Make your home page

New COVID strain could be on horizon

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sounded an alarm on an emerging, drug-resistant fungus found in health care facilities, including ones in Indiana.

News 8 asked WISH-TV medical expert and former U.S. surgeon general Dr. Jerome Adams to share more information about the fungus named Candida auris.

“The CDC is calling Candida auris an urgent threat after a new study showed it’s been spreading at an alarming rate throughout U.S. health care facilities. The first-ever case in the U.S. was detected in 2015 and, unfortunately, we’ve seen a 300% increase in infections in the last two years, with Indiana reporting 87 cases last year.”

The fungus can invade the blood, heart and brain. Adams says more than 1 in 3 patients have died from the infection. 

“This new fungus, as you mentioned, is not only resistant to many antifungal medications, but it’s difficult to identify without specialized laboratory equipment, and, so, it’s often mistaken for other infections.”

China’s sudden exit from zero-COVID measures

A new report from The Associated Press shows China’s scrapping of its zero-COVID measures in December led hundreds of thousands of deaths, which could have been avoided if the country had an exit plan.

Adams said, “It’s important to remember China long held back COVID cases more so than the rest of the world. But, they did it with extremely severe prevention measures as part of their zero-COVID policy. The Chinese residents eventually and strongly pushed back against those policies, and Chinese officials relented and relaxed most of their mitigation measures. Unfortunately, we saw that this coincided with a massive increase in cases and deaths, and most scientists believe it was the rapid transition from very restrictive measures to almost no measures at all, with no clear plan for doing so safely, that led to trouble.”

The doctor also notes China was under-vaccinated, didn’t have enough antiviral treatments on hand, and didn’t have adequate health care capacity to deal with a surge.

New COVID variant emerging

In 14 days, India has seen a 281% jump in COVID-19 cases. Adams says it’s due to variant XBB 1.16.

“India had actually been doing extremely well with the virus, with less than 1,000 cases reported today as recently as last week.”

Scientists in India say XBB 1.16 is the most contagious COVID-19 variant they’ve encountered So far. 

“Unfortunately, we just don’t know yet if it’s going to prove to be more likely to cause illness than prior variants,” Adams said. “But, we’re watching closely, other than needing a different name to refer to that because that’s far too long.”

The doctor advised that, historically, new variants have generally emerged in the United Kingdom before their arrival from 4-6 weeks later in the United States.

Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.