Coronavirus Tidbits #264, Sept 24, 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.


Free Covid tests:

U.S. households will be able to order four free COVID-19 tests at The tests will be able to detect currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, HHS said.

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Supply and insurance issues snarl fall Covid-19 vaccine campaign

slowing the momentum of the fall vaccine campaign at a critical juncture. Last year, most people who got a bivalent Covid-19 vaccine did so within the first two months of approval, according to CDC data.

because of privatization/commercialization of the rollout.

Vaccines are supposed to be covered by all insurers under the Affordable Care Act.

People who don’t have health insurance or who don’t have enough are eligible to get Covid-19 vaccines for free at Walgreens and CVS, and through local health departments and federally qualified health centers through the government’s Bridge Access Program.

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Reinfection contributes additional risk of long Covid

--and also of making Long Covid symptoms already present worse, or adding additional problems

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Organ damage in Long Covid

Prospective magnetic resonance imaging of 259 people with Covid (requiring hospitalization) vs controls showed significant multi-organ abnormalities at 5 months (median), linked to symptoms

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@StenHelmfrid   Sep 11
Professor Ron Davis talks about innate immunity, the itaconate pathway, and whether #MECFS can be cured. He also considers why ME/CFS is chronic. According to Davis, it is likely that ME/CFS is a cell autonomous disease.
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Thread from Hannah Davis on Long Covid and pwME:
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I am humbled to announce that thanks to a generous grant from @cohengive (Stephen and Alexandra Cohen Foundation), our #LongCOVID center (opening early 2024) will work to understand the differences and similarities between LC and #Lyme, #MECFS and other infection-associated chronic illnesses. 
I am honored to be partnering with @microbeminded2 (Amy Proal) and @polybioRF
, who will lead our scientific discovery initiatives and clinical trials. At the heart of this center is providing rapid innovation and translation of research and accessible and affordable care for those with infection-associated complex chronic illnesses such as #LongCOVID, #Lyme and #MECFS. As such, we will take insurance and work to help patients to access expensive off-label meds through ethical formularies such as

@mcuban's @costplusdrugs  where expensive meds can be found at a fraction of the cost so long as you have a prescription. Because our clinical strategies can be easily replicated at other centers (we're not looking to become a "destination center"), we will be putting A LOT of effort into FREE medical education so that others can do what we do. I know that a lot of you are suffering and 2024 seems far away. We are fighting to move as fast as we can, because we can see the need and we are hopeful that this center (and others that grow from it) will be game-changing, but we want to make sure we get it RIGHT.
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@EricTopol   Apr 13
Beyond autoimmunity as a mechanism for #LongCovid, the heightened risk of autoimmune diseases "Compelling and reliable evidence that #SARSCoV2 infection is linked to a substantially increased risk of developing diverse new-onset autoimmune diseases..."
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Trial of monoclonal antibodies for Long Covid:

We are thrilled to have provided funding from our Patient-Led Research Fund to this

@UCSF clinical trial that aims to target viral persistence in #LongCovid!
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Infection Control/CDC guidance:

[understatement:] Experts say #CDC not getting right advice on hospital infection prevention #HICPAC


still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

Timing of vaccines:

experts recommend waiting 3-6 mo after a Covid infection

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Value of Boosters:

The decision about boosters isn't only about risk of severe Covid. All studies reviewed to date show vaccine protection associated with reduced #LongCovid (range 18-75%, avg ~40% )

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Swedish study suggests boosters every 6 months for elderly; lower mortality with higher antibody response.

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Shots should still be free to the vaccinee, covered either by insurance, the Vaccines for Children program, or the CDC’s Bridge program for un- and underinsured adults.

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Intranasal vax:

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Paxlovid's effectiveness is waning

New study: Paxlovid is 37% effective at preventing hospitalization according to a study published Thursday in the JAMA Network Open, well below the 88% effectiveness rate Pfizer and regulators reported in clinical trials in 2021—though it remains very effective--84%--at staving off death.

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Inhaled steroids: Fluticasone furoate does not cut time to COVID-19 symptom resolution: Study

For outpatients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, inhaled fluticasone furoate does not shorten time to symptom resolution, according to a study published in the Sept. 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel concluded last week that the decongestant phenylephrine, contained in many over-the-counter cold remedies—including some formulations of popular brands like Sudafed, Tylenol, and Nyquil—is ineffective when taken orally. 

Phenylephrine predates the congressional Kefauver Harris Amendments of 1962 that required drugs to be proven to be effective before they could be sold.

If you administer phenylephrine directly to the nasal passages there is evidence that it works.

Devices and Ventilation:

Ventilation can cut school COVID cases by 82%

An Italian study published on Tuesday suggests that efficient ventilation systems can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in schools by more than 80%.

10,441 classrooms in Italy's central Marche region.--COVID infections were steeply lower in the 316 classrooms that had mechanical ventilation systems, with the reduction in cases more marked according to the strength of the systems.

With applications guaranteeing a complete replacement of the air in a classroom 2.4 times in an hour, infections were reduced by 40%. They were lowered by 66.8% with four air replacements per hour and by 82.5% with six air replacements, the study showed.

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Good video on transmission:

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Data from ⁦@AAPNews⁩ showed 1200 children were admitted to the hospital with Covid during the week ending Sept 9, marking a 5x increase over the past three months. As Covid-19 hospitalizations climb, rates among seniors and children raise concern

Tips, general reading for public:






Dangerous sign. The @US_FDA was right to assert lack of any evidence of benefit for ivermectin. But the court ruled in favor of doctors prescribing whatever they want

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@Air99_LLC (Airgami)
HHS spent waaay over $22,000,000,000 on vaccine development and only $500,000 on mask innovation. One of these stops transmission & infection. The other doesn't. Can you guess which one? And guess which one is shuttering production?
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@PPEtoheros   Jul 14, 2022
On page 6 of this contact the USG gave 3M, it explains the gov has expected the collapse of the domestic mask industry since Oct. Bonus fact-the gov prevented every manufacturer except 3M/Moldex from getting a contract for 141 M N95s per month
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Thread from Kimberly Prather on CDC's recs on masking:
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Looks like CDC is no longer updating its excess deaths estimate after this month
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A new study suggests that fully remote workers may produce less than half the climate-warming emissions of people who spend their days in offices.
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Gift link to the original reporting for @nytopinion on Testing Women for Abortion Drugs.
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@NoLieWithBTC   Sep 22
Matthew Kacsmaryk, the Trump judge who halted the decades-old approval of abortion pills nationwide, just ruled that drag shows are NOT protected by the First Amendment. He previously said LGBT people are “disordered.” Republicans confirmed him to a lifetime position.
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Book bans:

The Pratt Library stands against censorship. Anyone in MD can get a Pratt Library card, and we carry all 10 of the most challenged books in the United States.

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GOP and TFG:

Between June 24 and September 11, the Republican-controlled House was in session for just ELEVEN days. Much of that time was spent focusing on an impeachment inquiry against Biden. Now they’re about to shut down the government.
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Mark Avila did five combat tours and lost a leg in Afghanistan. When he sang at a Pentagon event, Trump asked, “Why do you bring people like that here? No one wants to see that, the wounded.” Never let Avila appear in public again, Trump told Milley.
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Trump has always been incensed about reports that General Mark Milley contacted his counterpart in China about security concerns if an unhinged Trump continued to go further off the deep end in the closing days of his presidency.

On Friday night, Trump posted on Truth Social that act by Milley constituted treason: "This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!"

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Tear Gas:

Study suggests link between #TearGas exposures and adverse #reproductive health outcomes

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@alexaronson   Sep 16
Leonard Leo’s dark money operation appears to be using inside intelligence from Brett Kavanaugh to help Alabama defy the Supreme Court and dismantle the last remnants of the Voting Rights Act.
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one of the Koch events Clarence Thomas secretly attended happened to be one where they rolled out a new campaign to promote stacking the bench with conservatives, and put a Ginni Thomas lackey in charge of it
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@NoLieWithBTC   Sep 22
Iowa Republicans introduced a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the state.
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Kentucky town cancels concert when townsfolk discover one of the singers happens to be gay. "We don’t have metal detectors at the entryway, we can’t ensure security for him."
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Sept 19: Pennsylvania will begin automatic voter registration for folks getting a driver's license or state ID card at the DMV. Hopefully even more states will follow.
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@MeidasTouch   Sep 16
The Texas Republican Youth Summit has added Lauren Boebert as a speaker following her getting kicked out of a Denver theater for public sex acts, vaping, and causing a disruption.
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@QasimRashid   Sep 19
Wow! Texas teacher fired after assigning an illustrated Anne Frank book Censoring one of the most important works documenting the Holocaust and punishing the teacher who dared teach it is pretty much in line with what fascists do. Horrific antisemitism.

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@jen_rice_   Sep 19
banned books are disappearing from some houston-area schools. but you can find them (for free!) at harris county public libraries, which officially became "book sanctuaries" today:
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Kevin McCarthy denied a request from President Zelenskyy to deliver a joint address to Congress.

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Two dozen Republicans, including 7 Senators, pledge to oppose additional Ukraine funding. They support the eradication of Ukraine and Kiev becoming a Russian city.
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History will record that the Butcher of Tehran addressed the United Nations today and not a single democracy said or did anything about the fact that his regime—which beats, blinds, tortures and rapes women protesters—is to be Chair of the U.N. Human Rights Council Social Forum.

Feel good du jour:

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Did you know that Louis Armstrong wore a Jewish Star necklace for most of his life? Armstrong was born in New Orleans on August 4, 1901. He was raised by his grandmother and also cared for by his Lithuanian Jewish neighbors, the Karnofskys. Louis started off as a delivery boy for the Karnofsky family and was soon given meals, a place to sleep when needed and even included at their Shabbat table. Armstrong would later write in his memoir that the Karnofskys treated him as though he were their own child. Mrs. Karnofsky used to sing Yiddish and Russian lullabies for him at night before bed. Soon Louis earned $5 from Mr. Karnofsky which he used to buy his first instrument - a $5 cornet. “When I reached the age of Eleven, I began to realize it was the Jewish family who instilled in me Singing from the heart” Armstrong recalled. “They encourage me to carry on.” Fluent in Yiddish, Armstrong wore a Star of David until the end of his life in memory of the family who helped raise him.
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Margaret Hamilton, known for her iconic role as the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz," had a surprising real-life persona. Despite terrifying multiple generations as the Wicked Witch, Hamilton was, in reality, a devoted kindergarten teacher who cared deeply about children's education. She was so concerned about the impact her role had on kids that later in life, she even made a guest appearance on Mister Rogers' show to demonstrate that she was actually a kind and friendly woman. During the show, she initially wore regular clothes and then transformed into the Wicked Witch costume, emphasizing that her character was purely fictional. This experience led to a genuine friendship with Fred Rogers and Mr. McFeely, the delivery man.
Regarding her casting as the Wicked Witch, Hamilton recalled, "He [the casting director] said they were interested in you for a part in 'The Wizard of Oz,' and I said, 'Oh gosh, think of that.' I said, 'I've loved that story from the time I was 4 years old. What is it?' And he said, 'Well, the Witch.' And I said, 'The Witch!?' And then he said the final thing, 'Yes, what else?'"
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Bits of beauty:








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