Coronavirus Tidbits #109 1/3/21

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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 

Much of the bad news this week is about the incompetent vaccine rollout.

See “Drugs” section for more

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But the “Jim Crow Caucus,” the seditious GOP, and Pence take the prize for appalling news:

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Questions and answers about the Mutant Coronavirus: B.1.1.7 or VUI-202012/01

Does it spread more easily?

Yes, it appears this strain is much more transmissible–and may be infecting kids more.

Do people get sicker?

Not that we’ve seen so far.

A big problem is that our health systems are already overwhelmed, with many hospitals with full ICUs. They can’t handle a new wave of patients from this more transmissible strain.

see https://www.statnews.com/2020/12/21/looming-questions-new-variant-coronavirus/ for more

Another problem is that the US lags well behind other countries in sequencing virus samples to detect these mutations–so the cat may well be out of the bag before we even know it.

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

Can you be reinfected more easily?

That has not been seen thus far. Vaccine-induced immunity seems the same, too.

Will the Covid-19 vaccine protect against the new strain?

Yes.

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Good overview of the year in Covid science news

Kai Kupferschmidt (@kakape):

“What was new was not WHAT scientists did, but HOW they did it: Research was faster, more collaborative, more open…

“The process of science was rarely as visible as this year. It was like watching open-heart surgery live on TV: messy but vital and riveting.”

…all of this played out in a context that no scientist can afford to ignore anymore: an information ecosystem that helps misinformation and lies spread faster than scientific evidence, weakening our ability to respond to new threats.

https://vis.sciencemag.org/breakthrough2020/#/finalists/a-divisive-disease

Diagnostics:

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

Drugs and Vaccines:

Note: These drugs are for 1 patient. ICU nurses generally juggle 2-3 patients.

This is part of why I am so concerned about not only a health care worker shortage, but by administrators treating HCWs as interchangeable widgets. You simply cannot replace an experienced ICU nurse with a new nursing grad!

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We are failing dismally at vaccinations, particularly in light of the new variant, which transmits more easily:

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Op-Ed: A Better Way to End the Pandemic Quickly

— A strategy to maximize vaccine benefit

Two other experts also suggest vaccinating everybody who can be with 1 initial dose: “Both Pfizer and Moderna report that the efficacy of a single dose is only about 50%. But a closer look at their incidence curves suggests that immunity appears to be maximized about 14 days after the first dose. In the Moderna trial, for example, most of the cases in the vaccine arm occurred during the first 2 weeks following the initial dose. We recognize that the vaccine was developed and tested on the assumption that two doses are necessary. Yet, the trial data suggest that a single dose provides substantial immunity. During this severe pandemic, it seems reasonable to use the available supply to reach as many people as possible in the short term. Delaying the second dose would maximize limited resources and could reduce serious illness and death. A recent projection suggests the U.S. will receive 40 million doses of the two mRNA vaccines by early 2021. A rough calculation suggests that vaccinating 40 million persons with these 40 million doses versus 20 million persons with two doses each could prevent over 100,000 severe cases and save over 10,000 lives.” (This strategy has been ruled out in the US by the powers that be, however.) “By December 30, it is estimated that about 20 million people in the U.S. will have been infected with the coronavirus. That means that 160,000,000 Americans, or nearly half the population, will have immunity, dramatically limiting the need for vaccine.”…”we should not use the limited supply of vaccine for people who do not need it.”

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/90358?xid=nl_secondopinion_2020-12-22&eun=g1184564d0r

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The UK is opting for this strategy–to vaccinate as many people as possible, delaying the 2nd dose of vaccine. This will provide some protection for more people quickly, important given that the UK variant spreads more easily.

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Fortunately, the FDA is rescinding this poorly thought out tax.

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Last week, we had Moderna doses spoiled by not being kept a the proper temperature.

Then 500 doses were ruined deliberately by a WI pharmacist.

This week, administration of the vax is screwed up:

Devices:

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Politics:

“many leading infectious disease specialists underestimated the fast-moving outbreak in its first weeks and months, assuming that the United States would again emerge largely unscathed. American hubris prevented the country from reacting as quickly and effectively as Asian nations,” Amesh Adalja said.

https://khn.org/news/article/many-us-health-experts-underestimated-the-coronavirus-until-it-was-too-late/ Good review by Liz Szabo

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Early vaccination in prisons, a public health priority, proves politically charged

=> States backing off this plan

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/01/02/covid-vaccine-prisons/

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Mitch killed the $2000 Covid stimulus checks approved by the House

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Trump administration appears poised to do whatever it can to block a successful transition and cripple the Biden administration.

The plans to challenge certification of the election results on Jan. 6th, Pence’s complicity in this, and Trump’s inciting violence at DC protests that day do not portend a good New Year. He’s encouraging his minions to come, tweeting, “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!”

Feel good du jour:

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Comic relief:

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Perspective/Poem

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Bits of beauty:

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