Coronavirus Tidbits #136 4/24/21

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Announcements:

First, there is now a Resources Page here for the most commonly asked questions I’m getting.

Tidbits will likely be a bit shorter and a little less frequent for the next little bit.

Happy to continue to answer your questions/concerns as best I can, so don’t be shy about that.

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New post:

Malaria Resistant to Artemisinin Emerging in Africa for first time

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/949687

News 

US denies India’s request to lift an export ban on raw materials needed to make COVID-19 vaccines!

I believe this to be morally corrupt. It also flies in the face of everything the US has been saying about cooperation and pandemic preparedness. With China supplying most of the APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) for the world, and India supplying ~50% of the US’s generic medicine, this also seems colossally short-sighted and NOT in US’ self -interest. What are they thinking?

Under some law from the previous regime, the US is not allowed to export the AstraZeneca vax to India either.

(https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/indian-vaccine-maker-asks-us-to-ease-export-curbs/2021/04/16/648cb488-9e9b-11eb-b2f5-7d2f0182750d_story.html)

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COVID vaccines and blood clots: five key questions

As safety concerns delay the use of two COVID-19 vaccines, Nature looks at the questions that scientists want answered.

It has been a difficult week for two COVID-19 vaccines. On 13 April, US regulators urged health-care providers to temporarily stop using a vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) of New Brunswick, New Jersey, because of 6 suspected cases of unusual blood clotting among nearly 7 million vaccine recipients.

The move came after European regulators expressed concerns about a possible link between rare blood clots and the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in the United Kingdom by AstraZeneca in Cambridge and the University of Oxford.

Both decisions are having a global impact. Although researchers and regulators stress that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks, several countries are restricting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to certain age groups, and Denmark has opted out of using it altogether. J&J, meanwhile, has paused distribution of its vaccine to some countries….

Here are some of the key questions that they are hoping to answer.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00998-w

Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

Risk of breakthrough infection after vax is small, but beware of variants

  • In the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reporthealth officials described 22 “breakthrough” infections diagnosed among nearly 15,000 Chicago-area nursing home residents and staff two weeks or more after they received a second mRNA COVID vaccine dose
  • At one Kentucky nursing home, 22 out of 127 residents and staff developed infections at least two weeks after their second mRNA vaccine dose, with virus sequencing indicating an unusual variant was responsible, according to a separate MMWR report
  • And among 417 employees and students at Rockefeller University in New York City receiving two mRNA vaccine doses, researchers identified two breakthrough infections — notable mainly for the particular virus strains involved, as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19vaccine/92204?

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Studies suggest people with blood cancers (CLL and multiple myeloma) may may have reduced efficacy and not be optimally protected after COVID-19 vaccination

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-04/asoh-ssp041521.php

Devices:

Masking:

Epidemiology/Infection control:

I beg to disagree with CDC on this — there are nuances that they ignore. For example vaccinated immunocompromised may not have a good immune response.

And we don’t know what the impact of variants will be nor how protective vaccines are likely to be w some of the variants.

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White House to give CDC $1.7B to help find and track COVID-19 variants

The investment comes as cases of the new strains have multiplied in the U.S. over the past few months, leading to a major spike in cases in some states.

The money will go toward the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for equipment, supplies training and innovation for genomic sequencing to determine the spread of the variants.

The funding is from the American Rescue Plan Act, which included another $200 million to increase genomic sequencing to identify new cases, Slavitt said.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., said that the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19, which was first detected in the U.K., made up 44% of the virus cases circulating as of March 27.

She added that the figure is “certainly higher” now, and the agency expects to have more data soon.

Walensky said the seven-day average of cases is up to 69,000.

“Just four weeks ago, the seven-day average was only about 53,000 cases per day,” she added.

https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/hospitals/white-house-to-give-cdc-1-7b-to-help-find-and-track-covid-19-variants

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India is topping 300,000 cases each day now, running out of oxygen and basic supplies. Their massive COVID surge puzzles scientists

The virus is spreading faster than ever before in India despite previous high infection rates in megacities, which should have conferred some protection.

The pandemic is sweeping through India at a pace that has staggered scientists. Daily case numbers have exploded since early March: the government reported 273,810 new infections nationally on 18 April. High numbers in India have also helped drive global cases to a daily high of 854,855 in the past week, almost breaking a record set in January.

Just months earlier, antibody data had suggested that many people in cities such as Delhi and Chennai had already been infected, leading some researchers to conclude that the worst of the pandemic was over in the country.

Researchers in India are now trying to pinpoint what is behind the unprecedented surge, which could be due to an unfortunate confluence of factors, including the emergence of particularly infectious variants, a rise in unrestricted social interactions, and low vaccine coverage. Untangling the causes could be helpful to governments trying to suppress or prevent similar surges around the world.

European countries such as France and Germany are also currently experiencing large outbreaks relative to their size, and nations including Brazil and the United States are reporting high infection rates at around 70,000 a day. But India’s daily totals are now some of the highest ever recorded for any country, and are not far off a peak of 300,000 cases seen in the United States on 2 January.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01059-y?

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Clear link emerges between COVID-19 and pregnancy complications

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/04/clear-link-emerges-between-covid-19-and-pregnancy-complications

 

https://twitter.com/alvie_barr/status/1385033785096523777?s=20

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Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Politics:

Plant Diseases and Pests Are Oft-Ignored Climate-Linked National Security Risks

When climate change is discussed as a national security issue, experts often cite food insecurity brought on by extreme weather events as an important contributor to the risk of political instability and other adverse outcomes. Indeed, the U.S. intelligence community’s 2021 Annual Threat Assessment, released last week, cites extreme weather, along with conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic, as key drivers of the current high levels of global food insecurity. Crop-damaging extreme weather events were a hallmark of 2020, with historic numbers of tropical storms, droughts, floods, and derechos across several continents.

Generally missing from such analyses, however, is discussion, or even a mention, of crop damages arising from agricultural pests or plant diseases, many of which are strongly linked to changing climate variables.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/plant-diseases-and-pests-are-oft-ignored-climate-linked-national-security-risks

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https://twitter.com/JoyAnnReid/status/1385289666987966469?s=20

Feel good du jour:

https://twitter.com/RexChapman/status/1355573369681440769?s=20

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Comic relief:

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Perspective/Poem

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Thread: Start here:

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This was an absolutely lovely theread, reading the responses

Bits of beauty:

 

Trout lily

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