Opinion

ICYMI articles featuring 9 important developments of the past year – and COVID is still here


 

We can’t affect most of the world’s big problems, but we can continue to do what pediatric providers have always done well – share the best science-based knowledge with families and be strong vaccine advocates.

You can read about some new aspects of science-based 2021-2022 data in this digital issue. For example, there are newer international data on the longer-acting and more effective anti-RSV monoclonal antibody nirsevimab, which may soon replace palivizumab. Closer to home, check out the article on lower antibody concentrations in infants related to the number and class of antibiotics that they had received. Measles outbreaks in areas of the world with the lowest measles vaccine uptake will likely produce more imported measles in the United States. If you have never heard of Lone-star virus, an article tells us it occurs mostly in Southern and Atlantic coastal regions; no specific treatment exists, but it is now in the differential diagnosis for endemic tick-borne febrile infections.

Dr. Christopher J. Harrison is professor of pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Kansas City, Mo.

Dr. Christopher J. Harrison

A bit of good news is the World Health Organization recommending a shorter course of treatment for pediatric tuberculosis. Pediatric TB has a long history of poor treatment adherence, so shorter, simpler regimens are certainly welcome. And finally, prospects for a norovirus vaccine are looking brighter with new approaches generating mucosal antibodies – a key in protection against gastrointestinal infections.

Again, no articles in this digital supplement feature SARS-CoV-2 this year, but a summer surge continues because of third-generation Omicron viruses BA.4/BA.5. The surge exists because the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is being underutilized; plus BA.4/BA.5 is the most contagious variant yet.

A major reason deaths are not surging is COVID-19 vaccines. Having multiple vaccines authorized within 9 months of SARS-CoV-2 hitting U.S. shores is amazing despite the hiccups and politicization that accompanied implementation. Each vaccine more than met the original goal: greater than or equal to 50% effectiveness with an acceptable adverse effect profile. In the United States, two mRMA-vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) are now authorized for use down to 6 months of age; Novavax’s more traditional protein-based vaccine was more recently given an emergency use authorization for those 18 years and older. Ongoing trials indicate that Omicron-based mRNA vaccines are highly immunogenic and safe even if blended with the original strain vaccine. Fall boosters will have an Omicron component. We need to immunize and boost enough folks so that SARS-CoV-2 variants arise infrequently, allowing high-risk persons to be able to go out in public without masks.

Dr. Harrison is professor, University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine, department of medicine, infectious diseases section. He has no conflicts of interest.

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