Coronavirus Tidbits #142 5/30/21

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


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.

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Great #scicomm friend, virologist Ian Mackay is donating all profits from his infographic to charity–currently MSF. The image is available on shirts, mask, mugs, etc. at Love the image…and Ian’s been a friend since first Ebola days a lifetime ago. Hope you’ll help spread the word & support.



Neat infographic on Variants of Concern – and interview w Angie Rasmussen

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OpEd by Zeynep Tufecki

There’s troubling new evidence that the B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India, could be far more transmissible than even the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in Britain, which contributed to some of the deadliest surges around the world.

In countries with widespread vaccination, like the United States and Britain, we can expect that Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to decline or stay low, especially because lab tests and real world experience show that vaccines appear to defend recipients well against the severe effects of both variants.

For much of the rest of the world, though, this even more transmissible new variant could be catastrophic.

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Influencers say Russia-linked PR agency asked them to disparage Pfizer vaccine

Popular French and German YouTubers and bloggers were offered money by an agency with possible Russian ties to falsely claim the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was responsible for hundreds of deaths. (The Guardian)



still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

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Tom Frieden on Herd Immunity

the fact is it’s not like a light switch: you have herd immunity and suddenly magically COVID is gone. The way immunity works is the more we build up in the population, the fewer outbreaks there will be. Unfortunately, what we’re seeing in the U.S. is some pockets, demographic, geographic, even ideological, which are getting much less vaccination coverage.

And in those pockets, we’re likely to continue to see clusters and potentially outbreaks.

And we’re not about to eradicate COVID. It’s going to be with us for the indefinite future. We’re going to have to learn to live with it and help people not die from it….

One thing that’s really important to understand is that herd immunity is proportional to the R0…With the variants, we’re seeing much higher infectivity. And because of that, we need to get even higher levels of vaccination….

in the fall. I say we will be at the ‘new normal.’ That new normal may include, for example, you go to a theater and everyone’s wearing a mask just to be on the safe side.

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With little fanfare, the FDA gave Pfizer permission to store its COVID-19 vaccine in a normal refrigerator for one month—freeing the vaccine from the need to be shipped in cumbersome boxes stuffed with dry ice.

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Low on antibodies, blood cancer patients can fight off COVID-19 with T cells

Antibodies aren’t the only immune cells needed to fight off COVID-19—T cells are equally important and can step up to do the job when antibodies are depleted, suggests a new Penn Medicine study of blood cancer patients with COVID-19 published in Nature Medicine. The researchers found that blood cancer patients with COVID-19 who had higher CD8 T cells, many of whom had depleted antibodies from cancer treatments, were more than three times likelier to survive than patients with lower levels of CD8 T cells.

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Monoclonal antibodies

In a guideline update, the NIH now recommends using either baricitinib (Olumiant) or tocilizumab (Actemra) with dexamethasone alone or plus remdesivir (Veklury) for hospitalized patients on high-flow oxygen or noninvasive ventilation who have evidence of clinical progression or elevated inflammation markers.

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Epidemiology/Infection control:

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Real-world flight data shows continued need for social distancing

Current vaccination programs alone will have a limited effect in stopping the second wave of COVID infections in the U.S., according to a study conducted by scientists from Reykjavik University, University of Lyon, University of Southern Denmark and University of Naples Federico II, and published in the Nature Group journal Scientific Reports today. The findings suggest that strict social distancing and other non-pharmaceutical methods are still necessary to end the ongoing second wave in the US and prevent a new one from rising.

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Mystery in India – Why is there an outbreak of deadly Mucor fungus now? Not seen in 1st wave…

compounded by shortages of essential antifungals.

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Tips, general reading for public:


Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.


Important thread:

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Feel good du jour:

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Comic relief:

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Yes, the toppings are extra but the sessions are free with purchase.

@RobertVore: I’ve always thought of opening a food truck called Let’s Taco Bout It where you get nachos or whatever and can eat them with a therapist.

@OhmygodTARA yes and customers can get some Pizza Mind @HelmanDaniel: And next door is a wine and cheese shop. It’s called: Sweet Baby Cheeses. @RNComic: Or also referred to as a *Whine* and cheese shop. @DrMPaff: “The Meltdown” works better if this is a fondue restaurant. Meeting with a therapist while stabbing small bites of food and immersing them in scalding cheese or chocolate is either the worst, or the best, idea ever. ~ ~ ~


Bits of beauty:


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  • lydia A.P. Martin

    Thank you for all your interesting information and the beautiful nature pictures. The video of the piliated woodpecker is precious!

    • Judy Stone

      I’m so glad that you are still enjoying the newsletter, Lydia!
      Hope you all are well. Thank you!