Coronavirus Tidbits #278, January 21, 2024


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 post: 

Hospitals Vary On Universal Masking Amid Covid-19 Surge

How little even prominent hospitals are doing is obscene...

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#LongCovid treatment survey has launched!

There are many treatment surveys, but this one is special - the data will be used as evidence to help inform which drugs to study in clinical trials!
Please share!
They need several thousand case reports to create enough data.
Anyone in the world can submit cases.
Please send to every #LongCovid patient and clinician you know.
There are two links to submit reports:
For #LongCovid patients:


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Senate HELP hearings

were pretty remarkable. I'll have more as I go through transcripts. Watch/read Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly's testimony, in particular:

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Could long Covid’s signs of immune dysregulation in the blood lead to a diagnostic test?

Long Covid has long eluded scientists looking for its cause. Not knowing what triggers its persistent and distressing symptoms makes the condition challenging to treat; it’s hard to even say definitively who has it. New research published Thursday in Science has identified proteins present in the blood of people with long Covid that could point the way to a much-needed diagnostic test and possibly to future therapeutic targets.

Scientists at the University of Zurich discovered high levels of proteins involved in the complement system — an important part of the immune system bridging innate and adaptive responses — that were disrupted in people with long Covid symptoms, but not in those who got better after the initial Covid-19 infection or in those who had recovered from long Covid symptoms after six months. The team also found damaged red blood cells and platelets as well as signs of harm to the endothelial cells that line blood vessels.

These biomarkers appeared after the researchers performed high-throughput analyses of more than 6,500 proteins found in the blood serum of 113 people infected with Covid, including 40 people who developed long Covid, and controls who were not infected.

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Potent new pill, simnotrelvir, provides COVID relief for the masses

The drug simnotrelvir shortens symptoms for those with mild infections and is sold at a lower price in China than its main rival.

There’s new hope for the average person seeking relief from COVID-19: a drug called simnotrelvir has been shown to speed recovery from mild to moderate disease by about 1.5 days1.

A clinical trial found that simnotrelvir, which is administered as a series of pills, kicks in almost immediately after being taken, reliving symptoms such as fever, cough and runny nose.

The results were published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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HOWEVER,  trial participants were relatively young, healthy, and vaccinated. And the trial was not designed to provide information on simnotrelvir's effects on outcomes of greatest clinical relevance, Schaffner noted -- COVID-related hospitalization, ICU admissions, or mortality.

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60% of #LongCovid patients at 2 yrs vs 8% of controls had a positive viral blood load, suggesting viral persistence.

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COVID persistence:

"They identified SARS-CoV-2 RNA and protein in 7 of 14 of the biopsy samples obtained from asymptomatic COVID-19 patients with negative nasal-swab PCR, at an average of 4 months after acute infection."

on Dec 20, 2022, I tweeted:

Pretty amazing to me that you can be an organ donor if you've had #Covid but can't donate your body to a med school/anatomy board. Ass backwards. There will be a dire shortage of #organdonors soon.

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California insanity

Californians infected with COVID-19 may go about their lives without isolating or testing negative as long as their symptoms are improving, according to new and significantly loosened guidelines from the California Department of Public Health. [This seems like a ploy so that employers can force sick employees to come to work]

California’s top public health official, Dr. Tomás Aragón, last week quietly rescinded the state’s previous order, which encouraged people infected with COVID-19 to isolate for five days.

The new health order allows Californians with COVID-19 to return to work or school as long as their symptoms are improving and they are fever-free for 24 hours without medication.

...Masking requirements have not changed, and people with COVID-19 should wear masks for 10 days whether or not they have symptoms. The new guidelines do not apply to employees at high-risk health care settings like hospitals and nursing homes...

students and staff can come to school if they test positive for COVID-19, as long as they’re asymptomatic, wear masks and avoid people who are at high risk of sickness, such as those who are immunocompromised. [You really think the kids are going to wear masks. How are they going to know who is at risk and to stay away from? I think this throws vulnerable people under the bus. This seems like a ploy so that employers can force sick employees to come to work. And if parents keep their kids home, the state will go after them for truancy.]

...Disability and equity advocates are particularly critical of the new guidelines. They contend the change could increase risk of infection for vulnerable Californians.

...The free COVID-19 hotline where residents could get Paxlovid prescriptions and vaccine appointments will also shut down at the end of February,

“This policy is not based in science, equity or public health. It devalues the lives of immunocompromised and disabled people, and completely ignores the risk of long COVID,” said Lisa McCorkell, co-founder of the Patient-Led Research Collaborative, which studies the impacts of long COVID.

There is no treatment for long COVID, which can leave some patients debilitated for years, and increased transmission will disproportionately harm poor communities, McCorkell said.

These changes, too, are worrisome for equity advocates.

“Not everybody has a primary care doctor. If you don’t have a primary care provider or good access to a primary care provider that’s knowledgeable about treating, then you’re going to have a difficult time accessing it,” Aboelata said.

NOTE: To object to this, call @CAPublicHealth by phone: 916-558-1700. "Lorna" at CDPH asked those who are concerned by the reduced isolation policy for SARS2 to email: She'll forward to emails to @CAPublicHealth  ID team & ensure replies.

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still an incredible, negligent last of testing.



Fingertip oxygen sensors can fail on dark skin — now a physician is suing

A physician in California is pursuing a lawsuit against 12 companies over their continued sale of devices that researchers say inaccurately measure blood-oxygen levels in people of colour. Studies1,2,3,4 — some decades old — have established that the devices, called pulse oximeters, can overestimate the amount of oxygen in the blood of people with dark skin, which could lead health professionals to delay or decide against treatment.

The suit — filed by the Roots Community Health Center in Oakland, California, which is led by physician and researcher Noha Aboelata — is the first to take aim at the manufacturers of the devices. It asks for an injunction prohibiting further sales of the devices in California until they provide accurate readings for people of colour, or until warning labels are attached to note their inaccuracies.


Epidemiology/Infection control:

There’s growing evidence of a benefit to wearing eyeglasses (but not contacts) in preventing infection to SARS2.

Self-reported survey results 15% lower odds of infection for those who always wore eyeglasses.

Tips, general reading for public:







A majority of Republican primary voters in CBS News polling — 81% — said that they agreed with President Trump's statement that immigrants are "poisoning the blood of our country," and 47% of voters overall said they agreed with it.

@Angry_Staffer  1/14
You know, I’ve spent my whole life wondering how Hitler got away with it. Now I’m watching it happen in my country and I’m starting to understand.
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Shades of "Reservoir Dogs": Judge Kaplan instructs jury in E Jean Carroll defamation trial that they are anonymous and that they should refer to each other with fictitious names. Amazing how much Trump has twisted and corrupted the system. - @harrylitman
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The Baltimore Sun has been bought by the predacious right-wing outfit Sinclair. Here’s a big piece we did on them in 2017, by @AndyKroll
Note: The Baltimore Banner has a 6 month trial subscription for $1
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1. A Florida school district has removed MerriamWebster's Dictionary for Students from library shelves, saying it may violate a law championed by

No, this is not a parody.

2. Escambia County School District, located in the Florida panhandle, has removed 3 dictionaries, 2 thesauruses, 8 encyclopedias, and 2800 other books saying they may violate HB 1069, a bill signed by DeSantis last May
4. Each school in Escambia County has thousands of titles. As a result, many school libraries in Escambia were closed at the beginning of the school year pending the completion of the review.
5. That review resulted in 2800 books, including the dictionaries, being removed from the shelves and placed into storage. Dictionaries do "describe sexual conduct." One definition of "sex" in MerriamWebster is a "sexual union involving penetration of the vagina by the penis"
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Mississippi Forced a raped 7th grader to give birth. No worries, Mississippi will take care of both children, right? Nope. Tate Reeves is withdrawing from a federal program to feed children during summer break from school. Who cares if a 7th-grade mother is hungry? She was only good for giving birth, right Mississippi? Nothing says pro-life like starving children.  -- @LqLana Jan 13
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Ohio pastor charged for opening church to #homeless people in freezing weather
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This is what Operation Lone Star looks like on the ground. Texas officials blocked Border Patrol agents from doing their job and allowed two children and their mother to drown in the Rio Grande. - @JoaquinCastrotx

Feel good du jour:



Make space

for the things

that make your heart

beat a little faster.

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To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go. —Mary Oliver from "In Blackwater Woods"

Bits of beauty:

Red Ginger


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