Coronavirus Tidbits #108 12/31/20

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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.

News 

Mutant Covid found in US now, Japan, and elsewhere.

It’s more infectious–spreads more rapidly, but is NOT more fatal thus far.

“A little less than a year ago, the early response to the coronavirus crisis was stifled by an inability to scale up testing to detect the virus and curb its spread. Now, once again…” we are failing by our lack of surveillance and severe lack of sequencing to detect mutations. – Helen Branswell, Stat

https://www.statnews.com/2020/12/31/with-limited-surveillance-of-covid-19-variant-its-deja-vu-all-over-again/

In the meanwhile, even before the impact of the new mutation, which is more infectious, so will => much higher case rates:

California hospitals are overwhelmed, understaffed, and running out of Oxygen!

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-29/oxygen-supply-shortages-bedevil-hospitals-already-overwhelmed-by-covid-19-patients

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Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent lack of testing.

Drugs:

Vaccine rollout is slow, a mess, and was handled shoddily by the administration. A few examples:

As Hospitals Roll Out COVID-19 Vaccines, Health Care Workers Describe Chaos And Anger

as a vaccine “free-for-all” allows colleagues to jump ahead in line despite little risk

https://www.npr.org/2020/12/28/950427961/as-hospitals-rollout-covid-19-vaccines-healthcare-workers-describe-chaos-and-ang

Meanwhile, two staffers from each member of the U.S. House and Senate are now eligible for the shot. (Politico)

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Administration for “Operation Warp Speed” said 20 million doses of vax would be given by end of December–the reality–only ~2 million.

“The logistics of the rollout have been largely left up to states to navigate. States and local public health officials have warned for months that they would need more than $8 billion in additional funding to stand up the infrastructure needed to administer vaccines. The Trump administration instead provided states $340 million”

https://www.statnews.com/2020/12/29/public-health-experts-grow-frustrated-with-pace-of-covid-19-vaccine-rollout/

Translation: Adequately vaccinating Americans will take 10 years at current pace

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More Vaccine controversies:

Thought provoking argument by Zeynep Tufekci and Michael Mina that most effective vaccine strategy is to rapidly give as many people as possible the first dose of vaccine and then catch up with the 2nd booster. In the meanwhile, we should be gathering data about how protective 1 dose is (~50%, it appears, and how long lasting that immunity is).

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/18/opinion/coronavirus-vaccine-doses.html

Detailed overview of where we stand re vaccines by Derek Lowe:

Oxford/AZ vaccine’s behavior: “Giving as many people in the UK as possible a single dose of that vaccine with a longer wait until the booster is a gamble, and you wouldn’t want to do it that way if the alternatives weren’t even worse. It’s the right move, unfortunately, and it’s a damned shame it’s come to this.

https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/12/30/vaccine-roundup-late-december

Devices:

Epidemiology/Infection control:

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Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Politics:

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China sentences lawyer Zhang Zhan who reported on coronavirus outbreak to four years in prison

A Chinese court has sentenced a former lawyer who reported on the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak to four years in prison on charges of “picking fights and provoking trouble”, one of her lawyers says.

The Pudong New Area People’s Court in the financial hub of Shanghai gave the sentence to Zhang Zhan on Monday following accusations she spread false information, gave interviews to foreign media, disrupted public order and “maliciously manipulated” the outbreak.

https://www.9news.com.au/world/china-sentences-lawyer-zhang-zhan-who-reported-on-coronavirus-outbreak-to-four-years-prison/7b0f972a-42b2-4524-8b29-06ea017d37d5

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Rural healthcare workers are fleeing small-town America, citing pandemic politics and “toxic individualism.” (NPR)

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Feel good du jour:

Do read the rest of this sweet thread…

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Comic relief:

 

 

Here are some things to consider as we get closer to closing the door on one of the most horrible years of our lifetime: 1.   The dumbest thing I ever bought was a 2020 planner. 2.   2019:  Stay away from negative people.  2020:  Stay away from positive people. 3. The world has turned upside down.  Old folks are sneaking out of the house & their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors! 4. This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her dog.  It was obvious she thought her dog understood her.  I came into my house & told my cat.  We laughed a lot. 5. Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit.  Pajamas will have you believe all is well in the kingdom. 6. Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands? 7. This virus has done what no woman has been able to do.  Cancel sports, shut down all bars & keep men at home! 8. I need to practice social-distancing from the refrigerator. 9. I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to the Backyard.  I’m getting tired of the Living Room. 10. Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask & ask for money. 11. I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch him with a 6′ pole” would become a national policy, but here we are! Happy new year!

Perspective/Poem

Valuable thread on racism:

Bits of beauty:

 

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