Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
Things continue to improve in the world of COVID-19. Even Japan, which recorded a sharp increase in cases after opening up the economy, is now showing a steep decline in cases. The news locally also is good, though we are keeping an eye on the wastewater surveillance in Houston. The level of virus has plateaued so in a few weeks I would expect the number of new cases to also plateau. This could be due to the emergence of the BA.4.6 variant which has increased to 9% of the variants. We will follow this trend in the next few weeks.
In this week’s video, I include some information on life expectancy, updates on monkeypox and polio and a reminder that flu season officially has begun.
Life expectancy has been increasing regularly since 1870. However, reports show that life expectancy in the United States has fallen to 76 years, from nearly 79 years in 2019. This is the steepest decline in almost a century. What were the leading causes of death in these two years? COVID-19 was at the top of the list. Be sure to check out the graphics included.
Monkeypox cases are going down, but still are a concern in some areas. There are no FDA-approved treatments for monkeypox, though TPOXX (tecovirimat) is being made available through an expanded access program and a NIH clinical trial. The NIH opened a randomized, controlled clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of TPOXX for the treatment of monkeypox on Sept. 8. Smallpox vaccines are up to 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox. We have not vaccinated people against smallpox in 50 years, so nearly half of the current U.S. population does not have immunity to smallpox or, by extension, monkeypox. Two types of vaccines against smallpox and monkeypox are available today. More on ACAM2000 and JYNNEOS in the video.
New York declared a state disaster emergency with evidence of circulating poliovirus. Wastewater surveillance found poliovirus samples in five counties. There is evidence of expanding community spread. All samples are types of poliovirus that can cause paralysis in humans. Obviously, get vaccinated if you have not been.
And, last but very important, flu season is upon us. Get your flu vaccine as soon as possible. Baylor employees should go to the Baylor Flu Vaccine app for scheduling.
Happy Women in Medicine Week and a big shout out to President Masisi of Botswana, who visited this week!
Hope you have a great weekend.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO