Coronavirus Tidbits #138 5/2/21

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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.

My latest post, for a friend: 

Covid-19 Vaccine And People With Spinal Cord Injuries

https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2021/04/29/covid-19-vaccine-and-people-with-spinal-cord-injuries/?sh=2b0e1fe2363f

News 

Must read on the disaster in India by my friend Madhukar Pai:

Opinion: India’s covid-19 crisis is a dire warning for all countries

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/04/30/indias-covid-19-crisis-is-dire-warning-all-countries/

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Where did India’s catastrophic surge come from? Blame a “perfect storm” of political, biological, behavioral, and meteorological factors. (New York TimesUSA Today)

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https://twitter.com/ShreeParadkar/status/1386130868897566720?s=20

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Brazil Senate votes to suspend patent protection on COVID-19 vaccines

It now goes to the lower chamber. According to the proposal, patent holders would be obliged to provide authorities with all the information needed to produce COVID-19 vaccines and medicines. Then, if the government were to call a state of emergency, they could be produced locally under a licensing agreement.

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/brazil-senate-votes-suspend-patent-protection-covid-19-vaccines-2021-04-30/

Diagnostics:

North Carolina and Tennessee are home to one of the most ambitious experiments in large-scale prevention and regular testing.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/04/28/new-coronavirus-testing-strategy-home-kits/

Drugs and Vaccines:

Perhaps best news of the week:

How Molnupiravir Moved to the Head of the ‘COVID Pill’ Pack

As coronavirus cases rage in India, Merck announced that it has entered into non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with five manufacturers of generic drugs in that country to speed and expand access to molnupiravir, an antiviral that is currently being studied in the phase II/III MOVe-OUT clinical trial of outpatients with COVID-19.

https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/exclusives/92323?

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Having difficult conversations: Addressing vaccine hesitancy

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-difficult-conversations-vaccine-hesitancy.html?

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Dear World, Learn From Our Vax Distribution Failures

— A strategic global rollout is essential to curbing surges and saving lives

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19vaccine/92311?

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Is Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine safe? Brazil’s veto of Sputnik V sparks lawsuit threat and confusion

These Russian-made doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine can’t be imported yet into Brazil because a regulatory agency there believes they contain infectious common cold viruses.

A confusing and unusually nasty fight broke out this week over the safety of a Russian COVID-19 vaccine known as Sputnik V after a Brazilian health agency declined on Monday to authorize its import because of quality and safety concerns. The stakes escalated yesterday when the Twitter account officially associated with the vaccine said “Sputnik V is undertaking a legal defamation proceeding” against Brazil’s regulators.

In an online press conference several hours later, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) defended its decision, maintaining that documentation from some of the Russian facilities making Sputnik V shows that one of its two doses contains adenoviruses capable of replication, a potential danger to vaccine recipients. The vaccine uses two different adenoviruses, which cause the common cold, to deliver the gene for the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVD-19. Both are supposed to be stripped of a key gene that allows them to replicate.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/04/russias-covid-19-vaccine-safe-brazils-veto-sputnik-v-sparks-lawsuit-threat-and

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‘Unprecedented achievement’: who received the first billion COVID vaccinations?

It took just four months to reach this global milestone, and hitting to the two-billion mark could happen even faster, say scientists.

The world has reached the milestone of administering one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, just four months after the World Health Organization (WHO) approved the first vaccine for emergency use, and roll-outs began in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. The speed at which they have been administered is remarkable, but unequal distribution of the vaccinations highlights global disparities, say researchers.

“It is an unprecedented scientific achievement. Nobody could have imagined that, within 16 months of the identification of a new virus, we would have vaccinated one billion people worldwide with a variety of different vaccines, using different platforms and made in different countries,” says Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

As of 27 April, 1.06 billion doses had been given to 570 million people, which means that about 7.3% of the world’s population of 7.79 billion have received at least one dose. But scientists say that more than 75% of the world’s population will need to be vaccinated to bring the pandemic under control.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01136-2

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Pfizer Begins to Export U.S.-Made COVID-19 Shots, First Doses Sent to Mexico

marks the first time the drugmaker has delivered abroad from U.S facilities after a Trump-era restriction on dose exports expired at the end of March, the source said.

The U.S. government has been under mounting pressure in recent weeks to provide surplus vaccines to other nations desperately in need as it makes swift progress vaccinating its own residents.

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2021-04-29/exclusive-pfizer-begins-exporting-us-made-covid-19-shots-abroad-starting-with-mexico-source

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Devices:

What’s the Science Behind CDC’s Outdoor Mask Guidance?

https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/exclusives/92343?

Epidemiology/Infection control:

CDC relaxes masking guidelines:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, ***unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.***
  • [The CDC does not emphasize this caveat enough, from my perspective]
  • You can gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues.

I’m not so sure–not yet quite ready to relax masking as much as they are because of my concern about variants (and that we don’t know enough about them)

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Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Politics:

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Feel good du jour:

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https://twitter.com/RexChapman/status/1386433750532182017?s=20

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Comic relief:

https://twitter.com/leenstaraileen/status/1387400550598250499?s=20

Perspective/Poem

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https://twitter.com/euronewsliving/status/1387822990251995142?s=20

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https://twitter.com/booyah2yah/status/1387273463723794433?s=20

Bits of beauty:

 

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