Coronavirus Tidbits #123 2/21/20

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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.

Texans Need Help:

Want to volunteer? I’v been working through Beto’s Powered by People to match people in need of water, food, heat, with local resources. They have a spreadsheet of people and their needs. Volunteers are calling them and then trying to connect them w resources (some provided on other sheets). I’m also entering their info into Crowdsource Rescue for folks who are homebound to see if they have a volunteer who can deliver help. It’s not hard and I can walk you through it if you want. There is also a Slack Group, too: This will likely be ongoing for days. People are so appreciative just to get a call!


The big news is the increasing spread of mutations–especially the B117, which also seems to infect kids more readily.

Clinical data from studies of the Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines do show an overall decrease in efficacy against B.1.351, but protection against severe illness appears robust. The J&J product’s efficacy against moderate-to-severe illness was 57% in South Africa versus 72% in the U.S., but showed 85% efficacy at preventing severe disease across all regions 28 days after dosing — and there were no cases of severe illness in vaccinated participants anywhere 49 days after the single-dose shot.

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Critically important issue: the US is NOT doing anywhere near the amount of genetic testing it needs to be to detect mutations and reinfections:

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Long haulers

Nearly one-third of people with COVID-19 had lingering symptoms a median of 6 months after infection onset, a single-center prospective study suggested, with fatigue and loss of smell or taste — persisting most frequently,

“Our study is unique in characterizing a group consisting of mostly outpatients: 90% of our cohort experienced only a mild COVID-19 illness, yet one-third continue to have lingering effects,” she said.

“Many of these individuals are young and have no pre-existing medical conditions, indicating that even relatively healthy individuals may face long-term impacts from their illness.”


still an incredible, negligent lack of rapid accurate testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

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Q&A: COVID-19 vaccine makers ramp up testing in children

Although the Biden administration has said that enough COVID-19 vaccine doses will be available in the U.S. to vaccinate 300 million people by the end of July, it is still unclear when vaccines will be widely available to children.

Currently, the only COVID-19 vaccine available in the U.S. for any pediatric population is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is authorized for use in people aged 16 years or older. However, both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are now being tested in children as young as age 12 years, and other manufacturers are eying similar efforts.

Oxford and AstraZeneca announced that they have begun enrolling children aged between 6 and 17 years in a trial for their vaccine candidate, and an executive for Johnson & Johnson told Bloomberg last month that the company expected to begin enrolling children in trials 4 to 6 weeks after receiving phase 3 data from its adult trials.

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U.S. commits $4 billion to COVAX vaccine initiative

The U.S. is committing $2 billion for the global COVAX vaccine initiative within days (using funds already allocated by Congress), plus an additional $2 billion over the next two years, the White House announced ahead of Friday’s virtual G7 summit.

Why it matters: Senior administration officials told reporters Thursday evening that they’ll use those commitments to “call on G7 partners Friday both to make good on the pledges that are already out there” and to make further investments in global vaccine manufacturing and distribution.


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Lots of fraudulent respirators out there.

Check the respirator approval markings (graphic below) or the Certified Equipment List to verify your respirator is NIOSH-approved. Additional information is available on the NIOSH Trusted Source page.

Example of the Correct Exterior Markings on a NIOSH-Approved Filtering Facepiece Respirator

Sample of a generic filtering facepiece respirator with appropriate markings.

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Study affirms that mothers with COVID-19 should not be separated from newborns

Temporarily separating mothers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 from their newborns and disrupting skin-to-skin care, rooming-in and direct breastfeeding was “associated with harm and may be unnecessary,” according to researchers.

The findings are from the COVID Mothers Study.

When less was known about COVID-19, the AAP recommended that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 be temporarily separated from their infants. Since then, AAP rescinded its recommendation.

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Covid Reinfections and Immunity

How long does natural protection from a first infection last?

There is no clearcut answer to this, but several studies suggest protection generated by a previous infection lasts for at least a few months.

According to one preprint study from Public Health England (PHE) released in January, which looked at hospital staff, the median interval between the first infection and reinfection was more than 160 days – about five months. Meanwhile, a study from Qatar suggests protection by natural immunity of about 95% efficacy lasts about seven months.

Good overview article:

Tips, general reading for public:


Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.


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‘I wouldn’t be complaining.’ Gov. DeSantis threatens to pull coronavirus vaccine from communities that criticize distribution

Feel good du jour:

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Comic relief:

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Bits of beauty:


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