Coronavirus Tidbits #115 1/23/21

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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.

Note: This Tidbits is longer than usual because I took 1/20 off to celebrate. So skim down–lots of interesting tidbits for you to sample.

News 

These moments were some of the most moving for me:

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Fauci looks 10 years younger, no?

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More on Amanda Gorman:

Transcript of The Hill We Climb

https://www.kcet.org/arts-culture/black-art-matters/poetry-is-political-amanda-gormans-america

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News on the Covid mutations:

Research on the new variants is just beginning and the full implications of their emergence remain unclear… They have created a sense of urgency and a renewed focus on the basics: expand genomic surveillance; achieve greater compliance in masking, social distancing, and avoidance of congregate settings; accelerate vaccination campaigns; and communicate to an anxious and skeptical public to win higher trust and confidence.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/new-variants-rattle-world

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Fast-spreading COVID variant can elude immune responses

Evidence that a variant of the coronavirus identified in South Africa might compromise immunity sparks concerns about vaccine effectiveness.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00121-z

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Good review on mutants from Kai Kupferschmidt and fr STAT

Vaccine updates

So far, the virus does not appear to have become resistant to COVID-19 vaccines, says vaccinologist Philip Krause, who chairs a WHO working group on COVID-19 vaccines. “The not-so-good news is that the rapid evolution of these variants suggests that if it is possible for the virus to evolve into a vaccine-resistant phenotype, this may happen sooner than we like,” he adds. That possibility adds to the urgency of putting good surveillance in place to detect such escape variants early on, says biostatistician Natalie Dean of the University of Florida. But it also adds to the urgency of vaccinating people, says Christian Drosten, a virologist at Charité University Hospital in Berlin. “We have to do everything we can now to vaccinate as many people as fast as possible, even if that means running the risk of selecting for some variants,” he says.

If vaccine-resistant SARS-CoV-2 strains emerge, vaccines might need to be updated. Several vaccines could be easily changed to reflect the latest changes, but regulators might balk at authorizing them without seeing updated safety and efficacy data,

For now, increased transmissibility is the biggest worry, says virologist Angela Rasmussen…

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/01/new-coronavirus-variants-could-cause-more-reinfections-require-updated-vaccines

Best 1 overview:

But many experts have a fairly optimistic outlook on the vaccine question. The vaccines generate a multipronged immune response that recognizes and targets different parts of the virus; changes caused by one mutation likely won’t make the virus invisible to protective antibodies generated by immunizations. And even if a mutation reduces the vaccines’ effectiveness a bit, the shots have been shown to be so powerful that they should work just fine even if their potency is taken down a notch.,,

There are some concerns about people becoming more vulnerable to reinfection with the new variants. In lab experiments, one of the mutations present in the variants identified in South Africa and Brazil, called E484K, has helped the virus evade the antibodies generated after an initial infection in some people.

On Monday, scientists in South Africa reported that antibodies from some people infected during the country’s first wave failed to recognize the newer variant spreading there now; they didn’t have results yet about its impact on vaccine-elicited antibodies. Separately, in Brazil, surging cases in a region that had already been hit hard by the virus raised worries that a different variant, called P.1, is able to sneak past existing protection and infect people again.

What does a more transmissible virus mean?

Because a more transmissible variant can infect more people more quickly, it leads to more cases overall without mitigation efforts. Even if people individually aren’t likely to get sicker, the result is that there will be more hospitalizations and deaths. (One caveat: Widespread vaccinations could prevent some of those.)

Faster-spreading viruses also require a greater proportion of a population to be protected for herd immunity to be achieved. Vaccine campaigns will have to reach even more people.

https://www.statnews.com/2021/01/19/coronavirus-variants-transmissibility-disease-reinfection/

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Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent lack of testing.

Face masks: UC San Diego researchers develop test strip to detect SARS-CoV-2 in a user’s breath or saliva

At the end of the day or during a mask change, the user will conduct the test…A control line on the test strip will show what a positive result should look like. It would be similar to checking the results of a home pregnancy test.

Drugs and Vaccines:

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US Rejoins WHO’s Covax Plan

US President Joe Biden will rejoin the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its COVAX scheme, a global initiative that ensures equal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

South Africa expects to get vaccines for 10% of its population  via Covax, for a payment of R2.2 billion.

Anthony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, made the announcement Tuesday.

https://www.businessinsider.co.za/biden-join-who-world-health-organization-covax-vaccine-trump-2021-1

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45% of adults over 65 lack online medical accounts, which could affect COVID vaccination

That’s according to the newly analyzed data from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, The poll finds that 45% of adults aged 65 to 80, and 42% of all adults aged 50 to 80, said they had not set up an account with their health provider’s portal system.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-01/mm-u-4oa011521.php

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Devices:

What Makes Building Ventilation Good Enough to Withstand a Pandemic?

Here’s what it takes to upgrade HVAC systems — and how to know if particular indoor spaces have done it.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-11/how-to-know-if-a-building-has-good-ventilation?srnd=premium

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Epidemiology/Infection control:

and county view:

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view

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The toll on families of health care workers:

Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Politics:

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They found that a 1.0% increase in a county’s income inequality was associated with a 2.0% increase in COVID-19 infection and a 3.0% rise in related deaths.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2021/01/race-income-inequality-fuel-covid-disparities-us-counties

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The Washington Post identified five well-known anti-vaccine groups that have spread misinformation about the coronavirus and have now received Paycheck Protection Program loans–more than $850,000 worth to the National Vaccine Information Center, Mercola Health Resources, the Informed Consent Action Network, the Children’s Health Defense and the Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center.

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HuffPost lists over 20 GOP state and local lawmakers or officials who were at the D.C. rally that turned into a violent insurrection.

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Feel good du jour:

One Fresh Pillow donated 100 Travel Pillows, 30 Standard Pillows, and 30 Sleep Masks to the National Guard. That, in turn, got picked up and RT by Lincoln Project and others, giving a huge boost to this tiny business.

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Another nice thread to browse:

Comic relief:

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https://twitter.com/mythbri/status/1350469421358190600?s=20

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Perspective/Poem

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Bits of beauty:

 

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