Coronavirus Tidbits #178 2/6/22
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.
COVID and the Holocaust
(sadly, submitted before I heard Rabbi Paskoff’s sermon, below)
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Mosquito Nets Do Prevent Malaria, Longitudinal Study Confirms
US COVID-19 cases continue steep decline
Cases of COVID-19 continue to drop significantly across the country, as the most recent surge caused by the Omicron variant is declining at a rapid pace.
The United States reported 330,128 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, and 3,546 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. The 7-day average of new daily cases is 385,425, with 2,658 daily deaths, according to the New York Times tracker.
New daily cases have decreased by almost 50% in the last 2 weeks, but the average daily death rate – which lags by 4 to 6 weeks behind case rates – has increased by 35%. An analysis of new federal data shows 100,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since Thanksgiving.
14 States still have serious ICU bed shortages.
- Europe reported 12 million cases over the past week, marking the highest weekly number of cases since the start of the pandemic,
- More European nations that are still reporting record Omicron cases announced they were easing restrictions, including Sweden, which is dropping all of its measures next week despite high case levels, and the Czech Republic, which will start by opening up restaurants and entertainment venues to unvaccinated people.
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Opinion | What We Can Learn From How the 1918 Pandemic Ended
Most histories of the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed at least 50 million people worldwide say it ended in the summer of 1919 when a third wave of the respiratory contagion finally subsided.
Yet the virus continued to kill. A variant that emerged in 1920 was lethal enough that it should have counted as a fourth wave. In some cities, among them Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Kansas City, Mo., deaths exceeded even those in the second wave, responsible for most of the pandemic’s deaths in the United States. This occurred despite the fact that the U.S. population had plenty of natural immunity from the influenza virus after two years of several waves of infection and after viral lethality in the third wave had already decreased.
Nearly all cities in the United States imposed restrictions during the pandemic’s virulent second wave, which peaked in the fall of 1918. That winter, some cities reimposed controls when a third, though less deadly wave struck. But virtually no city responded in 1920. People were weary of influenza, and so were public officials. Newspapers were filled with frightening news about the virus, but no one cared. People at the time ignored this fourth wave; so did historians. The virus mutated into ordinary seasonal influenza in 1921, but the world had moved on well before.
We should not repeat that mistake.
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Study suggests BA.2 COVID-19 subvariant more contagious
A study on how Omicron subvariants transmit in Danish households found that the BA.2 subvariant is substantially more transmissible than the original variant, researchers reported yesterday in preprint findings.
BA.2 is now dominant in Denmark, with levels rising in other countries, raising questions about how fast current surges will decline. In South Africa, which first reported the original Omicron variant, BA.2 levels are increasing, but against the backdrop of decreasing infections, Tulio de Oliveira, PhD, who directs South Africa’s Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation, said yesterday.
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Fact checks on COVID-19 misperceptions are effective initially but do not stick over time
As the COVID-19 global epidemic persists, misinformation continues to circulate widely. Journalists and public health officials continue to struggle to debunk these false and misleading claims, an especially challenging task in the U.S. where COVID-19 has become a highly polarizing issue. Are these efforts successful? According to a new study published in Nature Human Behaviour, fact checks can successfully reduce misperceptions about COVID-19 immediately after people read them but do not have lasting effects over time.
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Researchers identify four factors that may anticipate long COVID
Researchers identified four factors that may anticipate if a patient will develop long COVID.
The four factors are preexisting type 2 diabetes, SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the blood, Epstein-Barr virus DNA in the blood, and the presence of certain autoantibodies.
It is estimated that 31% to 69% of COVID-19 patients may experience long COVID, James R. Heath, PhD, professor and president at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, and colleagues wrote in Cell. The CDC defines long COVID as returning or ongoing health problems occurring 4 or more weeks after infection with SARS-CoV-2.
South African scientists copy Moderna’s COVID vaccine
Researchers at WHO’s technology transfer hub complete first step in a project aimed at building capacity for vaccine manufacturing in low- and middle-income countries.
Nature Amy Maxmen 03 February 2022
Researchers at a South African biotechnology company say they have nearly created a copy of Moderna’s messenger-RNA-based vaccine against COVID-19, without Moderna’s involvement.
The company, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, in Cape Town, has made only microlitres of the vaccine, based on data that Moderna used to make its shot. But the achievement is a milestone for a major initiative launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) – a technology transfer hub meant to build capacity for vaccine manufacturing in low- and middle-income countries.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the developers of mRNA vaccines – Moderna and Pfizer, based in the United States, and Germany’s BioNTech – have sent more than 70% of their doses to wealthy nations, according to vaccine-tracking analyses. Meanwhile, millions of vaccine orders purchased by or promised to countries in the global south for these vaccines have been delayed . “Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines are mainly still going to just the richest countries,” says Martin Friede, the WHO official coordinating the hub. “Our objective is to empower other countries to make their own.”
Many steps remain before Afrigen’s mRNA vaccine mimic could be distributed to people in Africa and beyond, and it definitely won’t help curb the pandemic this year. But the WHO hopes that the process of creating it will lay the foundation for a more globally distributed mRNA vaccine industry in the future.
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Covid-19 is still raging through the nation’s prisons
Nearly 3,000 incarcerated people have died of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, including roughly 300 in federal custody. People in prison are roughly three times more likely to die of Covid-19 than the general population, after adjusting for the fact that the prison population skews younger.
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IN NYC SEWAGE, MYSTERIOUS CORONAVIRUS SIGNAL…
Last January, a team of researchers searching for the coronavirus in New York City’s wastewater spotted something strange in their samples. The viral fragments they found had a unique constellation of mutations that had never been reported before in human patients – a potential sign of a new, previously undetected variant.
For the past year, these oddball sequences, or what the scientists call “cryptic lineages,” have continued to pop up in the city’s wastewater.
There is no evidence that the lineages, which have been circulating for at least a year without overtaking Delta or Omicron, pose an elevated health risk to humans. But the researchers, whose findings will be published in Nature Communications on Thursday, still have no idea where they came from…
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A cause of America’s labor shortage: Millions with long COVID
One of the puzzles of the pandemic economy is the ongoing labor shortage, with business owners struggling to find workers amid the so-called “Great Resignation.” But new research points to another – and more troubling – factor that helps explain the nation’s shrinking workforce: long COVID.
Millions of Americans are struggling with long-term symptoms after contracting COVID-19, with many of them unable to work due to chronic health issues. Katie Bach, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said she was “floored” when she started crunching the numbers on the ranks of workers who have stepped out of the job market due to long COVID.
Her analysis found that an equivalent of 1.6 million people are missing from the full-time workforce because of the disease, …
the country’s labor force remains 2.2 million people short of its pre-pandemic size – an issue that’s causing headaches for many employers. Earlier in the crisis, some business owners blamed extra unemployment aid for keeping workers on the sidelines. But those benefits ended in September, and the labor force still hasn’t fully rebounded.
Long COVID could keep millions of people from working or require them to cut back their hours,…
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First COVID-19 human challenge study yields infection clues
COVID-19 infection has a shorter incubation period than originally thought, and rapid tests performed well at tracking virus levels, a research team based at Imperial College London reported today in a preprint study that describes the results of the first human challenge trial.
Infection starts in throat, peaks in nose
With the goals of exploring infection dynamics and whether the human challenge model is safe studying vaccines, treatments, and tests, Imperial College researchers conducted the study in young adults ages 18 to 30 who had not been vaccinated. Participants were inoculated with nose drops containing a low dose of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, then monitored in a controlled setting for 2 weeks.
Eighteen experienced infections, including 16 who experienced symptoms, which were mild-to-moderate. Common symptoms included stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, musculoskeletal pain, headache, fever, and fatigue. Thirteen had loss of taste or smell, which resolved after 3 months in all but three of the participants.
None developed lung symptoms or suffered adverse events. All will be monitored for 12 months to watch for any long-term effects.
One key finding was a short incubation period of 42 hours, which is much less than the current estimate of 5 to 6 days. The infection first appeared in the throat, with levels peaking highest in the nose. Virus levels peaked at about 5 days, but high levels of viable virus were seen up to 9 days after exposure and as late as 12 days for some of the participants.
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Early data indicate vaccines still protect against Omicron’s sister variant, BA.2
New data show that vaccines still protect against a spinoff of the Omicron variant, a welcome sign as the world keeps a close eye on the latest coronavirus iteration.
BA.2, as the sublineage is known, is part of the broader Omicron umbrella. Scientists are paying more attention to it as it begins to eat into the dominance of the more common Omicron strain, which is technically called BA.1.
BA.1 is what has driven massive spikes in cases around the world, but in countries including India, the Philippines, South Africa, and several countries in Europe, BA.2 has been picking up proportional steam and demonstrating a growth advantage over BA.1. The two lineages share many mutations, but have their own individual genetic twists as well.
As with any emerging variant, there are more questions than answers about BA.2’s transmissibility, severity, and ability to erode the immunity built by vaccination or prior infection. As the World Health Organization put it last week, “drivers of transmission and other properties of BA.2 are under investigation but remain unclear to date.”
But data this week from the U.K. Health Security Agency – which has done some of the leading work on new variants – offered a piece of reassuring news: There does not seem to be any loss of vaccine effectiveness against BA.2 compared to BA.1.
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Highly virulent HIV variant found circulating in Europe
The mutated strain is more severe and more transmissible – but drugs are still effective against it.
Nature Giorgia Guglielmi 03 February 2022
A highly transmissible and damaging variant of HIV has been circulating in the Netherlands for decades, researchers have found.
An analysis of more than 100 infected people suggests that the variant boosts the number of viral particles in a person’s blood, making them more likely to transmit the virus. The variant also seems to lead to a reduction in immune cells called CD4 T cells, putting people at risk of developing AIDS much more rapidly than those infected with other versions of HIV.
The emergence of a more virulent form of HIV is “a reason to stay vigilant”, but it’s not a public-health crisis, because the mutations found in the new variant don’t make it resistant to existing HIV drugs, says Joel Wertheim, an evolutionary biologist and molecular epidemiologist at the University of California San Diego. “All of the tools in our arsenal should still work,” he says.
The findings, published in Science on 3 February1, also serve as a reminder that viruses do not always evolve to become less virulent over time.
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A popular approach to combating malnutrition is through guinea pig farming. These furry creatures offer a much-needed source of protein as well as micronutrients and can increase household food security more rapidly than conventional livestock such as pigs and chickens. Furthermore, they are small and easy to hide and thus well suited to conflict zones, where extreme poverty and widespread lawlessness mean that the looting of larger domestic livestock is commonplace. The animals have other advantages: they can be fed kitchen waste and are a relatively low-cost investment compared to other livestock. Crucially, they reproduce quickly, with females giving birth to multiple litters that total 10 to 15 offspring per year. Another advantage is that they also suffer from fewer diseases than pigs, chickens or rabbits. Plus, in the event of disease outbreaks, their high reproduction rate means populations have a much shorter recovery time.
Bonus: Guinea Pig ‘Last Supper’ in Cusco, Peru:
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Widely available supplement (selenium) may explain brain boost from exercise
A good workout doesn’t just boost your mood-it also boosts the brain’s ability to create new neurons. But exactly how this happens has puzzled researchers for years. “It’s been a bit of a black box,” says Tara Walker, a neuroscientist at the University of Queensland’s Brain Institute.
Now, Walker and her colleagues think they have found a key: the chemical element selenium. During exercise, mice produce a protein containing selenium that helps their brains grow new neurons, the team reports today. Scientists may also be able to harness the element to help reverse cognitive decline due to old age and brain injury, the authors say.
It’s a “fantastic” study, says Bárbara Cardoso, a nutritional biochemist at Monash University’s Victorian Heart Institute. Her own research has shown selenium-which is found in Brazil nuts, grains, and some legumes-improves verbal fluency and the ability to copy drawings correctly in older adults. “We could start thinking about selenium as a strategy” to treat or prevent cognitive decline in those who cannot exercise or are more vulnerable to selenium deficiency, she says, such as older adults, and stroke and Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Many Adults Who Thought They Had COVID-19 Actually Didn’t
– But of those with confirmed cases, SARS-CoV-2 antibodies still seen at a median 9 months
Overall, antibodies were detected in 99% of people who said they had a positive COVID-19 test result, in 55% who believed they had COVID-19 but who were never tested, and in 11% who thought they never had SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Drugs and Vaccines:
“We didn’t have help from the major COVID vaccine producers,” he says, “so we did it ourselves to show the world that it can be done, and be done here, on the African continent.” https://t.co/S6IkKqoMCz— Oni Blackstock MD MHS (@oni_blackstock) February 4, 2022
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Experts question rolling authorization plan for Covid vaccine for kids under 5
STAT By Helen Branswell Feb. 2, 2022
The Food and Drug Administration’s willingness to consider authorizing a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for children under the age of 5 – without evidence yet that it would be protective – is raising concerns among some vaccine experts who fear the plan could backfire and undermine vaccine uptake in this group.
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These countries have the lowest Covid vaccination rates in the world
Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti are the least vaccinated countries in the world against Covid-19, data has shown.
Just 0.05% of Burundi’s population has received at least one Covid vaccination dose, according to statistics compiled by Our World in Data.
In DR Congo, 0.4% of people have been given at least one dose, while in Haiti that proportion of the population rises to around 1%.
In low-income countries, just 5.5% of people have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to Our World in Data. In high-income countries, 72% of the population has been fully vaccinated with at least two doses.
Countries in which civil unrest and conflict are ongoing are also among the world’s least vaccinated, with violent combat making it difficult for vaccines to reach their general populations.
In Yemen, where civil war has been raging since 2014, less than 2% of the population has been vaccinated against Covid. South Sudan, where disputes over power-sharing are still rife even after its civil war officially ended in 2018, also has a vaccination rate of around 2%.
Many African nations have low vaccination rates, including Chad, Madagascar and Tanzania, whose immunization rates range from 1.5% to 4%.
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Explainer: How does Merck’s COVID-19 pill compare to Pfizer’s?
Rival antiviral pills from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Merck & Co (MRK.N) that demonstrated efficacy in trials of adults with COVID-19 who are at high risk of serious illness are now both in use. The drugs are being studied to see if they can prevent infection in people exposed to the virus.
Here is an explanation of the differences in the two pills.
Which of the new pills works better?
Trial data provided by the two companies suggest that Pfizer has the more effective pill.
Pfizer in December said final trial results showed that its treatment reduced the chance of hospitalization or death by 89% in COVID-19 patients at risk of severe illness given the treatment within three days of the onset of symptoms, and by 88% when given within five days of onset. read more
Merck in November said its full trial results showed that molnupiravir lowered the chance of hospitalization or death by about 30% in patients at risk of severe COVID who were given the treatment within five days of developing symptoms. read more
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FDA fully approves Moderna COVID vaccine, Spikevax
Today the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna, which will now be known as Spikevax.
The vaccine had been authorized for emergency use for more than a year and has been a mainstay of the US vaccination campaign.
Approved for use in adults
Spikevax is approved for use in adults 18 and older as a two-dose vaccine with shots administered 1 month apart. Spikevax can be mixed and matched with the Moderna emergency use authorized vaccine and used as a booster vaccine.
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Does the world need an Omicron vaccine? What researchers say
Public-health specialists are debating the need for a shot targeting the variant, now causing a record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases.
After the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first identified in November, vaccine makers quickly began developing shots against the highly mutated and transmissible virus. This week, pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and biotechnology company Moderna both announced that they had initiated clinical trials in which they are dosing people with Omicron-based vaccines. But whether rolling out these jabs is necessary, or even practical, is unclear, according to public-health authorities and infectious-disease specialists interviewed by Nature.
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Evusheld: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis of COVID-19 Antibodies Delivers Six Months of Protection
The JAMA Network published The Medical Letter on January 25, 2022, that says, ‘In a double-blind trial, one-time I.M. administration of the antibodies from the monoclonal antibody (mAbs) treatment Evusheld (tixagevimab and cilgavimab) decreased the incidence of symptomatic COVID-19 compared to placebo in at-risk adults for six months.
And, Evusheld can be ‘administered to eligible patients every six months while SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus remains in circulation.’
The U.S. FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for AstraZeneca’s Evusheld, an investigational long-acting mAbs to be administered concomitantly by I.M. injection for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 in persons ≥12 years old who weigh ≥40 kg and have either a history of severe allergy that prevents their vaccination against COVID-19 or moderate or severe immune compromise.
This is the first drug to be authorized by the FDA for this indication. Other mAbs antibodies are authorized for post-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19.
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Best way to boost the immune system after a single Janssen vaccination is with mRNA booster
With new coronavirus variants circulating and immunity decreasing, the best way to boost the immune system after a single Janssen vaccination is with the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines. This is compared with a second Janssen dose or no booster at all. Researchers expect an increased effectiveness against virus infection and transmission based on observations made in the SWITCH study-a multicentre study coordinated by Erasmus MC and including the LUMC, UMC Groningen and Amsterdam UMC.
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A small island nation has cooked up not 1, not 2 but 5 COVID vaccines. It's Cuba! https://t.co/9bRlfA1bQ5— Kathryn Tessier (@kaetheherzog) February 5, 2022
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Study reveals why public health messaging should focus on self-interest to tackle vaccine hesitancy
Public health messaging should focus on the benefits to the individual of a COVID vaccine rather than broader societal gains when attempting to overcome vaccine hesitancy, new research from academics at the University of Sussex Business School, the National University of Singapore Business School and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad indicates.
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Study: Xofluza May Best Tamiflu in Reducing Family Spread
– Simulated model suggests 73% more transmission if index cases received oseltamivir (Tamiflu) than Xofluza (Baloxavir marboxil)
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Those at highest risk for severe COVID-19 often least likely to get monoclonal antibodies
People over age 65 at the highest risk for severe COVID-19 have often been the least likely to receive monoclonal antibodies (mAbs)-a highly effective treatment for the disease-both across and within U.S. states, according to new research co-authored by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
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Pre-infection vitamin D deficiency associated with increased severity and mortality among COVID-19 patients
Vitamin D is most often recognized for its role in bone health, but low levels of the supplement have been associated with a range of autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases. Early on in the pandemic health officials began to encourage people to take vitamin D, as it plays a role in promoting immune response and could protect against COVID-19.
New MMWR: People who reported always wearing a mask in indoor public settings were less likely to test positive for COVID-19, and the use of higher quality masks was associated with increased protection. h/t @chrishendel https://t.co/zhNkr8PKHq— Anne Sosin (@asosin) February 4, 2022
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Asian nations have been intermittently masking for many years and now, only now, do we understand the famously poor academic performance of their children.— Esther Choo MD MPH (@choo_ek) February 2, 2022
1. Amazing statistic: In the 10 weeks since Omicron was discovered, there have been 90M #Covid cases reported — more than in all of 2020, says @drtedros at today's @WHO press conference.— Helen Branswell (@HelenBranswell) February 1, 2022
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Parents’ COVID-19 Vaccine Protects Unvaccinated Children From Infection
It has been hard to determine, since COVID-19 vaccinations first rolled out, the extent that vaccines protect unvaccinated close contacts from infection. Now, an Israeli team has found that parental vaccination confers substantial protection for unvaccinated children in the same household. Through studying households without prior infection, consisting of two parents and unvaccinated children, the team estimated the effect of parental vaccination on the risk of infection for unvaccinated children.
The results are published in Science in the article, “Indirect protection of children from SARS-CoV-2 infection through parental vaccination.
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Most COVID-19 ICU survivors experience symptoms one year after ICU admission
75% of the COVID-19 survivors who were treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) experience physical, mental and/or cognitive problems one-year post ICU. This shows the large-scale MONITOR-IC study led by Radboud university medical center, in which the health status of ICU survivors is monitored with questionnaires up to five years after ICU admission.
The study regarding long-term health problems, published in the scientific journal JAMA, was conducted among 246 COVID-19 patients (176 men/70 women) who were treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) in the Netherlands. Their mean age was 61 years. Using questionnaires, they were asked how they were doing one-year post ICU. Worldwide, this is the first scientific research regarding long-term problems among COVID-19 ICU survivors. Patients in this study were admitted to the ICU during the first COVID-19 surge between March and July 2020.
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Can We Catch COVID From Our Pets?
– Jumps between species provide ample opportunity for virus to change, says Benjamin tenOever
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Other Viruses Rebound When Pandemic Restrictions Ease
– Israeli study found increased non-COVID infections across all ages, but especially in young kids
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I like this thread.— Michael Mina (@michaelmina_lab) January 29, 2022
Hits on a number of really nice studies and issues of public interest regarding viruses and pathogenicity in their hosts: should we expect a new virus to become more mild or to become more severe?
It can go either way. https://t.co/8FaWDl3D2B
Tips, general reading for public:
Why taking fever-reducing meds and drinking fluids may not be the best way to treat flu and fever
“Hitler pledges to rule sanely…to govern constitutionally…to steer clear of anti-Semitism”—tomorrow 1933: pic.twitter.com/LIqulKvyuN— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) January 30, 2022
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At the #Olympics you’ll see a well-known tradition—the torch relay—which the Nazis used at the 1936 Olympics for propaganda purposes.— US Holocaust Museum (@HolocaustMuseum) February 3, 2022
Today, we witness how the Olympics can still be used to distract from atrocities, such as the persecution of the #Uyghurs. pic.twitter.com/ge6mL35Sq7
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January 30, 2022
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Neo-Nazis target anti-racist doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital, calling them 'anti-white' https://t.co/kTe2qDhvt6— Pierrette Mimi Poinsett MD (@yayayarndiva) February 3, 2022
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“Former President Donald Trump on Sunday admitted in a written statement that he wanted his former Vice President Mike Pence to ‘overturn the election’ and railed against efforts to put laws in place to prevent something like that from ever happening.” — Huffington Post 1/30/22— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) January 31, 2022
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“Lock and load” — that’s the new mantra of the Republican Party. They don’t believe in voting. They believe in violence. They are a chaos party. We must choose #VotesNotViolence https://t.co/m2O1D1rfse— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) January 31, 2022
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New: Ginni Thomas invited DeSantis to join her weekly “cone of silence” Groundswell meetings, saying Justice Thomas had been in touch with the governor too: https://t.co/nvF4k3BaQY— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) February 4, 2022
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Justice Gorsuch spoke last night at Federalist Society event in Orlando. Since the press was excluded we have no idea what he said. pic.twitter.com/znmiRbF657— Daniel Uhlfelder (@DWUhlfelderLaw) February 5, 2022
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Jeff Zucker, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Glenn Thrush, Les Moonves, etc. White men in media who shaped sexist coverage of @HillaryClinton in 2016 — as she ran against a sexual predator. All subsequently connected to sexual misconduct scandals. Not a coincidence.— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) February 4, 2022
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PSA for anyone who might be dealing with robot gun dogs, from a farm robot specialist who wasn't really looking at robot wrangling from the public safety standpoint but here we are. https://t.co/PhQSmEnzOn— Dr Sarah Taber (@SarahTaber_bww) October 17, 2021
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"We recognize it's something of a coincidence that they will be deployed in the same region as humans we consider undesirable, and we totally don't intend to program them to hunt these same humans like fleshy prey, but stranger things have happened."— K.B. Spangler (@KBSpangler) February 3, 2022
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“almost half of emergency physicians report being physically assaulted at work, while about 70% of emergency nurses report being hit and kicked while on the job” #medtwitter— John Shields, MD, FAAOS (@jointdocShields) February 5, 2022
NC doctor: Address rising violence in the ER before someone is killed https://t.co/3JH1nSFY5l
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You would think the “party of free speech” would have a problem with 14 states imposing restrictions on how teachers can talk about race.— Robert Reich (@RBReich) February 3, 2022
(You would be wrong.)
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If we valued books more than guns in America, we'd have more educated, fewer dead schoolchildren.— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) February 3, 2022
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Portugal has a 90% vax rate, and hardly anyone is anti-mask. Why?— Dr. Lucky Tran (@luckytran) January 30, 2022
"We know that freedom is something else. We have lived in a dictatorship until '74. So, we know that removal of 'freedom' is something else" says infectious disease expert @MariaMMota2https://t.co/VIeDYPmjwX pic.twitter.com/ghSB4joxyR
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Yes. (And women in Ottawa were told by police not to wear masks outdoors, so as not to provoke the protestors who are threatening to follow them home).— Nili Kaplan-Myrth MD PhD (@nilikm) February 3, 2022
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Once struggling, anti-vaccination groups have enjoyed a pandemic windfall
Newly filed tax records show that ICAN, one of the country’s best-funded anti-vaccine organizations, saw a 60 percent jump in revenue in 2020.
Del Bigtree ended his closing speech at last week’s anti-vaccine mandate rally in Washington with a message, bellowed to a few thousand rallygoers and the news organizations assembled on a riser in front of him.
“We are no longer a fringe group,” he proclaimed.
The pandemic has been a boon for the anti-vaccine community, with Bigtree’s Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), one of the country’s best-funded anti-vaccine organizations, among the biggest beneficiaries, according to newly filed tax records.
ICAN reported $5.5 million in revenue in 2020, a 60 percent increase over the previous year. The funding underscores how lucrative the pandemic has been for a handful of groups that spread health misinformation and undermine public faith in vaccines. Those donations primarily come from private donors, including through Facebook fundraisers.
Other large anti-vaccine organizations have similarly thrived during the pandemic. As an Associated Press investigation reported, the Children’s Health Defense, led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., more than doubled its revenue in 2020, to $6.8 million.
While misinformation researchers know that the pandemic has boosted the profiles of many anti-vaccination efforts, the ICAN documents show how these organizations have also benefited financially.
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Pamela Moses, a Black woman, has been sentenced to six years in prison because of a voting error. Meanwhile, white individuals who are known to have committed blatant voter fraud have only received probation.— Legal Defense Fund (@NAACP_LDF) February 4, 2022
There are two criminal justice systems in America. pic.twitter.com/o4UqowdpbF
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NEW: Iowa Republicans have introduced a bill that would put government-installed cameras in every single classroom to livestream school activities for parents to spy on teachers and children at all times of the day.— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) February 2, 2022
North Carolina voting
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WOW – Virginia Republicans just voted to continue to allow personal use of campaign funds.— Dan Helmer (@HelmerVA) February 2, 2022
I’m betting most people just assumed this was illegal.
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NEW: The historian tasked with teaching about slavery at the Virginia Governors Mansion just resigned after finding the Youngkins converted her classroom into a family room – and emptied her office. Shameful.— Ethan Lynne (@ethanclynne) February 5, 2022
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Not sure how you could mismanage this decision so badly, but UA manages to find a way, per usual https://t.co/9OwQR4mko6— Melissa Brown (@itsmelissabrown) February 4, 2022
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70,000 people are without power in Texas.— Jack Cocchiarella (@JDCocchiarella) February 3, 2022
Texans shouldn’t be losing power, Greg Abbott should.
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So a school district nixed Maus from their curriculum, to be replaced by something more "age-appropriate." IIRC they didn't cite a specific replacement title, but it will probably be something like John Boyne's "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas."— Gwen C. Katz (@gwenckatz) January 29, 2022
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Spotify isn’t just hosting Joe Rogan. They signed a $100 million contract with him to host his content exclusively on their platform.— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) January 30, 2022
This isn’t about censorship. It’s about the misinformation that Spotify is financially SPONSORING.
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A top suicide hotline is collecting data from people's darkest moments and sharing it with a for-profit company that is using the data to build and sell customer service software. Our report on Crisis Text Line: https://t.co/VN5vHgdXj1— POLITICO (@politico) January 28, 2022
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As the world watches the #WinterOlympics, we cannot forget the people imprisoned, disappeared, or otherwise detained for exercising their right to free expression in China. Meet 5 of them: pic.twitter.com/LFY1u09pKB— Amnesty International USA (@amnestyusa) February 3, 2022
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Old Cold War vs. New Cold War pic.twitter.com/lOWXu39zP4— Nick Knudsen (@NickKnudsenUS) January 29, 2022
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Feel good du jour:
As this tweet got big, I should allay one likely concern. It is not 12th night + 1 ‘autistic’ role. The teachers send us the script but my understanding is this followed a process where the children created and adapted their own characters, based on their strengths.— Naomi Rovnick 歐蜜 (@naomi_rovnick) February 1, 2022
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Just adopted! Omg look at her happy face! pic.twitter.com/4soeNs9irk— Counts My CannaBlessings! (@IntoTheShitter) February 2, 2022
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The Minnesota Dept of Transportation just named two new snowplows: Betty Whiteout and Ctrl Salt Delete— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) February 4, 2022
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Drumroll, please… here are your new snowplow names, Minnesota!— Minnesota Department of Transportation (@MnDOT) February 3, 2022
After nearly 60,000 votes cast, Plowy McPlowFace has eight new friends joining the fleet – one for each MnDOT district around the state. Learn more here: https://t.co/vCCLVYw2s3 pic.twitter.com/rRZ8A0uCpA
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Happy Lunar New Year, everyone. After a trying couple of years, here’s hoping for one of health, happiness and prosperity. 新年快樂, 身體健康!— Andrea Woo | 鄔瑞楓 (@AndreaWoo) February 1, 2022
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Holocaust Remembrance Day, Maus, and Growing Antisemitism
Please see this commentary from Rabbi Jack Paskoff last week. He kindly shared his video with me and I added a transcript. It was very moving and resonant.
Bits of beauty:
In the bleak midwinter…