Coronavirus Tidbits #280, February 4, 2024

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.

I am excited to have had a Letter to the Editor in the Washington Post:

The best way to prevent long covid is to not get covid

Here is a free, gift link: https://wapo.st/3SA8gbC

(suggesting masking and ventilation are too often overlooked)

News 

@BNOFeed   Jan 28
U.S. reports more than 2,000 new COVID deaths for the 4th week in a row
Wastewater levels are somewhat lower ("High"), x in SE.
https://www.cdc.gov/nwss/rv/COVID19-nationaltrend.html

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Vaccine efficacy:

The XBB.1.5 "updated" Covid vaccine booster provided ~54% increased protection *against symptomatic infections* (including vs. JN.1 variant) compared with not getting it. cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/7

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Lung Function Decline After Mild Covid:

@RajeevJayadevan
Lung function declines long term - even after *mild* COVID. Major Denmark study measured PFT before, 6 months after and 2 years later. They compared with uninfected people. The speed of decline leveled off at 6 months, but failed to improve back to baseline. See JID https://academic.oup.com/jid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/infdis/jiae037/7589572?login=false
The accelerated decline among patients slowed at the 6 month mark, and eventually followed the expected “normal” age related decline. But it did not return to baseline.
Value of the study: This is ordinarily something we might expect in people hospitalised with COVID pneumonia. But the study *excluded* hospitalised patients, focusing only on mild COVID. It shows that COVID (in unvaccinated) can covertly cause lasting lung damage.
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Economic losses:

The average German worker took TWENTY sick days last year; a new report finds that this lost productivity sent Germany into a recession. Why are we still pretending zero COVID mitigation is good for the economy? --@julia_doubleday

https://www.thegauntlet.news/p/germany-entered-a-recession-last?

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Thousands of frontline workers may have survived the COVID-19 pandemic if the US regulatory system had better protected them,

report the authors of an analysis published yesterday in BMJ.

The study is the first in a series that discusses the lessons learned from COVID-19 and the steps needed to avert deaths in the next pandemic and improve public health....

"Federal policies on workplace exposure were developed to protect the supply chain of food or other vital products, or to prevent staff shortages at healthcare facilities, rather than to protect frontline workers from virus exposure," wrote the George Washington University–led study authors. "Some employers, with the support (and encouragement) of elected officials, put production and profits ahead of worker safety and health."...

"The risk of exposure  was exacerbated by race- and labor-related economic inequality, resulting in disproportionally more of the nation’s Black and Hispanic workers being killed or sickened by the virus."

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/us-government-failure-protect-frontline-workers-covid-led-thousands-deaths-scientists-say

https://www.bmj.com/content/384/bmj.q150

See also: Pandemic lessons for the 2024 US presidential election, The BMJ (2024). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.q150

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Long Covid:

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Study: Cognitive slowing is associated with long COVID

In an attempt to establish a definitive objective cognitive marker for PCC, or post-COVID-19 condition, researchers tested long COVID patients in Germany and the United Kingdom with cognitive speed tests, and found long COVID patients have a significant lag, suggesting cognitive slowing.

The study, published yesterday in eClincialMedicine, was based on findings on an initial 194 long COVID patient seen at a PCC clinic in Germany. Findings were then replicated in a follow up COVID clinic in the United Kingdom.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/study-cognitive-slowing-associated-long-covid

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@EricTopol   
Important discovery relevant to #LongCovid:
Fragments of #SARSCoV2 virus can reassemble into "zombie" complexes (XenoAMP-dsDNA) and induce a major and sustained immune response, affecting healthy, uninfected cells, not seen with common cold coronaviruses pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pn
This debris => a reservoir of immunomimetic peptides that reassemble into proinflammatory supramolecular complexes
Translation: Perhaps SARS-CoV-2 debris can cause inflammations
These complexes "can overstimulate the immune system, triggering widespread inflammation including cytokine storm and blood clotting."
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Three fourths of adults have hidden infectious illness to work, travel, or socialize, surveys suggest

according to a new study in Psychological Science.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/misc-emerging-topics/three-fourths-adults-have-hidden-infectious-illness-work-travel-or-socialize

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OSHA's 780-page original draft of guidance for workplaces

on C*v1d “concluded a ‘grave danger’ threatened health of all U.S. workers” contains phrase "grave danger" 136 times

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/safety/osha-covid-19-rule-intended-to-cover-all-workers-draft-shows

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Bad news about masks! -- See Devices

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Other:

Measles:

(Not bad in US yet, but There was a 45-fold rise in measles cases in the WHO’s European region from 2022 to 2023. In 2023, the region’s 40 member states reported some 42,200 measles cases, up from fewer than 1,000 in 2022.

The rise in cases is also the result of declining national vaccination rates, which fell from 92%, on average, in 2019 to 91% in 2022,

Globally, the number of measles cases increased by 18% between 2021 and 2022, and deaths from measles increased by 43%, according to a WHO report released last November.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-024-00265-8?

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Tuberculosis:

US schools have a MASSIVE tuberculosis problem. There is no public awareness, and public health has been defunded and gutted. localsyr.com/news/local-new
   -- @LauraMiers
“SNHD (Southern Nevada) said an individual diagnosed with tuberculosis traveled to 26 schools & one CCSD training site before they were made aware of the diagnosis and reported the case.” fox5vegas.com/2023/12/15/snh
Active TB at Mission Valley Y
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Avian Flu

Cases follow first detection in Antarctic sea mammals

The suspected sample in the king penguins follows the recent detection of the virus elephant seals and fur seals from South Georgia an the South Sandwich Islands, which marked the first detection in mammals from the subantarctic region.

Animal health groups have warned about the risk of further spread of H5N1 to Antarctica's wildlife, especially given that some species, including penguins, live in dense colonies.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/avian-influenza-bird-flu/first-h5n1-avian-flu-detected-antarctic-penguins

Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

If you get Covid now, head over to test2treat.org.

We’ve recently updated it so that anyone 18+ years old and in the US can enroll and get telemedicine and PAXLOVID treatment for free. The treatment if prescribed can be delivered to your door and will be entirely paid for by the program - no co-pays

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Have mild-to-moderate #COVID19?

You might be eligible to participate in #ACTIV6Study? Participants must be 30+ years old w mild/mod Covid Visit activ6study.org to learn more and enroll in this remote clinical trial! #FeelBetterFaster pic.twitter.com/2rBDXf6nWR

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Pfizer greed:

The U.S. government returned 6.5 million boxes of Paxlovid to Pfizer as part of the Biden administration’s plan to commercialize the drug which now costs $1,400.

"Pfizer in October renegotiated a contract, allowing the U.S. government to return unused Paxlovid inventory. The company recorded a smaller-than-expected $3.5 billion revenue reversal in the quarter as the U.S. returned about 6.5 million treatment courses. It had previously forecast a $4.2 billion revenue reversal based on the expected return of around 7.9 million courses."

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/pfizer-posts-surprise-profit-demand-115140348.html

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@DALupton  
From JAMA News - 'People in the UK who did not receive all the doses of the vaccine for which they were eligible had up to 4 times the risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19 compared with those who were fully vaccinated'
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Amantadine helped Long Covid in a trial

an open-label randomized clinical trial from Iran showed that Amantadine given twice daily for two weeks significantly reduced fatigue in Long COVID.

Devices and Masks:

Bad news about mask reuse and fit-testing:

Thread from Dr. Satoshi Akima:  the Q100 is from Canada, and its antipodean twin, the AMD T4. Fit-tested with using the 3M Qualitative Fit Testing (QLFT) kit using saccharine as the test agent. Both failed within seconds of starting the test.

"Subjective fit is highly inaccurate as a way of judging the quality of a seal. You will certainly fail a formal fit test in any KN95. 92-100% of tested subjects in published studies do."

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https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2814301

"In a cohort study of Emergency Department health care workers who reused their N95 respirator masks, fit failure occurred in 39% of masks overall after one shift. Some N95 respirators were worse than others. There was 26% fit failure with Dome N95 respirator masks, 28% fit failure for duckbill N95 respirator masks and a whopping 61% fit failure with Trifold N95 respirator masks including the popular 3M Aura masks.  - per via Ruth Ann Crystal

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Tips, general reading for public:

Mask

Ventilate

Vax

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Calculating clean air flow for a room

@joeyfox85
detailed post explaining how to calculate if a room has sufficient clean air to mitigate airborne disease. 

Flier titled "Reducing COVID-19 Transmission" with 7 colorful sections and icons representing the headings on it: COVID-19 Transmission 101, Mask, Ventilate, Filter, Go Outside/Hybrid, Test, Monitor. There is also a link for more resources at https://bit.ly/lesscovid, where you can also find a PDF with readable text in the document. Back page of flier titled "Reducing COVID-19 Transmission," this time with header of "Additional Resources" with 8 bulleted sections: COVID-19 Transmission 101, Mask, Ventilate, Filter, Go Outside/Hybrid, Test, Monitor, and Additional Resources. There is also a link for more resources at https://bit.ly/lesscovid, where you can also find a PDF with readable text in the document.

All the icons and entire flier are CC0/public domain/free to use: bit.ly/lesscovid  via  @markdixontweets

Politics:

TFG/GOP

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Book bans/Florida:

@JuddLegum
1. @Moms4Liberty decided that several classic children's picture books are pornography, including Maurice Sendak's In The Night Kitchen. A Florida school district agreed to ADD CLOTHING to the illustrations
see https://twitter.com/JuddLegum/status/1753052743399244184  for a list of other books they got banned
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@MorePerfectUS
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Abortion/Texas:

https://twitter.com/CalltoActivism/status/1752435776472719573?s=20

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Texas:

From Texas Patriots for Secession:

If we secede, do we still get our monthly Social Security checks?

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Guaranteed Basic Income:

For one year, low-income families in Austin, Texas, received $1,000 a month to do whatever they wanted; they spent it on rent and “substantially" improved their situations.
The extra money provided additional benefits as well. Most people’s employment remained stable, and the 9 percent who did work less used the extra time to learn new skills to get better jobs in the future or take on more caretaking duties at home. Another 7 percent said they worked more as a result of the extra money, using the cash to “break down barriers to better jobs,” including by covering commuting costs.

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Guaranteed income- Michigan:

ALL moms in Flint, Michigan can now get $1,500 while pregnant, plus $500 a month for the first year of their child's life. There are around 1,200 babies born in Flint every year, and with this, they can all start off their lives better and healthier.

For an example of how effective a program like this is, look into the Baby's First Years experiment. It makes ALL THE SENSE to do a universal child benefit. It pays for itself. The ROI estimate is 10:1. clinicaltrials.gov/study/NCT03593 babysfirstyears.com/press-release  via @scottsantens

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Voter suppression:

Kentucky Senate Republicans just passed a bill that would BAN students from using college photo IDs as their identification for voting. Republicans are actively suppressing young voices because they are scared of us. Be alarmed & outraged. We will make them find out.

Michael Adams, Kentucky’s Republican secretary of state, sharply criticized the bill, saying that he worries it could alienate young voters.”

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Arkansas:

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs law restricting release of her travel, security records

https://apnews.com/article/huckabee-sanders-travel-security-arkansas-records-320300ea14af98adf88e2a2d39647a94?

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Georgia:

@hannahcrileyy   Feb 1
SB 63 — which would criminalize bail funds in Georgia — passed the Senate today. The bill would make bailing more than 3 people out of jail per YEAR a crime for bail funds and nonprofits. It also increases the number of non-bail-eligible
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Oregon:
The Oregon Supreme Court just BANNED the 10 Oregon Republicans who staged a walk out last year to block bills on abortion right, LGBTQ+ rights, & gun reform from running for re-election in 2024 or 2026. They messed around & find out. Very good.
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Feel good du jour:

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Perspective/Poem

Bits of beauty:

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