What We're Reading: COVID-19 Third-Leading Cause of Death in US; FDA Flags Faulty Coronavirus Test; Pediatric Eye Care

August 18, 2020

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is now the third-leading cause of death in the United States; the FDA issued an alert for a COVID-19 test; promoting pediatric eye care as schools go virtual.

COVID-19 Third Leading Cause of Death in US

According to The Hill, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is now the third-leading cause of death in the United States, with approximately 170,434 attributed deaths. Behind only heart disease and cancer, COVID-19 is now a greater cause of death than lung disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer disease. Extending to more than 5.4 million cases nationwide, and an average of more than 1000 deaths per day, the rate of death due to COVID-19 has been indicated as 8 times more likely in the United States than in Europe. Furthermore, potential cases may be understated as testing has fallen by an average of 68,000 per day, with 15 states conducting fewer tests than last week.

Widely Used Coronavirus Test Flagged by FDA for Accuracy Issue

Yesterday, the FDA issued an alert to doctors and laboratory technicians using Thermo Fisher’s TaqPath genetic test as it has been linked with potential accuracy issues that may lead to false results for patients. Reported by The Associated Press, regulators said the cause of the inaccuracies were the laboratory equipment and the software used to run the test, which have since been updated to ensure accurate results. The FDA did not provide further details on how many test results have been affected by the issue.

Pediatric Eye Care Amid COVID-19

As school districts nationwide employ fully remote or hybrid learning models amid the COVID-19 pandemic, children may be at greater risk of eye strain, fatigue, and headaches due to increased screen-based instruction. The New York Times reported that myopia in children, also known as nearsightedness, has been on the rise potentially due to screen usage. To combat these risks, a pediatric ophthalmologist recommends keeping devices about 2 feet away and at eye level. Beyond regular breaks in screen usage, a position suggested to be an acceptable working distance entails children placing an elbow on the table, resting their head on that hand, and ultimately lifting their elbow to touch the screen.