Coronavirus Tidbits #249, June 11, 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:

Women’s Health Center Opening In The Abortion Desert Of Western Maryland

Happening in our little rightward leaning town! It's going to be an interesting ride...

A response to WV banning abortions.



NIH to intensify scrutiny of foreign grant recipients in wake of COVID origins debate


The House Freedom Caucus and far right senators want to shut down international biomedical research. They should just be honest and say that. And we can do that. But also let’s remember the consequences…
We lose ALL of our advanced warning on emerging pandemics from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. And make no mistake they are coming,
Global pandemics are at least as great a threat as foreign military invasions, and I think even greater. What’s being proposed is to throw our pandemic intelligence into the toilet, just so the House Freedom Caucus and a few clueless Senators get in their FoxNews soundbites
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New study shows COVID-19 infections in 2 pregnant women caused brain damage in newborns

“…Midtrimester maternal COVID infection can infect the infant’s placenta & fetal or infant brain, triggering inflammatory events in both placenta & fetus, which can be associated with critical brain injury & progressive neurological sequelae.”

Note that mother #2 was asymptomatic

Benny M, Bandstra ES, Saad AG, et al. Maternal SARS-CoV-2, placental changes and brain injury in 2 neonates. Pediatrics. 2023;151(5):e2022058271

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Long COVID can impact fatigue and quality of life worse than some cancers, finds new study

Fatigue is the symptom that most significantly impacts the daily lives of long COVID patients, and can affect quality of life more than some cancers, finds a new study led by researchers at UCL and the University of Exeter.

The research, published in BMJ Open , examines the impact of long COVID on the lives of over 3,750 patients who were referred to a long COVID clinic and used a digital app as part of their NHS treatment for the condition.

Patients were asked to complete questionnaires on the app about how long COVID was affecting them—considering the impact of long COVID on their day-to-day activities, levels of fatigue, depression, anxiety, breathlessness, brain fog, and their quality of life.

The researchers found that many long COVID patients were seriously ill and on average had fatigue scores worse or similar to people with cancer-related anemia or severe kidney disease. Their health-related quality of life scores were also lower than those of people with advanced metastatic cancers, like stage IV lung cancer.

Overall, the team found that the impact of long COVID on the daily activities of patients was worse than that of stroke patients and was comparable to that of patients with Parkinson's disease.

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@ahandvanish  Jun 7
#LongCovid patients have:
1. Functional impairment worse than stroke; comparable to Parkinson's
2. Worse quality of life than metastatic cancers
3. Worse fatigue than stroke, bowel disease, & end stage renal disease We need clinical trials urgently!
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China’s rolling COVID waves could hit every six months — infecting millions

The latest surge is unlikely to crash the country’s health-care system, but scientists fear hundreds of millions of infection

The latest surge in COVID-19 cases in China is not surprising to researchers, who say that China will see an infection cycle every six months now that all COVID-19 restrictions have been removed and highly infectious variants are dominant. But they caution that rolling waves of infection carry the risk of new variants emerging.

China has vaccinated more than 90% of its population, and the outbreak in December infected at least 85% of its people, says Zhong. But immunity is waning, and XBB can evade protection from vaccines and prior infections. Mokdad says that, although XBB has not caused a major rise in hospitalizations and deaths, the sheer number of infections could put pressure on China’s health-care system.

antibodies generated against Omicron variants BA.5 and BF.7, the dominant strains during the December wave in China, can provide about four months of protection against strains such as XBB1.

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Still relevant from 8/2022:

1/ What were the historical reasons for the resistance to recognizing airborne transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic? Our peer-reviewed open-access paper is now published:
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Bird Flu:

“About 25 types of mammals have died in the latest bird flu outbreak, a larger number than in previous ones, increasing the risk of the virus turning into a pandemic, the World Organisation for Animal Health said.”
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How to clean the air from harmful wildfire smoke

MISSING: summary MISSING: current-rows.
P100 Strongest
N95 Strong
Well-fitted KN95 (head strap design) Strong
KN95 (ear loop design) Moderate
Loose-fitting N95/KN95 Weak
Cotton or cloth masks Weak
Paper or surgical masks Weak

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still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

Study: Using diabetes medication Metformin after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 reduces risk of developing long COVID by 40%

Taking a two-week course of metformin, a safe and affordable diabetes medication after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 leads to 40% fewer long COVID diagnoses over the following 10 months, compared to individuals taking a placebo, finds a new study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

The long-term symptoms some people experience after SARS-CoV-2 infection, known as long COVID, are an emerging chronic illness potentially affecting millions of people around the world. Currently there are no proven treatments or ways to prevent long COVID, other than reducing the risk of infection in the first place.

This is the first phase 3 randomized controlled trial of a treatment for patients in the community that shows a medication can reduce the risk of long COVID when taken after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.

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Randomized trial shows Metformin reduced Long Covid diagnosis. Nice!
Key caveat: study limited to over 30 people with high BMI.
Crucially: Long Covid reduction ONLY among unvaccinated. No effect for the vaccinated—so close that it's not statistically significant.
@nickmmark   Jun 8
Metformin had a statistically & clinically significant effect on long COVID: - substantially fewer symptoms - fewer symptoms affecting subjects ability to work - overall lower incidence of long COVID (6.3% vs 10.4%)
Notably, among subject who had been vaccinated & boosted the incidence of long COVID was also much lower! - placebo 10.4% - metformin 6.6% - vaccinated 6.6%
- vaccinated + boosted 1.8%
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Crucially, metformin mainly helps specific groups:
-female (7.9% LC w metformin, 13.8% wo)
-<age 45 (4.9% LC w metformin, 12.1% wo)
-those who took metformin in first 3 days (4.6% LC w metformin, 11.8% wo)
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Study: Menstrual changes due to COVID vaccines minimal

Menstrual cycles may lengthen by up to 1 day following COVID-19 vaccination, but the effect is temporary and vaccination makes little difference in cycle regularity, bleed length, heaviness of bleed, or menstrual pain, according to a study yesterday in Vaccine.

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Confidence in (all) vaccines has plummeted in Africa since the pandemic, shows eight-country study

especially in Democratic Republic of Congo

Devices, Masks, and Ventilation:

@JimRosenthal4   Jun 5
Have you wondered how the PC Fan versions of the #corsirosenthalbox compare to the original? We decided to do some tests. Here are the results. (Hint: They did pretty well!)
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US CDC announces indoor air guidance for COVID-19 after 3 years

“The announcement calls for indoor air to be completely replaced at least five times every hour and cleaned with minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV)-13 air filters.”

Epidemiology/Infection control:

@ESL_fairy  June 10
Individuals with mild symptoms emitted the most virus. The nose was the most important source of virus. Very little transmission occurred before positive test. We need to keep tests free to the public or else “allergies” will keep spreading.
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Latest US #SARSCoV2 genomics indicates continued rise of XBB.1.16 and other XBB recombinants, without new variants showing up. Stable picture.
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CDC reports eight more nursing home workers died of covid in the week ending June 4th. In the last 12 weeks, 108 nursing home workers were reported to have died from covid.
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@CIDRAP  Jun 5
Study finds 27% rate of long COVID in infected health workers. Multiple #COVID19 infections were predictive of developing #LongCOVID
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"After Scotland and England dropped requiring hospitals to test all admitted patients for #COVID19 in 2022, hospital-onset cases outstripped those in the community, according to a research letter published today in

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Face masks to return at Tour de France to limit COVID-19 cases in the peloton

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Boston MA Covid outbreak. 15 Veterans, 20 staff. Same assisted care home 31 veterans died early 2020. Mask mandate expired few weeks ago 5/12. #MaskUp
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COVID-19 human challenge study reveals more insights into how virus spreads

much of the virus people shed comes from the nose, further highlighting the importance of face masks covering the nose as well as the mouth when they’re used.

Tips, general reading for public:




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Thread on getting Wildfire Smoke scent out of clothes:


@yaneerbaryam   Jun 5
Study: Stopping universal admission testing was linked to significant increases in hospital-onset SARS-CoV-2 infections. Hospital infections remain common with high mortality rates. Hospitals should not stop universal admission testing.
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@StefanKertesz  Jun 5
1/A new study by my collaborator Dr. Salmaan Kamal shows the positive impact, and the limitations of free student-run volunteer clinics for homeless clientele. Our data show how medical students help, and how they can't fully remediate when larger powers decline to act
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@DoomScroling  Jun 5
In some GREAT news, Plan B vending machines have been installed at more than 36 college campuses nationwide to provide easier access for college students. WA is leading the charge with giving $200,000 in funding to reduce the cost to $12.70 for students.
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@AOC   Jun 6
Between NYC in wildfire smoke and this in PR, it bears repeating how unprepared we are for the climate crisis. We must adapt our food systems, energy grids, infrastructure, healthcare, etc ASAP to prepare for what’s to come and catch up to what is already here. #GreenNewDeal
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Findings that "surprised" scientists show the Arctic could see ice-free summers as early as the 2030s, a decade earlier than previously thought
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@RBReich   Jun 4
Why has the GOP targeted transgender people? There’s not a shred of evidence that trans people are threats to anyone. All they want is to live peacefully as their true selves. But targeting trans people is a way to stir up the base, stoking fear and hatred. It's that simple.
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While major corporations are continuing to spend TOKEN AMOUNTS on marketing to the LGBTQ community, which has over $1 trillion in annual purchasing power, the same companies are spending MILLIONS backing anti-LGBTQ politicians
These 25 rainbow flag-waiving corporations donated $13.5 million to anti-gay politicians since 2022
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@reckonnews   Jun 4
Karen Wild is the mother to her son Ellis Dunville, who is on the autism spectrum, has a seizure disorder and is nonverbal. Not once did any library staff or patrons object to her bringing her son into the women’s restroom. Until last month.
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@ErinInTheMorn   Jun 8
Maryland has been declared a trans sanctuary state. Gov. Wes Moore signed an order protecting trans people and providers from extradition, investigation, and aiding refugees. Maryland is now one of the safest states. Subscribe to support my work.
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After men in Kentucky - a permitless carry state - threatened people at a Pride event with loaded guns, police let them keep their weapons and no arrests were made. But because the Pride supporters didn't have a permit, they were asked to leave the area.
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@MilesParks   Jun 5
This weekend, @NPR published a months-long investigation into a simple question: Why are Republicans abandoning one of the best tools the government has to find voter fraud? We uncovered a complex far right pressure campaign, and an election denial blueprint for 2024...
The tool is the Electronic Registration Information Center -- better known as ERIC. It allows states to share data to keep their voter rolls more up to date. And it is the ONLY system to catch people who vote in two different states in the same election. That's illegal!!
But last January - a far-right website started targeting ERIC. Saying that... even though it had roughly half Republican states... It was ACTUALLY a leftist effort aimed at registering voters to help Democrats... Election denialists online found their new target:
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The 37-count federal indictment of former president Donald Trump unsealed Friday provides a vivid account of Trump’s actions at his homes in South Florida and New Jersey, and is based on information from a coterie of close aides, household staffers and lawyers hired to serve Trump in his post-presidency.
[Sadly, I suspect this will just help increase his popularity. Wish I understood this...]
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A reminder that Reality Winner spent 5 years in prison for leaking one doc to warn about MAGA-Russia treason.
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Essentially, Trump kept documents revealing how to successfully attack the United States at its weakest points, and then documents revealing how the United States might retaliate after such an attack. This is beyond serious
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@paimadhu   May 24
The world now has 2 approved treatments for Ebola Q: Guess which country has stockpiled nearly all of them? A: USA Q: Guess which region has seen ALL the outbreaks of Ebola but has no access to the treatments? A: Africa @MSF_access @MSFsci
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@cwebbonline  June 4
It’s 2023 and desegregation orders are still needed in Mississippi. Let that sink in. #SaveMississippi 32 school districts in Mississippi are still under federal desegregation orders, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division's assistant attorney general affirmed on Thursday.
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@nytimes   Jun 5
The nation’s first religious charter school, which would offer Roman Catholic instruction funded by taxpayers, was approved in Oklahoma on Monday.
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EJI has opened a new health clinic that will provide free health screenings and services to people released from jail or prison and services to other vulnerable populations in Alabama.
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Every drag performer in Florida should temporarily change their stage name to Rhonda Santis.
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@claireluvsbearz   Jun 4
The 16 migrants flown to CA on a chartered plane were all found with FL documents. De Santis was definitely involved. Abbott aided & abetted as they flew from TX to CA.
Migrants Flown into CA on Private Plane Were Carrying Florida Documents, Officials Say
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 #Florida @GovRonDeSantis picks legislator with no higher education experience & a prior arrest for impersonating a cop to lead South Florida State College.
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Ron DeSantis says he will name a US military base after Braxton Bragg, a racist 19th century sugar plantation enslaver and Confederate general who fought against US soldiers to preserve slavery and resigned in disgrace after multiple battlefield losses. The party of Lincoln, eh?
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@zachdespart   Jun 5
Hard to overstate how insane it is that the Texas Legislature has passed a bill increasing access to police records, but it hasn't become law — and maybe won't ever — because Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick simply hasn't signed it, as he's legally required to do.
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@brontyman   Jun 6
This Teacher Was Written-Up For "Teaching Students Their Constitutional Rights," And No, This Is Not A Joke - BuzzFeed

So what happened? Well, in line with Texas Senate Bill 1828, which mandates that all state schools hold a Holocaust Remembrance Week to teach history surrounding genocide, Hitler's dangerous rise to power, and concentration camps, Sophia conducted a lesson on Hitler's use of education. "My students learned about recognizing propaganda and why Hitler went into schools to teach nazi ideology and nationalism," she told BuzzFeed.

Students made parallels to signs of nationalism they were familiar with, including the US practice of having students recite the pledge of allegiance every morning in schools....

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Texas Pulls Funding for Child ID Kits After Investigation Finds Little Evidence of Their Effectiveness #journalism #JournalismMatters #Texas
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"Shortcomings of the current educational infrastructure [keep #nursing] schools from admitting more students.... In Texas alone, around 20,000 qualified applicants are turned away each year."
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@LCVoters   Jun 7
Virginia Gov. Youngkin (R) has withdrawn the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which targets carbon emissions from power plants. Impeccable timing on a day where the East Coast is enveloped in smoke from Canadian wildfires. Absolutely shameful.
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@organizeworkers   May 15
INTRODUCING: Unionizing 101 Over the next month, we’ll be answering 25 of the most common questions our workplace organizers get asked – each in 2 minutes or less. First video drops this Wednesday, stay tuned.
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Migration/Seeking asylum:
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Feel good du jour:

Sweet story:

@GMA  When this grandpa found his granddaughter had packed her "Peppa Pig" toys in his suitcase, he knew exactly what to do with them.
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In one of the most notable moments in sports history, Kenyan runner Abel Mutai was just a few feet from the finish line, but became confused with the signage and stopped thinking he had completed the race. A Spanish athlete, Ivan Fernandez, was right behind him, and after realizing what was happening, he started shouting at the Kenyan for him to continue running; but Mutai didn't understand his Spanish. Fernandez eventually caught up to him and instead of passing him, he pushed him to victory. A journalist asked Ivan, "Why did you do that?" Ivan replied, “My dream is that someday we can have a kind of community life where we push and help each other to win.” The journalist insisted “But why did you let the Kenyan win?" Ivan replied, "I didn't let him win, he was going to win.” The journalist insisted again, “But you could have won!”Ivan looked at him & replied, “But what would be the merit of my victory? What would be the honor of that medal? What would my Mom think of that?” Values are transmitted from generation to generation. What values are we teaching our children? Let us not teach our kids the wrong ways to WIN.
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This is crazy. “For 13 thousand dollars, Englishman Brendon Grimshaw bought a tiny uninhabited island in the Seychelles and moved there forever. When Grimshaw was under forty, he quit his job as a newspaper editor and started a new life. By this time, no human had set foot on the island for 50 years. As befits a real Robinson, Brendon found himself a companion from among the natives. His name was René Lafortin. Together with Rene, Brendon began to equip his new home. While René came to the island only occasionally, Brendon lived on it for decades by himself, never leaving. For 39 years, Grimshaw and Lafortin planted 16 thousand trees with their own hands and built almost 5 kilometers of paths. In 2007, Rene Lafortin died, and Brendon was left all alone on the island. He was 81 years old. He attracted 2,000 new bird species to the island and introduced more than a hundred giant tortoises, which in the rest of the world (including the Seychelles) were already on the verge of extinction. Thanks to Grimshaw's efforts, the once deserted island now hosts two-thirds of the Seychelles' fauna. An abandoned piece of land has turned into a real paradise. A few years ago, the prince of Saudi Arabia offered Brendon Grimshaw $50 million for the island, but he refused. “I don’t want the island to become a favorite vacation spot for the rich. Better let it be a national park that everyone can enjoy.” And he achieved just that. In 2008 the island was indeed declared a national park.”
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In my town, there is a local bakery that has been in business for over 16 years. Yesterday, an employee who works there posted to facebook stating that the owner had asked her to close for the week as his wife had a medical emergency and was in the ICU. She instead made it her mission to bake the rest of the inventory and sell it off to help with the medical costs. This was the line the next morning. They sold out before noon. I love seeing my local community come together like this.”

Comic relief:

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Bits of beauty:


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