Coronavirus Tidbits #279, January 28, 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.

My latest:

California Drastically Cuts Isolation Guidelines For Covid


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% Test Positivity   11.8%   (January 7 to January 13, 2024)

Hospital Admissions   32,861, -9.6%

% of All Deaths in U.S. Due to COVID-19   4.3%, +10.3% in most recent week

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Good news re HICPAC and CDC!

To many people's surprise, the CDC has sent the awful recommendations to water down Covid protections (e.g., saying a surgical mask is adequate rather than an N95) back to the HICPAC advisory committee for revision!

They say they will expand the scope of technical backgrounds of participants on the committee, which currently does not meet Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) regulations.

They ask:

  1. Should there be a category of Transmission-based Precautions that includes masks (instead of NIOSH Approved® N95® [or higher-level] respirators) for pathogens that spread by the air? Should N95 respirators be recommended for all pathogens that spread by the air?

See the document for more. It is a promising start and came about from the activism of National Nurses United, WHN (World Health Network), People's CDC, scientists fighting them, and a couple of journalists. But we need to be watchful and keep pushing back. Their lack of transparency is still a huge problem.


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No neurodevelopmental issues found in babies of COVID-vaccinated moms

In first results from a study that tracked neurodevelopmental differences in babies born to mothers who were vaccinated against COVID-19, researchers found no differences at the 12- and 18-month marks compared to babies born to unvaccinated moms.

The team, from the University of California, San Fransico, published its findings yesterday in JAMA Pediatrics. Against the backdrop of vaccine hesitancy among pregnant women and even in some of their healthcare providers, the researchers said their goal was to address unanswered questions about the longer-term impacts of COVID vaccination on developmental outcomes.

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Infants born to COVID-infected mothers found to have triple the risk of developing respiratory distress

New UCLA-led research finds that infants born full term to mothers who were infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy had three times the risk of having respiratory distress compared with unexposed infants, even though they themselves were not infected with the virus. The risk was significantly lower when the mothers infected during pregnancy were previously vaccinated.

The researchers found that in-utero exposure to SARS-CoV-2 sparked an "inflammatory cascade" in the infants, increasing the risk of a breathing disorder that most often strikes prematurely born infants.

The findings are published January 24 in the journal Nature Communications.

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Long Covid:

Pronounced cognitive slowing with #LongCovid as compared with matched controls in a multicenter new report

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4/ This team at UCSF found SARS-CoV-2 spike RNA in gut wall of tissue of LongCOVID patients 600+ days after initial #infection. Several of the same individuals had T cell #immune activation in their spinal cords & bone marrow:
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HPV vaccine study finds zero cases of cervical cancer among women vaccinated before age 14

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Today's statement follows the group's warning last month about an alarming rise in measles cases in the WHO European region (which includes parts of Asia), reflecting a more than 30-fold rise in 2023 compared to 2022. WHO Europe said more than 42,200 cases from 41 countries were reported for 2023, of which 13,677 were in Kazakhstan. Of the country's cases, 65% occurred in children younger than 5 years old and 70% occurred in people unvaccinated against measles.

Kazakhstan's health minister, Azhar Giniyat, MD, said more than 2,100 children are currently hospitalized for measles, 27 of them in serious condition.

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still an incredible, negligent last of testing.


Underuse of Antiviral Drugs

80% of immunocompromised (solid organ transplant, multiple myeloma, CLL) individuals got Covid but weren't offered Paxlovid, the other 20% declined it (N=110, a Veterans Health / CDC study


Epidemiology/Infection control:

California's new Covid isolation policy is ... awful

(see my post in Forbes, above). Also, as Jeremy Faust notes,

  • "Presymptomatic COVID-19, however, poses a real problem. This is my biggest issue with California's guidance. "You may have no symptoms until day three or four, and by that time your viral loads are off the charts, and you're a super spreader," I told the Globe. The problem is that California lets people who tested positive for COVID-19 but are not yet symptomatic roam free, albeit in a mask. That may be fine at first. But some will have their viral loads enter an exponential growth phase (i.e., go from not contagious to extremely contagious in a short period) just as symptoms may be starting to appear. These are preventable super spreaders that the new guidance does nothing about, and could make worse.
  • If your rapid COVID-19 test line is bright (brighter than the control line), and the test turns positive quickly, "I don't care what symptoms you have, you need to isolate." As I've written here before, the brightness of your test line has meaning. A bright and fast result means you are likely extremely contagious.

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Immunocompromised individuals can have prolonged shedding of #SARSCoV2; 5 of 156 individuals, PCR + > 56 days, had in vivo evolution with multiple spike and non-spike mutations

Tips, general reading for public:






A group of doctors with long covid are preparing to launch a class action for compensation after contracting SARS-CoV-2 at work.

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"Swiss hospitals are changing their strategy. They are introducing a wide-ranging mask requirement even outside the corona pandemic. The reason: Many people are currently suffering from respiratory diseases.

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2024: California now allows #COVID-infected, maskless kids to attend classes w/ no air purification. 1937: Philadelphia schools protect children by installing UV-C lights effective in killing airborne pathogens, such as measles.

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Now 6 school districts in Texas "have temporarily shut down schools due to flu outbreaks along with other annual infectious diseases." So where are all the "Urgency of Normal" pundits now? Why aren't they screaming about the learning loss?

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Gift, Free article:

"The scenario we see as the most alarming was made possible by the Supreme Court itself. In a 2020 decision, the court held, in our reading, that state legislatures have the power to direct electors on how to cast their electoral votes. And this opens the door to what we think is the most dangerous strategy: that a legislature would pass a law that directs electors to vote for the candidate the legislature picks."

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How sad is this? Judge Kaplan, to jurors: "My advice to you is that you never disclose that you were on this jury."

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In a closed-door meeting, Mitch McConnell confirmed that Trump told Republicans in Congress not to pass immigration reform because he wants to run on the issue. “We don’t want to do anything to undermine him,” McConnell said. They don't want to fix it. They want to exploit it.

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Mitt Romney: “I think the border is a very important issue for Donald Trump. And the fact that he would communicate to Republican senators and congresspeople that he doesn't want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is really appalling."

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The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Idaho to enforce its strict abortion ban, even in medical emergencies, while a legal fight continues.

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Nearly 65,000 pregnancies associated with rape occurred in the 14 states that have enacted abortion bans since the Dobbs decision in 2022, according to a new study.  -- @thehill
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22 Democrats Sponsor a Bill That Could Censor #Abortion Info From the Internet
Why @SenatorCardin @SenWarren @SenBaldwinGSPP @SenAmyKlobuchar @SenatorHassan @SenTimKaine and more
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TX Governor Abbott said no exceptions for rape and incest victims for abortions; he promised he’d end all rapes Here is one of many cases where the rapist sued for & won custody rights of the baby. Convicted rapists have more rights than their victims
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Let’s treat every man who wants to buy a gun the same way we treat women who want an abortion: Waiting period Parental permission Doctor’s note Watch video on dangers Force him to travel hundreds of miles to gun store Make him walk through protestors...  -- @shannonrwatts
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Canada Warns about Travel to US:
“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws,” read the August posting from Global Affairs Canada (GAC),... and
“Pregnant Canadians travelling in certain U.S. states might not receive the kinds of care they’d expect if they run into complications in their pregnancy,”
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South Carolina:
To Ralph Norman, the Congressman of the great state of South Carolina,
You say it is “obnoxious” for taxpayers to be responsible for the loans of others. Well sir, we did a little digging and it turns out you had $306,520 in PPP loans forgiven.
Every penny of that was money that came from taxpayers and it wasn’t paid back. Here’s the big question: why is it ok for YOU, but not students trying to make their lives better?
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On the anniversary of Roe, the TN GOP wants to make it illegal to take your child across state lines for an abortion. We have one of the strictest abortion laws in the country. No exceptions for rape or incest.
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Texas Attorney General @KenPaxtonTX responds to DHS denying the agency’s demands to get access to Shelby Park in Eagle Pass—Paxton makes a list of counter-demands.

Also, Abbott says he is “prepared” in the event Biden attempts to take control of the Texas National Guard. “That would be a boneheaded move on his part, a total disaster,” Abbott said. “We are prepared, in the event that that unlikely event does occur.” He added: “We do have other armed state employees on the border as we speak right this minute, and that’s the Texas Department of Public Safety, as well as other law enforcement officers, as well as national Guard from other states. And you can be assured there will be more national Guard from other states and more law enforcement officers within the state of Texas and other states.”

Feel good du jour:

the first person with congenital deafness, an 11-year old boy, to have gene therapy with successful restoration of hearing, replacing a loss-of-function mutated otoferlin gene

5 of 6 participants, all children, median age 4 years, with LOF otoferlin mutation, receiving gene therapy as the first US case above, had robust hearing recovery, without dose-limiting toxicity (in China)

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Comic relief:


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Thomas Friedman on Ukraine and Israel

FREE, Gift link

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I read this earlier today and realized: this is exactly how I've been coping with the pandemic and long COVID. The Stockdale Paradox refers to Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest-ranking United States military officer in the ’Hanoi Hilton’ prisoner-of-war camp during the height of the Vietnam War. Tortured over twenty times during his 8-year imprisonment from 1965 to 1973, Stockdale lived out the war without any prisoner’s rights, no set release date, and no certainty as to whether he would even survive to see his family again.
If (reading) it feels depressing for me, how on earth did he deal with it when he was actually there and...did not know the end of the story? “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade."
I didn’t say anything for many minutes, and we continued the slow walk toward the faculty club, Stockdale limping and arc-swinging his stiff leg that had never fully recovered from repeated torture. Finally, after about a hundred meters of silence, I asked...”Who didn’t make it out?"
”Oh, that’s easy," he said. "The optimists." ”The optimists? I don’t understand," I said, now completely confused, given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier. ”The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said,
”We’re going to be out by Christmas.” And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ”We’re going to be out by Easter.” And Easter would come, Easter would go. Then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.
Another long pause, and more walking. "This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end— which you can never afford to lose— with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."
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Bits of beauty:


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