthal, Julia Landis and Shelby Hedgecock

As ‘regular life’ returned, some felt left behind

For a lot of, college and work and social lives and journey resumed freely. For some – dwelling with compromised immune programs or lengthy COVID or grief – the world appeared to surge forward with out contemplating them. As the general public well being emergency ended, youngsters mirrored on misplaced dad and mom, nurses remembered misplaced colleagues and people grappled with how their well being, careers, households, society and lives have been ceaselessly modified.

Sufferers and advocates for folks affected by lengthy COVID and myalgic encephalomyelitis/continual fatigue syndrome hosted an set up of 300 cots in entrance of the Washington Monument on the Nationwide Mall in Washington, D.C., in Might, to symbolize the hundreds of thousands of individuals affected by post-infectious illness.

Andrew Harnik/AP


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Andrew Harnik/AP


Sufferers and advocates for folks affected by lengthy COVID and myalgic encephalomyelitis/continual fatigue syndrome hosted an set up of 300 cots in entrance of the Washington Monument on the Nationwide Mall in Washington, D.C., in Might, to symbolize the hundreds of thousands of individuals affected by post-infectious illness.

Andrew Harnik/AP

Scientists deal with the mysteries of lengthy COVID

For the hundreds of thousands of individuals within the U.S. dwelling with lengthy COVID signs reminiscent of mind fog, poor sleep and ache, higher understanding of the illness and coverings cannot come quickly sufficient. In 2023, researchers made headway in discerning in detangling theories about what could possibly be inflicting lengthy COVID — reminiscent of lingering viral reservoirs and errant immune cells – however there are nonetheless no confirmed cures.

A brand new COVID vaccine technique may assist — if solely folks would listen

Up to date COVID vaccines got here to U.S. shoppers this fall, promising higher safety towards current variants. And there was new messaging too: Get an annual COVID boosters alongside along with your flu shot each fall. However anticipated “excessive demand” didn’t materialize. By mid-December, fewer than 20% of US adults had gotten the up to date shot, and the CDC warned of a potential surge in severe sickness if vaccination protection fails to enhance.

A sewage therapy plant in Norfolk, Va., is without doubt one of the websites the place staff acquire wastewater samples to check for COVID developments within the close by group.

Meredith Rizzo/NPR


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Meredith Rizzo/NPR


A sewage therapy plant in Norfolk, Va., is without doubt one of the websites the place staff acquire wastewater samples to check for COVID developments within the close by group.

Meredith Rizzo/NPR

A giant shift in amassing COVID information — from case counts to monitoring poop

Earlier this yr, the CDC stopped amassing information on new infections (as in constructive exams) – relying as a substitute on COVID hospitalizations, deaths and, more and more, on wastewater surveillance – a community arrange through the pandemic to commonly take a look at sewage samples from across the nation. The surveillance community has expanded past COVID to trace flu, RSV, norovirus and different well being threats which might be detectable in human waste.

The nation’s different well being issues grew through the pandemic

It wasn’t simply COVID – the information got here on this yr exhibiting how the pandemic exacerbated different public well being and medical issues. For a lot of, psychological well being suffered and folks turned to medicine and exhausting ingesting to deal with grief and isolation. Kids missed beneficial vaccines. Weight problems charges rose. The U.S. inhabitants emerged from the general public well being emergency with a shorter life expectancy than earlier than – indicating that the well being of the nation faces a protracted restoration.

A employee inspects disposable gloves at a manufacturing facility in Malaysia, a rustic that has been the highest provider of medical gloves to the U. S. and which is dealing with growing competitors from China.

MOHD RASFAN/AFP by way of Getty Photos


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MOHD RASFAN/AFP by way of Getty Photos


A employee inspects disposable gloves at a manufacturing facility in Malaysia, a rustic that has been the highest provider of medical gloves to the U. S. and which is dealing with growing competitors from China.

MOHD RASFAN/AFP by way of Getty Photos

We did not study our lesson about PPE

Who’s serious about the following pandemic? A number of devoted public well being professionals are combating to make everlasting adjustments they are saying would assist make the nation extra ready for the following main menace. However within the boom-and-bust cycle of funding for public well being, the nation’s post-emergency curiosity is on the downswing. One legacy is a U.S. panorama affected by empty rubber glove factories, which obtained greater than $290 million in public funds to bolster the availability chain for private protecting tools, solely to be left half-built within the lurch.



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