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.
Reminder, Resilience: One Family's Story... is increasingly pertinent, as some of our politicians shift rightward. All proceeds go to Holocaust education.
At today's briefing, Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, said XBB.1.5 has been detected in 29 countries so far and is the most transmissible subvariant detected so far. "We are concerned about its growth advantage," she said. So far, there are no data on severity or the clinical picture,
(also) while XBB.1.5 is equally as immune evasive as the two other XBB lineages -- which had a significant amount of antibody escape, according to a paper in Nature -- it has a higher affinity for ACE2, which explains its increased transmissibility.
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FDA warns it does not anticipate that the drug Evusheld will neutralize XBB.1.5
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US metrics all on the upswing
In CDC tracking of infections as of Jan 4, the 7-day average for new daily cases is 67,243, up 16.2% compared to the previous 7-day average. Over the same period, the 7-day average for new hospital admission rose 16.1%, and deaths increased 8.3%. Likewise, test positivity is increasing and is at 16%.
Also, the number of locations in the high–COVID-19 community transmission level increased by 10.6%. Overall, 49 of 52 jurisdictions were in the high- or medium-level community ranges, for which the CDC recommends measures such as wearing a high-quality mask or respirator in indoor public spaces and screening in high-risk settings.
Regarding wastewater surveillance, the CDC said about 80% of sites across the country are reporting moderate to high SARS-CoV-2 levels, with 58% recording their highest levels since December 2021.
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As more organs affected, outcomes worsen in kids with post-COVID syndrome
A study of more than 4,100 US patients hospitalized with the post-COVID multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) suggests that deaths, length of stay, adverse drug reactions, and the proportion of Black patients rose along with the number of organ systems involved.
MIS-C is a rare but serious COVID-19 complication characterized by an outsized inflammatory response arising roughly 1 month after infection, sometimes leading to cardiac conditions, the study authors noted. The study was published yesterday in JAMA Network Open....
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Persistent positive ANA tests 1 year after COVID-19 may predict long COVID symptoms
Consistently positive antinuclear antibody tests at 12 months following acute SARS-CoV-2 infection may predict long-term symptoms and inflammation, according to data published in the European Respiratory Journal.
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Age-related macular degeneration a risk factor for COVID-19 infection, severe disease
Recent evidence has emerged to suggest that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a clinical risk factor for increased risk for infection and mortality. AMD has been reported to confer higher risk of severe complications of SARS-CoV-2 infection, including respiratory failure and death (25%), a risk which is higher than Type 2 diabetes (21%) and obesity (13%).
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Does COVID change the body's response to other threats? Depends on your sex
...The answer, they found, depends on the individual's sex, according to a study published Jan. 4 in the journal Nature.
For the study, a team led by John Tsang, (who was at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)) systematically analyzed immune responses of healthy people who had received the flu vaccine. From that data, they then compared the responses between those who had never been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and those who experienced mild cases but recovered.
To their surprise, they found that immune systems of men who had recovered from mild cases of COVID-19 responded more robustly to flu vaccines than women who had had mild cases or men and women who had never been infected.
In essence, the baseline immune statuses in men previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 was altered in ways that changed the response to an exposure different from SARS-CoV-2, the authors said.
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Long COVID stemmed from mild cases of COVID-19 in most people, according to a new multicountry study
Even mild COVID-19 cases can have major and long-lasting effects on people's health. That is one of the key findings from our recent multicountry study on long COVID-19—or long COVID—recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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Why some are worried about XBB.1 (pathophysiology):
White Cells (monocytes) switch gene expression from an established innate immune profile to a pro-clotting signature in COVID. We’re immunocompromised.
Canada detects poliovirus in wastewater samples
Testing to see if they are genetically related to VDPV2 samples from New York.
Three African countries also reported more polio - Algeria, Central African Republic, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
wastewater testing for poliovirus is required to determine if there is a community health risk.
As of December 30, 2022, an updated sequencing analysis by the CDC confirmed the presence of poliovirus in a total of 99 positive samples of concern, with 92 samples genetically linked to the Rockland County resident.
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ASRA advocates for all patients undergoing procedures with anesthesia to be screened for cannabis use.
The American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA Pain Medicine) has released new guidelines surrounding cannabis use in relation to surgery,
The guidelines come as cannabis use has risen in the United States over the last few decades, with several states relaxing criminal penalties and legalizing medicinal and recreational use. ASRA is concerned that cannabis could interact with anesthesia, and the guidelines also note that regular cannabis use may worsen pain and nausea after surgery and increase the need for opioids. Currently, about 10% of U.S. adults use cannabis monthly, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
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Publisher’s Platform: Is it past time for a warning label on sprouts?
... # of “Sproutbreaks” for years: “We document at least 55 sprout-associated outbreaks occurring worldwide affecting a total of 15,233 people since 1988. A comprehensive table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found here.“
Is it past time for a warning label for sprouts?
Perhaps the labeling could mirror the requirements now found on unpasteurized juices?
still an incredible, negligent last of testing.
Drugs and Vaccines:
Timely booster vaccination reduces omicron breakthrough infections and COVID-19 severity
Researchers at the AIDS Institute, Department of Microbiology, School of Clinical Medicine, and the State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases, LKS Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) reveals that the timely third vaccination of either CoronaVac or BNT162b2 is critical to induce activated virus-specific memory B cells and omicron cross-reactive T cell responses, leading to significantly reduced frequencies of breakthrough infection and disease severity.
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Vaccine and prior SARS-CoV-2 infection confer long-lasting protection against omicron BA.5
A new study led by Luís Graça, ... and published today in the scientific journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, shows that the protection conferred by hybrid immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 subvariant omicron BA.5, obtained by the infection of vaccinated people, lasts for at least eight months after the first infection.
Shocking #s of Covid cases:
In week ending Dec 28: # of ppl w current Covid (not in congregate settings)
England 1 in 20 Wales 1 in 18
N. Ireland 1 in 16 Scotland 1 in 25
Tips, general reading for public:
Screening passengers from China:
The Infectious Diseases Society of America isn't sold on the governments new plan to require pre-flight COVID-19 testingopens in a new tab or window for travelers from China, saying this policy will have "limited impact on transmission" and could "fuel anti-Asian bias and xenophobia."
[Besides, the latest XBB.1 strain that is so transmissible apparently originated in NYC. But monitoring wastewater from flights makes some sense to detect new variants more efficiently
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Thanks to President Biden and Democrats the price of insulin is capped at $35 per month for seniors. But never forget that every Republican voted against lowering the cost of insulin. They simply don’t care about improving lives.
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Santos flashes Proud Boys/White Power symbol, captured by Reuters'
The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state's 6-week abortion ban, deeming it unconstitutional. (CNBC) “our state constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman’s decision to have an abortion”
Meanwhile, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld multiple state laws that amount to a near total-ban on the procedure. (Politico)
And over in Minnesota, a bill to codify abortion rights just passed the House health panel. (CBS Minnesota)
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United Nations report concludes that the persistence of extreme poverty in US is political choice made by people in power and calls on govs to address the underlying problems facing the underclass rather than "punishing and imprisoning the poor."
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Feel good du jour:
Whenever they tell you a change is impossible, show them Utrecht.— Lior Steinberg (@LiorSteinberg) January 6, 2023
An urban freeway with many lanes can become a green park with a beautiful canal. Instead of a car sewer, the water flows. pic.twitter.com/sO5m0fChX6
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"I had a little brother that was 2 yo at the time. I wanted him to just grow up with a role model in his life and to give him someone to be able to model himself after."
Humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae) often feed by lunging with their mouths open to catch any fish in their path. Sometimes, the whales will first swim upward in a spiral and blow bubbles underwater. This creates a circular “net” of bubbles that makes it harder for fish to escape. pic.twitter.com/2sBK72Zrmk— Domenico (@AvatarDomy) January 4, 2023
To the victor goes the spoils 🤣pic.twitter.com/m3CuRm6oX5— Rob 🚀 (@RJSzczerba) December 29, 2022
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Otters and a butterfly.. pic.twitter.com/4pmeGgLtRw— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) January 4, 2023
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Bertrand Russell: “The idea that the poor should have leisure has always been shocking to the rich”: pic.twitter.com/Jkr7UUIwoo— Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins (@daniel_dsj2110) December 30, 2022
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Bits of beauty: