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.
Infections From Medical Tourism And How To Protect Yourself
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My LTE on #Masking
Hospitals throughout Maryland have been lifting their mask mandates to varying degrees. UPMC announced that masking is now only “required in specic patient care areas where patients are particularly vulnerable to infection.”
The Women’s Action Coalition objects to this decision. Our group focuses on social justice issues affecting our community. We believe that protecting each other and looking out for our neighbors’ well-being, particularly for the most vulnerable among us, is crucial to improving health in our community.
The WHO, President Biden, and others have declared the pandemic emergency is over. This does not mean that COVID has stopped. There are still 88,330 new COVID cases (12,619/day), 1,402 new hospitalizations, and 1,052 (150/day) new deaths in the U.S. This rate is far better than Feb. 10, when the CDC reported more than 40,000 new infections daily.
The CDC has recommended masking when community levels are high, but there is no good way of knowing this. Most people test at home. The CDC no longer collects test data — only deaths. They stopped wastewater surveillance here last year. Now the CDC will stop tracking community levels of COVID. We are deliberately being kept in the dark.
Further, hospitals are not required to report COVID infections acquired within their facilities to anyone. We know that up to 50% of health care workers continue to work despite having symptomatic COVID. There are increasing numbers of hospital-acquired COVID which carry higher rates of death, too.
We understand that there are now fairly effective vaccines that keep most people from dying, even if they don’t prevent infection reliably. The antiviral Paxlovid also makes illnesses milder — until the virus becomes resistant to it. But even a mild COVID infection can result in long COVID.
Long hauling — continuing to experience (often debilitating) symptoms after no longer testing positive — is a key concern. COVID is not a simple “cold.” The CDC estimated that 20% of people infected with SARS-COV2 may develop long COVID. Recent data suggests that 6% — more than 12 million Americans — are suffering with long COVID.
Yes, individuals can mask if they are concerned. But we have ample evidence that one-way masking is less effective than all people masking.
A UPMC administrator told me that patients could request that staff mask. First, many people will likely be anxious and/or confused from their illness and forget to ask. Some may be too ill to ask. Others might not know to ask. Even if they do, many people already feel frightened and vulnerable when they are sick and go to the doctor and are unlikely to risk antagonizing their doctor or nurse by asking for staff to wear masks.
A number of chronically ill people on social media are saying that dropping mask mandates will translate to their not seeking medical care except in emergencies. They simply are unwilling to risk becoming more ill.
Hospitals and businesses could make spaces safer by improving ventilation and being transparent as to what they have done. For example, some restaurants and concert venues display CO2 levels to show attendees how well ventilated the space is. Some medical ofces have HEPA units in exam rooms. Such measures show people that their safety is of paramount importance.
The message from UPMC, state public health ofces, and other businesses is that the appearance of normalcy trumps caring for others. Elders, high-risk people, and the immunocompromised are being told that they are inconvenient and expendable collateral damage. What happened to “caring for the least of these?” All people have the right to safe health care. We urge UPMC and local medically related ofces to resume masking to protect all — especially the most vulnerable — in the community.
Covid outbreak at CDC meeting
New XBB-driven #COVID wave in China
Bloomberg news predicts ~65 million infections/week by June. 40% cases are already **reinfections** and rising as immunity from previous illness wanes. China is focusing on XBB specific vaccines
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What happens to the brain ~ 1 year after mild to moderate #Covid?
COVID-19 during pregnancy may predict worse birth outcomes
COVID-19 infection during pregnancy predicted worse birth outcomes, including preterm delivery, low birthweight and longer hospital stay, researchers reported at the ACOG Annual Clinical & Scientific Meeting.
“We found that COVID-19 infection during pregnancy predicted poor birth outcomes — it decreased birthweight by almost half a pound and increased the risk of an extended delivery hospitalization almost threefold. These effects were largely driven by earlier delivery, as those who had COVID-19 during pregnancy had a fourfold increased risk of preterm delivery,”
...“Severity of COVID-19 infection during pregnancy matters,” Elsayed told Healio. “In our study, severe infection ... was a strong predictor of poor outcomes with the worse outcomes among those with the most severe infections during pregnancy.”
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Post-Covid Diabetes in Children
Paxlovid gets full FDA approval
Vitamin D and Long Covid:
People with low vitamin D after being hospitalized for COVID-19 are more likely to develop long COVID compared to people without a vitamin D deficiency, a new study finds.
But long COVID affects 50% to 70% of people who’ve been hospitalized with COVID-19, according to a new study that explores a link between vitamin D deficiency and long COVID.
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Reproductive health and Long Covid
Clotting and MI:
Bird Flu outbreaks:
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recently stated the detection of bird flu outbreaks in Latin America and the Caribbean is a situation never recorded before.
still an incredible, negligent last of testing.
Drugs and vaccines:
Project Next Gen
The WhiteHouse is supporting next generation—nasal and variant-proof Covid vaccines —and therapies with a $5 billion program washingtonpost.com/health/2023/04 by @ddiamond
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COVID-19 vaccines may undergo major overhaul this fall
As Omicron persists, consensus grows for abandoning the ancestral coronavirus strain to improve immune responses
Science BY JENNIFER COUZIN-FRANKEL 23 MAY 2023
Earlier this year, U.S. regulators settled on a new strategy for COVID-19 vaccines. Like the annual flu shot, the vaccines will be updated each year based on the virus’ evolution, then rolled out in the fall. Accordingly, on 15 June, advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will weigh which strain or strains of SARS-CoV-2 should make up the next iteration of vaccine, so that the agency can greenlight a version for companies to mass-produce.
Regulators may well jettison the original SARS-CoV-2 strain that emerged in China and is long extinct—but which people are still being vaccinated against today. Many scientists favor eliminating it. The ancestral strain “should go out of the formulation,” says William Messer, an infectious disease specialist and viral immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed. But other questions loom, including whether to bundle multiple virus strains into the vaccine or just one.
To date, COVID-19 vaccines have been modified only once, when a bivalent version based on both the original strain and the BA.5 Omicron variant was introduced in September 2022. Uptake was disappointing: Only 17% of people in the United States have rolled up their sleeves. (By comparison, about 50% get an annual flu shot.) Furthermore, many researchers say the bivalent vaccine packed less of a punch than it could have. The decision to preserve the ancestral strain sprang from worries that if an entirely new variant emerged, an Omicron-only vaccine might falter against it.
This hedging proved unwarranted: All major new variants have flowed from Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa in November 2021. And evidence increasingly shows that a vaccine split between a current strain and one that’s extinct makes it harder for people to mount a strong immune response to the virus.
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World Health Organization recommends that new #Covid shots should target XBB variants.
Vaccines should aim to prompt antibody responses against XBB.1.5 or XBB.1.16, a WHO advisory panel says. Panel advised against original SARS2 strain in future shots.
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Vaccine hesitancy persists among parents
The majority of U.S. parents accept the recommended vaccine schedule for their children. But a new review of published research from the University of Georgia suggests vaccine hesitancy among a small but significant percentage of Americans doesn't appear to be going away any time soon.
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Could Alzheimer's be Caused by an Infection?
Tips, general reading for public:
Indiana doctor reprimanded and fined for talking publicly about Ohio 10-year-old's abortion
An Indiana board has decided to reprimand an Indianapolis doctor after finding that she violated patient privacy laws by talking publicly about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from neighboring Ohio. The state Medical Licensing Board voted that Dr. Caitlin Bernard didn’t abide by privacy laws when she told a newspaper reporter about the girl’s treatment in a case that became a flashpoint in the national abortion debate days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer. Board members chose to fine Bernard $3,000 for the violations, turning down a request from the attorney general’s office to suspend Bernard’s license. - AP
Feel good du jour:
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Forget-me-not fun fact: the yellow ring at the flower’s centre fades to white after pollination, signalling to insects there’s no more nectar. The insects therefore learn to visit the flowers that haven’t yet been pollinated, ensuring no forget-me-not flower is forgotten 🤙 pic.twitter.com/sypHvhkeoO— Leif Bersweden (@LeifBersweden) May 19, 2023
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TL cleanse. A crow gets brushed and then grabs the brush and asks to get brushed more ☺️ pic.twitter.com/YkO5xaO6J5— Trap Queen Enthusiast (@marionumber4) May 13, 2023
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Timeline cleanse pic.twitter.com/BrCaDJLKqv— brittany packnett cunningham. (she/her). (@MsPackyetti) May 13, 2023
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This is amazing.. 👌— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) May 27, 2023
🎥 IG: davidmbird pic.twitter.com/KEIMy26p2y