Coronavirus Tidbits #268 Oct 22, 2023

Announcements:

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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New Post:

Mislabeled Medications Aren’t Always Made Public

My friend found aspirin in a sealed bottle labeled Naproxen, bought at a Walmart.

When does something happen?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2023/10/19/mislabeled-medications-arent-always-made-public/?sh=154cc0bc6224

News 

Study finds serotonin reduction causes long COVID symptoms

Patients with long COVID—the long-term symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, or memory loss in the months or years following COVID-19—can exhibit a reduction in circulating levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, according to new research published today in Cell.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-10-serotonin-reduction-covid-symptoms.html?

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Germicidal UV lights could be producing indoor air pollutants, study finds

Many efforts to reduce transmission of diseases like COVID-19 and the flu have focused on measures such as masking and isolation, but another useful approach is reducing the load of airborne pathogens through filtration or germicidal ultraviolet light. Conventional UV sources can be harmful to eyes and skin, but newer sources that emit at a different wavelength, 222 nanometers, are considered safe.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-10-germicidal-uv-indoor-air-pollutants.html?

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Pfizer Paxlovid price gouging

Pfizer said yesterday that its list price for a 5-day course of Paxlovid once the government supply runs out and the private market takes over will be $1,390 before rebates and other discounts to insurers and pharmacy-benefit managers, Reuters reported. For comparison, the US government paid $530 for a course of Paxlovid, which it has made available to Americans at no cost through the end of the year. The company said the drug will be free for Medicare and Medicaid recipients through 2024, as well as for underinsured and uninsured people through 2028.

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Teasing out a potential tie between long Covid and menopause

STAT

All through the pandemic, women have been reporting period disturbances after a Covid infection or after a Covid vaccination. But research specifically on long Covid and menopause is scarce, and mostly preliminary. Traci Kurtzer, a gynecologist and menopause specialist at the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause, has been piecing this story together, writes STAT’s Annalisa Merelli. 

“I’ve been experiencing absolutely a change in the number of women I’m seeing with earlier menopausal symptoms, and the severity of symptoms being quite a bit more intense than it used to be,” she said. In one 42-year-old patient diagnosed with menopause, lab results found markers for autoimmune disease and Epstein-Barr virus. “I think that this is long Covid,” said Kurtzer. Read more. 

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CDC study: People with HIV have elevated COVID reinfection rate

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-led study finds that people with HIV (PWH) have higher COVID-19 reinfection rates than those without HIV (PWOH).

6.7% vs 5.2% reinfection rate

The study, published yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases, involved 453,587 adults in Chicago infected with SARS-CoV-2 from their first infection through May 2022. The investigators matched COVID-19 test results and vaccination data to Chicago's Enhanced HIV/AIDS Reporting System.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/cdc-study-people-hiv-have-elevated-covid-reinfection-rate

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Risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome 6 times higher after COVID infection, study suggests

A new study from Israel ties COVID-19 infection to an increased risk of a diagnosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks, while mRNA vaccination was linked to a decreased risk of the rare but serious autoimmune disease. The study was published today in Neurology.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/risk-guillain-barre-syndrome-6-times-higher-after-covid-infection-study-suggests

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Smell loss from COVID fades quickly with help of Ensitrelvir

The antiviral drug ensitrelvir eases both smell and taste loss and is one of the few COVID-19 drugs available to people not at high risk of grave illness.

Nature  Mariana Lenharo

New clinical-trial data suggest that an antiviral pill called ensitrelvir shortens the duration of two unpleasant symptoms of COVID-19: loss of smell and taste. The medication is among the first to alleviate these effects and, unlike other COVID-19 treatments, is not reserved only for people at high risk of severe illness.

Early in the pandemic, roughly 40–50% of people with COVID-19 experienced impaired smell or taste1. The antiviral drug molnupiravir speeds recovery of these senses2, but generally only the most vulnerable people can take it.

That is not true for ensitrelvir. In Japan, where it received emergency approval last year, the drug is available to individuals with mild to moderate symptoms, regardless of their risk factors. Its developer, Shionogi in Osaka, Japan, is continuing to conduct clinical trials of the drug, which has not yet been approved outside Japan.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-03244-7

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Does SARS-CoV-2 infection have urological effects?

Research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine indicates that SARS-CoV-2 infection may worsen lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in men.

The study included 17,986 men receiving medication for LUTS within the public health care system of Hong Kong in 2021–2022, half of whom had SARS-CoV-2 infection. The group with SARS-CoV-2 had significantly higher rates of retention of urine (4.55% versus 0.86%); blood in the urine (1.36% versus 0.41%); clinical urinary tract infection (4.31% versus 1.49%); bacteria in the urine (9.02% versus 1.97%); and addition of 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which are drugs prescribed for enlarged prostate. (0.50% versus 0.02%). These urological manifestations occurred regardless of COVID-19 severity.

The findings might relate to the presence of certain proteins targeted by SARS-CoV-2 that are known to be expressed in the prostate.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-10-sars-cov-infection-urological-effects.html

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Long Covid Brain Symptoms and PET scan:

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Other:

Flu Activity 66% Lower Than This Time in 2022

Walgreens 2023-2024 Walgreens Flu Index update but 34% higher when looking at pre-pandemic seasons. Highest activity is in Texas, LA, Al, FL.

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Yellow Jack’s Potential Return to the American South

https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMp2308420  or

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-10-potential-yellow-fever.html?

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Genetic changes to avian influenza viruses

have led to spread among many wild species, creating an uncontrollable global outbreak. The strain currently circulating worldwide, an extremely deadly form of the H5N1 subtype, has become increasingly infectious to wild birds. The strain emerged in Europe in 2020, and has spread to an unprecedented number of countries.

In 2020, the rate of spread among wild birds was three times faster than that in farmed poultry, because of mutations that allowed the virus to adapt to diverse species.

“What was once very clearly a poultry pathogen has now become an animal-health issue much more broadly,”

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-03256-3

Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

More despicable price gouging at Pfizer Price of Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid expected to rise 3-5X next yearcnn.com/2023/10/16/hea  via Eric Topol

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Prevention of #LongCovid: A meta-analysis of 24 studies shows vaccine effectiveness, with booster, at 69% and without booster 37% cambridge.org/core/journals/

Devices:

Schools cut covid-19 sick days by 20 per cent using HEPA air filters

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2398713-schools-cut-covid-19-sick-days-by-20-per-cent-using-hepa-air-filters/

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UVC lamps

@ellakahl
Good article for anyone freaking out about the dangers of Far-UV tech. Covid, not surprisingly, is FAR more dangerous. The dangers of Far-UV at 222-nm are basically nonexistent. It's an expensive but viable way to protect oneself in the plague infested waters we are all wading through. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.11
"Comparing this typical spectrum of an unfiltered KrCl lamp with the oxygen absorption of Fig. 1, one will find that there is an insignificant, but detectable amount of radiation below 200 nm that can produce ozone. That means that there is a potential that ozone can be generated by this kind of lamp. However, the contribution of the main 222-nm wavelength to the ozone generation is usually negligible."

Epidemiology/Infection control:

England had stopped recording covid LFD tests altogether, even in hospitals. That's 30% of tests in hospitals gone. via @1goodtern

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Studies showing autoimmune diseases are higher post Covid:

studies show that autoimmune diseases are dramatically higher after covid infections Study #1: Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory Connective Tissue Disorders Following COVID-19

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2810259?

Study #2: Incident autoimmune diseases in association with a SARS-CoV-2 infection: A matched cohort study

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.01.25.23285014v1

Study #3: Risk of autoimmune diseases following COVID-19 and the potential protective effect from vaccination: a population-based cohort study

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(23)00331-0/fulltext

via Yaneer Bar Yam

 

Tips, general reading for public:

Ventilate

Vax

Mask

Politics:

Covid:

@B_Dogs4
Oh wait, what's that? "Many hospitals posted record margins during pandemic, study finds" Of the more than 4,223 hospitals analyzed, average operating margins increased from 2.8% before the pandemic to 6.5% from 2020 to 2021. axios.com/2023/07/20/hos
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Abortion:

nearly a third of large firms (those with at least 200 employees) cover legal #abortions in most or all circumstances — but 1 in 10 of these employers said the largest #healthinsurance plan they offered does not cover legal abortion under any circumstances. - Stat

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GOP/TFG/Jordan

Rep. Miller-Meeks,(and now others) after switching her vote to No on Jordan, says in stmt she’s been receiving “credible death threats,” says authorities are investigating 

Also Rep. Ferguson (R-Ga.)

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Saudi Arabia owns the 45th Floor of Trump Tower.

China owns the 21st Floor of Trump Tower.

Russia owns the 63rd Floor of Trump Tower

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@jmontforttx
Remember the Trump Train crazies in 2020 that tried to run a Biden bus off the road in San Marcos, South of Austin? The PD did not respond to their distress call and now the city is paying the 4 people on the bus $175K each, including Wendy Davis.
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allenanalysis
Kevin McCarthy's brother-in-law obtained $7.6 million in federal contracts through false claims of Native American heritage. While Republicans seek to impeach Biden over his family's actions, McCarthy's family engaged in deceit to mislead the public by misrepresenting their ethnicity.
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Greed/Pfizer:

@Public_Citizen
BREAKING REPORT: Over 8 million people with high-risk COVID in developing countries could not access Paxlovid. Over 90% of health needs went unmet. Now Pfizer plans to spike the prices up to 100X what it costs to make. Corporate greed knows no bounds.
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Pfizer says it will price Covid treatment Paxlovid at $1,390 for a five-day course, which researchers estimate only costs Pfizer $13 to produce.
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Arkansas:

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is facing a political storm after claims were raised about her office altering public records (a felony). The scrutiny has resulted in a GOP-led audit. It all started with a $19K lectern & a bunch of FOIA requests.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/10/13/sarah-huckabee-sanders-lectern/

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Huckabee tried to prohibit trans youth medical care but a Judge ruled the Arkansas ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors violated the Constitution. Huckabee approved a bill to loosen child labor laws. Even though a recent report found 10 out of 102 kids working in dangerous conditions in Arkansas.

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Florida:

Seventeen deputies from Florida's Broward Sheriff’s Office are charged with wire fraud for allegedly securing about $500,000 in COVID-19 relief loans. A tip received by the Broward Sheriff’s Office in November 2021 from a deputy alleged fraud in procuring loans from federal pandemic-relief funds. This tip unveiled fabricated IRS tax forms, business records, and loan applications by Broward deputies, leading to close to $500,000 fraudulently acquired from the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/10/13/florida-deputies-ppp-fraud/

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Texas:

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s border-security crackdown is clogging up commercial crossings, leaving at least 19,000 trucks loaded with $1.9 billion of goods stuck waiting in Mexico bloomberg.com/news/articles/

 

Feel good du jour:

Wish my brain worked this well:

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Comic relief:

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden/status/1715449806061977619?s=20

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden/status/1713806003878178845?s=20

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Perspective/Poem

Jeff Bridges says he caught COVID at his chemotherapy centre and spent 5 weeks in hospital. “My dance with Covid makes my cancer look like a piece of cake." (lymphoma)

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2021-09-13/jeff-bridges-cancer-covid

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Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones. But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal. A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts, Mead said." We are at our best when we serve others. Be civilized.  -  Credit: Ira Byock.

Bits of beauty:

 

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