Coronavirus Tidbits #171 12/19/21

Quick links

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

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.

New Posts:

***Let’s Admit That Covid-19 Is Airborne – How Can You Protect Yourself?

Contains considerable practical information, including about DIY box fans, CO2 monitors, and more.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2021/12/14/lets-admit-that-covid-19-is-airborne—how-can-you-protect-yourself/?sh=31e61504306f

~ ~ ~

COVID-19 Interrupted Poliovirus Surveillance and Immunization

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/965010

News 

Omicron:

appears to have an astonishing doubling time of 2-3 days, and (in Denmark) 83% of cases are occurring in fully vaccinated.–hence the need for boosters.

Given the rapid spread of Omicron, Danish officials announced that they would shorten the recommended interval between the second shot and the booster shot to 4½ months, rather than the standard 6 months.

Incubation periods with Omicron have been short, at 3 days.

Even though 85 countries have reported Omicron cases now, the US continues its irrational, useless, and punitive travel ban against African countries.

~ ~ ~

Preliminary laboratory data hint at what makes Omicron the most superspreading variant yet

The new research comes from a Hong Kong University team led by public health professor Michael Chan Chi-wai and pathologist John Nicholls…

They analyzed how live, replicating particles of Omicron infected the tissues. They found that over the first 24 hours, Omicron multiplied about 70 times faster inside respiratory-tract tissue than the Delta variant. When they ran the same experiments with the lung tissue, they found Omicron was actually worse at infecting those cells than either Delta or the original strain of the virus that originated in Wuhan.

…scientists at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital. They found that Omicron’s heavily mutated spike protein outmuscled both Delta and the original coronavirus at attaching to ACE2 – the receptor that the virus uses to enter human cells. “We find Omicron pseudovirus is more infectious than any other variant tested,”

… Müge Çevik: “We’re all going to get infected with Omicron. At this moment, what’s important is whether you’re vaccinated or not when you’re exposed to the virus.”

https://www.statnews.com/2021/12/17/preliminary-laboratory-data-hint-at-what-makes-omicron-the-most-superspreading-variant-yet/?

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

Preliminary data fr S. Africa:

The South African research study covers the first 3 weeks of the Omicron outbreak in Gauteng province and was posted online in a preprint study from a team at Discovery Health, the country’s largest insurer. They analyzed 211,000 PCR-positive test results from adults ages 18 and up, 41% of whom had received two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Those who received two Pfizer doses were 70% less likely to be hospitalized, significantly lower than the 93% protection seen in South Africa’s Delta (B1617.2) variant wave. Protection was slightly lower in the oldest age groups.

Regarding hospitalizations in general, the group said those infected with Omicron were 29% less likely to be hospitalized, compared to waves involving other variants. In a statement, Ryan Noach, MD, Discovery Health’s chief executive officer, said the flatter trajectory of hospital admission in the Omicron wave that hints at lower severity could be confounded by high seroprevalence in South Africa’s population, especially after its Delta wave.

Tedros said. “Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems.”

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2021/12/south-africa-omicron-study-finds-drop-vaccine-protection-fewer-hospitalized

~ ~ ~

Details on first omicron cases in the US — Breakthroughs common

79% of the 43 patients infected with the variant were fully vaccinated – 20 had completed a two-dose primary series and 14 had received a booster dose. There were eight unvaccinated patients

Only one of the 43 patients was hospitalized – for 2 days – and there were no reported deaths.

Among all cases, just 3 people were asymptomatic. The other 40 patients reported cough (89%), fatigue (65%), congestion (59%) and fever (38%) as common symptoms.

https://www.healio.com/news/infectious-disease/20211213/what-the-cdc-report-says-about-the-first-omicron-cases-in-the-us

~ ~ ~

Omicron is dominant in wastewater samples in Florida county

–Even though there have been practically no cases of clinical infection. OTOH, “Those who are hospitalized are being primarily infected by the ,”

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-12-omicron-dominant-wastewater-samples-florida.html?

~ ~ ~

Preliminary data on reinfections fr UK

Omicron was associated with a 5.4-fold higher risk of (Covid) reinfection compared with Delta. …The protection afforded by past infection against reinfection with Omicron may be as low as 19%,

https://nordot.app/844613805194297344?c=592622757532812385

~ ~ ~

<a href="https://twitter.com/EricTopol/status/1470148521613410306?s=20">https://twitter.com/EricTopol/status/1470145705465442307?s=20</a>

~ ~ ~

Monoclonal antibodies

combinations from Regeneron (casirivimab and imdevimab) and Eli Lilly (bamlanivimab and etesevimab) lost most of their activity against Omicron.

In lab-based studies, sotromovimab, from GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology, had good neutralizing activity

~ ~ ~

https://twitter.com/RedBison/status/1469818586885758978?s=20

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

Other news:

SARS-CoV-2 protein interacts with Parkinson’s protein, promotes amyloid formation

Case reports of relatively young COVID-19 patients who developed Parkinson’s disease within weeks of contracting the virus have led scientists to wonder if there could be a link between the two conditions. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Chemical Neuroscience have shown that, at least in the test tube, the SARS-CoV-2 N-protein interacts with a neuronal protein called α-synuclein and speeds the formation of amyloid fibrils, pathological protein bundles that have been implicated in Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to respiratory symptoms, SARS-CoV-2 can cause neurological problems, such as loss of smell, headaches and “brain fog.” However, whether these symptoms are caused by the virus entering the brain, or whether the symptoms are instead caused by chemical signals released in the brain by the immune system in response to the virus, is still controversial.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-12-sars-cov-protein-interacts-parkinson-amyloid.html

~ ~ ~

About 40 percent with confirmed COVID-19 are asymptomatic

(HealthDay)-The percentage of asymptomatic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections is 0.25 and 40.50 percent among individuals undergoing testing and those with confirmed COVID-19, respectively, according to a review published online Dec. 14 in JAMA Network Open.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-12-percent-covid-asymptomatic.html?

~ ~ ~

 

Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

~ ~ ~

Great charts and perspective on vaccines:

How #CovidVaccines shaped 2021 in eight powerful charts https://nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03686-x…#dataviz

For example, look how quickly Covid vaxxes were developed. Remarkable!

And while immunity wanes quickly for all but Moderna, please remember that vaccinated people have a very low risk of death. 

Also, there is growing data that vaccinations reduce the risk of long Covid by at least half. (more in some studies)

A Danish study found that Moderna’s vaccine was tied to a significantly greater risk of heart inflammation versus Pfizer’s, particularly for those ages 12 to 39, but the absolute risk remained low. (The BMJ)

~ ~ ~

Refugees lack COVID shots because drugmakers fear lawsuits, documents show

especially a problem w Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Chinese mfg and J&J are not requiring indemnification.

https://www.reuters.com/world/refugees-lack-covid-shots-because-drugmakers-fear-lawsuits-documents-2021-12-16/

~ ~ ~

CDC Advisers Vote to Recommend mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Over J&J’s

… because of the rare but sometimes fatal cases of blood clotting.

Cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which involves blood clots accompanied by a low level of platelets, have previously been reported in recipients of the J&J vaccine. The highest reporting rates are in women under 50.

The CDC said that the rate of such incidents is higher than previously estimated in both women and men.

At least nine people have died following the blood clotting incidents in the United States, the CDC has said.

Members of the panel also said J&J’s vaccine is less effective in preventing COVID-19 than the other two authorized vaccines.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2021/12/cdc-advisors-recommend-mrna-covid-vaccines-over-jj

~ ~ ~

Pfizer antiviral Plaxovid reduces hospitalization, death among high-risk people by 89% (Pfizer says)

An experimental antiviral drug from Pfizer to help combat COVID-19, delivered in a five-day course of pills, reduced hospitalization or death among high-risk people by 89%, according to a final analysis of a previously released study conducted by the drugmaker.

A second study of people at average risk found the drug reduced their chances of developing severe disease by 70%, compared to a placebo. To get these results, the drug, called Paxlovid, must be given within three days of the beginning of COVID-19 symptoms – which will require people to quickly test and request a prescription once they feel ill.

The drug was tested on people who were not vaccinated but is also expected to protect people who have so-called breakthrough infections after vaccination.

Paxlovid appeared safe in both studies, which included nearly 3,500 volunteers, half of whom received a placebo. Lab studies also suggest the antiviral will remain potent against the omicron variant, which has been rapidly spreading across the globe.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/pfizer-antiviral-reduces-hospitalization-death-among-high-risk-people-by-89-25-study-shows-covid-19-updates/ar-AARNFDx?ocid=uxbndlbing

Also – The EU’s drug regulator on Thursday allowed member states to use Pfizer’s new COVID pill ahead of its formal approval, as an emergency measure.

[Good luck getting tested and getting a prescription within the 3-day window of developing symptoms.]

~ ~ ~

Merck’s COVID pill loses its lustre: what that means for the pandemic

Molnupiravir was initially heralded by public-health officials as a game-changer for COVID-19, but full clinical-trial data showed lower-than-expected efficacy.

Molnupiravir, one of two antiviral pills that have caused excitement in the past few months because preliminary clinical-trial results showed that they can significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, has yet to receive an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). An FDA advisory committee met on 30 November, and narrowly voted to recommend the drug candidate’s emergency approval by 13 to 10.

The agency’s lengthy deliberations could signal uncertainties about the antiviral’s efficacy and safety: full trial data submitted to the FDA suggest that molnupiravir is less effective than originally thought, dampening scientists’ hopes that the relatively cheap and easy-to-administer treatment might change the course of the pandemic.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03667-0

~ ~ ~

COVID infection tied to much higher risk of myocarditis than vaccines are

UK researchers estimate that an additional 2, 1, and 6 cases of myocarditis occur per 1 million people in the week after one dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, respectively, while a positive SARS-CoV-2 test was tied to much higher odds of that and other serious heart conditions.

The data, published today in Nature Medicine, also show an extra 10 myocarditis cases per 1 million people in the 28 days after a second Moderna dose, compared with 40 in the 28 days after a positive COVID-19 test. Increased cases of pericarditis and abnormal heart rhythms were also seen among those with a COVID-19 diagnosis but not in those who received any type of COVID-19 vaccine.

Dec 14 Nat Med study

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2021/12/news-scan-dec-14-2021

~ ~ ~

Breakthrough Infection Gave Variant-Specific Immune Response a Boost

– Small lab study supports idea of variant-specific boosters, authors argue

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19vaccine/96241?

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

Will we always need Covid-19 boosters? Experts have theories

https://www.statnews.com/2021/12/15/will-we-always-need-covid-19-boosters-experts-have-theories/

 

Devices:

New study associates mask laws to reduction of COVID-19 deaths

~ ~ ~

The 44 countries studied reported 2,167,664 confirmed deaths, 1,253,757 in countries without face mask mandates and 913,907 in countries with face mask mandates. The average COVID-19 mortality per million population was 48.40 in countries with face mask policies and 288.54 in countries without face mask policies, and this was significantly greater compared to countries with mask mandates. Face mask countries had significantly lower average daily increase in deaths compared to no face mask countries.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379721005572

~ ~ ~

Face mask, other PPE litter skyrockets amid pandemic

The proliferation of face coverings to protect against COVID-19 has had a devastating, lasting effect on the environment, with a 9,000% increase in mask litter over 14 months in 11 countries, finds an observational study led by UK researchers yesterday in Nature Sustainability.

Discarded gloves and used disinfectant wipes have also added to the refuse, the increase of which was likely driven by national COVID-19 policy responses-particularly face mask mandates-and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, the researchers said.

Litter poses a big threat to the environment, potentially clogging drains and sewage systems; polluting rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans; entangling and poisoning wildlife; and leaching contaminants such as microplastics into the lower food chain.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2021/12/face-mask-other-ppe-litter-skyrockets-amid-pandemic

 

Epidemiology/Infection control:

COVID-19 breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths

age is highly correlated with breakthrough hospitalizations. The majority of COVID-19 breakthrough hospitalizations were of elderly people (ages 65+), whereas the majority of people not fully vaccinated and hospitalized with COVID-19 were non-elderly adults (ages 18-64). In addition, a greater share of people hospitalized with a breakthrough COVID-19 infection had a comorbidity than people hospitalized with COVID-19 who were not fully vaccinated.

https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/brief/characteristics-of-vaccinated-patients-hospitalized-with-covid-19-breakthrough-infections/

Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Politics:

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

Feel good du jour:

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

Comic relief:

https://twitter.com/buitengebieden_/status/1470107933434331144?s=20

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

Perspective/Poem

~ ~ ~

Bits of beauty:

Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *