What We’re Reading: CDC Warns About COVID-19 Delta Variant; Regeneron Antibody Results; STD Rates Soar

The CDC classifies the COVID-19 Delta variant a “variant of concern”; results from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals show positive survival benefits in antibody-naïve patients hospitalized because of COVID-19; sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) reach new record levels in the United States.

Delta Variant a “Variant of Concern,” CDC Says

Due to its rapid spread and ability to elude certain antibody treatments, yesterday the CDC deemed the COVID-19 Delta variant a “variant of concern,” reports The New York Times. In the United States, cases from the variant have been doubling every 2 weeks, and on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson enacted a 4-week extension on England’s lockdown after a similar spike in cases related to the variant. Of additional concern in England are the low levels of COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness: The Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca Vaccines have been shown to be just 33% effective against the Delta variant. The CDC’s move follows similar moves from Public Health England and the World Health Organization, which classified Delta as a variant of concern in April and May, respectively.

Regeneron’s REGEN-COV Shown to Reduce Mortality Risk

REGEN-COV, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ antibody treatment against COVID-19 currently being tested in a UK clinical trial, has been shown to reduce mortality risk by 20% among patients hospitalized because of COVID-19, reports The Wall Street Journal. However, this result was seen only among the close to 10,000 participants who had not already developed antibodies against COVID-19 when REGEN-COV was administered in addition to usual care with dexamethasone. REGEN-COV is a combination of 2 monoclonal antibodies, casirivimab and imdevimab, and could result in a 4-week reduction in deaths by 6 for every 100 patients, according to Bloomberg.

Alarming STDs Levels Seen in the United States

In 2019, the latest year for which CDC data on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are available, cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis totaled more than 2.5 million, signifying new record highs for the sixth year in a row, reports USA Today. Compared with White individuals, STD rates were higher in Hispanic and Latino (1- to 2-fold); American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander (3- to 5-fold); and Black (5- to 8-fold) individuals. These new totals also mark close to a 79% increase from the 1.4 million cases seen in 2014. Breaking each down, chlamydia had the most new cases, at 1,808,703; gonorrhea had 616,392; and syphilis and congenital syphilis, 38,992.