Coronavirus Tidbits #79 9/3/20

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.

News 

Trump says we won’t join WHO-linked effort to develop, distribute coronavirus vaccine

This unilateralism will come back to bite us in the ass. If our vax doesn't work, no one will want to share theirs. And if it does, turning our backs on others will backfire. Trump endangers us more every day with his #whitenationalism.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/coronavirus-vaccine-trump/2020/09/01/b44b42be-e965-11ea-bf44-0d31c85838a5_story.html

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Op-Ed by Harold Varmus, a former director of the National Institutes of Health and Rajiv Shah, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation.

These changes by the C.D.C. will undermine efforts to end the pandemic, slow the return to normal economic, educational and social activities, and increase the loss of lives.

Like other scientists and public health experts, we have argued that more asymptomatic people, not fewer, need to be tested...the C.D.C. seeks to dissuade people who are asymptomatic from being tested. Yet this group poses both the greatest threat to pandemic control and the greatest opportunity to bring the pandemic to an end.

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Coincidence at USPS? 

USPS Board of Governors Chairman Robert M. Duncan is listed as Director of Mitch McConnell's $130M super PAC, Senate Leadership Fund. Is this why our mail is slow?

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New theory about how Covid causes damage -- Bradykinin storm

Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee set about crunching data on more than 40,000 genes from 17,000 samples. =>

“the pathology of Covid-19 is likely the result of Bradykinin Storms rather than cytokine storms,”

Bradykinin dramatically increases vascular permeability.

it increases production of hyaluronic acid (HLA) in the lungs. HLA is often used in soaps and lotions for its ability to absorb more than 1,000 times its weight in fluid.

https://elemental.medium.com/a-supercomputer-analyzed-covid-19-and-an-interesting-new-theory-has-emerged-31cb8eba9d63

The article continues to explain how other symptoms might be caused by excess bradykinin:
and suggests that danazol, stanozolol, and ecallantide, reduce bradykinin production and could potentially stop a deadly bradykinin storm

Other compounds could treat symptoms associated with bradykinin storms. Hymecromone, for example, could reduce hyaluronic acid levels,
timbetasin could mimic the mechanism that the researchers believe protects women from more severe Covid-19 infections.

Vit D could prove helpful by reducing levels of another compound, known as REN.

For more, see:

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/is-a-bradykinin-storm-brewing-in-covid-19--67876?

Original report in https://elifesciences.org/articles/59177

Currently, there are two approved drugs that target the kinin system: icatibant (a B2R blocker) and the monoclonal antibody lanadelumab, which inhibits plasma kallikrein

Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent lack of testing.

Florida's DeSantis Cuts Ties With Quest, Large Coronavirus Testing Lab, Citing 75,000 Delayed Results

Something is not computing here...since DeSantis fired Rebekah Jones, who kept a model Covid dashboard, reporting numbers he found too high. Jones is now reporting on schools at The Covid Monitor

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/09/01/908439419/florida-cuts-ties-with-large-coronavirus-testing-lab-citing-75-000-delayed-resul?

https://news.yahoo.com/ron-desantis-worst-nightmare-target-082506232.html?soc_src=hl-viewer&soc_trk=tw

Drugs:

Dexamethasone shown to reduce mortality by 1/3

WHO on Wednesday issued new treatment guidelines calling for corticosteroids to become the standard of care for patients with “severe and critical” Covid-19.

https://www.statnews.com/2020/09/02/covid19-steroids-reduce-deaths-of-hospitalized-patients-who-analysis-confirms/

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Discussion Draft of the Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine

Open for public comment until 9/4

https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25914/discussion-draft-of-the-preliminary-framework-for-equitable-allocation-of-covid-19-vaccine

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AstraZeneca-Oxford announce start of their Phase 3 trial of 30,000 people

https://www.genengnews.com/news/astrazeneca-launches-30000-patient-phase-iii-u-s-trial-of-covid-19-vaccine/

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The CDC has told state and local health officials to be ready to distribute a vaccine to health-care workers and other high-risk groups as early as Nov. 1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/09/02/fda-coronavirus-vaccine-emergency-authority/

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Religious concerns over vaccine production methods needn’t be an obstacle to immunisation

several licensed vaccines have been manufactured using cell lines that originally came from this foetal tissue from the 1960s. This includes the vaccines against rubella, hepatitis A, varicella (chickenpox), and rabies.

The Catholic church has previously grappled with this issue. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, ethicists at the National Catholic Bioethics Center and the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life declared the abortions from which the cell lines were derived were events that occurred in the past. Most importantly, they acknowledged the intent of the abortions was not to produce the cell lines, and therefore being immunised is a morally separate event from the abortions themselves.

In 2017, the Pontifical Academy for Life reiterated this stance, stating:

…we believe that all clinically recommended vaccinations can be used with a clear conscience and that the use of such vaccines does not signify some sort of cooperation with voluntary abortion.

Moreover, it concluded there is a “moral responsibility to vaccinate […] to avoid serious health risks for children and the general population”.

... One previous example is the use of gelatin – which is made from pig skin or bones and is forbidden as a food by some religions – in vaccine and medicine capsules.

After reflecting on the issue, the Kuwait-based Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences declared in 1995:

…the gelatin formed as a result of the transformation of the bones, skin and tendons of a judicially impure animal is pure, and it is judicially permissible to eat it.

https://theconversation.com/religious-concerns-over-vaccine-production-methods-neednt-be-an-obstacle-to-immunisation-145046

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How our brains numb us to COVID-19's risks -- and what we can do about it

Being on constant alert about the risks of COVID is exhausting. Elizabeth Svoboda reveals why some backsliding on self-protection tactics may be inevitable.

For people considering how to assess covid-19 risks, Slovic advised pivoting from emotionally driven gut reactions to what psychologist Daniel Kahneman — winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics for his integration of psychological research into economic science — calls “slow thinking.” That means making decisions based on careful analysis of the evidence. “You need to either do the slow thinking yourself,” Slovic said, “or trust experts who do the slow thinking and understand the situation.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/covid-risks-stop-seeming-so-scary/2020/08/21/09c286c4-cc49-11ea-bc6a-6841b28d9093_story.html

Devices:

See Tips for some suggestions on masks.

Epidemiology/Infection control:

New resource on school infections: The Covid Monitor

from Florida whistleblower Rebekah Jones: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/fb52d598982f41faac714b5ebe32e7d1

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Trump White House Warns Colleges: Don’t Send Your COVID-Infected Students Home!

In a call on Monday, top officials on the coronavirus task force made it clear that they realize sending students back to school has created a risk of cascading outbreaks.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-white-house-vp-pence-and-deborah-birx-warn-colleges-not-to-send-covid-19-infected-students-home

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Importance of physical distancing

Less than 4% of about 3,400 close contacts of people with COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic in China were infected with SARS-CoV-2, researchers wrote in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Most of the secondary infections occurred at home, researchers said, and patients with more clinically severe disease were more likely to infect their close contacts. 

https://www.healio.com/news/primary-care/20200901/study-of-secondary-covid19-cases-underscores-importance-of-physical-distancing

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Why isn't wastewater tested more routinely, given shortage of testing supplies?

How the University of Arizona detected a campus outbreak before it even happened

 When 5,000 students moved to the University of Arizona campus, there were no signs of an outbreak. Everyone felt fine and no symptoms were reported. But unbeknownst to the students, a couple of them were already infected — and asymptomatic.

University officials warned students that there would be regular coronavirus tests — but it wasn’t only nose swabs that they were referring to. Each dorm has its own sewage, and officials regularly screen sewage water for traces of coronavirus; on Thursday, university officials announced that the technique worked. They picked up traces of the virus coming from one dorm and when they tested the students, they found two asymptomatic students.

It worked like this: first, they detected traces of coronavirus in the sewage water in one dorm. Then, they tested all the 311 individuals in that dorm, and found two that tested positive. The two are now in quarantine, and the potential outbreak was stopped before it even started.

https://www.zmescience.com/medicine/arizona-campus-detects-outbreak-0523532/

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Reinfection case in Nevada

via Prof. Akiko Iwasaki @VirusesImmunity

A 25 yr old patient in Nevada has a confirmed case of #COVID19 reinfection (48 days apart between 1st and 2nd PCR). This time, unlike the case in Hong Kong, the immune system did not protect this person from reinfection or disease. (1/n) papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf

During the 1st infection in April, patient recovered after about a month in isolation, testing negative for viral RNA in 2 subsequent tests. Patient was well until end of May, became ill and tested positive 2nd time. This time needing hospitalization & oxygen support. (2/n)

Viral genome of 1st and 2nd isolates differed significantly, indicating that reinfection occurred. (3/n)

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A Resurgence of Covid in Europe

Beating it back isn't a one-time effort. @kakape  reports on ideas for how to contain more efficiently & sustainably.

new insights into viral spread are leading to better targeted control measures. The emphasis on hand hygiene is gone because it has become clear that contaminated surfaces don’t play a large role. In the spring, some countries banned almost any outdoor activity, including jogging; now, the focus is on indoor activities. “We’ve learned outdoor hospitality is generally fine, nonessential shops are fine as long as people wear face coverings, public transport doesn’t seem that risky,” Sridhar says.

Instead, public health experts increasingly argue for targeting clusters of cases and superspreading events. Some studies estimate that 10% of patients cause 80% of all infections, whereas most don’t infect anybody at all. Christian Drosten has urged that contact tracers spend more time finding the source of a new case—along with that person’s contacts—than the new case’s contacts;

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/09/can-europe-tame-pandemic-s-next-wave?

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HCA Hospitals Accused of Requiring COVID-Infected Nurses to Work

https://www.medpagetoday.com/hospitalbasedmedicine/nursing/88370?

 

Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Tips for masks problems: 

acne--take off mask periodically if you can (safely) to let face air. Wash your face

Ear irritation: loop a rubber band through each side of your ear loop. connect the two parts w a paper clip bent to an S-shape. You can also make a head band w buttons for the elastic to hook onto.

To help reduce eyeglasses fogging, place glasses over the mask, so that the mask forms a better seal against your face.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/three-mask-annoyances-and-how-to-fix-them/2020/06/11/80810ff4-bf79-4b3c-b16a-f8badefa3dbd_video.html

Politics:

Action Guide from Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa--worth a look, as is their podcast (transcripts on this site) 

https://www.gaslitnationpod.com/action-guide

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Scott Atlas, Trump's new pandemic adviser, pushes controversial ‘herd immunity’ strategy, worrying public health officials

Atlas, a radiologist who does not have a background in infectious diseases or epidemiology, pushes ideas that appeal to Trump...Atlas has fashioned himself as the “anti-Dr. Fauci,”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-scott-atlas-herd-immunity/2020/08/30/925e68fe-e93b-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html

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Rosenstein is representing NSO Group, currently in litigation with WhatsApp who claims the Israeli company surveilled thousands of users unlawfully.

https://www.cyberscoop.com/rod-rosenstein-nso-group-whatsapp/

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Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin on Trump

He had peaceful protesters gassed and deployed camouflaged troops to Portland, Ore., to grab protesters off the street without probable cause. He has used pictures of mayhem and violence (either from scenes playing out under his own administration or from foreign events) to instill fear in White Americans. He vowed to keep suburbs (read: White suburbs) safe from integrated housing (read: Black people). He encouraged police not to be “too nice” in handling suspects. He denies systemic racism and instead paints all protesters as anarchists, socialists and violent extremists. He has refused to condemn police officers who kill unarmed Black men and women or White armed groups engaged in violence. He invited to the Republican National Convention a couple charged with a felony for brandishing weapons at Black Lives Matter marchers. President Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway confesses the more violence in the streets, the better for him.

This phenomenon — reveling in violence from racial divisions they stoke — is part of the white supremacist playbook, specifically the phenomenon known as “accelerationism.” The Brookings Institution reports...

Republican elected officials feel comfortable reverting to the Southern Strategy, portraying themselves as the only thing standing between White people and violent Black people. It is a tune they have been singing since 1968...

Biden should also go on offense. Trump incites violence. Trump encourages vigilantism...Biden should demand Trump denounce shootings of unarmed Black men, stop Republican obstruction to police reform, cease veneration of symbols of white supremacy such as the Confederate flag and decry White armed groups.

Democrats will not win by cowering in fear that Trump will blame them for the violence he provoked. They win by making the case that Trump has made America more violent and increased racial tension for his own political benefit.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/30/its-time-challenge-cockeyed-reaction-violence/

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Court blocks release of Trump tax returns amid latest appeal pressdemocrat.com/article/news/c

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https://twitter.com/marceelias/status/1301290004937875458?s=20

Comic relief:

Perspective/Poem

View this post on Instagram

Dr. Cornelia Vertenstein, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor, has taught piano lessons at her Denver home for more than half a century. But when the coronavirus swept in, most of her students were forced to stay home. Special concern was reserved for older adults. And Vertenstein was suddenly alone. ⁣ ⁣ Nevertheless, she insisted that the lessons would continue. Vertenstein took to calling the children on their cellphones or using FaceTime on her iPad, with the students’ phones propped up so she could see their hands. She held spring recitals, which she worried she’d have to cancel.⁣ ⁣ “With great pride I introduce my students who prepared themselves with discipline and determination in difficult circumstances,” she said at the start of the recitals. “When I was a little girl I couldn’t go to public schools because of my religion. And they created a little school in the basement of an old building which sometimes had heat and sometimes didn’t. Great minds and achievements came out of that school. Which taught me in any situation you can strive, learn, look ahead and have dreams.” ⁣ ⁣ To read more about Dr. Vertenstein — or Nellie as she’s known to friends — tap the link in our bio. Photo by @rachelwoolfphoto.⁣

A post shared by The New York Times (@nytimes) on

“I believe strongly in continuity,” Ms. Vertenstein said. “My students learn to be persistent in what they are doing. I try to teach them not only how to learn, but how to work.”

“With great pride, I introduce my students who prepared themselves with discipline and determination in difficult circumstances,” she said. “When I was a little girl, I could not go to public schools because of my religion. And they created a little school in the basement of an old building, which sometimes had heat and sometimes didn’t. Great minds and achievements came out of that school, which taught me that in any situation you can strive, learn, look ahead and have dreams.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/15/us/virus-piano-lessons.html?

Bits of beauty:

 

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