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  • Writer's pictureBy Joyce McClure

DPHSS: Covid likely to remain No. 3 among leading causes of death

Covid will remain in third place on the list of leading causes of death in 2021 and in the next two years, Dr. Ann Pobutsky, territorial epidemiologist, reported at a press conference today.

In first place was heart disease and second place was malignant neoplasms, or cancer.

Covid replaced cerebrovascular disease, or stroke, in the number three slot last year.

Of those who were dead on arrival at the hospital, 52 percent were due to cardiac arrest, Pobutsky said.

However, due to comorbidities like underlying heart disease or uncontrolled hypertension, most DOAs did not know they had Covid and had not been vaccinated, said Pobutsky.

The majority of breakthrough cases, meaning those who have been vaccinated and test positive for Covid, represent 45 percent of cases every day.

Of the 12.3 percent who died, all were elderly or had multiple comorbidities. There has been an uptick in the last three days in the 60 to 74 age group, she noted.

With a total of 15,789 reported cases and 159 deaths to date in Guam, an average of 1,100 tests are being conducted daily, or about 1 percent of the population.

The test positivity rate is continuing to fluctuate at around 13 percent with the seven-day rolling average at around 130 during the past two weeks.

On Oct. 5, more than 160 individuals tested positive. The CAR score is continuing to fluctuate in the high 20s.

The virus will not be deemed contained until there are fewer than 25 cases per day, said Pobutsky.

Although all age groups are showing a decrease in cases, working-age parents show the highest number of cases since they have the greatest chance of exposure to the virus, said Pobutsky.

They often transmit Covid into the home where children and the elderly reside. Most school-age children who test positive are on the receiving end of Covid in their households as opposed to school.

Asked about the difference between the Pfizer booster and the third shot of Moderna, Dr. Annette David, DPHSS consultant, explained that in the case of individuals with compromised immune systems due to preexisting conditions such as cancer, autoimmune syndrome or taking autoimmune suppressant drugs, a third shot can help improve their immune response to the virus.

On the other hand, the booster shot is for those who have been fully vaccinated for several months during which the body’s antibodies begin to decrease. The booster helps accelerate, or raise, antibodies while the pandemic continues to proliferate in the community.

There is currently only a booster available for the Pfizer vaccine; there is none available yet for the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, although both have submitted requests to the FDA for emergency use authorization of their booster shots.

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