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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Only about 2% of college athletes who recovered from COVID-19 were later diagnosed with myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, according to a new study published Thursday in JAMA Cardiology.

Why it matters: The study, with some of the most comprehensive data yet on the cardiac condition connected to COVID-19, reveals its prevalence is less than previously recorded.

  • Exercising with myocarditis can increase the risk of cardiac arrest and sudden death among athletes and young people.

The big picture: The complication and its unknown long-term effects contributed to Big Ten and other intercollegiate conferences' postponed seasons last fall.

  • The incidence of sudden cardiac death in college athletes has been estimated at one per 50,000 per year.

Details: Close to 40 of the 1,597 athletes who tested positive for the virus and had a cardiac evaluation were found to have clinical myocarditis or subclinical myocarditis, the study shows.

  • Nine athletes were symptomatic, with most experiencing chest pain and some with heart palpitations.
  • The study found MRIs were much more effective at detecting inflammation of the heart than symptom-based testing.

Be smart: People who had COVID-19 and no initial symptoms of chest pain or palpitations can partake in physical activity as long as they "take it more slowly," Curt Daniels, a cardiologist and professor at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center who led a team of 30 researchers on the study, tells Axios.

  • "We do think exercise is safe after COVID," he said. "You should slowly increase your activity in exercise and make sure you don’t have symptoms as you go back."
  • One factor researchers are still uncertain of is the length of time someone who develops myocarditis needs to recover, Daniels said.

The study also exposed an overall COVID-19 positivity rate of about 30% among Big Ten schools’ athletes. Rates varied by school from 13% at one to nearly 50% at another.

  • From last March to December, 13 Big Ten schools participated in the study, which showed 2,810 athletes tested positive for COVID-19.

Separately, another study released earlier this month showed college athletes that recovered from heart abnormalities after testing positive for COVID-19 had no heart damage or inflammation.

Go deeper

Sep 2, 2021 - Health

Israeli coronavirus vaccine booster data gives the U.S. hope

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Preliminary Israeli data shows that coronavirus booster shots quickly spike a person's protection against both severe disease and infection, suggesting that the additional shots could help blunt the virus' spread in the U.S. — although it's very unclear how much.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has said that the main rationale for its booster push is to stay ahead of any waning of the vaccines' effectiveness against severe disease. But slowing the spread of the Delta variant would be a welcome bonus.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
Sep 2, 2021 - Health

Fauci: Mu COVID variant not an "immediate threat" to U.S.

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said at a press briefing Thursday that the coronavirus variant Mu, which the World Health Organization is now tracking, does not pose an immediate threat to the U.S.

Driving the news: WHO added the Mu strain, first detected in Colombia in January, to its "Variants of Interest" list Monday, warning that early data suggest it may be more resistant to protection from prior infection or vaccination.