Coronavirus Tidbits #154 8/22/21

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 

How does COVID-19 affect the brain? A troubling picture emerges.

large portion of COVID-19 patients—possibly as high as 30 percent, according an estimate from the National Institutes of Health—who suffer some type of neurological or psychiatric symptoms...“The big surprise was the people who never required hospitalization that are having persistent trouble.”

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/how-does-covid-19-affect-the-brain-a-troubling-picture-emerges?loggedin=true

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Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

 

Drugs and Vaccines:

Boosters:

U.S. officials’ decision on Covid-19 booster shots baffles — and upsets — some scientists

Many flat-out challenged the need for booster doses at this time. Others questioned the morality of the decision.

https://www.statnews.com/2021/08/18/u-s-decision-on-covid-19-booster-shots-baffles-and-upsets-some-scientists/?

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A more pro-booster article:

The Science Supporting the U.S. Case for COVID Boosters

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19vaccine/94106?

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Opinion: To vaccinate more Americans, lean into outbreaks

Excellent perspective on our missed opportunities to vax ppl going for testing, etc

https://www.statnews.com/2021/08/19/lean-into-outbreaks-to-vaccinate-more-americans/

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STUDY: AstraZeneca Says Antibody Combo Can Prevent COVID

— Top-line phase III data finds efficacy of therapy as COVID pre-exposure prophylaxis

Not yet approved, but looks promising for pre-exposure prophylaxis

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/94140?

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Cholesterol medication, Fenofibrate, could reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection by up to 70 per cent: UK study

A licensed drug normally used to treat abnormal levels of fatty substances in the blood could reduce infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus by up to 70 per cent, reveals a study in the laboratory by an international collaboration of researchers.

The research team, led by the University of Birmingham and Keele University in the UK and the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Italy, has demonstrated that fenofibrate and its active form (fenofibric acid) can significantly reduce SARS-COV-2 infection in human cells in the laboratory. Importantly, reduction of infection was obtained using concentrations of the drug which are safe and achievable using the standard clinical dose of fenofibrate. Fenofibrate, which is approved for use by most countries in the world including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), is an oral drug currently used to treat conditions such as high levels of cholesterol and lipids (fatty substances) in the blood.

http://outbreaknewstoday.com/cholesterol-medication-fenofibrate-could-reduce-sars-cov-2-infection-by-up-to-70-per-cent-uk-study-27719/

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Blood clotting may be the root cause of Long COVID syndrome, RCSI research

Monday, 16 August 2021 – New evidence shows that patients with Long COVID syndrome continue to have higher measures of blood clotting, which may help explain their persistent symptoms, such as reduced physical fitness and fatigue.

The study, led by researchers from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

Previous work by the same group studied the dangerous clotting observed in patients with severe acute COVID-19. However, far less is known about Long COVID syndrome, where symptoms can last weeks to months after the initial infection has resolved and is estimated to affect millions of people worldwide.

The researchers examined 50 patients with symptoms of Long COVID syndrome to better understand if abnormal blood clotting is involved.

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/925430

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Study shows no significant benefit of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 outpatients with early symptoms

The final results of the Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma in Outpatients (C3PO) demonstrate that COVID-19 convalescent plasma did not prevent disease progression in a high-risk group of outpatients with COVID-19, when administered within the first week of their symptoms. The trial was stopped in February 2021 due to lack of efficacy based on a planned interim analysis.

https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa2103784

Devices:

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Optimal use time for face coverings to mitigate COVID-19 transmission

Journal of Hazardous Materials, researchers from Surrey's  Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) explore two key questions: how long a mask should be worn; and when should it be discarded, recycled or washed to optimize its usage time.

The researchers found that medical face masks provide between 2.6 to 7.3 hours of usage time and are around 81 percent effective against virus-laden particles, and handmade masks are effective for 4 to 8.8 hours and are 47 percent effective.

[Note: these findings are worse than in many other studies.

Now, with Delta, I'm seeing more recs of double masking with a blue surgical mask underneath (because it is looser) and a more form-fitting cloth mask on top.]

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-08-optimal-mitigate-covid-transmission.html?

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Epidemiology/Infection control:

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Excess of COVID-19 cases and deaths due to fine particulate matter exposure during the 2020 wildfires in the United States

Wildfires produce high levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Recent studies reported that short-term exposure to PM2.5 is associated with increased risk of COVID-19 cases and deaths. We found strong evidence that wildfires amplified the effect of short-term exposure to PM2.5 on COVID-19 cases and deaths, although with substantial heterogeneity across counties.

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/33/eabi8789?utm_source=

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Viral evolution 101: Why the coronavirus has changed as it has, and what it means going forward

https://www.statnews.com/2021/08/20/viral-evolution-101-coronavirus/?

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How CDC data problems put the U.S. behind on the delta variant

CDC is creating a new forecasting and outbreak analytics center in response to criticisms that the agency doesn't share data quickly enough.

Another data decision provoked more bafflement — the agency’s announcement in May that it would track only the most severe breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals that result in hospitalizations and deaths

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/08/18/cdc-data-delay-delta-variant/

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Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Politics:

COVID Skeptics Are Refusing Life-Saving Blood Transfusions from Vaccinated Donors

Kaiser Health News

The nation’s roiling tensions over vaccination against COVID-19 have spilled into an unexpected arena: lifesaving blood transfusions.

With nearly 60% of the eligible U.S. population fully vaccinated, most of the nation’s blood supply is now coming from donors who have been inoculated, experts said. That’s led some patients who are skeptical of the shots to demand transfusions only from the unvaccinated, an option blood centers insist is neither medically sound nor operationally feasible.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/covid-skeptics-are-refusing-life-saving-blood-transfusions-from-vaccinated-donors/ar-AANpahd?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531

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No Physicians Disciplined for COVID Falsehoods

— Most boards say they have grounds to pursue docs who peddle bad info, but no sanctions issued yet...including Simone Gold, MD, JD; Scott Atlas, MD; Joseph Mercola, DO; Lee Merritt, MD; Sherri Tenpenny, DO; and Stella Immanuel, MD -- who are free to continue to misinform their patients and the public, even as the Delta variant surges.

https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/exclusives/94104?

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Pretty good thread on Afghanistan starts here:

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Excellent overview on Afghanistan by Jim Acosta: https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2021/08/21/afghanistan-us-troops-trump-hypocrisy-holdon-acosta-vpx.cnn

Feel good du jour:

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Comic relief:

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Perspective/Poem

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Bits of beauty:

 

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