Coronavirus Tidbits #266, Oct 8, 2023

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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.


Covid rates are steadily rising, notably in Boston, prompting me to ask, in response to a Boston Globe article and my post last week about anti-maskers and Boston hospital infection control people opposing masking:

I wonder if about 425 patients were hospitalized w COVID19 & the 7-day percent positivity was 9.87% in Boston is enough to change @ericashenoy and @ShiraDoronMD’ stance that HCWs don’t have to #mask? If not, what level is needed to bring back #MasksInHealthcare@MassGenBrigham

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RSV hospitalizations have worse clinical outcomes for older Americans than flu, COVID

Though hospitalizations for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are less common than those for flu or COVID-19, they are more severe and more likely to occur in adults ages 75 and older, according to new data published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Among hospitalized cases, the likelihood for invasive mechanical ventilation or death with RSV was double that of the flu (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.08, 95% CI 1.33-3.26) and similar to COVID (aOR 1.39, 95% CI 0.98-1.96),

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WastewaterSCAN Project Expands with Six New Disease Targets:

bringing its total roster of disease targets to 12 of the most critical seasonal and emerging pathogens currently in the United States.

The new disease targets in WastewaterSCAN’s roster include parainfluenza, rotavirus, adenovirus group F, enterovirus D68, Candida auris, and hepatitis A. They already can test for COVID-19, influenza (flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), norovirus, Human Metapneumovirus, Mpox (monkeypox), polio,

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Scientists discover ‘long colds’ may exist, as well as long COVID

by Queen Mary, University of London

OCTOBER 6, 2023

A new study from Queen Mary University of London, published in eClinicalMedicine, has found that people may experience long-term symptoms-or “long colds”-after acute respiratory infections that test negative for COVID-19.

Some of the most common symptoms of the “long cold” included coughing, stomach pain, and diarrhea more than four weeks after the initial infection. While the severity of an illness appears to be a key driver of risk of long-term symptoms, more research is being carried out to establish why some people suffer extended symptoms while others do not.

The findings suggest that there may be long-lasting health impacts following non-COVID acute respiratory infections, such as colds, influenza, or pneumonia, that are currently going unrecognized. However, the researchers do not yet have evidence suggesting that the symptoms have the same severity or duration as long COVID.

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Arkansas reports locally acquired malaria case


October 5, 2023

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) yesterday reported a locally acquired malaria infection, the fourth state this year to report a local malaria case.

In a press release, the ADH said the patient lives in Saline County, which is located in the central part of the state. The individual had not traveled outside of the country. The state has reported five travel-related malaria cases this year.

In August, Maryland reported its first locally acquired malaria case in four decades, and earlier this year, Florida reported seven cases, all from Sarasota County, and Texas reported a case in a person who had worked outdoors in Cameron County.

Malaria was eliminated from the United States in the 1950s, but Anopheles mosquitoes that can transmit the parasite still exist and have been implicated in sporadic local outbreaks. For example, an outbreak in Florida’s Palm Beach County in 2003 led to eight infections.

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Study shows prior exposure to common virus shields against birth defects and miscarriage

by Tulane University

OCTOBER 5, 2023

Researchers at Tulane University have shown for the first time that mothers are much less likely to transmit a common virus known to cause miscarriages and birth defects if they are exposed to the virus prior to becoming pregnant. The study marks a significant step toward the development of a vaccine that could protect mothers and their babies.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common herpesvirus that most women contract unknowingly before reaching child-bearing age. It’s usually harmless except during pregnancy when, if passed on to the developing fetus, it is a leading cause of miscarriage and birth defects, including cerebral palsy and hearing loss.

Researchers have long known that the risk for complications is particularly high for women infected by CMV for the first time during pregnancy, but they haven’t fully understood why those who already carry the virus are less vulnerable.

The Tulane study reveals how pre-existing immunity to CMV effectively limits its transmission during pregnancy and protects against associated birth defects. The study, published in PLOS Pathogens, pinpoints the specific immune mechanisms responsible for that protection.

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Another criticism of NIH’s RECOVER trial

[which has wasted all the long Covid research $$$, imho]

During my intake visit I did several “exams”: supine and standing BP, 30s sit-to-stand, etc.

Presumably these “tests” are trying to measure autonomic dysfunction. However by the time I enrolled, I was already taking beta blockers, supplementing sodium, and pushing fluids after my POTS dx. I take other medications that impact my HR/BP. They never asked for this info.

In follow-up surveys distributed through Redcap, I’m asked if there are any changes in my medication. Every time, I write in that I have a PDF with my medication history, and I’m informed a “team member will reach out to collect more info”. To this day they never have.

Over the past year, while enrolled, I’ve trialed many treatments – too many to list. Some helped, some didn’t – and RECOVER has NONE of this information. I’ve spoken with other participants with the same experience, and the same concerns about the impact on study results.

If this is happening to a high # of participants, it’s easy to see how this type of incomplete data can make accurate analysis almost impossible. I have a #POTS diagnosis and take medications, but RECOVER doesn’t know this – all they know is that I don’t meet THEIR criteria.

So much money has already been spent on this observational trial and yet the observational data is not even complete. Is this being accounted for? Are study leads even aware this is happening? None of the study coordinators I’ve asked had any idea…

[it goes on. from @jannamoen. Thread starts




A negative Covid antigen test is less reliable these days. In this study, symptomatic, PCR+ people didn’t reliably test positive by antigen test until the 3rd, 4th, or even 5th day of symptoms. Sensitivity Day 1: 30%-60% Day 3: 60%-75%

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Raman testing for ME/CFS

using peripheral blood mononuclear cells, or PBMCs,

When a laser beam is directed at a cell, some of the scattered photons undergo shifts in energy due to interactions with the cell’s molecular constituents. These energy shifts, or Raman shifts, are characteristic of specific chemical bonds and molecular structures, allowing researchers to obtain a molecular fingerprint of the cell.

Previous studies have identified PBMCs in ME/CFS patients as exhibiting reduced energetic function compared to healthy controls.

The current study included 98 participants, including 61 ME/CFS patients of varying disease severity and 37 healthy and disease controls. The team’s model was able to correctly identify patients with ME/CFS with a 91% accuracy.

explained in

Wei E. Huang, Karl J. Morten, et al., Developing a Blood Cell-Based Diagnostic Test for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Using Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells, Advanced Science (2023). DOI: 10.1002/advs.202302146

Drugs and Vaccines:

Novavax approved by FDA (emergency use authorization)

During the 2022 Omicron wave, Novavax’s protein-based COVID shot had an estimated 50% vaccine effectiveness (VE) against symptomatic infection in fully vaccinated people and a VE of 31% in those who were partially vaccinated, an Italian study has determined.

As expected in the face of the more immune-evasive Omicron variant, the data are a sharp contrast to the pivotal trial data which showed a 95% efficacy against infection caused by the original Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2 and 85% against the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) variant;

Novavax has said its vaccine can neutralize EG.5 (Eris) — currently the most-common variant in the U.S., causing 29.4% of infections — as well as XBB.1.16.6, XBB.1.5, XBB.1.16, and XBB.2.3. The company hasn’t shared data about whether the vaccine works against FL.1.5.1 (Fornax), which is currently causing 13.7% of infections, nor against BA.2.86 (Pirola).

The waning protection against all infection was similar to that seen with mRNA vaccines, the researchers noted, but the persistent protection against symptomatic infection appeared to be a plus for the protein-based formulation.

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Should you go preferentially for a @Novavax booster?

Limited data, makes some theoretical sense. “There was theoretical hope that since these vaccines work in slightly different ways, they would have different strengths in terms of which part of the immune system they activate best,”

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Study: Paxlovid cuts hospitalization, death only in at-risk COVID patients with weak immune systems

Today in JAMA Network Open, an observational Canadian study ties the antiviral drug combo nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (Paxlovid) to a lower risk of hospitalization or death only in very high-risk COVID-19 patients with weakened immune systems.

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On Paxlovid rebound. In our @ScrippsRTI @eMedCertified prospective trial, it occurred in 14% vs 9% in controls, far less than anticipated, but more than @Pfizer‘s trial.

If you test positive, you should assume that you are contagious.

Rebound is generally milder and most people don’t need another course of Paxlovid.…

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Study of monoclonal antibodies (Regeneron)

@ahandvanish   Case report of 3 people with #LongCovid *fully recovered* with infusion of monoclonal antibodies (Regeneron). Author list includes renowned researcher Dr. Klimas. Parents were at 5, 8, & 18 months at the time of infusion. Followup time was 2 years (!!) & all remained recovered.

Devices and Ventilation:

Linsey Marr granted MacArthur Genius award

for showing airborne transmission of Covid.

Epidemiology/Infection control:

@IFH_HomeHygiene   Oct 2 Study shows discontinuation of masking in a healthcare setting was followed by sustained increase in healthcare-associated respiratory viral infections. “Cases of healthcare-associated COVID-19 during this period approached what was seen during the omicron wave despite a consistently lower census of admitted patients positive for SARS-CoV-2.” ~ ~ ~ The heightened and substantial risk of autoimmune diseases following Covid from the South Korea experience of >350,000 people with Covid and >6.1 million controls

Tips, general reading for public:






@PPEtoheros The strangest part of the FOIR request was at that in May 2020, as top CDC officials were testifying in Congress on how hospitals needed ensure to use elastomeric respirators before even considering N95 reuse & how N95 reuse was never shown to be safe, the same officials were quietly discussing amongst themselves how to deal with the shocking NYTs investigation by Chris Hamby on how OSHA & the CDC failed let hospitals know to use elastomeric respirators or put them into widespread use during pandemics as they had originally planned. Despite those internal discussions, the CDC kept doing PSA’s on how nothing else but N95 reuse was available & OSHA decided not to investigate hospitals violating that policy & forcing HCWs to reuse N95s even when they had plenty of elastomeric respirators available. Even the CDC Director under BarackObama, DrTomFrieden, was shocked by the Trump admin didn’t follow the pandemic plan created by the CDC when JoeBidenwas the VP. Not only did the CDC & OSHA refuse to break their silence around the need to provide elastomeric respirators to HCWs to avoid the 1000s of deaths among HCWs that occurred, the White House didn’t want the international community to be seen using them either so they unsuccessfully tried to ban their export in April 2020.… The 2017 tweet by NIOSH attached shows they knew that if the CDC failed to promote elastomeric respirators during pandemics, they would be overlooked despite their vital importance. Just as Trump left office, the FDA quietly told Batelle it was no longer allowed to reuse N95s 20 times and 4 times would be the max amount of reuse. 4/ ~ ~ ~


@JessicaValenti   Sep 30 57% of Planned Parenthood patients in New Mexico are from Texas ~ ~ ~ @amymaxmen
Oct 3After banning abortion, Idaho shuts down a committee collecting data on women who die during or within a year of pregnancy. They also failed to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage and turned down federal grants for child care . ~ ~ ~ Climate/Environment: Surface air temp ~ ~ ~ Race: @Phil_Lewis_   Sep 30 An appeals court has ordered a Black venture capital firm to pause grant apps supporting Black women founders A conservative group sued the Fearless Fund, alleging racial discrimination for only helping Black women ~ ~ ~ @maliniranga   Oct 1 Sikh and Mexican farm laborers are uniting in the struggle against caste/casta in California – this is a fascinating read on how previously unlikely solidarities are being forged through a shared language of anti-casteism, anti-racism, and worker rights. ~ ~ ~ GOP/TFG: @kylegriffin1   Oct 5 Breaking ABC: Months after leaving office, Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with a member of Mar-a-Lago – an Australian billionaire who then allegedly shared the information with scores of others. According to billionaire Anthony Pratt’s account, as described by the sources, Pratt told Trump he believed Australia should start buying its submarines from the United States, to which an excited Trump — “leaning” toward Pratt as if to be discreet — then told Pratt two pieces of information about U.S. submarines: the supposed exact number of nuclear warheads they routinely carry, and exactly how close they supposedly can get to a Russian submarine without being detected. ~ ~ ~ @nicholaswu12   Oct 3 NEWS – As one of his first acts as the acting speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry ordered former Speaker Nancy Pelosi to vacate her Capitol hideaway office by Wednesday “Please vacate the space tomorrow, the room will be re-keyed” w/ @DaniellaMicaela Steny Hoywer was also ousted from his office. Glad the GOP has their priorities straight! ~ ~ ~ The same House Republicans who politicized train derailments voted to cut rail safety inspections. ~ ~ ~ A former Trump official, Michael Benz, and rising conservative pundit who rails against censorship appears to have buried something himself: A secret history as an alt-right internet personality. ~ ~ ~ Judge Engoron in Trump’s NY fraud case has hit Trump and the brats w/ a devastating order that will expose them. Check out section 6. They have to disclose third party co-owners, equity partners and lenders for ALL of their businesses including the 500 LLCs. This will expose his true lack of ownership of Trump Org. ~ ~ ~ Arkansas: @ArkansasBlog    Surprise! (Not) Sarah’s voucher law has begun a multi-million-dollar transfer of public money to unaccountable (mostly religious) private schools. In year three it will multiply exponentially with tens of thousands of benefits for rich folks like Sarah. ~ ~ ~ @CREWcrew   Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s apparent attempts to limit the public’s access to public records-particularly those revealing purchases her office made-is troubling to say the least. ~ ~ ~ Idaho: see abortion New York: @SafetyNetUJC   Sep 29 Today NYC conducted yet another a homeless sweep in the midst of historic flooding. Instead of providing help during a citywide *state of emergency*, City staff were instead forcing homeless ppl to move from where they had found shelter and threatening to take their belongings. ~ ~ ~ Nevada: Cliven Bundy and His Cows Continue to Flout the Law ~ ~ ~ Tennessee: White supremacist group delivers show of force for Franklin mayoral candidate Gabrielle Hanson ~ ~ ~ Virginia: More than 17,000 voters have been illegally removed from the voter rolls. So far. If you flash-check and find your name wrongfully purged, simply reregister before registration closes! (Why we say check weekly.) to get back on the roll! ~ ~ ~ @Eugene_Scott    Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) is under fire from Democrats who are calling for a federal investigation into why an unknown number of people have been wrongly removed from the state’s voter rolls because they were mistakenly listed as felons. ~ ~ ~ Ukraine:

@maria_avdv  Oct 5

Village of Hroza had a population of just over 300 people. Russia killed 50 today, including a 6-year-old child. There may still be people under the rubble of the destroyed shop and cafe, where locals had a funeral ceremony. This marks the most devastating atrocity for Kharkiv region since the war began.

Feel good du jour:

Linsey Marr wins MacArthur Genius Award!

for her work on airborne spread of SARS-CoV2

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@NobelPrize “Ten years ago I was kicked out and forced to retire.” Our new medicine laureate Katalin Karikó (@kkariko) told us how much it means to be awarded the Nobel Prize after a scientific career that has been full of challenges. Ten years ago, Karikó was still doing all her experiments by hand but today she has been awarded the medicine prize for her research on mRNA, which led to the development of COVID-19 vaccines. Interview at ~ ~ ~

Comic relief:

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Bits of beauty:

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