What We're Reading: Labs Struggle With Testing Demand; Efficacy of COVID-19 Antibodies; Opioid Overdoses Amid Pandemic

July 23, 2020

Labs nationwide are struggling to meet the processing demands of surging coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests, causing long delays; levels of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, were found to drop dramatically across the first 3 months of infection; suspected opioid-related overdoses have more than doubled in Wisconsin amid the pandemic.

US Labs Struggling Amid Testing Demand

Reported by The Associated Press, labs nationwide are struggling to meet the processing demands of surging coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests, causing long delays that experts note is affecting the pandemic response. As of Wednesday, the number of confirmed US COVID-19 cases has approached nearly 4 million, with states such as California and Florida experiencing all-time highs in daily case tolls. These surges have caused significant workloads for US labs, which can cause testing result lags of up to 2 weeks.

COVID-19 Antibodies Found to Decay Quickly After Mild Illness

In findings from a research letter published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, levels of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, dropped dramatically across the first 3 months of infection. Reported by CIDRAP, those examined experienced mild illness, with antibody levels indicated to decrease by about half every 73 days. At this rate, researchers note that antibody resistance would be depleted within a year. However, experts in a separate article published in The New York Times note that the possibility of being infected again with COVID-19 is very unlikely, although the long-term possibility is still unknown.

Opioid Overdoses More Than Double in Wisconsin Amid Pandemic

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been more than double as many suspected opioid-related overdoses in Wisconsin compared with last year, which health officials say can be potentially attributed to growing feelings of stress and isolation. Reported by The Associated Press, there have been 325 suspected overdoses from March through July 13 compared with 150 during this time frame last year, according to preliminary figures of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS). DHS officials additionally highlighted that their analysis of calls to 211 Wisconsin, a state help line, has identified the pandemic, housing, mental health, and addiction as the top 4 concerns.