Coronavirus Tidbits #267, Oct 15, 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.

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Tidbits is abbreviated this week. With all that is going on in Israel and the Middle East, I haven't felt up to doing more. Not much happening on the Covid front anyway.

If you wish to support Israel, I would suggest Magen David Adom, the equivalent of the Red Cross.


Test positivity from September 24 to September 30 was 10.9%, down 1.2% from the previous week, and emergency department visits dropped to 1.6%, down 14.5% from the previous week. Deaths, however, while still at low levels, were up 3.8%.

In total 18,139 people were admitted to the hospital in the last week of September for COVID-19, down 6% from the previous week. Hospitalization hot spots include communities in Montana, Idaho, Missouri, and Kansas.

Not enough children are getting their Covid vaccinations, experts warn

Far too few children are being vaccinated against Covid-19, vaccine experts warned yesterday in a panel discussion hosted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Covid-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project, STAT's Helen Branswell reports. The effect, one said, is eroding the amount of immunity against the disease in the community, increasing the risk for both the children and the people they come in contact with.

Roughly 10,000 children a day become eligible for Covid vaccination as they hit the age of 6 months, but only about 7,000 children a week under the age of 4 are being vaccinated, said Michelle Fiscus, chief medical officer for the Association of Immunization Managers. Fiscus acknowledged that finding medical practices that stock pediatric Covid vaccine doses is challenging in parts of the country, as the commercial market takes over what had been until this fall a federal government delivery program. “There are plenty of parents out there who are ready and willing to get their children vaccinated, but can’t find a vaccine for those young children right now,” Fiscus said.

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Yes, everyone should get an updated Covid-19 vaccine - OpEd

1.) There is little downside. The vaccines are extremely safe.

2.) It’s not obvious who is high-risk. Universal recommendations are simpler and likely increase uptake in the most vulnerable.

3.) Covid vaccines protect against Covid. I don’t want to get Covid. Even for healthy people who don’t end up in the hospital, Covid can be a nasty illness that can mean days or weeks of missed work and school.

4.) Vaccination likely reduces the risk of long Covid and helps in the recovery for some. Evidence that suggested three doses of vaccine were more protective than two doses against long Covid.

5.) Fewer infections mean less transmission. Less transmission means fewer cases. Fewer cases means fewer serious cases and deaths. That’s math. While Covid vaccines don’t “block” transmission completely as we once hoped, they do reduce the likelihood of transmission. ...Thinking only about individual-level benefits discounts population-level benefits of broader vaccination like fewer cases overall.

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Miracle Mineral Solution

Mark Grenon, 66, and three sons sold $1 million worth of a fake COVID-19 "miracle" cure that was actually an industrial-strength bleach solution, according to the New York Times. Their front was "Genesis II Church of Health and Healing."

Federal prosecutors said the family used a church as a front for their business dealings, which centered around the sale of the bleach solution. They called it "Miracle Mineral Solution" and claimed it cured a range of diseases, including COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, and leukemia, among other diseases.

FDA had received reports of people requiring hospitalization and dying after drinking the solution, prosecutors said.

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The Nobel Prize in Medicine this week was not for Covid vaccines. It was about the messenger RNA platform discovery that “fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with the immune system.”

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CDC study characterizes 2022-23 flu season as highly severe, particularly for kids

Today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a study finds that the 2022-2023 influenza season in the United States was severe, especially for children and adolescents.

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Florida sees more dengue

  • Florida Health has recorded 15 more locally acquired dengue cases, raising the season's total to 53. Cases have been concentrated in Miami-Dade County (47 cases), Broward county (3 cases), and single cases reported in Palm Beach, Hardee, and Polk counties.

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Powassan virus

The Maryland Department of Health today announced the first travel-related Powassan virus death in Maryland. The Department confirmed the presence of Powassan, which is spread by the bite of an infected tick, on Sept. 22.

the Powassan virus is rare and is not transmitted from person to person, except in rare instances by blood transfusion. There are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat Powassan virus disease. Most cases in the United States occur in the northeast and Great Lakes regions from late spring through mid-fall when ticks are most active. [Notably, unlike w Lyme, the tick only requires a few minutes to transmit Powassan.],-death-due-to-tickborne-illness-Powassan.aspx

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Just another routine week for genome editing —Editing the pig kidney transplanted to monkey, lasting > 2 years —Editing chickens to be avian flu resistant  - Eric Topol

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Various efforts are increasing to make nasal vaccines, which are expected to provide better (mucosal) immunity by blocking viruses where they first invade.

A trivalent nasal vaccine vs mumps, measles and Covid, broadly effective vs #SARSCoV2 variants, with expected long duration (using preS-6P), in multiple experimental models

See also


still an incredible, negligent last of testing.



Epidemiology/Infection control:

Important wastewater data update: Biobot has lost its contract. This is disappointing news as wastewater data has been difficult to communicate to the public, and Biobot has been one of the leaders in making COVID wastewater data easy to understand.
[The contract was recently awarded to Verily, an Alphabet precision health technology company. It's unclear how comparable the data will be]

Tips, general reading for public:






Lancashire Teaching Hospitals. Sent to all staff yesterday, staff not to test unless on Ribbelsdale (inpatient oncology) or ward 25 (renal). No-one else should test, incl outpatient oncology clinic, cancer treatment centre, and dialysis. I despair...
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Vinay Prasad of @UCSFMedicine  has been removed as Keynote Speaker for the American College of Clinical Pharmacy conference [Good news, as he is a Covid minimizer and has spread disinformation)
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The Infectious Disease Societies met this week in Boston. There is no hope:
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Review of @kkariko's new book @ScienceMagazine, a page turner and my review of her mRNA discovery's significance
Book is "Breaking Through: My Life in Science"
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On October 23, 1983, Hezbollah terrorists drove an explosive-laden truck into the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors and 3 soldiers. It was the deadliest single day for the U.S. Marine Corps since WWII. Yesterday (Oct11), Trump praised Hezbollah as “very smart.”
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the united states currently has no ambassador for israel (or egypt, kuwait, lebanon, or oman) because GOP Senators have methodically blocked US embassy and military appointments across the world
Nor is there a USAID Administrator for the Middle East --essential for the deployment of emergency economic and humanitarian aid for #Israel and #Gaza.
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@JuddLegum  Oct 11
1. Charles Koch recently transferred more than $5 billion to two secretive organizations The donations are structured to allow Koch to avoid BILLIONS in taxes but the money can still be used directly in political campaigns It's an audacious scheme Here is how it works:
2. Koch donated $4.3 billion to Believe In People, a newly formed 501(c)4 non-profit run by three of his closest associates. He also donated $975 million to CCKc4, which is controlled by his son, Chase Koch. In a recent IRS filing, CCKc4 listed its mission as "N/A."
3. But while little is known about the current activities of Believe in People or CCKc4, as 501(c)4 organizations, a large percentage of their assets — in this case, billions of dollars — can be spent directly on political campaigns.
4. By exploiting a loophole, Koch was able to make this money available for political spending without paying a dime in taxes. It's not surprising that Koch is familiar with the loophole — he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying to create it.
5. Large donations to charitable causes are not subject to gift taxes. But, after Citizens United, 501(c)4 orgs began to engage directly in political campaigns, which are not charities. So, in 2015, the IRS began considering imposing the gift tax on these kinds of donations.
6. Koch made his donations to the new 501(c)4 orgs in the form of stock. Koch could have given the stock to a 527 political org, which are exempt from gift taxes. But, a gift of stock to a political organization is considered a sale. That means Koch would pay capital gains tax.
7. In 2015, former Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL) proposed the "Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act," to specifically exempt contributions to 501(c)4 from the gift tax. Politico described it as a "tax exemption for megadonors."
8. Charles Koch, through Koch Industries, hired a lobbying firm, Siff & Associates, PLLC, to advocate for Roskam's bill and related issues. In 2015 and 2016, Koch paid Siff & Associates $180,000 to push for the new gift tax exemption.
9. One of the political organizations Koch created and funds, Americans for Prosperity, also advocated for Roskam's gift tax exemption.
10. Ultimately, Koch's lobbying efforts paid off. Roskam's legislation was quietly included in a must-pass omnibus spending bill in December 2015. Now, Charles Koch is taking full advantage of the loophole he helped create.
Wait, wait, wait - we have SURPLUS lecterns? You’re telling me that our state government has so many surplus lecterns they’re selling them for $5, but Governor Sanders just bought one for more than $19,000?
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Texas has 1 million kids in private or home school. If they each got a $8,000 voucher, it would cost taxpayers $8 Billion. A major transfer of public money to mostly religious institutions. More:

Feel good du jour:

Comic relief:

My version of the Plague Doctor


Bits of beauty:


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