Coronavirus Tidbits #82 9/13/20

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.

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We're coming up on the anniversary of the birth of my book, Resilience: One Family's Story...

I began furiously writing it in 2016 because of the divisiveness and hate-mongering, as a warning to wear that would lead...and here we are, with unmistakable parallels to 1930s Germany and the rise of fascism.

In this final push before the election, please do everything you can to help people register, verify their registration, educate others, and find volunteers for poll workers and election judges.

We need a massive turnout if we are to have a prayer of overcoming the voter suppression.

 

News 

Must read Timeline of Coronavirus Pandemic and US Response

Feb. 7: Trump tells Woodward he knows of airborne risks and covid is worse than worst flus

Feb 10-Mar 2, 2020: Trump holds five #MAGA rallies each attracting thousands of people in confined spaces

https://www.justsecurity.org/69650/timeline-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic-and-u-s-response/

 

Trump bragged to Bob Woodward that he protected Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman from congressional scrutiny after the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. "I saved his ass," Trump said in 2018. "I was able to get Congress to leave him alone."

Trump even refused to cancel billions in arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the killing of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi because he didn’t want to “lose an order like that.” He said doing so would be unfair to Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon.

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Seeking the causes of post-Covid symptoms, researchers dust off data on college students with mononucleosis

https://www.statnews.com/2020/09/11/persistent-symptoms-after-covid19-hard-to-study/

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How coronavirus took hold in North America and in Europe

Early interventions were effective at stamping out coronavirus infections before they spread, but subsequent, poorly monitored travel allowed the virus to ignite major outbreaks in Europe and North America, according to a study published in Science

A new study combines evolutionary genomics from coronavirus samples with computer-simulated epidemics and detailed travel records to reconstruct the spread of coronavirus across the world in unprecedented detail.

Published in the journal Science, the results suggest an extended period of missed opportunity when intensive testing and contact tracing might have prevented SARS-CoV-2 from becoming established in North America and Europe.

The paper also challenges suggestions that linked the earliest known cases of COVID-19 on each continent in January to outbreaks detected weeks later, and provides valuable insights that could inform public health response and help with anticipating and preventing future outbreaks of COVID-19 and other zoonotic diseases.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uoa-hct091020.php

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/09/11/science.abc8169

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In violation of state law and common sense...and after admitting he knew how dangerous Coronavirus is and how it is spread...

 

 

Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs:

Largest global vaccine confidence survey reveals hesitancy hotspots

Vaccine confidence in Europe remains low compared to other regions and ranges from 19% (Lithuania) to 66% (Finland) of people in December 2019 strongly agreeing that vaccines are safe.

Public confidence in vaccines varies widely between countries and regions around the world, with signs that public trust may be improving in parts of Europe, whilst several countries experiencing political instability and religious extremism are seeing growing scepticism that vaccines are safe, and the spread of misinformation online is threatening vaccination programmes worldwide.

Public trust in immunisation is an increasingly important global health issue, with WHO declaring vaccine hesitancy as one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/tl-tll090920.php

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Seven in 10 Americans willing to get COVID-19 vaccine, survey finds

One of the more unexpected findings in this study - and something that isn't typical of public health research - is the correlation between political affiliation and willingness to adopt a public health intervention, Reiter said. Respondents who identified as liberal or moderate were significantly more likely to accept a vaccine.

Given the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 infection and death among Black Americans...The most worrisome finding was only 55%of Black survey respondents said they were willing to get a vaccine.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/osu-si1091020.php

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Vaccine production issues:

Distribution figures to be an even bigger obstacle than manufacturing. The leading vaccine candidates would have to be shipped and stored at temperatures ranging from -20 to -70 °C.

And even with those problems solved, vaccines can't be administered quickly to millions of people, Bar-Zeev noted, if only because of the need to maintain social distance;...the first wave of U.S. vaccine recipients could number 150 million -- healthcare workers, other essential workers, people with pre-existing conditions, and the elderly. With two doses needed, that would require 300 million just for those high-risk individuals.

This is the kicker...

Once manufacturing and distribution are complete, Americans would still not be safe from the disease, experts cautioned. The vaccines are unlikely to protect against shedding, Offit said; vaccinated people may still get mild or asymptomatic infections, and thus shed the virus and possibly spread it to others. "People who are vaccinated still need to wear masks and that's going to be a hard message to send," Offit said. "You may take a step backwards."

Said Bar-Zeev: "The community expects this is going to go away when we have a vaccine, and it might not."

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/88559

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Opinion: ‘Hell has frozen over’: The pharmaceutical industry stands in for a politically impaired FDA

How can Americans tell when the Food and Drug Administration has become so politically impaired that it cannot serve its mission to protect the public? One measure is when pharmaceutical manufacturers become the voice of caution and prudence about when new vaccines should be released to the public.

Hell has frozen over. Nine leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies issued a joint statement this week to assure the public they will not distribute their vaccines for Covid-19 before their safety and effectiveness have been firmly established.

There’s no question that the FDA is politically impaired. The Trump administration cowed it into announcing emergency use authorization...

https://www.statnews.com/2020/09/10/hell-has-frozen-over-pharmaceutical-industry-stands-in-for-politically-impaired-fda/?

 

Devices:

COVID ventilator patients can have permanent nerve damage

Prone positioning saves lives, but nerve pressure injuries impair arms and legs

"This is a much higher percentage of patients with nerve damage than we've ever seen in any other critically ill population. Ordinarily, very sick people can tolerate the position that helps their breathing. But COVID patients' nerves can't tolerate the forces other people can generally bear."

Based on this study and another that came out after Franz's, 12% to 15% percent of the most severely ill COVID-19 patients have permanent nerve damage.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/nu-cvp091120.php

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Real-time gene sequencing can help control — and may someday prevent — pandemics

https://www.statnews.com/2020/09/11/real-time-gene-sequencing-can-help-control-and-may-someday-prevent-pandemics/?

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The value of a meat worker's life? Not much...per OSHA

OSHA fined Smithfield Foods a whopping $13,494 for failure to protect meat processing workers from coronavirus infection; four died and more than a thousand fell ill. (Reuters)

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Racial/ethnic variation found in nasal gene expression of key protein used by SARS-CoV-2

Findings suggest one factor that may contribute to disparities in COVID-19 infection

--study only had 305 people!  but...

"The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-Cov-2, uses transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) to facilitate entry and spread in the body," says Dr. Bunyavanich. "The degree to which a person expresses TMPRSS2 may affect how easy it is for the virus to get in and spread. We found that nasal expression of TMPRSS2 was significantly higher in Blacks than in Asians, Latinos, those of mixed race/ethnicity, and Whites. An important point is that gene expression is a dynamic reflection of personal, social, and environmental history, and many complex factors contribute to health disparities."

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/tmsh-rvf091020.php

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2770682?resultClick=1

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Mortality Rates From COVID-19 Are Lower In Unionized Nursing Homes

Health Affairs

More than 40% of all reported coronavirus disease-19 deaths in the United States have occurred in nursing homes. As a result, health care worker access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection control policies in nursing homes have received increased attention. However, it is not known if the presence of health care worker unions in nursing homes is associated with COVID-19 mortality rates. Therefore, we used cross-sectional regression analysis to examine the association between the presence of health care worker unions and COVID-19 mortality rates in 355 nursing homes in New York State. Health care worker unions were associated with a 1.29 percentage point mortality reduction, which represents a 30% relative decrease in the COVID-19 mortality rate compared to facilities without health care worker unions. Unions were also associated with greater access to PPE, one mechanism that may link unions to lower COVID-19 mortality rates.

https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2020.01011?

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COVID-19 may have been in LA as early as last December, UCLA-led study suggests

Researchers detected an unexpected 50% increase in patients presenting with respiratory illnesses at UCLA Health facilities in the months before the pandemic

This sudden spike in patients with these symptoms, which continued through February 2020, represents an unexpected 50% increase in such cases when compared with the same time period in each of the previous five years.

The findings, the study authors say, demonstrate the importance of analyzing electronic health records to monitor and quickly identify irregular changes in patient populations.

The study appears in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uoc--cmh090820.php

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Many skipping medical care d/t Covid

31.5% of adults had avoided routine care and 12% had avoided urgent or emergency care due to COVID-19.

https://www.healio.com/news/primary-care/20200910/more-than-40-of-us-adults-skipped-medical-care-since-covid19

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Every Body Counts: Measuring Mortality from the COVID-19

Pandemic

As of mid-August 2020, more than 170 000 U.S. residents have died of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); however, the true number of deaths resulting from COVID-19, both directly and indirectly, is likely to be much higher. The proper attribution of deaths to this pandemic has a range of societal, legal, mortuary, and public health consequences...

actionable estimates of excess mortality will require timely access to standardized and structured vital registry data, which should be shared directly at the state level to ensure rapid response for local governments. Correct attribution of direct and indirect deaths and estimation of excess mortality are complementary goals that are critical to our understanding of the pandemic and its effect on human life.

https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-3100

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Wildfires may be worsening Covid

Bad timing for ongoing wildfires on the West Coast: there may not be enough N95 masks for everyone, people are staying indoors together and increasing the risk of virus transmission, and air quality is so poor that COVID testing sites are shuttering.

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Scientists Find That Social Distancing Reduces COVID-19’s Infection Rate by Approximately 1% per Day

What researchers found was:

  • Beginning 4 days after social distancing, the case growth rate declined by ~ 1% per day.
  • Beginning 7 days after social distancing, the mortality growth rate decreased by 2% per day...

The authors’ findings imply that social distancing reduced the total number of COVID-19 cases substantially every week:

  • 1st week by approximately 1,600.
  • 2nd week by approximately 55,000
  • 3rd week by approximately 600,000

https://www.zmescience.com/science/social-distancing-reduces-covid-rate-0432423/

Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Politics:

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Almost 80 medical researchers and clinicians at Stanford University Medical Center in California signed a letter criticizing former colleague and current White House coronavirus adviser Steven Atlas, MD, for "falsehoods and misrepresentation of science." (CNBC)

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Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19

The politically appointed HHS spokesperson and his team demanded and received the right to review CDC’s scientific reports to health professionals.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/11/exclusive-trump-officials-interfered-with-cdc-reports-on-covid-19-412809

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The cruelty continues in so many ways...

Feel good du jour:

Perspective/Poem

Bits of beauty:

 

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