Coronavirus Tidbits #291, April 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.

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Alert: The Supreme Court effectively abolishes the right to mass protest in three US states

It is no longer safe to organize a protest in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas.


JP Weiland: Infections are expected to start rising again because of FLiRT mutation.

Mike Hoerger: “COVID-19 transmission is estimated to be its lowest level in 9 months (since July 16, 2023). 1 in 123 people actively infectious...the forecasting models show strong agreement that transmission will rise again soon. Expect 300,000-600,000 daily infections in the U.S. the next several months.”

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Long Covid:

Biomarkers for long COVID that were present in patients at eight months have largely resolved by 24 months among a cohort of people who contracted COVID-19 during Australia's first wave.

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COVID-19 booster immunity lasts much longer than primary series alone, study shows

the median length for the antibody half-life  was 63 days for the primary series, and increased to 115 days for those who went on to receive their boosters.

the researchers found that  did have a less long-lasting immune response, but once they controlled for other comorbidities such as hypertension,  and cancer, age no longer had as significant of an influence on the immune response.

Other interesting findings include a small, but statistically significant immune response for males versus females, and people with asthma having a longer lasting immune response—more durable, in fact, than those with hybrid immunity from vaccines and contracting COVID-19.

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Recent studies suggest 2 to 14 percent of people infected with the coronavirus may go on to develop POTS.

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COVID infections are causing drops in IQ and years of brain aging, studies suggest

an interview with Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly.

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Interview w NIH Director, Monica Bertagnolli:

Bertagnolli: We see evidence of persistent live virus in humans in various tissue reservoirs, including surrounding nerves, the brain, the GI [gastrointestinal] tract, to the lung.

Faust: OK. And you're saying this goes beyond the PCR's [polymerase chain reaction test] ability to get it in a regular swab so that we are missing chronic cases of SARS‑CoV‑2?

Bertagnolli: Correct. The virus can persist in tissues for months, perhaps even years.

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On the new CDC’s Background for CDC’s Updated Respiratory Virus Guidance:

a good analysis of its problems. "The document is, generally, a fine piece of deceptive writing. It contains no obvious falsehoods, and yet it ends up by making a disease causing 7,000 excess deaths a month since July 20221 sound like something minor and under control.”

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Following longest known chronic SARS-CoV-2 infection of 613 days, experts highlight the risk of development of novel potentially immune-evasive SARS-CoV-2 variants due to persistent infections in immunocompromised patients

Although rare, persistent SARS-CoV-2 infections in immunocompromised patients could lead to increased number of mutations in the virus genome.

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“How long is airborne SARS-CoV-2 infectious after an infected person leaves the room?

Our work suggests over 4 hours under certain conditions. The half-life for survival of SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols is 1-3 hours based on the ability to culture virus in cells. However, it is less clear how long airborne SARS-CoV-2 remains capable of infecting people. We showed that genetically identical SARS-CoV-2 infected two patients who were admitted to a hospital room 1 hour, 43 minutes and 4 hours, 45 minutes after discharge of an asymptomatic infected patient.”

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Protests in San Francisco from Senior and Disability Action

to keep masks in healthcare settings. [why should this even be a question?]

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Avian Flu:

Media: "The #H5N1 bird flu virus strain has been detected in very high concentrations in raw milk from infected animals, the WHO said Friday, though how long the virus survives in milk is unknown."
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USDA faulted for disclosing scant information about outbreaks of H5N1 avian flu in cattle

Three and a half weeks after first announcing the startling news that cows from a milking herd in Texas had tested positive for H5N1, the government agencies involved in the investigations have not yet revealed what research shows about whether pasteurization of milk kills this specific virus.

...only a few genetic sequences from this outbreak have been uploaded to GISAID, the international database widely used by scientists.

...While H5N1 kills many of the species it infects, cattle do not appear to be severely sickened by it. Feed consumption drops off and milk from infected cows is discolored and viscous.

...should the virus find its way from cows to pigs, alarms would really sound. Pigs are often referred to as “mixing vessels” for flu viruses, because they can be infected by both bird flu viruses and human flu viruses. If both those types of viruses simultaneously infect a pig, the pathogens could swap genes and potentially produce a version of H5N1 that is more adapted to transmission to and among people.

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Grateful for

to finally share some #H5N1 flu virus sequences from a few of the cats in the ongoing / widespread outbreak in the food supply across the US (dairy, poultry) Very oddly, they have chosen to hide the location of infected cats and when viruses were collected. No data on how many infected cats have been found, are these representative or hand selected? No cow sequences shared, even though they’ve been sequencing many (and attempting to analyze sequences) Makes me wonder, how long has this outbreak been going on? How long has the

known about it? Why are they intentionally withholding certain metadata and epi data? When will they be transparent about the extent of the outbreak and the risk to human food supply, commerce, and potentially even public health? The lack of transparency is very troubling. We’ve seen before that lack of transparency erodes public trust and has a hugely negative impact on collaboration and cooperation when it’s most critical. We can do better.

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US measles cases top 120 as LA County tracks case with multiple exposures The visitor to Los Angeles County had visited Universal Studios and several other public places.

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New mpox strain with “pandemic potential”—but this is not the one that went global in 2022, when it spread to more than 100 countries. This new one is from another more deadlier form of the virus, known as “clade 1” mpox—and carries a 10% CFR mortality. The new “clade 1b” found in a DRC mining town is likely better at spreading between people, predominantly via sexual contact, and has mutations that evade detection by some existing tests.


still an incredible, negligent last of testing.



Trying to pick a portable air cleaner but not sure what "size" to get? Our Harvard Healthy Buildings program built an easy tool to help figure it out:

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Evidence from Whole Genome Sequencing of Aerosol Transmission of SARSCoV2 almost 5 Hours after Hospital Room Turnover - American Journal of Infection Control.  Howlong is airborne SARSCoV-2 infectious after infected person leaves room? > 4 hours.
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A clever and unique study documents that much Covid transmission occurred via shopping in retail stores

Tips, general reading for public:






Emergency rooms refused to treat pregnant women, leaving one to miscarry in a lobby restroom

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Louisiana Republicans have voted to end lunch breaks for child workers.

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Louisiana lawmakers vote to remove lunch breaks for child workers, cut unemployment benefits

A House committee approved the bill along with others to reduce unemployment benefits and workers' compensation wages.

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Ted Cruz wrote an amendment to give lawmakers a police escort through public airports—three years after he was caught fleeing to Cancún. He stuffed it into a must-pass FAA bill that HIS committee (he’s the top Republican) oversees.

We just got cost estimates on Ted Cruz’s “private security for lawmakers’ Cancún trips” amendment: TSA security escort: $11M-55M/year Fed marshals escort: $112M-527M/year  --  @SawyerHackett



Doctor Sarah Benn found guilty of professional misconduct after being imprisoned for upholding sign: Stop New Oil

Feel good du jour:

Comic relief:

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Bits of beauty:

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