Coronavirus Tidbits #183 3/13/22

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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:

Another CDC Study Supports Masks In Schools. So Why Are We Dropping Masks Rather Than Caring For Vulnerable People?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2022/03/10/another-cdc-study-supports-masks-in-schools-so-why-are-we-dropping-masks-rather-than-caring-for-vulnerable-people/?sh=33a77d475f4b

CLOVER Trial Shows Mixed Results

There’s mixed news from Pfizer on results from their CLOVER trial (CLOstridium difficile Vaccine Efficacy TRial), a phase 3 study involving 17,500 adults aged 50 and older that evaluated their candidate vaccine (PF-06425090) against Clostridioides difficile (C diff) for the prevention of C diff infection (CDI). The bad news is that the trial didn’t meet its efficacy endpoint – a reduction in the incidence of the first primary case of CDI. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/969900

News 

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Surges continue in Omicron hot spots

BA.2 is increasing in elderly in UK.

Germany, New Zealand, China, and esp Hong Kong are hotspots.

[I suspect that we will see a spike in cases at the end of March/early-mid April from St. Patrick’s Day and spring break, Easter and Passover, combined with unmasking.]

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2022/03/covid-19-remains-high-uk-ba2-gains-ground

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There may be a new COVID variant, Deltacron. 

Don’t lose sleep yet.

Compared with  earlier variants, such as delta and omicron, this new variation – researchers have not adopted the “deltacron” name officially – appears unlikely to spread as easily, said William Lee, the chief science officer at Helix.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/there-may-be-a-new-covid-variant-deltacron-here-s-what-we-know-about-it/ar-AAUSuZi?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U5

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COVID-Related Cognitive Decline Predicted to Boost Global Dementia Rates

Cognitive decline is common after COVID-19 infection, in new findings that provide much-needed information on the long-term dynamic trajectory of cognitive changes after COVID-19.

“We found that COVID-19, especially severe COVID-19, was associated with an increased risk of post-infection cognitive impairment and a faster speed of longitudinal cognitive decline,” Yan-Jiang Wang, MD, PhD, professor and director, Department of Neurology and Center for Clinical Neuroscience, Daping Hospital, Chongqing, China told Medscape Medical News.

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/969944

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Lucky we were masking – Early data show this season’s flu vaccine has not been effective

Interim estimates published Thursday in MMWR indicate that this season’s influenza vaccine has not been effective.

Based on data from more than 3,600 children and adults, CDC epidemiologist Jessie R. Chung, MPH, and colleagues estimated that the vaccine has been 16% effective against mild or moderate influenza caused by the predominant circulating virus, influenza A(H3N2), with a 95% confidence interval (-16% to 39%) that suggests vaccination “did not significantly reduce the risk of outpatient medically attended illness” caused by H3N2…which are known to evade vaccines and cause relatively severe illness.

https://www.healio.com/news/infectious-disease/20220310/early-data-show-this-seasons-flu-vaccine-has-not-been-effective

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Diagnostics:

 Drugs and Vaccines:

Antivirals, some antibodies found to work well against BA.2 Omicron variant of COVID-19 virus

The antiviral therapies remdesivir, molnupiravir, and the active ingredient in Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill (nirmatrelvir), remain effective in laboratory tests against the BA.2 variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The BA.2 variant also remains susceptible to at least some of the monoclonal antibodies used to treat COVID-19, such as Evusheld by AstraZeneca. However, the antibodies etesevimab and bamlanivimab, which are used together as a single treatment, were not able to neutralize the BA.2 virus at common dosages in these lab tests. Other antibody treatments were less effective against BA.2 than they are against earlier strains of SARS-COV-2.

These results come from new research led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a virologist at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Tokyo. The BA.2 Omicron variant is related to the more common BA.1 Omicron virus, and some evidence suggests that BA.2 can spread more quickly than the already highly contagious BA.1 variant.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-03-antivirals-antibodies-ba2-omicron-variant.html

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Opinion: Ignoring behavioral and social sciences undermines the U.S. response to Covid-19

Efforts to stop Covid-19 have failed in part because they have ignored insights and expertise from the behavioral and social sciences.

https://www.statnews.com/2022/03/09/ignoring-behavioral-social-sciences-undermines-us-covid-19-response/?

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Detroit parents less likely to get vaccine than nonparents, leading to low youth vaccination rates

Just under half of Detroit parents and guardians of children under 18 reported at the end of 2021 that they had been vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to 75% of adults who do not live with children.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-03-detroit-parents-vaccine-nonparents-youth.html?

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Prisons skimp on Covid treatments like Paxlovid,

https://www.statnews.com/2022/03/08/prisons-skimp-covid-treatments-paxlovid/ 

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Groups Concerned About ‘Test to Treat’ Plan

– AMA worries PCPs will be bypassed; community pharmacists feel left out

https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/exclusives/97568?

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Third vaccine dose critical for protecting populations against omicron variant: study

mRNA vaccines are highly effective in preventing COVID-19 associated hospital admissions related to the alpha, delta, and omicron variants. But three doses are needed to achieve a similar level of protection against omicron that two doses provide against the delta and alpha variants, finds a large US study published by The BMJ

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-03-vaccine-dose-critical-populations-omicron.html?

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Devices:

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Continuing face mask use could save U.S. billions of dollars

In recent weeks, many locations in the U.S. have been lifting indoor face mask requirements, despite less than 70 percent of the population being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and less than 45 percent having received the booster. A new study published March 8 in The Lancet Public Health suggests that consistently maintaining face mask use until, and even two to 10 weeks beyond, reaching various vaccination coverage thresholds (e.g., 70 to 90 percent of people fully vaccinated) could not only prevent a substantial number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths but also end up saving businesses, the health care system, insurance companies, taxpayers, and others money.

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ECMO may offer sickest COVID patients chance for ‘exceptional survival’

Some patients with severe COVID-19 who are treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) may experience significant lung recovery and return to normal lives with “meaningful” long-term outcomes, according to research published online today in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-03-ecmo-sickest-covid-patients-chance.html?

 

Epidemiology/Infection control:

What the ‘let it rip’ COVID strategy has meant for Indigenous and other immune-compromised communities

After a year and a half of lockdowns, border closures, mask-wearing and social distancing, and the vaccine rollout, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has shifted to what is essentially a “let it rip” pandemic approach.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-03-rip-covid-strategy-meant-indigenous.html?

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Tips, general reading for public:

I’m at home with COVID. When do I need to see a doctor? And what treatments are available?

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-03-im-home-covid-doctor-treatments.html?

Politics:

Still unanswered:

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GOP:

Members Of Congress Buy Energy, Defense Stocks Prior To Russian Invasion Of Ukraine: Who They Are, What They Bought– Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene; Rep. Robert Wittman; Rep. Mark Green; Rep. Virginia Foxx https://msn.com/en-us/money/news/members-of-congress-buy-energy-defense-stocks-prior-to-russian-invasion-of-ukraine-who-they-are-what-they-bought/ar-AAUQDJ8?ocid=msedgntp… 

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Marsha Blackburn, John Boozman, Mike Braun, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Tom Cotton, Kevin Cramer, Mike Crapo, Ted Cruz, Steve Daines, Deb Fischer, Bill Hagerty, Josh Hawley, John Hoeven, Ron Johnson, John Kennedy, James Lankford, Mike Lee, Cynthia Lummis, Roger Marshall, Rand Paul, Jim Risch, Mitt Romney, Mike Rounds, Marco Rubio, Ben Sasse, Rick Scott, Tim Scott, Dan Sullivan, Thom Tillis, Pat Toomey, Chuck Grassley

bold = up for re-election this fall

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Abortion:

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LGBTQ:

Texas Children’s, Nation’s largest pediatric hospital, halts hormone therapy

https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/exclusives/97562?

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Elections:

Florida’s first-of-its kind election police will report directly to Ron DeSantis

“ballot harvesting,” a practice in which third-party election officials or volunteers gather and submit ballots on behalf of voters who may not be able to do so themselves. While Florida’s restrictive voting law last year made that practice a misdemeanor, Wednesday’s measure would make it felony, punishable with a $50,000 maximum fine and up to and five years in prison.

Republicans are “criminalizing certain acts around the elections process that most folks, particularly in the Black community, have long held as a way to assist those in need.”

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Feel good du jour:

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So she grabbed a jar and hurled it as hard as she could at the UFO. “Probably out of fear. Because I was scared. And what if they start firing at me from there! I feel sorry for those tomatoes… I don’t know where the stories about cucumbers came from.” Apparently those were pickled tomatoes with plums, her favorite recipe.

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Best part, this little girl is safely in Poland now…

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Comic relief:

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Perspective/Poem

This is one hell of a story:

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Yelena Osipova, detained last week as well

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Bits of beauty:

fungi on birch

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