What We're Reading: COVID-19 Wastewater Monitoring; Vaccine Dose Intervals; Urban Air Pollution

The CDC's wastewater monitoring program will soon begin evaluating more water samples for COVID-19; vaccine guidance changes for individuals who are immunocompromised may be forthcoming; exposure to air pollution levels vastly greater than that advised by World Health Organization guidelines.

CDC Enhancing Wastewater Monitoring Program to Track COVID-19

The CDC announced on Friday, February 4, that it will begin examining water samples from hundreds of nationwide wastewater treatment sites to detect and track the presence of COVID-19. Reported by CBS News, the data would be published in the CDC COVID Data Tracker, which allows people to view virus level changes in the wastewater of participating communities over the past 15 days, with daily updates. With the potential to detect infection among individuals regardless of symptomatic disease status highlighted, limitations also were noted for communities free of the virus and those with minimal or no sewer infrastructure.

Time Between Vaccine Doses For Immunocompromised Individuals

Fox News reports that the CDC is considering new changes to vaccine guidance for immunocompromised individuals based on the amount of time between doses. As a way to lower the risk of heart inflammation in this group, which is the only US population advised to get 4 doses, a panel of outside advisors discussed with the agency the changes that would affect recipients 18 and older who received the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Evidence has shown that an extended interval between vaccines appears to reduce risk of myocarditis, the rare adverse effect appearing most common in young men.

2.5 Billion People Worldwide Exposed to Unsafe Air Pollution Levels

As reported by The Washington Post, a recent study published in The Lancet Planetary Health indicates that 2.5 billion people living in urban communities are being exposed to air pollution levels nearly 7 times greater than limits proposed by World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. With 86% of all people worldwide living in urban areas, the findings associated 1.8 million deaths in 2019 with these unhealthy levels of air pollution, namely particulate matter (PM) 2.5. Authors estimated that about one-third of deaths related to PM could have been avoided if cities had met the WHO guidelines.