Coronavirus Tidbits #120 2/11/21

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News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty

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 

The vaccine rollout cont to be a colossal sh*t show. How did Walgreen’s get the contract?

We went from showing appts but then being unable to schedule a few days ago to this, the past 2 days:

Walgreen’s saying that an ill 96 yo doesn’t qualify, adding that they follow state eligibility requirements. Lies!

I was so angry yesterday that I tweeted this:

After hours of calls and refreshing various sites, we (multiple people were trying) finally scored an appointment for Kitty! So unfair to elderly, poor, people who are not tech savvy or can’t stay online for hours.

KETV’s Emily Tencer picked up the story; nice human interest focus on Kati, but doesn’t fully capture how awful this system is or what we went through.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiqfW6Heq-A

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Mutations

The B117 SARS-CoV-2 variant will soon dominate other strains fr rapid spread

US vaccination efforts will have very limited effectiveness in slowing the spread of B117 in the coming weeks…In the meantime, the best strategy is to physical distance, wear face coverings, and increase testing and vaccination…and we need to do more genomic surveillance.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2021/02/scientists-us-act-now-leash-virulent-covid-variant

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Why Scientists Are Very Worried About The P1 Variant From Brazil

“Could P.1 be evading the antibodies made against the previous version of the virus, making reinfections easier? Could it just be significantly more contagious? Could both be true?

“While we don’t *know* exactly why this variant has been so apparently successful in Brazil, none of the explanations on the table are good,” epidemiologist Bill Hanage at Harvard University wrote on Twitter.

Reinfections are a serious concern for several reasons. First off, like the variant from South Africa, P.1 carries a cluster of mutations along the surface of the virus where antibodies — especially the potent antibodies — like to bind. “They are kind of the major targets of the immune system,” said virus expert Penny Moore at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. “So when we see a whole lot of mutations in [those surfaces], it raises the possibility that the mutations might be conferring immune escape.” That is, the mutations are helping the virus evade antibodies or escape recognition by them. In essence, the mutations are providing the virus with a type of invisibility cloak.

“Indeed that’s what we saw,” she said. “In fact, it was really quite a dramatic drop-off in sensitivity. We saw that in half of the serum, the antibodies were significantly less effective against the new variant [from South Africa].” So far, scientists haven’t tested out P.1 in similar neutralization experiments, but P.1 has two mutations that scientists have already shown reduce antibody binding.

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/01/27/961108577/why-scientists-are-very-worried-about-the-variant-from-brazil

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Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout Delayed in S Africa

because AZ vax showed significantly reduced efficacy against the 501Y.V2 viral variant, which is dominant in South Africa

https://www.precisionvaccinations.com/2021/02/07/astrazenecas-covid-19-vaccinations-delayed-south-africa

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Pregnant women should be a priority for vaccination

COVID-19 mortality rate was 13.6-fold higher than the rate in similarly aged nonpregnant adults.

https://www.healio.com/news/primary-care/20210205/covid19-mortality-rate-elevated-in-pregnant-women

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Benefits seen on top of corticosteroids (e.g. dexamethasone) Plausible estimate: combination of tocilizumab + steroid reduces mortality by about one-third to nearly one-half, depending on stage of disease per Dr. Landray.

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Proportion of adults willing to get COVID-19 vaccine has increased by 10%

fr Sept-Dec, but still inadequate at 49%

MMWR Morbid Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7006e3.

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COVID-19 Vaccination is Voluntary for Military Personnel

https://www.precisionvaccinations.com/2021/02/06/covid-19-vaccination-voluntary-military-personnel

Devices:

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Good pictures and tips in this WaPo article.

Epidemiology/Infection control:

This rec was only in the first couple of months post-vax. Read article for details, but sends confusing message.

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Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Politics:

Feel good du jour:

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Comic relief:

https://twitter.com/KyleTWN/status/1358218818330324993?s=20

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Perspective

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Jamie Raskin’s strength in losing his son, going through the attack at the Capitol, and then being the lead impeachment manager, is incredible. 

Bits of beauty:

 

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