Coronavirus Tidbits #260, Aug 27, 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 posts -- 2 this week you won't want to miss!

Public Pushes Back On CDC’s Plan To Weaken Infection Control

Video highlights of the public comments (10"):



August 24th update (Biobot io) wastewater data

Possible good sign, as numbers slightly down from last week. Estimated

580,000 new infections per day

1 in every 570 new people were infected today

1 in every 57 people currently infected 580,000 new infections/day 1 in every 570 new people were infected today

1 in every 57 people currently infected

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Updated vaccines for the fall

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet slated for Sept. 12. New Covid vaccine should be approved and available shortly after. It is monovalent and does not target the original strain.

This year, as last, older adults and people who have immunocompromising health conditions will be able to get a second dose of vaccine a few months after the first. Last year. it was recommended that people wait at least four months before having the second booster; the recommended interval was two months for people who were immunocompromised.

They don't know how well the vaccine will cover the new subvariant, BA.2.86, that has recently been found.

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Moderna, Pfizer say updated COVID-19 vaccines protect against EG.5

FDA advisors recommended in June that the country’s COVID-19 vaccines be updated to remove the original, wild strain of SARS-CoV-2 and target only XBB lineages, after XBB.1.5 became the dominant omicron subvariant in January.

EG.5, a descendent lineage of an XBB virus, has emerged this summer as the new dominant SARS-CoV-2

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see Vaccines for more.

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New to the public health armamentarium this year are tools to combat RSV — respiratory syncytial virus. Two vaccines for older adults were approved in May, and a monoclonal antibody for newborns, Beyfortus, was approved earlier this summer. Beyfortus was developed by AstraZeneca and is marketed in the United States by Sanofi.

A Pfizer vaccine for pregnant people — given to protect their babies after they are born — was approved earlier this week by the FDA. As with the Covid vaccines, the ACIP must recommend it before it can be put into use.

Covid tests: government still has significant supplies of tests that it is shipping to schools, libraries, long-term care facilities, and other distribution points.

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Does prior omicron infection shield against future infection? Maybe not

A new study of 750 vaccinated seniors living in  and  found that those infected during the first omicron wave were actually more vulnerable to reinfection with a later wave.

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Prior vaccination may reduce severity of long-haul COVID symptoms

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine may not only reduce a person's risk of getting long-haul COVID, but also could mean fewer symptoms for people who develop the condition.

Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that long-haul COVID patients who were vaccinated before contracting the virus were less likely to experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath, according to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine. The study is believed to be among the first to examine COVID-19 vaccines' potential to reduce long-haul COVID symptoms.

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People can get long Covid without testing positive for virus

«We estimated that there were approximately 10 million people in the 1st year of the pandemic in the U.S. who got Covid, got long Covid, but tested negative for Covid»
[Note-they are excluded from trials and treatment]
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HHS awards $1.4 billion for Project NextGen COVID countermeasures

but ZERO for #LongCovid research

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) announced recipients for the first round of funding through the White House's $5 billion Project NextGen program.

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Commentary: Should mask rules remain in health care settings?

Public health experts from several prominent universities suggest that both patients and health care professionals should draw upon lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to mask up in the health care setting. This is important because infection from SARS-CoV-2 is still a threat, especially to the most vulnerable patients, and masks are a proven method for preventing transmission.

Eric J. Chow et al, Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic: Updating Our Approach to Masking in Health Care Facilities, Annals of Internal Medicine (2023). DOI: 10.7326/M23-1230

The authors emphasized the necessity of considering the long-term impact of COVID-19, especially in high-risk populations. Even with declining rates of severe cases due to increased community immunity and medical countermeasures, severe outcomes related to COVID-19 still persist, particularly among older individuals and those with underlying health conditions. 

Further, the potential long-term effects of COVID-19 infections are only beginning to be understood, which the authors said signals need to continue certain safety measures.

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How Do People Know What Health Information to Believe?

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Top Patient Advocacy Orgs Have Industry Ties in Leadership, Study Shows

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Living with air pollution raises chances of dementia, study finds

People who daily breathe in air pollution, particularly from wildfires or agricultural sources, might need to add a heightened risk of dementia to their list of health concerns.

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Risk of death related to pregnancy and childbirth more than doubled between 1999 and 2019 in the US

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How states can better regulate indoor air quality

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Do bed bugs spread MRSA? Study findings support hypothesis

Through the first experimental evidence of its kind, researchers determined that bed bugs can contract MRSA through contact with or feeding through a surface contaminated with the bacteria, although this does not necessarily mean they can spread the infection to humans.


still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

From Eric Topol on BA.2.86, our new variant

The impact of these striking differences will be immune escape—that is more difficult for our immune response to recognize this variant even with prior vaccinations, boosters, and infections—because it is new and different. It’s still SARS-CoV-2 so we have built some immunity, especially via our cellular T-cell system that is less sensitive to variants (that is to say its response is largely preserved independent of variants). But the rapid ability to neutralize the virus depends on antibodies, and the levels of those neutralizing antibodies are bound to be much lower against BA.2.86 than versions of the virus we have previously been exposed to or immunized against. Also to note, the burden of new mutations for BA.2.86 is not confined to the spike and is seen broadly across other components of the virus.

The XBB.1.5 updated booster would have been quite useful because it matches up pretty well to EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 (gaining in the US) with only a few mutations that differ, but it isn’t likely to be as helpful against BA.2.86. If BA.2.86 takes off, it will be a real test of how good our T-cell response can rev up to meet the challenge.

The CDC Works to Overhaul Lab Operations After Covid Test Flop



Oximeters often overestimate COVID patients' oxygen levels, delaying care: Study

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Study finds severe COVID-19 twice as common among bus drivers, other

While the risk of hospitalization for severe COVID-19 was found to be particularly elevated among bus and tram drivers (98% increased risk), the study also highlights staff at after-school clubs (72% increased risk), registered nurses (68% increased risk), compulsory school teachers (60% increased risk) and preschool child minders (60% increased risk).

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COVID Omicron carries 4 times the risk of death as flu,

new data show #Flu was tied to 7,851 deaths from week 33, 2022, to week 12, 2023, compared with 32,607 deaths tied to #COVID19

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Lockdowns and face masks really did help to control covid-19

Non-vaccine measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks have been "unequivocally effective" at preventing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, according to a major report by the UK's Royal Society

Tips, general reading for public:





Gift link

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899,644 predicted to have symptomatic Covid-19 in the UK.

New wave in UK, w Up 16% in 28 days.

New variant in the air, boosters delayed, and limits on eligibility this winter.

@JoePajak 8/19

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'Fairly shocking': Secret medical lab in California stored bioengineered mice laden with COVID via @usatoday

Instead of pointless irresolvable debate about #wuhan how about publicly investigating this???

Art Caplan 8/19/23

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@ahandvanish  8/16/23
Beautiful new resource from the Treatment Action Group (@TAGTeam_Tweets) - an Activist's Protocol Review Toolkit. Great for #LongCovid advocates and allies who are new to/starting to work on clinical trials!
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Delta and Air Canada have hassled people/not allowed them to use the personal air purifiers on flights.
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@MeetJess   Aug 20
Syracuse, NY -- Upstate Medical’s two hospitals, University and Community General, reimposed mandatory face-masking after reporting an uptick in Covid-19 cases. Covid testing is now also required for all patients being admitted to the hospitals
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@Strandjunker   Aug 20
2 died of Ebola: They said Obama should resign.
4 died in Benghazi: They had Hillary testify for 11 hours, held 33 hearings, and launched a 4-year probe.
763,044 Covid deaths, an armed insurrection & theft of classified documents: They cheered, and want Trump to be president.
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Very good news on masking in healthcare! Eric J. Chow, M.D., from King County Public Health, along with 9 other Washington State physicians and public health experts (MPH) are recommending the return of masking to health care facilities: (free)
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Lionsgate tells employees to wear masks amid new Covid variant

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Gift article:

Current and former employees recall rising desperation as Trump administration officials squelched research into the new coronavirus.

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In a year of very sad news for sentient life, this may be the saddest news yet: "When the sea ice breaks earlier, chicks can fall into the water and drown, or they may drift away on floes and the adults just lose them and then they would starve to death"

Huge colonies of emperor penguins saw no chick survive 🙁

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A stunning new report finds that penguins in Antartica are experiencing "total breeding loss" due to melting ice caused by global warming. The penguins face almost certain extinction – and I promise the fossil fuel industry could care less.

@SDonziger   Aug 21
 In a historic win for the planet, Ecuador voted to end oil drilling in a pristine part of the Amazon that is home to two non-contacted Indigenous peoples. A model for citizen action and the most monumental democratic vote ever on climate.
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@MorePerfectUS   Aug 21
A class action wage theft lawsuit has been filed against Elite Ambulance, a large private ambulance company in the Chicago area. Paramedics and EMTs say the company deducted red light and speeding tickets from their pay. Tickets they got trying to get patients to the hospital.
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ACLU: 8/25

A Texas district court blocked the state's unconstitutional medical care ban targeting transgender youth, finding the law likely violates the rights of parents under the Texas state constitution.

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Months after passing permitless carry - a deadly law that makes it easy for criminals to get guns - the Florida legislature is making taxpayers pay $61.6 million to put bulletproof windows in their workplace. Gun safety for me but not for thee.
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@KFF   Aug 24  Medicaid 
Children comprised 43% of people who have been disenrolled from Medicaid in the 15 states reporting data by age. In Texas, children accounted for 81% of people who were disenrolled, while in Massachusetts the share was 18%.
Many of these children being dropped from Medicaid are likely still eligible for coverage, and are simply getting caught up in bureaucratic red tape, nowhere more so than in Texas.
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@BrentToderian   Aug 19
“In Finland, the # of homeless people has fallen sharply. Those affected receive a small apartment & counselling with no preconditions. 4 out of 5 people affected make their way back into a stable life. And all this is CHEAPER than accepting homelessness.”

Feel good du jour:

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Comic relief:

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Where are the good people?

They did show up for Marion County Record’s Joan Meyer

Bits of beauty:



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