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.
In-N-Out Burger’s New Masking Policy Threatens Their Employees’ Health
In-N-Out finally released a statement about their discriminatory mask ban policy. They are doubling down on valuing "smile" over the health and safety of their employees and their families. - Dr. Lucky Tran
Call In-N-Out at 1-800-786-1000 about their discriminatory policy banning masks.
COVID-19 Weekly Update for the United States
Key Data Takeaways (as of 7/17/2023)
• COVID-19 indicators, including emergency department visits, test positivity, and wastewater levels, have begun to show small increases nationally.
• Hospital admissions have leveled off after steadily declining.
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Had COVID but no symptoms? You might have this genetic mutation
At least 20% of people who become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus never feel sick. Now scientists have identified a genetic mutation that is linked to a higher likelihood of avoiding symptoms during infection1.
This mutation might give an advantage to the immune cells of people who have previously been exposed to ‘seasonal’ coronaviruses, which cause the common cold. That extra boost means the immune system can quickly track down and destroy SARS-CoV-2 before it goes haywire trying to defend against the pathogen, says Jill Hollenbach, an immunogeneticist at the University of California, San Francisco, who co-authored the report. It was published on 19 July in Nature.
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More on genetics from Eric Topol:
It has taken 3 years, but our genetics that play a role in the highly variable response to Covid, from no illness to #LongCovid, are getting unraveled. And that can lead to better prevention, treatment and vaccines erictopol.substack.com/p/from-asympto
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Long Covid affects 16% study finds
Caveats first: In the rush to share information early in the Covid-19 pandemic, long Covid studies in children may not have met the highest research standards, authors of a new review in Pediatrics stipulate, citing only a vague definition and a dearth of control arms for comparison. Still, their analysis of 31 studies published through December 2022 offers a picture of long Covid in children: Persistent symptoms three months after confirmed infections affected 16% of children and adolescents. (Studies of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children with Covid-19 are also limited by that rush to share data, the authors note.)
If you remember, at first children accounted for fewer and milder cases of Covid. Later variants infected more children, who eventually had lingering symptoms. Overall, girls were more likely than boys to feel long-term problems, including sleep disturbances and headaches. Other symptoms included fatigue, depression, cough, sore throat, and GI illnesses.
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New study showing that of those with cognitive dysfunction at 12 weeks after COVID, only 17% were recovered at 38 weeks. #LongCovid --
‘Brain fog’ of long Covid comparable to ageing 10 years, study finds
Symptoms of infection can last two years, but researchers find no lasting cognitive impairment after individuals fully recover
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Let's talk about peer support for #LongCovid –– I recently made this handout to help people experiencing Long COVID find a good community that fits their needs.— Alison Sbrana (@AlisonSbrana) March 18, 2022
Here's the PDF via Body Politic's website (it has links embedded): https://t.co/X3Dg2zVCS4
A short thread 🧵 1/ pic.twitter.com/0dh4PwrENN
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WHO adds Omicron EG.5 to variants under monitoring
EG.5 is a descendant of XBB.1.9.2, with one extra spike mutation. Global prevalence has been rising since the end of May. The WHO now has seven VUMs. The number of variants of interest remains at two, including XBB.1.5, which is steadily declining, and XBB.1.16, which is holding steady at 20.7% of sequences.
US among countries seeing EG.5 activity
The United States is one of the countries seeing rising EG.5 proportions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its last estimates on Jul 8 that EG.5 made up 13% of samples. The WHO said so far there's no evidence that EG.5 is fueling any rises in cases or deaths or that infections involving the virus are more severe.
Gain-of-function research is about much more than dangerous pathogens
Interesting op-ed in Stat
By Saskia Popescu, Yong-Bee Lim and Angela Rasmussen July 21, 2023
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve heard a lot about gain-of-function research, and some of its risks, particularly regarding the possible creation of dangerous pathogens.
But there’s a lot more to this field than that, including research that could potentially be quite beneficial to human society. If we focus solely on the risks, we may miss those benefits.
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INTREPID (International Readiness for Preventing Infectious Viral Disease) Alliance
- Seven pharmaceutical companies today announced the launch of the INTREPID Alliance to speed the discovery and development of new antiviral treatments for use in future pandemics. In a press release, the group said the effort supports the "100 Days Mission" established by G7 countries, which has a goal of having 25 antivirals for viral diseases with pandemic potential ready for phase 2 and phase 3 trials by 2026. As a first step, the INTREPID Alliance plans to publish an initial list later this year. The companies are AbbVie, Amgen, Gilead, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Roche, and Takeda.
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Avian flu, COVID outbreaks prompt calls for shutting down fur farms over pandemic risks
Thomas Peacock, PhD, and Wendy Barclay, PhD, both with Imperial College London, detailed their concerns in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
...Mink could provide an ample opportunity for reassortment between H5 avian flu subtypes and human-adapted flu strains, they warned. Fur farming should be in the same high-risk category as bush meat trade and live-animal markets, they concluded.
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Tornado damage to Pfizer plant could aggravate drug shortages
STAT July 21, 2023
The timing could not be worse. The tornado that struck North Carolina Wednesday damaged a Pfizer plant that makes almost 30% of sterile injectable medicines sold to U.S. hospitals, just as the shortage of prescription medicines escalates. While the Rocky Mountain plant is one of Pfizer’s biggest manufacturing facilities, the impact is still being determined. In addition to sterile injectables, it produces glass vials, plastic vials, syringes, flexible containers, and semi-rigid bottles. Local media reports suggested warehouse inventory may have been wiped out.
Current shortages range from ADHD pills to injectable treatments for syphilis and different forms of cancer, traced to quality control failures at manufacturing plants and surging demand, famously for weight loss drugs. “It’s hard to know exactly what the impact will be, but this stands to just make things worse,” said Erin Fox of University of Utah Health Care.
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85 people in Arizona suffered severe burns from contact with pavements
heated up to 180F (82C). 7 of them died. In total, 257 people had underlying cause of death listed as "exposure to excessive natural heat".
Scent dogs can detect COVID-19 more rapidly and accurately than current tests, finds review study
Scent dogs may represent a cheaper, faster and more effective way to detect COVID-19, and could be a key tool in future pandemics, a new review of recent research suggests. The review, published in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, found that scent dogs are as effective, or even more effective, than conventional COVID-19 tests such as RT-PCR.
Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory cells, compared to just 5 or 6 million in humans, and use one-third of their brains to process scent information, compared with just 5% for humans. Dogs trained to recognize specific volatile organic compounds created in the body during disease have successfully identified patients with certain cancers, Parkinson's and diabetes.
Drugs and Vaccines:
COVID vaccine in pregnancy yields antibody responses in moms, babies for 6 months
mRNA COVID-19 vaccines induced an antibody response in both mothers and babies for at least 6 months after birth, with no adverse outcomes, according to a single-center study published late last week in JAMA Network Open.
University of California researchers evaluated the medical records of 76 COVID-naïve mothers in San Francisco who received an mRNA vaccine during pregnancy from December 2020 to December 2021, with follow-up through March 2022.
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Only 1 in 5 US nursing home residents given monoclonal antibodies, antivirals for COVID
A new study published in JAMA finds that fewer than one in five US nursing home residents received evidenced-based treatment with monoclonal antibodies or oral antiviral drugs for COVID-19, despite being at high risk for poor outcomes. The rate had improved to one in four by late 2022.
Nursing home residents are at elevated risk for severe COVID-19 owing to a tendency toward older age, higher number of underlying illnesses, and living in a congregate-care setting with possible lower rates of compliance with public health efforts to mitigate viral spread.
Devices and Masks:
Upgrading PPE from surgical masks to N95s
for staff working on COVID-19 wards cut hospital-acquired infections dramatically
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Toronto hospital
Toronto hospitals dropped masks July 5th. Outbreak reported about 3 weeks later. Same thing happened in SF BayArea. April 3, no masking in hospitals. About 2 weeks later, Covid outbreak. So predictable.
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Tips, general reading for public:
Who said all political ads are boring? This is probably the hottest political ad you’ll ever see.— Christopher Webb (@cwebbonline) July 15, 2023
OHIO vote NO on August 8th 🔥 pic.twitter.com/nGv4Q8LUrT
The former president and his backers aim to strengthen the power of the White House and limit the independence of federal agencies.
Free link here.
How a Saudi firm tapped a gusher of water in drought-stricken Arizona
Lax rules let the foreign-owned company pump water from state land to grow alfalfa for the kingdom’s cattle
Free link here.
Vetting Georgia’s voter rolls was once largely the domain of nonpartisan elections officials. A post-2020 change in the law enabled activists to take on a greater role.
Feel good du jour:
Dolphin saves a dog that fell into the sea from the boat pic.twitter.com/vvKHpRE6QW— Gabriele Corno (@Gabriele_Corno) July 22, 2023
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I never post my crochet and embroidery projects because I like keeping them as a thing just for me but I spent a month making this wheelchair doll and I'm so proud of it. It is all crochet, including the wheelchair and all of its parts. pic.twitter.com/UHmGK5lc0J— Madison Russell #bIm (@madison_isqueer) July 16, 2023
All across Iceland, you see reminders of how tight-knit the local community is.— Rick Steves (@RickSteves) July 20, 2023
At this Reykjavík playground, instead of swinging on parallel tracks in individual worlds, kids swing into the center and then out again, like a laughing squeeze box of neighborhood joy. pic.twitter.com/mCcGFO7Hqu
Goat and his little friend..😍— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) July 21, 2023
Wait for the surprise...🥰 pic.twitter.com/uqq76B4NC5
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This dog makes friends with every stranger ❤️ pic.twitter.com/MaW4vNisIO— B&S (@_B___S) July 22, 2023
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“You want a close up?” 😅 pic.twitter.com/xZziLIHvTv— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) July 14, 2023
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Our dear daughter responding to some Beethoven 🎶 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/eNyMHOY2cQ— Guy Johnston (@cellojohnston) July 17, 2023
Bits of beauty: