Coronavirus Tidbits #113 1/17/21

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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 on Forbes: 



immune responses from past infection reduce the risk of catching the virus again by 83% for at least five months.

The data suggest that repeat infections are rare — they occurred in fewer than 1% of about 6,600 participants who had already been ill with COVID-19. But the researchers also found that people who become re-infected can carry high levels of the virus in their nose and throat, even when they do not show symptoms. Such viral loads have been associated with a high risk of transmitting the virus to others, said Hopkins.

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Health care worker shortage

About 3% to 4% of health care personnel who recover from coronavirus infection are expected to become “COVID long-haulers” as they cope with debilitating symptoms 12 to 18 months after the acute stage of the infection clears.

“As COVID-19 surges again, hospitals are facing a shortage of skilled frontline providers who can meet the relentless demands of caring for these patients,”

Will hospitals try to make any accommodations?

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Much less influenza

via @HelenBranswell:



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


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Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for nursing mothers?

This is a challenging topic because the vaccine trials excluded lactating women. Thus, there are no clinical data regarding the safety of the Pfizer/BioNtech or the Moderna vaccine in nursing mothers. According to the ABM statement, “there is little biological plausibility that the vaccine will cause harm, and antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] in milk may protect the breastfeeding child.”

Click here to read the ABM statement

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On hospital leadership: ‘Let’s stop arguing and be pragmatic’ about COVID immunization

“In fairness to hospitals, they should not have been in this predicament where they are a primary site for community vaccinations,” writes Makary, who last week exhorted healthy healthcare workers to sacrifice on COVID immunization for vulnerable neighbors. “Local pharmacies, grocery stores and dialysis centers have extensive experience administering vaccines each year and should have received more vaccine supply.”

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HHS monoclonal antibody treatment locator

Why are states hiding this information from the public?

In November, the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for two monoclonal antibody therapeutics to treat mild or moderate COVID-19 in high-risk, non-hospitalized patients. …States and territorial health departments must opt in to have information for facilities within their jurisdictions available in the locator. The locator launched with 22 state and territorial health departments opting in, and HHS is encouraging all states and territories to participate.

Locator =

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COVAX is key to both immunizing the world’s poorest people and ending the pandemic.

In a significant moment for the fight against the coronavirus, international funders came together in early June and pooled funding towards an ambitious undertaking: to buy enough COVID vaccines to immunize the 20% of people most vulnerable to the virus worldwide, such as health-care workers and the elderly. High- and middle-income countries would pay into the fund and receive a share of the vaccines procured, and poorer countries would receive vaccines free of charge. But the project, a pioneering effort called COVAX, is struggling to meet expectations.

High-income countries have been buying up large tranches of the current and future vaccine doses directly from vaccine suppliers. Middle-income countries are also negotiating their own supplies. This has left relatively few vaccines for COVAX…

COVAX is competing for these supplies. Some people in the lowest-income countries might need to wait until at least 2022 to get their vaccines.

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COVID’s toll on smell and taste: what scientists do and don’t know

Almost a year later, some still haven’t recovered these senses, and for a proportion of people who have, odours are now warped: unpleasant scents have taken the place of normally delightful ones. Nature surveys the science behind this potentially long-lasting and debilitating phenomenon.

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More vision problems (myopia) in kids

home confinement during the coronavirus pandemic seemed to be linked to a substantial shift toward myopia in students 6 to 8 years old.

Reasons for this, they said, may include less time spent outdoors and more screen time, adding that less outdoor activity is known to be significantly tied to an elevated incidence of myopia in elementary school children.


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Turn off that camera during virtual meetings–environmental study

May well be true, but ignores the psychosocial benefit of “seeing” other people and reducing the sense of isolation and depression.

Just one hour of videoconferencing or streaming, for example, emits 150-1,000 grams of carbon dioxide (a gallon of gasoline burned from a car emits about 8,887 grams), requires 2-12 liters of water and demands a land area adding up to about the size of an iPad Mini.

But leaving your camera off during a web call can reduce these footprints by 96%. Streaming content in standard definition rather than in high definition while using apps such as Netflix or Hulu also could bring an 86% reduction, the researchers estimated.

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Activity trackers

Apple Watch is able to detect “subtle changes in an individual’s heartbeat” up to seven days before the onset of COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test.

study from Stanford, the results of which were released in November, included activity trackers from Garmin, Fitbit, and Apple. The study found that these devices could indicate changes in resting heart rate “up to nine and a half days prior to the onset of symptoms” in coronavirus-positive patients.

The researchers were able to identify nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 cases four to seven days before symptoms, the study says.

“It’s a big deal because it’s alerting people not to go out and meet people,”

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Most SARS-CoV-2 transmission comes from asymptomatic people 

A new analytical model suggests that more than half of all SARS-CoV-2 transmission comes from asymptomatic people, CDC researchers reported.

The finding, published in JAMA Network Open, indicates that isolating symptomatic patients with COVID-19 will not be enough to stop the spread of the virus, researchers said.

“These findings underscore the importance of mitigation measures such as wearing masks, social distancing and washing of hands by everyone to slow spread of COVID-19, including from persons without symptoms,”

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“Siren” study: antibodies provide an 83% rate of protection against reinfection, likely at least five months.

However, the early evidence also suggests a small number of people with antibodies may still be able to carry and transmit the virus, emphasizing the need to follow coronavirus restrictions

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Study: Colleges can prevent 96% of COVID-19 infections with common measures

CLEVELAND–The combined effectiveness of three COVID-prevention strategies on college campuses–mask-wearing, social distancing, and routine testing–are as effective in preventing coronavirus infections as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to a new study co-authored by a Case Western Reserve University researcher.

The research, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, has immediate significance as college semesters are poised to start again–and as the distribution of approved vaccines lags behind goals.

The study found that a combination of just two common measures–distancing and mandatory masks–prevents 87% of campus COVID-19 infections and costs only $170 per infection prevented.

Adding routine lab-based testing to the mix would prevent 92% to 96% of COVID infections. Still, the cost per infection prevented increases substantially, to $2,000 to $17,000 each, depending on test frequency.

Among the study’s other findings:

  • About three of every four students–and nearly one in six faculty–would become infected over the semester in the absence of all mitigation efforts.
  • Minimal social distancing policies would only reduce infections by 16% in students.
  • While closing the campus and switching to online-only education would reduce infections by 63% among students, it would be less effective than opening the campus and implementing a mask-wearing and social distancing policy, which would reduce infections by 87% among students.

Tips, general reading for public:


Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.


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Feel good du jour:

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Comic relief:

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Bits of beauty:

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