Coronavirus Tidbits #234 February 26, 2023


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:

A New Tool May Help Reduce The Burden Of Antibiotic Resistant Infections



XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant now dominant in all US regions

In its new variant estimates today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant is now dominant in the northwestern region, making it the most frequently detected type in all US regions. In the Northeastern, the more transmissible XBB.1.5 makes up nearly all of the samples. -CIDRAP

~ ~ ~

Thanks to saliva, infectious coronavirus particles linger twice as long in drier air

Experiments conducted during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic help explain why we tend to get sick when the air is dry.

the saliva emitted with them serves as a protective barrier around the virus, especially at low humidity levels.

it’s not the proteins in saliva that allow the virus to persist so well in drier air, but its sugary carbohydrates that stabilize them.

~ ~ ~

Molnupiravir fails at preventing post-exposure infection


@matthewherper   Feb 24
EMA rejects molnupiravir from $mrk. “Based on the totality of data, it was not possible to conclude that Lagevrio can reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death or shorten the duration of illness or time to recovery in adults at risk of severe disease.”

~ ~ ~

The risk of COVID-19 hospitalization among previously infected adults

is 89% to 90% lower for at least 10 months than for their never-infected peers, according to a meta-analysis published late last week in The Lancet.

By 10 months, protection against reinfection had waned against the wild-type, Alpha, and Delta variants but was still 78.6%. In contrast, protection against Omicron reinfection fell to 36.1% over the same period. But protection against hospitalization or death remained high at 10 months for all variants, at 90.2% for the wild-type, Alpha, and Delta variants and 88.9% for Omicron.

The authors said the results suggest that the level and length of infection-conferred protection against reinfection, symptomatic illness, and severe disease is at least as good as that provided by two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines for the wild-type, Alpha, Delta, and Omicron BA.1 variants (the study took place before the emergence of the more transmissible Omicron XBB strain and its subvariants).

~ ~ ~

Back to Office:

"another reason some of them want their employees to return to the office: tax breaks.

The theory goes like this: Companies negotiate tax write-offs on offices based on the assumption that the employees filling them will support nearby businesses and pay state and local taxes. New work-from-home norms mean those offices are much emptier now, jeopardizing those deals. “It's always about money,”...

Now that almost 80% of employees who can work remotely are doing so at least part of the time, some employers are at risk of losing out on these lucrative incentives.

Cities and states have been lenient for the past few years given the pandemic’s limitations and unpredictability. But now governments have to decide whether to start enforcing the terms of their agreements — or to rewrite them entirely for the new realities of remote work.

~ ~ ~

Telehealh in Trouble:

The Biden administration moved Friday to require patients see a doctor in person before getting attention deficit disorder medication or addictive painkillers, toughening access to the drugs against the backdrop of a deepening opioid crisis.
Patients will need to see a doctor in person at least once to get an initial prescription for include Vicodin, OxyContin, Adderall, Ritalin.
Codeine, Xanax, Ambien, and buprenorphine, a narcotic used to treat opioid addiction, can be prescribed over telehealth for an initial 30-day dose. Patients would need to see a doctor at least once in person to get a refill.
~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

Metformin reduces the viral load in Covid-19 ... AND... reduces the chances of developing #LongCovid!
@Maybarduk   Feb 24
This remedy for Moderna’s use of publicly-owned technology key to its success is not remotely sufficient. @moderna_tx 's catch-up payment to NIH amounts to little more than 1% of its $36 billion in sales. There would be no NIH-Moderna without @NIH .
In Nov. 2020, @Public_Citizen demonstrated that Moderna, Pfizer & others were using a publicly-owned, NIH-engineered solution to freeze spike proteins to keep their shape, a crucial step in producing stronger immune response.
In March, a number of groups called on @NIH to use its spike protein patent leverage to ensure affordable vax access & share tech w/t world.
In April 2021, Prof @cmorten2 demonstrated that Moderna indeed was infringing NIH's '070 spike protein patent:
Moderna discloses that it has licensed a critical NIH-owned patent on coronavirus vaccines, for $400M and a small ongoing royalty. Colleagues and I showed in 2021 that Moderna infringed this patent.
Considering @moderna_tx's soup-to-nuts reliance on USG support, the public deserves a much better deal, including vaccines made available free or at cost today, instead of Moderna’s harmful & grotesque proposed 400% price spike....
~ ~ ~
@EricTopol      Long Covid
Muscle biopsy in-depth assessment in people with #LongCovid w/ exercise symptoms compared with 2 control groups shows microvascular abnormalities with reduced capillaries, immune cell dysregulation, distinct gene expression signature
~ ~ ~

Avian Flu:   Feb 24

Today's news of a young girl's death from H5N1 in Cambodia is tragic and the news that 4 of 12 contacts are showing influenza-like symptoms is worrisome.

It's not time to panic yet by any means—we've seen similar events a number of times—but obviously we'll be watching closely.

Whatever happens, we need to be taking steps *now* to bolster rapid production capacity for cellular H5N1 vaccines such as Audenz.

~ ~ ~


is a much more severe disease in those w HIV. “It’s like a different disease.” In the cases where people had few CD4 cells, mpox’s normally small skin lesions grew into large necrotizing patches and their infection sometimes spread to the lungs or caused severe secondary infections with bacteria....

(some) argue this disseminated form of mpox should be added to the list of AIDS-defining conditions, opportunistic secondary infections

Starting coinfected patients on antiretrovirals for their HIV infection could worsen their mpox...The Lancet report also revealed an important dilemma for physicians caring for these coinfected people. When those with untreated HIV were given antiretrovirals, one-quarter of them seemed to develop a condition in which the recovering immune system responds to the opportunistic infection—mpox in this case—with an overzealous inflammatory response. More than half the patients suspected to have this overreaction, known as immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome, died.   by  Kai Kupferschmidt

~ ~ ~


The CDC's new travel alert expanded the number of countries impacted by polio or poliovirus detections to include countries such as Egypt, Isreal, and the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the CDC says before traveling to any at-risk destination, it recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine.

~ ~ ~

U.S. Unprepared for Dangers Posed by Zoonotic Diseases, New Analysis Concludes

  • More zoonotic diseases originated in the United States than in any other country during the second half of the 20th century.
  • In 2022, the U.S. processed more than 10 billion livestock, the largest number ever recorded and an increase of 204 million over 2021.
  • The ongoing H5N1 avian influenza outbreak has left 58 million animals dead in backyard chicken coops and industrial farms in the U.S.
  • Since 2011, the U.S. has recorded more swine-origin influenza infections than any other country. Most occurred at state and county fairs, which attract 150 million visitors each year and where an estimated 18% of swine have tested positive.

Moreover, they add, the current patchwork of siloed agencies and authorities is marked by a lack of coordination, leaving significant gaps and areas of underregulation.

~ ~ ~


still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

When is remdesivir effective for COVID-19?

Remdesivir was one of the first medications approved for treatment of COVID-19. Clinical studies evaluated its effectiveness, but did not generate conclusive results. A new analysis of the study data shows that a specific group of patients benefits the most from the drug.

The  showed that patients who did not receive oxygen therapy or only received conventional oxygen support experienced a significant survival benefit due to remdesivir. In this group, remdesivir lowered mortality during the four-week observation period by roughly 2%, leading to 20 fewer deaths per 1,000 patients.

~ ~ ~

New research reveals possible COVID vaccine blood clot connection

A new Australian study led by SAHMRI and Flinders University has uncovered fundamental differences in how the AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines impact the immune system.

~ ~ ~

New Antiviral for Hospitalized Adults with COVID-19 Launches NIH Study

NIH recently confirmed it had initiated a multi-site, late-stage clinical trial evaluating an investigational antiviral for the treatment of COVID-19.

The therapeutic, known as S-217622 or ensitrelvir fumaric acid, was discovered by Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan, and Shionogi & Co., Ltd.

The antiviral reduced COVID-19 symptoms in people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, regardless of risk factors or vaccination status, according to results shared by Shionogi from a Phase 3 clinical trial conducted in 2022.

S-217622 is the first agent to be evaluated in a global, adaptive clinical research protocol known as Strategies and Treatments for Respiratory Infections & Viral Emergencies (STRIVE).

S-217622 suppresses the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus replication by inhibiting the function of a key virus protein known as 3CL protease.

In November 2022, the drug received emergency regulatory approval in Japan, where it is referred to by the brand name Xocova.

~ ~ ~

Moderna's experimental #flu vaccine showed good results against flu A, but did not hurdle the non-inferiority bar against flu B. Must be at least as good as existing vaccines to get licensed.
Never take anything for granted when it comes to vax development.

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~


Just published A prospective, systematic assessment of rebound after Paxlovid vs Covid untreated controls

Viral rebound Paxlovid 14.2% | Controls 9.3% Symptom rebound Paxlovid 18.9% | Controls 7.0%

notably we observed a similar rate of rebound in both the Paxlovid (NPR) treatment and control groups.
see also  Rebound in 31% with no Rx.
~ ~ ~
Cardiac events after vaccination:
Impact of Vaccination on Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events in Patients With COVID-19 Infection Partial and complete vaccination is associated with a lower risk of MACE (major adverse cardiac events) after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Devices and Masks:

Great thread on mask efficacy and the Cochrane report challenging it:
@c0nc0rdance   Feb 23
In 2018, "Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma when jumping from aircraft: randomized controlled trial" was published in the British Medical Journal. It sought to determine if wearing a parachute when jumping from a plane had any impact on survivability. It did not.
The study was tongue in cheek to prove a point. What is easy to miss is that the "tested population" were descending approximately 0.6 m (2 ft) from a plane traveling at 0 m/s. Wearing a parachute turned out not to prevent any death or injury in either group.
The point being made is that randomized control trials have limitations: equipoise, for one, where all groups need to have equal opportunity for good outcomes. In this study, that means jumping 0.6 m from an immobile plane.
In a "real clinical trial", that could mean only enrolling patients with very mild disease, no comorbidities or very young populations. That's not the reality of clinical practice. It's dangerous to extrapolate from these "safe" trials to real-world outcomes.
There's an unstated lesson that we can apply to current studies on non-pharmaceutical interventions to prevent respiratory disease (masks, especially): sometimes "plausibility" take precedence over provability, especially when only limited trials are even possible.
N95 & KN95 have repeatedly been demonstrated to work in lab experiments, physical demos & the lived experience of BSL-3 workers. That randomized clinical trials of mask *mandates* don't always detect benefit for a given population & given virus should be taken w a grain of salt.
Do masks work to interrupt the transmission of most respiratory viruses? I'm as confident in that fact as I am that parachutes reduce injury and death when skydiving, regardless of what the headlines say.

Epidemiology/Infection control:

The CDC says they won't be able to calculate #COVID-19 community transmission after the federal and public health emergencies are over.


~ ~ ~

Massive surge in hospitalizations of babies and young kids due to COVID recorded in 2nd year of pandemic

"In the second year of the pandemic, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 skyrocketed more than 600 per cent among children aged 0-4 compared to the previous year, according to new data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)."

~ ~ ~

Long Covid and employment:

reduced the labor force by 1.6 million people (last August)

Tips, general reading for public:




~ ~ ~

@joeyfox85   Feb 21
3 Steps to Mitigate Covid Transmission in a Car Step
1 Windows “For driving below 30mph (48kph), opening all four windows is most beneficial. But on faster roads, opening two on a diagonal can have an even bigger impact.”
Step 2 - The A/C System Turn the fan on as high as possible, aim it at your face and ensure recirc is turned off. Will help with drowsiness too. Outdoor air pollution is a concern in traffic. You can consider upgrading the cabin filter to HEPA and then using recirc.
Step 3: Mini Corsi-Rosenthal for the car
Instructions here:



Jim Inhofe says he retired from the Senate due to #LongCovid and that five or six others have it.

~ ~ ~

@SethAbramson   Feb 25
There are 195 countries. The nation with the 10th-most COVID-19 dead in the last full week of assessment is Spain. America has 1000% more dead over that period than Spain. Not 100%—*1000%*. The national effort to vaccinate America has failed. And it failed because of Trumpism.
~ ~ ~

Navy Lifts COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for Deployments

~ ~ ~

@LizSzabo   Feb 22
California Says It Can No Longer Afford Aid for Covid Testing, Vaccinations for Migrants via @khnews
~ ~ ~

Abortion/Reproductive care:

A Ban on the Abortion Drug Mifepristone Is Looming - good review

65 million women of reproductive age would lose access to the most effective form of existing medication abortion care.

~ ~ ~

‘A slippery slope’: A looming nationwide abortion pill ban could undermine the entire drug approval system

~ ~ ~


“It was reported that two members of the Walt Whitman High School debate team allegedly made comments about burning Jewish people — including fellow debate team members — at the stake.”

~ ~ ~

@NikkiFried   Feb 25
As white supremacy groups call for a “National Day of Hate” this weekend, I’m reminded of a teaching in my Jewish faith: Tikkun Olam. It means taking action to improve and heal the world to make it more united and perfect. Today and everyday drown out hate with Tikkun Olam.
~ ~ ~

Child labor/Migrants:

Arriving in record numbers, they’re ending up in dangerous jobs that violate child labor laws — including in factories that make products for well-known brands like Cheetos and Fruit of the Loom.

 In Los Angeles, children stitch “Made in America” tags into J. Crew shirts. They bake dinner rolls sold at Walmart and Target, process milk used in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and help debone chicken sold at Whole Foods. As recently as the fall, middle-schoolers made Fruit of the Loom socks in Alabama. In Michigan, children make auto parts used by Ford and General Motors.

The number of unaccompanied minors entering the United States climbed to a high of 130,000 last year — three times what it was five years earlier

These are not children who have stolen into the country undetected. The federal government knows they are in the United States, and the Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for ensuring sponsors will support them and protect them from trafficking or exploitation.

~ ~ ~

Civil rights/Education:

Lauren Boebert is now co-sponsoring the bill to eliminate the Department of Education.

Matthew Chapman   @fawfulfan   Feb 17
Whenever a politician says "eliminate the Department of Education" you should hear it as "eliminate the civil rights agency that makes sure girls, people of color, and people with disabilities have the equal right to learn how to read, write, and do math."

~ ~ ~

More than one-third of U.S. fourth graders can't read on a basic level, test results show (via ⁦@TND⁩)
Local listings are here:  Pretty pathetic:
~ ~ ~
@tribelaw   Feb 20
“A wave of Republican enthusiasm for banning concepts, authors and books is sweeping across the United States. Forty-four states have proposed bans on the teaching of ‘divisive concepts,’ and 18 states have passed them.” It’s fascism on the march.
~ ~ ~

Climate change:

How science communication is corrupted by business interests:

“It stated that the Science Museum and its trustees must take reasonable care to “not at any time” during the exhibition term “make any statement or issue any publicity or otherwise be involved in any conduct or matter that may reasonably be foreseen as discrediting or damaging the goodwill or reputation of the sponsor””

#SciCom #ClimateChange #FossilFuel

~ ~ ~

Environment/Health: -- East Palestine rail disaster -- Greed

Medicare for all … of East Palestine?

an obscure provision of the Affordable Care Act that promises Medicare to Americans exposed to certain environmental health hazards. But legal experts tell STAT that it seems unlikely that the provision would apply here

~ ~ ~

@SDonziger   Feb 20
BREAKING: The @EPA claim that water in Ohio is "safe" to drink is based on only a few tainted lab samples funded by the very rail company that caused the disaster. The EPA apparently never tested the water. Why does the polluter get to do the testing?
This is so wrong. The main basis for "authorities" in Ohio (@EPA included) to claim water in East Palestine is safe to drink are lab tests funded by the railway company. This is a flagrant conflict. Here is the company report relied on by the EPA:
[Now, contaminated water and soil is being shipped to Texas and Michigan for disposal! What could possibly go wrong?]
~ ~ ~
    Feb 17

Norfolk Southern cut 9,600 jobs and boosted shareholder payouts by 4,500% in the years leading up to the Ohio train disaster.

Folks, this is what corporate greed looks like.

~ ~ ~

RT @greenhousenyt
Employment among the largest freight railroads has fallen by 28% since 2021 while railroads have increased the length of trains

So now we have longer, heavier freight trains with fewer workers on hand to make sure they operate safely. What could go wrong?

~ ~ ~

@NPR   Feb 20
An NPR and @FloodlightNews investigation found a GOP insider is spreading misinformation about solar's health and environmental risks, and her influence is continuing to grow.
~ ~ ~


@SIfill_   Feb 20
This person (MTG) is calling for dissolution of the United States. HOW is she fit to serve on the House Homeland Security Committee. She wants to break the country in two.
~ ~ ~
@RexChapman   Feb 20
84-yrs ago today 20,000 Americans gathered in Madison Square Garden (Feb 20, 1939) and raised Nazi salutes toward a 30-ft tall portrait of George Washington flanked by swastikas. Meanwhile, Hitler was finishing construction of his 6th concentration camp.
7 months later he invaded Poland. “A Night at the Garden” The full video…
More on Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden:
~ ~ ~
@RepRaskin   Feb 20
McCarthy giving 40,000 hrs of Jan. 6 tape to a pro-Putin journalist is an astounding ethical collapse. What security precautions were taken to keep this from becoming a roadmap for 2024 insurrection? Why isn’t it available to all media & public? Smell the MAGA propaganda coming.
~ ~ ~
Remember Pamela Taylor? She's that racist Republican infamous for calling First Lady Michelle Obama "an ape in heels." She just pleaded guilty for defrauding FEMA and is facing up to 30 years in prison.
~ ~ ~
Here's the crazy situation. Somebody making $10 million in a year is contributing the EXACT SAME AMOUNT into Social Security as somebody making $160,000. Let's raise the cap and expand Social Security benefits, not cut them.
~ ~ ~


~ ~ ~

@RepBarryMoore  (Alabama) Feb 21
The #SecondAmendment is as American a right as freedom of speech, religion, & the press. Today I unveiled my bill to make the AR-15 the National Gun of America. We must send a message that we will meet every attack on any of our constitutional rights.
Here is a (partial) list of when an AR-15-style weapon was used in a mass shooting: - Las Vegas, 58 dead - Pulse nightclub, 49 dead - Sandy Hook, 27 dead - Sutherland Springs, 26 dead - Uvalde, 21 dead - Stoneman Douglas High, 17 dead. This is what you're promoting.
~ ~ ~


A new report from a team of medical, public health, and legal experts challenges a federal court decision ruling it unconstitutional to mandate employer-sponsored insurance coverage of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a highly effective biomedical measure for preventing HIV. 1/

~ ~ ~

Homeland security:

"Generations of increasingly diverse Americans now have livelihoods that hinge on an ever-expanding homeland security state. Communities of color are simultaneously victims, participants and practitioners of the violence practiced within and beyond our nation’s borders."

~ ~ ~


@DrIbram   Feb 20
On #PresidentsDay, it is important to recall that at least twelve U.S. presidents enslaved Black people, eight while in office. Two-thirds of the first 18 presidents collectively enslaved nearly 2,000 Black people. We know what largely built this nation, and it wasn’t freedom.
~ ~ ~
Alaska Rep. David Eastman literally suggested that when children die from abuse, it's “actually a benefit to society" because they no longer need government benefits.
~ ~ ~
@sambrodey   Feb 23
In just over a year, Sen. Sinema's campaigns & office have paid one security contractor $350K and appeared to cover side perks—an arrangement that raises several red flags, campaign law experts said Then there's the contractor: Tulsi Gabbard's sister
~ ~ ~


Ron DeSantis is requesting medical records of trans students

6 of 12 universities are confirmed to have complied with the request, regardless of HIPAA violations

If a liberal did anything similar, you’d head right wing media talking nonstop about their freedom being violated.

But for some reason, if you attack our at-risk communities or apply the word “woke” then fascism is a-ok.


~ ~ ~

@tomaskenn   Feb 23
Ron DeSantis unveiled his most anti-immigrant legislative proposals to date. They include repealing in-state tuition for undocumented students and making it a third degree felony to “harbor or transport” undocumented people “within” Florida.
~ ~ ~
Feb 24 Lee County FL GOP Passes Resolution To Ban Covid-19 Vaccines.
~ ~ ~
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo is accused of manufacturing the results of a scientific study that lead to Florida advising against COVID vaccination for young men ages 18-39. 1/249 Floridians have died from COVID-19 for a total of 86,294
~ ~ ~


@JoyceWhiteVance   Feb 19
Georgia's outgoing GOP party chair, who will not run again in the wake of the Fulton County DA's investigation, reveals the GOP is footing the legal bills for those under investigation in connection with allegations of a fake slate of Georgia electors.
~ ~ ~


Idaho bill would criminalize giving #mRNA vaccines – the tech used in popular COVID vaccines

~ ~ ~

@RuthBrownNews   Feb 20
The House just passed a bill to prohibit the use of Student IDs at the polls. It passed 59-11, a party-line vote. It's HB 124
~ ~ ~


Tennessee Republicans just voted to make drag shows felonies

~ ~ ~


@NasimiShabnam   Feb 22
520 days since the Taliban BANNED girls from school, and 66 days since they banned women from university. Millions of girls in Afghanistan are unable to access the most basic of human rights - an education.
~ ~ ~


#Vaccination drive: buses roll into #Ukraine to boost vaccination

‘A fleet of 59 buses has arrived in Ukraine to provide mobile vaccination clinics which will vaccinate people displaced due to the war’

Children have missed out on routine vaccination and disease surveillance systems have collapsed. Ukraine recorded 57,000 cases of measles in 2019 and, prior to the attack, had vaccine uptake rates significantly lower than many of its neighbours.

~ ~ ~

@TimothyDSnyder    Feb 19
Deporting children to denationalize them, as Russia is doing, is indeed a war crime. In fact, "forcibly transferring children of the group to another group" is genocide, according to 1948 convention. Summary here, full report @YaleSPH.
~ ~ ~

Leaked document reveals alleged Kremlin plan to take over Belarus by 2030

~ ~ ~

Sviatoslav Vakarchuk   @s_vakarchuk
CNN short documentary tells about how music makes a difference in times of war. I had made 179 performances on the frontline so far. Each of them is a huge honour for me. Together we stand! Slava Ukraini!
~ ~ ~

Feel good du jour:

~ ~ ~

Oakland students find common thread in learning math through quilting

Comic relief:

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~


Bits of beauty:

Share this post: