Coronavirus and Avian Flu Tidbits #299, June 16, 2024

Announcements:

First, there is now a Resources Page here for the most commonly asked questions I'm getting.

Happy to continue to answer your questions/concerns as best I can, so don't be shy about that.

Special Fundraiser, fyi:

Don’t know how many of you know/remember Linda Tirado, aka “Killer Martinis,” a photojournalist and person who tried to take care of the downtrodden. She was shot in the eye at a George Floyd protest.

In addition to losing that eye, she apparently has had a progressive traumatic brain injury and now is in hospice.

Friends are seeking donations on her behalf (see below).Here’s one story about her: https://rubberbullets.longlead.com/chapter/minneapolis-police-shooting-journalist-linda-tirado

Sarah Kendzior, our own Cassandra, posted this today: Please help Linda Tirado aka @KillerMartinis. I’ve known her for a long time. She would lay down her life for people in need and now it looks like she may soon. She called me with this news a few months ago; this is a legit and heartbreaking fundraiser.

Venmo: Linda-Tirado-3
PayPal: Bootstrapindustries@gmail
Zelle: 806.433.6075

Thanks for your consideration.

News 

People to follow re transmission/rates:

@JPWeiland
June 14th update: 8% increases this week. Hawaii continues to be near their highest levels in over a year. Continental US at low levels, but west coast/Florida at medium.
~215,000 new infections/day
1 in every 155 people currently infected
2.4x lower than 12 month avg.
Mike Hoerger:
about 1.2% of the U.S. population is actively infectious, which is quite high for the summer, when COVID is not consciously in everyone's thoughts. We're talking about 4 million U.S. infections per week, which translates into 200,000 Long COVID cases if using a conservative estimate of 5% of infections.

Sarah Willette: more graphics

SARS-Co-V-2 Activity level in Wastewater

https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/sara.anne.willette/viz/USCompositeWastewaterData/NWSSData

Hawaii is very high; Florida "substantial"

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Sarah Willette's HPAI data are updated here: public.tableau.com/views/USWastew

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COVID Positivity rate in Madrid 43.2%. The highest recorded in the entire Pandemic. Positivity rate in Mexico over 50%. The highest ever recorded Worldwide. But we were told it’s over.

35% or 3,780 people answered positively to the question on the Era’s Swift (Twitter) Page, as to whether they’d gotten sick at the show. Then they all left the show and spread it all over the city.

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June 7: Walgreens Covid positivity tracker is showing a 27.1% positive rate which is the highest since February 3!

Source walgreens.com/healthcare-sol

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A C19 Vaccine costs ~$190 each. Free Vax for Uninsured or Underinsured Ends in August. Sharing the announcement from @CDCgov. bit.ly/3z6nBZW Cutting services for underserved people and abandoning mitigation is cruel.- @TogetherWeMask
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More COVID-19 patients died in understaffed hospitals

A new study in the International Journal of Nursing Studies suggests chronically understaffed US hospitals had higher rates of COVID-19 patient deaths early in the pandemic.

The authors looked at patient-to-RN staffing ratios, proportion of bachelors-qualified RNs, and nurse work environments in the pre-pandemic period (December 2019 to February 2020) and during the pandemic (April to June 2021) to predict in-hospital and 30-day mortality.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/more-covid-19-patients-died-understaffed-hospitals-new-data-reveal

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Avian Flu:

The outbreak total now stands at 87 herds in 11 states.

Report from H5N1 outbreak on farm in TX notes that farm workers were sick with flu-like symptoms as same time as cows. wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/30

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Global health leader critiques ‘ineptitude’ of U.S. response to bird flu outbreak among cows

STAT   By Andrew Joseph June 13, 2024

LONDON — Seth Berkley, a longtime and widely respected global health leader, said Thursday that it has been “shocking to watch the ineptitude” of the U.S. response to the avian influenza outbreak among dairy cattle, adding his voice to a chorus of critics.

In a presentation in London about vaccine development, Berkley, the former CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, raised the issue of H5N1 bird flu when discussing whether the world was ready for another pandemic following its experience with Covid-19.

“Are we better prepared?” he said. “We could have a long discussion about this, but I would make an argument that H5N1 has suggested that we’re not. I live in Switzerland, but in my home country of the United States, it’s been shocking to watch the ineptitude of just doing the surveillance, being able to talk about it, tracking the infections, understanding where we are. Do we have vaccines? Are they the right vaccines? It is really a challenge. So I’m not sure we have learned anything.”

https://www.statnews.com/2024/06/13/global-health-leader-critiques-ineptitude-of-u-s-response-to-bird-flu-outbreak-among-cows/

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USDA reports reveal biosecurity risks at H5N1-affected dairy farms

Shared equipment and shared personnel working on multiple dairy farms are some of the main risk factors for ongoing spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu in dairy cows, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/avian-influenza-bird-flu/usda-reports-reveal-biosecurity-risks-h5n1-affected-dairy-farms

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Study details reduced Tamiflu susceptibility in H1N1 flu cases

A study in Emerging Infectious Diseases spotlights recent H1N1 flu cases with reduced susceptibility to oseltamivir (Tamiflu), the most common antiviral used to limit symptoms from seasonal flu.

The reduction in susceptibility has been seen in viruses collected from five continents—with most cases in Europe—from May 2023 to February 2024. The viruses showed a 13-fold reduced inhibition by oseltamivir while retaining normal susceptibility to other antiviral drugs, the authors said.

The viruses that lost susceptibility to Tamiflu had acquired a novel combination of neuraminidase mutations, NA-I223V + S247N. Overall detection frequency of these two mutations was low (0.67%). Of 101 viruses with this double mutation, 67 were found in Europe.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/influenza-general/study-details-reduced-tamiflu-susceptibility-h1n1-flu-cases

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Farmworkers and PPE

many dairy farms are still unwilling to use even freely offered personal protective equipment (PPE). This is cause for alarm. Working with a pathogen assigned a biosafety level of 3 — meaning it “can cause serious or potentially lethal disease through respiratory transmission” — with at best BSL 2 level protections is playing with fire.

This lack of protection leaves farmworkers who interact with potentially infected animals, including dairy cows, chickens, and alpacas, at risk for infection with a virus that has killed half of the people in whom it was diagnosed. And the more H5N1 is able to interact with and infect people, the greater the risk that it might accumulate the handful of mutations it needs to become capable of human-to-human transmission, a stepping stone to a possible epidemic...

many farm owners and workers have been reluctant to test due to concerns of losing work, the undocumented status of many workers in this sector, and financial loss. Even if uptake of testing did improve, it would still identify infections only after they occur....

https://www.statnews.com/2024/06/12/h5n1-bird-flu-ppe-protection-farmworkers/

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Kudos to King County, WA, DPH for multilingual info:

Recommended PPE and how to safely remove it Prevent Avian Influenza: Keep yourself and your family save with PPE 简体字 (Chinese Simplified) | 繁體字 (Chinese Traditional) | Af Soomaali (Somali) | Español (Spanish) | Wikang Tagalog/Filipino (Tagalog) | Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese) kingcounty.gov/en/dept/dph/he

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@RickABright
36 more house mice infected in NM w/ #H5N1, it took @USDA_APHIS
over a month to report, still no virus sequences. 4 more H5N1 infected cats reported today, OK, MI, ID, CO. Samples collected in March 20 - late May.
Sequences? When it takes months to report H5N1 infections among domestic mammals & even longer to share virus sequence data, it makes it impossible to stop a virus with pandemic potential.
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Other:

Drug-resistant "dual mutant" flu strains now being tracked in US

An analysis of the new H1N1 flu viruses with these two concerning mutations – which scientists call I223V and S247N, describing changes to key surface proteins of the virus – was published this week in the agency's Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

It follows a report by scientists from Hong Kong who first tested the mutations. Their lab experiments, published in March, found the two mutations appeared to raise H1N1's resistance to the flu treatment oseltamivir, commonly sold under the brand Tamiflu by drugmaker Roche.

It is unclear how much the mutations could cut the real-world effectiveness of oseltamivir. The laboratory tests found the mutated viruses were up to 16 times less sensitive to the antiviral, a smaller dropoff than in some previous worrying mutations.

"These mutated viruses retained sensitivity to other anti-influenza medications, including a newer one, baloxavir marboxil. There are no immediate implications to change decisions for clinical care," a CDC spokesperson said.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/drug-resistant-dual-mutant-flu-h1n1-us/

CVS generic drugs twice as likely to be recalled over safety concerns, investigation finds

Chad Van Alstin | June 12, 2024 | Health Exec | Supply Chain

An investigation by journalists into quality control of generic drugs found CVS-branded medications were recalled twice as often as its competitors, including Walgreens and Walmart.

Notable examples of recalls include contaminated water at a manufacturing facility, drugs for kids that were found to be too potent and one instance in which nasal sprays were produced on the same equipment as pesticides.

Despite the issues at CVS, the retail giant’s generic drugs represent less than 1% of recalls nationally. However, over the last decade, 15 manufacturers for CVS were found to have quality control and safety problems, according to data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That’s twice as many as Walgreens.

CVS has recalled 133 drugs over the last 10 years related to safety and quality concerns. In some instances, despite warnings from the FDA, tainted drugs remained on store shelves for weeks.

For the full story, read Bloomberg’s investigation at the link below.

Industries The Big Take Dozens of CVS Generic Drug Recalls Expose Link to Taint…

https://healthexec.com/topics/healthcare-management/healthcare-logistics/cvs-generic-drugs-twice-likely-be-recalled-over-safety-concerns-investigation-finds

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The viral frontier: Nasa told ‘act now’ to tackle pathogens in space

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/nasa-told-act-now-to-tackle-biological-threats-from-space/

 

Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

Having symptoms after getting a COVID vaccine may indicate robust immune response

Headache, fatigue, malaise, and chills after COVID-19 vaccination are signs the immune system is marshalling a strong response against future infection, suggests a study posted today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/having-symptoms-after-getting-covid-vaccine-may-indicate-robust-immune-response

"Each 1 °C increase in skin temperature after dose 2 was associated with 1.8 fold higher nAB 1 month later and 3.1 fold higher nAB 6 months later."

Devices:

Epidemiology/Infection control:

CO2 correlates with SARS-CoV-2 aerostability and infection risk

CO2 is MORE than just a proxy for ventilation! Increased CO2 *itself* appears to increase the likelihood of successful covid transmission by increasing viral viability.

even modest increases in CO2 (eg 800) result in a significant increase in SARS-CoV-2 aerostability, which increases transmission risk. Understanding impact of environmental factors on aerosol viral load is key!

And @ukhadds found that as Co2 increases it increases the length of time SARS-CoV-2 persists in the air

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-024-47777-5

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@AbraarKaran
“More than 44,000 COVID deaths have been reported since October; by contrast, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly flu surveillance report estimates 24,000 flu deaths during the same time.”
Also, the number they use for Covid deaths is deaths on the death certificate and the number they use for flu deaths is a multiplied estimate bc they know flu causes bacterial infections, pneumonia, heart issues etc
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Avian flu spread:

Transmission between farms is likely due to indirect epidemiological links related to normal business operations such as numerous people, vehicles, and other conveyances frequently moving on and off the affected dairy premises, with many of these indirect links shared between premises.

Importantly, disease spread due to independent introduction of the virus onto dairy or poultry premises from migratory waterfowl is not supported based on both genomic and epidemiological data analysis.

[Worth a read: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/hpai-h5n1-dairy-cattle-mi-epi-invest.pdf]

Farmers are also dumping unheated waste milk into lagoons.

We've heard that farms don't have capacity to heat/pasteurize the large volumes of infectious milk before discarding it into lagoons, wastewater systems. This poses a substantial risk to the environment, wild / domestic animals, & humans.

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Researchers studying a 2003 outbreak of H5N1 bird flu on chicken farms in The Netherlands found that one quarter of all transmission may have been caused by viral particles attached to farm dust being carried on the wind. Up to 25km.
     -- @NateB_Panic

Tips, general reading for public:

Ventilate

Vaccinate

Mask

Politics:

Covid:

Several states are looking at banning masks:

North Carolina passed such a bill in the legislature. Contact the Gov and hope the legislature doesn't override it. There is no carve out for medical reasons.

NY: Gov. Hochul is considering banning masks on subways to reduce antisemitic attacks (she claims). Eric Adams has been pushing this and facial recognition for some time. He also wants to ban masks at protests: https://www.amny.com/news/mask-ban-at-protests-nyc-nys/

Chicago is proposing a ban...

Note: The science tells us that face masks are less effective than sunglasses at hiding identity. The science also tells us that face masks are very effective at preventing COVID spread. It is anti-science to ban masks.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-023-31321-4

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Greed: 

Google, a $2 trillion monopolist just bought its way out of a jury trial. They don’t want to be judged by the public, so they paid not to be. (Bloomberg news)

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General Mills: 

just paid $300 million dividend to investors, bought back $150 million in stock, and pays its CEO $16 million. It makes $2.1 Billion/year in profit

It's raising prices on Cheerios 20% and blaming "inflation."

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Scotus:

A new study finds that Justice Thomas has likely received nearly $6 million in gifts over the past two decades. I don't even know how you do that, but the corruption is astonishing. -- @NoahBookbinder
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GOP and TFG:
The Washington Post uses “muscular” instead of “fascist.” The dude to be chief of staff is self described Christian Nationalist. A total nightmare. --@HMcdoolittle
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In Las Vegas, at his rally in the sweltering heat, TFG actually said something true, "I don't care about you. I just want your vote."
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Trump was allowed to skip drug testing and have a lawyer present for his probation hearing, neither of which are offered others.
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The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, has voted at their annual meeting to oppose IVF. The move may signal the beginning of a broad turn on the right against IVF.
Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders have been enormously influential in the Council for National Policy (CNP), the Christian Right’s umbrella organization, which effectively controls the GOP. -- @jennycohn1
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MAGA Pastor Mark Burns (a SC congressional candidate & close ally of Roger Stone) says that “if he is elected, he’ll resurrect the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee for the purpose of charging citizens, members of the media, & elected officials w/ treason.”
rightwingwatch.org/post/third-tim
“HUAC’s work served as a blueprint for the tactics employed by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s. McCarthy led an aggressive anticommunist campaign of his own that made him a powerful & feared figure in American politics.” history.com/topics/cold-wa
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Crime and reporting bias:
@JuddLegum
1. More than 75% of Americans believe that crime is INCREASING Yesterday, the FBI released statistics that after a dramatic decline in 2023, crime is was down again in the first quarter of 2024: Murder: -26.4% Rape: -25.7% Robbery: -17.8% Property crime: -15.1% This week, the @nytimes published 18 STORIES on Hunter Biden's trial and ZERO STORIES on the new FBI crime stats
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Biden:
Remember the Baltimore bridge collapse? Instead of 11 months, President Biden got the port of Baltimore reopened in 11 weeks. This is a key port in the US. Impressive!
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California:
2nd-grade teacher who was arrested for being drunk in class is no longer facing charges because "it is not illegal to teach drunk."
Wendy Munson was arrested after teaching her students at Nuestro Elementary School in California while drunk. Munson failed a sobriety test and was twice the legal limit two hours after she was initially arrested.
District Attorney Jennifer Dupre announced that they didn't find any charges, noting that "it is not illegal to teach drunk." "While the District Attorney’s Office agrees that it is highly inappropriate to teach while intoxicated, it is, unfortunately, not illegal."
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Florida:
Bad flooding in southern Florida...just after Desantis vetoed stormwater flooding funding
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Minnesota:
Two members of the advisory board of the University of Minnesota’s @chgsumn have resigned in protest over the planned hiring of the center’s new director. -
I am shocked that my alma mater, the University of Minnesota, has picked an anti-Zionist who sugar coated the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7 to head the University's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. -- @NormOrnstein
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GOP-endorsed MN senate candidate Royce White tweeted out a map purporting to show "crime in Minneapolis... Out of control." It was actually a map of drinking fountains in the city.
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Vermont:
Two Christian couples made clear their homes would not be safe for LGBTQ children. Vermont rightly removed them from the list of potential foster parents. Now the couples are suing, calling it religious discrimination.
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Russia:
@JayinKyiv
After stopping an arsonist, Czech police discover that Russia is running Telegram groups in EU countries offering locals money to commit arson and sabotage on factories, infrastructure and public transportation.
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@Gerashchenko_en
Subscribe
“It smells like Russia. It looks like Russia:” European investigators increasingly see Russian fingerprints around recent acts of suspected sabotage on strategic infrastructure but are struggling to respond. Detecting potential attacks is increasingly difficult because Russia, since launching its full-scale invasion on Ukraine two years ago, has turned more to civilians and commercial vessels to survey and possibly attack critical infrastructure such as undersea connections, offshore energy facilities, transport networks and military installations, people familiar with the cases say - the Wall Street Journal writes.
German prosecutors last month detained two dual Russian-German nationals suspected of spying for Moscow with the goal of disrupting Western military assistance to Ukraine through sabotage.
Britain’s cyberintelligence agency GCHQ is “increasingly concerned about growing links between the Russian intelligence services and proxy groups to conduct cyberattacks—as well as suspected physical surveillance and sabotage operations,” its director Anne Keast-Butler said last week...

Feel good du jour:

Comic relief:

https://twitter.com/buitengebieden/status/1799555902611009965

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden/status/1799202130139459963

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden/status/1800959322035278104

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Perspective/Poem

The four people doing the most good for the world at the moment are Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, McKenzie Bezos and Melinda Gates.
      --@PamKeithFL

Bits of beauty:

 

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