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Coronavirus Tidbits #181 2/27/22

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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 Post:

Can Phages Help Where Antibiotics Have Failed?

This is a full feature and explainer on the current status of phage therapy for antibiotic resistance.

I know registering for Medscape is a nuisance–they just want an email and name. Feel free to use a burner account, or unsubscribe after. Medscape does have good content, overall.

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/969001

News 

Omicron:

WHO says Omicron subvariant BA.2 is not more virulent 

https://blognamic.com/who-says-omicron-subvariant-is-not-more-virulent-science/

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BA.2 Slowly (so far) increasing in US

(unlike rapid growth overseas)

BA.2 has now been found from coast to coast and accounts for an estimated 3.9% all new infections nationally, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It appears to be doubling fast.

“If it doubles again to 8%, that means we’re into the exponential growth phase and we may be staring at another wave of COVID-19 coming in the U.S.,” says Samuel Scarpino, the manager director of pathogen surveillance at the Rockefeller Foundation.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/02/21/1081810074/omicron-ba2-variant-spread?utm_source=

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Other:

The agency has withheld critical data on boosters, hospitalizations and, until recently, wastewater analyses.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/20/health/covid-cdc-data.html

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Laws Stripping Public Health Powers a ‘Terrifying Step Back,’ Says Former HHS Chief

https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/publichealth/97336?

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Over 5 Million Kids Have Been Orphaned From COVID-19, Estimates Show

– Updated model finds “heartbreaking” levels of orphanhood in 2021

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/97352?

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ECMO therapy cuts Covid-19 patients’ chance of dying by half, if they can get it

For extremely sick patients,an advanced form of life support called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, cuts the risk of dying from Covid-19 by half, according to a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University. But at the height of the pandemic, many patients couldn’t get the treatment because there weren’t enough beds, machines or skilled staff to care for them, the study found. Nearly 90% of patients who met Vanderbilt’s stringent criteria to receive ECMO, but couldn’t get in for care, died. https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/25/health/ecmo-cuts-covid-19-death-risk/index.html ~ ~ ~

Researchers find COVID-19 virus causing testicular damage and atrophy

Researchers at the Department of Microbiology of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) have found that the COVID19 virus can cause acute testicular damage, chronic asymmetric testicular atrophy, and hormonal changes in hamsters despite a light pneumonia.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-02-covid-virus-testicular-atrophy.html?

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One in three young people say they felt happier during lockdown

…with potential contributing factors including feeling less lonely, avoiding bullying and getting more sleep and exercise, according to researchers at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-02-young-people-felt-happier-lockdown.html?

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Workforce in nursing homes, other healthcare areas shrank amid COVID

The largest declines in employment in 2020 were in dentists’ offices (10.0%) and SNFs (8.4%), while the smallest declines occurred in hospitals (2.5%) and physicians’ offices (4.6%). Other healthcare sectors rebounded to prepandemic employment levels in 2021, but SNFs saw even more declines (13.6% relative to 2019) despite having the largest wage increases (9.5% in 2020 and 6.3% in 2021).

Feb 25 JAMA Health Forum research letter

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2022/02/news-scan-feb-25-2022

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COVID-19 genetic risk variant protects against HIV

by Max Planck Society  FEBRUARY 21, 2022

The genetic variants we are born with can increase or decrease our risk of falling seriously ill with COVID-19. The major genetic risk variant for severe COVID-19, one we inherited from Neandertals, is surprisingly common. This raises the question whether it may actually be of advantage to carry this variant. A study by Hugo Zeberg, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Germany and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, now shows that the same gene variant that increases the risk of falling seriously ill with COVID-19 protects from another serious disease-it reduces a person’s risk of contracting HIV by 27 percent. This study is published in PNAS

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-02-covid-genetic-variant-hiv.html

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Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

Allergic reaction to your first COVID shot? Risk of another is low, study finds

So, you had a severe allergic reaction to your first COVID-19 shot. Does that doom you to the same after your second shot?

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-02-allergic-reaction-covid-shot.html?

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Will a rising Omicron variant scramble antibody treatments?

The BA.2 COVID variant now spreading worldwide disarms a crucial monoclonal-antibody therapy in laboratory tests.

Nature Freda Kreier 23 February 2022

The rapidly spreading BA.2 variant of SARS-CoV-2 could once again make doctors rethink antibody treatments for COVID-19.

Manufactured immune molecules called monoclonal antibodies are essential for keeping people with COVID-19 out of hospital. Now, early laboratory data1,2 hint that the key antibody sotrovimab could lose effectiveness against the rapidly spreading BA.2 variantSotrovimab is one of the few therapies for COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant, which overpowers several antibody treatments that were effective against previous strains.

Just in time, US regulators have given emergency approval to another monoclonal antibody, bebtelovimab, that inhibits both the original Omicron strain3 and BA.21 in laboratory assays.

But for many researchers, the sotrovimab findings are a testament to the uphill battle of keeping up with SARS-CoV-2 as it evolves to evade immune systems, antibody treatments and vaccines.

Most antibody treatments target and attach to SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein, which the virus uses to enter cells. But the protein is also a hotbed for mutations as the coronavirus evolves to evade the immune system.

Omicron, for example, has dozens of new mutations in its spike protein. These might explain why two monoclonal-antibody cocktails used to treat the highly virulent Delta variant proved powerless against Omicron4. That left sotrovimab as the only FDA-approved monoclonal-antibody treatment option for infected people at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

The first known variant of Omicron, named BA.1, remains the most prevalent variety of the virus in many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. But cases of BA.2, which is related to BA.15, are rising in countries including Denmark, India and China.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00419-6

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Reported cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children aged 12-20 years in the USA who received a COVID-19 vaccine, December, 2020, through August, 2021: a surveillance investigation

The Lancet Anna R Yousaf, MD, et al.  February 22, 2022

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a hyperinflammatory condition associated with antecedent SARS-CoV-2 infection. In the USA, reporting of MIS-C after vaccination is required under COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorisations. We aimed to investigate reports of individuals aged 12-20 years with MIS-C after COVID-19 vaccination reported to passive surveillance systems or through clinician outreach to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Findings

Using surveillance results from Dec 14, 2020, to Aug 31, 2021, we identified 21 individuals with MIS-C after COVID-19 vaccination. Of these 21 individuals, median age was 16 years (range 12-20); 13 (62%) were male and eight (38%) were female. All 21 were hospitalised: 12 (57%) were admitted to an intensive care unit and all were discharged home. 15 (71%) of 21 individuals had laboratory evidence of past or recent SARS-CoV-2 infection, and six (29%) did not. As of Aug 31, 2021, 21 335 331 individuals aged 12-20 years had received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, making the overall reporting rate for MIS-C after vaccination 1·0 case per million individuals receiving one or more doses in this age group. The reporting rate in only those without evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was 0·3 cases per million vaccinated individuals.

Interpretation

Here, we describe a small number of individuals with MIS-C who had received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine before illness onset; the contribution of vaccination to these illnesses is unknown. Our findings suggest that MIS-C after COVID-19 vaccination is rare. Continued reporting of potential cases and surveillance for MIS-C illnesses after COVID-19 vaccination is warranted.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(22)00028-1/fulltext?utm_source=

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Devices and Masks and CDC’s new recs:

 

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https://twitter.com/TheAngryEpi/status/1497360076658544644?s=20&t=RWmc0MLqfkvlyP9NwX37og

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@flowermusickids;  “If you’re immunocompromised, make an appointment for an in person visit w your healthcare provider to discuss the non-available option of PreP. Also, you’ll become infected with SARS2 during that visit because we at the CDC don’t recommend #ZeroTransmission standards.” @FroznOJ:  “And when you get to the hospital/office they’ll make you switch out of your high quality K/N95 into a flimsy paper mask *inside* the building.”

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Epidemiology/Infection control:

Source: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-deaths

Tips, general reading for public:

 

Politics:

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Opinion: To restore public trust, the CDC must stop legitimizing the expulsion of asylum seekers

https://www.statnews.com/2022/02/24/cdc-stop-legitimizing-expulsion-asylum-seekers/ ~ ~ ~ LGBTQ/education ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ Help @equalityfl fight this very real bill at http://freetosaygay.org. ~ ~ ~

FOX and RT

Also some supporters of FOX: NFL Network Carvana Nordic Track Nutrisystem SouthBeachDiet Arby’s GoldenCorral IHOP Applebees PapaJohn’s NewDayUSA AngiesList HomeAdvisor T-Mobile E-Trade Amazon KraftHeinz Johnson&Johnson PetSmart Qunol Fox News gets about 65% of its revenue from cable providers…every subscriber pays Fox News about $20 per year, whether they watch the channel or not. Here are some FOX-Free alternatives: https://www.trueusa.org/fox-free-shop ~ ~ ~

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https://twitter.com/CarlosGSmith/status/1495481777217052676?s=20&t=RWmc0MLqfkvlyP9NwX37og

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Voting:

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https://twitter.com/DemocracyDocket/status/1496533276869242880?s=20&t=RWmc0MLqfkvlyP9NwX37og

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Russia/Ukraine:

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Notable moments from Ukraine re their bravery and humor:

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~ ~ ~ This woman gives me something to aspire to:

Feel good du jour:

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden_/status/1497646727091810304?s=20&t=RWmc0MLqfkvlyP9NwX37og

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden_/status/1496981483990437889?s=20&t=RWmc0MLqfkvlyP9NwX37og

Comic relief:

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden_/status/1494419033436868613?s=20&t=RWmc0MLqfkvlyP9NwX37og

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden_/status/1497201425566162951?s=20&t=RWmc0MLqfkvlyP9NwX37og

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden_/status/1497201288227995655?s=20&t=RWmc0MLqfkvlyP9NwX37og

Perspective/Poem

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Bits of beauty:


 

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