Coronavirus Tidbits #103 12/13/20

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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.

New post: 

Genes May Hold Key To New Treatments For Covid-19 Infections

Exciting work shows why some people become deathly ill and others remain asymptomatic.


It’s interesting that Allegany and Garrett Counties have the highest Covid-19 rates in Maryland yet we are not designated to receive the Pfizer vax initially. Not surprising, but curious whether it is just ignoring the needs of rural America again.

Or perhaps it is related to all the Covid deniers and anti-maskers like this one:

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And while cases skyrocket all over the country, we have this sort of info suppression:

and Rebekah Jones’ (@GeoRebekah) home being raided.

Jones said the computers and phone seized from her home by state police Monday could expose her sources in the government to retaliation.(CNN)

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Interesting perspective on Biden’s appointments for health care:

“underscores how Biden has based his highest-profile health selections more on leadership and managerial ability than on health care expertise. And amid a devastating global pandemic, Biden may be taking the long view on health care, tapping a health secretary capable of seeing past the pandemic to address issues like Affordable Care Act protections or even high drug prices.”


still an incredible, negligent lack of accurate, rapid testing.


Good news – Pfizer’s vaccine receives FDA approval!

Yes, there will be unpleasant side effects and some unexpected bad news along the way…but given how devastating Covid is, I am thrilled to see such progress in such a very short time.

I had expressed some of my own concerns @Forbes in 

Some of my biggest questions have been answered; others will be as they accrue more patients.

Now our task (besides getting access to it) is to help reassure and encourage folks to take the vaccine.

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“While Pfizer’s vaccine requires 2 doses, strong protection of about 82% occurred after the first doses…Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, an immunobiologist, said one striking finding was that people were protected as early as 12 to 13 days following the first dose. She added that high affinity antibodies and longer-term immunity will likely require the second dose and that all vaccines should stick to the two-dose regimen.

the FDA’s analysis shows that the vaccine also seems to provide equal protection among other groups at risk for more severe disease, including Blacks, Latinos, and those who are obese.

Pfizer gave US officials an option to request 100 million to 500 million more doses and warned that demand could outstrip supply” (Trump chose not to)

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The People’s Vaccine—Moderna’s Coronavirus Vaccine Was Largely Funded By Taxpayer Dollars

I wrote about this @Forbes; I expect it to be approved this coming week by the FDA.

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Derek Lowe wrote a breakdown on AstraZeneca’s vaccine here:

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Scathing review of the FDA’s taking 3 weeks to confirm Pfizer’s data, a process that usually takes months:

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…and a lot of this comes back to the vaccine having been so politicized through Operation Warp Speed–a name that was colossally stupid.

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And a good perspective on why the FDA might want to tread slowly and cautiously with a totally new type of vaccine…this is definitely worth a read:

Covid-19 vaccine safety and the public trust: lessons from Paul Meier and polio


How COVID-19 Vaccines Will Get from the Factory to Your Community

The two major U.S. developers of the early COVID-19 vaccines are Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. They both developed mRNA vaccines, a relatively new type of vaccine. A major supply chain issue is the temperature requirement for these vaccines.

Moderna’s vaccine can remain at minus 4 F for up to six months, and then for a month in a refrigerator, according to the companyPfizer says its vaccine has a shorter shelf life of five days after being transferred from ultracold storage to a refrigerator, leaving a short window to administer the vaccines.

Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech use different distribution strategies because of different requirements for their vaccines, and Moderna’s participation in Operation Warp Speed. The Conversation US,

Epidemiology/Infection control:

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Nice (and useful!) Dataviz from NPR and U Minn re hospital occupancy

You’ll want to bookmark this:


  1. World map  with country-by-country counts of new cases, new cases per 100,000 residents, total cases and total cases per 100,000
  2. Heat map  indicating COVID risk level by four color-coded categories

NPR started the series in the spring and has archived it as an ongoing collection.

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New online COVID-19 mortality risk calculator could help determine who should get vaccines first

Calculator generates mortality risk estimates for individuals and communities based on sociodemographic info and medical history

Risk Calculator =

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Think children have no problems from Covid? Small study…but

Elevated biomarker for blood vessel damage found in all children with SARS-CoV-2

Study found high proportion of children with SARS-CoV-2 infection met clinical criteria for thrombotic microangiopathy

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Healthcare workers 7 times as likely to have severe COVID-19 as other workers

And risk twice as high for those with jobs in social care and transport sectors

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COVID-19 found in the cornea: Are transplants a transmission risk?

A multi-institutional study finds that COVID-19 can be found in post-mortem corneal tissue, highlighting the importance of the donor screening process

The results: the virus can infiltrate corneal tissue, the clear, outer layer of the eye, that could be used for transplantation in the U.S., raising concerns that the disease could be transmitted to a healthy recipient.

Tips, general reading for public:


Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.


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Worth looking at the whole thread. start here:

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Trevor Noah nails it.

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Several state officials said they will not comply with a new CDC requirement to submit personal information of people receiving COVID-19 vaccines, including names, birth dates, ethnicities, and addresses. (New York Times)

Feel good du jour:

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Comic relief:

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The translation of this is pretty amusing…



Bits of beauty:


While this pic is blurry, it was really nice to have a virtual Chanukah candle lighting with my friends in Lancaster; I actually feel more connected and with some sense of community than pre-Zoom. Grateful for this unexpected gift.

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