Coronavirus Tidbits #64 7/5/20

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First, there is now a Resources Page here for the most commonly asked questions I’m getting.

Tidbits will likely be a bit shorter and a little less frequent for the next little bit. I have been immersed in it and I need to spend a little more time on self-care, which for me means seeing the spring flowers emerge and digging in the dirt.

Happy to continue to answer your questions/concerns as best I can, so don’t be shy about that.

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Hope you can join–Tuesday, July 7 at 6 pm

I’ll be giving a Book Talk via Zoom: Camden Public Library,

speaking about my family’s story and book, “Resilience…” as well as their lessons for our time.

Email to request a link to attend.

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My latest post:

US Buys World Supply Of Remdesivir For Coronavirus- What Does That Mean For Public Health And Our Future?




Better late than never, Texas Governor Abbott mandated masks on July 2.

Wonder how compliance will be.

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A total of 35 healthcare workers who filed OSHA complaints about their employers not providing PPE have since died, but OSHA has closed most of their cases without levying any fines or citations, an investigation found. (Kaiser Health News)

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This coronavirus mutation has taken over the world. Scientists are trying to understand why.

A mutation in just one amino acid “G” may make the virus more infectious. It’s not yet known. One published article: “That study, led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and published Thursday in the journal Cell, also asserts that patients with the G variant actually have more virus in their bodies, making them more likely to spread it to others.”

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On new strains of Covid, aka “strain diversification” and vaccines.

multiple strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19 have been reported (preprint) but are not a problem for vaccines as of now.

This and similar findings raise concerns that COVID-19 may turn out to be like influenza, for which the predominant circulating strains change from one year to the next, such that vaccines must be reformulated annually.

Richard Kuhn said it’s too early to be super concerned about strain variations, as “a vaccine is already presenting several if not numerous different sites on one of the surface proteins of the virus” where antibodies can be elicited. That’s different from a typical antiviral drug, which has just one target.”

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More Covid patients are surviving ventilators

In a May 26 study in the journal Critical Care Medicine, Martin and a group of colleagues found that 35.7% of COVID-19 patients who required ventilators died — a significant percentage but much lower than early reports that put the figure in the upper 80% range.

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Six months in, what we know and don’t know about Covid

They have learnt how the virus enters and hijacks cells, how some people fight it off and how it eventually kills others. They have identified drugs that benefit the sickest patients, and many more potential treatments are in the works. They have developed nearly 200 potential vaccines — the first of which could be proved effective by the end of the year.

But for every insight into COVID-19, more questions emerge and others linger. That is how science works. To mark six months since the world first learnt about the disease responsible for the pandemic, Nature runs through some of the key questions that researchers still don’t have answers to.

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The stretch of six genes seems to increase the risk of severe illness from the coronavirus.

Intriguing article by Carl Zimmer, although cites a pre-print (not yet peer-reviewed):

This piece of the genome, which spans six genes on Chromosome 3, has had a puzzling journey through human history, the study found. The variant is now common in Bangladesh, where 63 percent of people carry at least one copy. Across all of South Asia, almost one-third of people have inherited the segment.

Elsewhere, however, the segment is far less common. Only 8 percent of Europeans carry it, and just 4 percent have it in East Asia. It is almost completely absent in Africa.

It’s not clear what evolutionary pattern produced this distribution over the past 60,000 years.


still an incredible, negligent lack of testing.

Beware the fake COVID-19 antibody test, the FBI says; scammers could be using it to try to get your personal information. (CNN)


One U.K. trial is transforming COVID-19 treatment. Why haven’t others delivered more results?

Good overview of several major trials by Kai Kupferschmidt (@kakape)

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Quercetin: New Hype for COVID-19?


Masks-more evidence for benefit:

Young adult service members aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier during a coronavirus outbreak were less likely to be infected if they wore face coverings (56% vs 81%) and practiced physical distancing (55% vs 70%). (MMWR)

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Updated #COVID19 #SARSCoV2 case timeline from Dr. David Liu, with references cited and other improvements. PDF with embedded links to each reference can be downloaded here:

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See his whole thread and a YouTube explaining that.

Tips, general reading for public:


Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

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COVID-19 Activity Risk Levels

Several people have come up with easy colorful charts to help people assess what’s ok to do. Here is one of them; click on his link for more detail.

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My good friend Larry Lynam is a big traveler and has been commuting between Florida and Tucson. He’s a great story teller, too, and shares tips and stories here:

Do you still need to wipe off groceries and packages?

Opinion still varies, but increasingly experts think that fomites (objects) don’t play as big a role.

New article in Lancet ID:

Exaggerated risk of transmission of COVID-19 by fomites

All the previous studies in the lab of infectious particles on surfaces used large inoculums (heavy doses). None were scenarios akin to real-life situations. Based primarily on influenza data, microbiologist Emanuel Goldman concludes, “the chance of transmission through inanimate surfaces is very small, and only in instances where an infected person coughs or sneezes on the surface, and someone else touches that surface soon after the cough or sneeze (within 1–2 h).

I do not disagree with erring on the side of caution, but this can go to extremes not justified by the data. Although periodically disinfecting surfaces and use of gloves are reasonable precautions especially in hospitals, I believe that fomites that have not been in contact with an infected carrier for many hours do not pose a measurable risk of transmission in non-hospital settings.”

FDA states: “We want to assure you there is currently NO evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the #COVID19.”

One of the scientists who did the original studies of how long SARS-CoV2 virus stays on surfaces, Jamie Lloyd-Smith, said, “Because the odds of someone coming along and depositing enough virus on a grocery item or takeout container are pretty low, “I view it as sort of a hypothetical risk.”

“So yes, I’m careful, I’ll wash my hands, but I don’t sort of regard it as glowing radioactively with virus.”

His advice might change, said Lloyd-Smith, if the person was at high risk from the virus, such as elderly or immunocompromised.

“One reasonable and easy-to-implement precaution for groceries that don’t need refrigeration is simply to let them sit for a day or more before unpacking them.”


Google Dr. Seuss and Nazis and you can find links to more like and stories in The Atlantic.

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The White House repeatedly denied the CDC permission to brief the public on the coronavirus, report says ~ ~ ~

White house has repeatedly denied requests to interview Dr. Fauci in the past 3 months.

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Politicization and watering down of public health messages, e.g.:

The CDC initially suggested choirs be temporarily sidelined as churches began to again hold in-person services. Several large outbreaks have been associated with choirs; the act of singing propels virus from infected throats towards those in the singer’s vicinity. The CDC posted its advice, but it was instructed by the White House to take out the advice against choirs.

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Texas Hospital Data Disappears

Key hospital metrics published by Texas Medical Center (TMC), one of the largest hospital networks in the state, went dark over the weekend, and data were altered when the information was reposted, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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While we are seeing an explosion in cases in Texas, Florida, Alabama…

Fearless leader and family’s reaction is:


outrageous PR displays dissing Sioux and fueling divisiveness, and only plan:

‘We need to live with it’: White House readies new message for the nation on coronavirus

Feel good du jour:

Comic relief:


As of a month ago:

Bits of beauty:


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