Coronavirus Tidbits #83 9/17/20


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.



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ICE flew detainees to Virginia just so the planes could transport agents to D.C. protests. A huge coronavirus outbreak followed

After the transfer, dozens of the new arrivals tested positive for the novel coronavirus, fueling an outbreak at the Farmville, Va., immigration jail that infected more than 300 inmates, one of whom died.

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Bad news for and about restaurants

Approximately 100,000, or nearly 1 in 6 restaurants, are closed either permanently or for the long term, according to new data from a National Restaurant Association survey released today. Adding to the bad news, the Association reports that 3 million restaurant workers are still out of work and projects that the industry is on track to lose $240 billion this year.

Also...As has been extensively covered, the CDC’s report found that adults who test positive for COVID-19 were “approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant” than those who tested negative.

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Poverty and Hunger rising, setting progress back on health

The coronavirus pandemic has halted and set back global health progress, according to a new report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Extreme poverty has increased by 7%, says the report, with the pandemic having a disproportionate impact on women, minorities and those living in extreme poverty.

“We’ve had nearly 40 million people thrown back into extreme poverty," said Mark Suzman, chief executive of the Gates Foundation. "That’s well over a million a week since the virus hit.”

And, routine vaccine coverage has dropped to levels last seen in the 1990s - or “setting the world back about 25 years in 25 weeks”, the report's authors write.

Bill Gates said that while things are 'bleak' at the moment, there is cause for optimism. “Whether is takes us two years, or even three, we do believe that we’ll overcome this and get back on track,” he said.



still an incredible, negligent last of testing.


Vaccine Transparency - excellent perspective from Derek Lowe

on how AstraZeneca is blowing trust in Covid-19 vaccine trials. While they appropriately paused their study to investigate a serious adverse event, they are not being forthcoming with the details. Bad decision.

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Pfizer, BioNTech plan to expand COVID-19 vaccine trial; expect final results by October

"The proposed expansion (from 30 to 44,000) would allow the companies to further increase trial population diversity, and include adolescents as young as 16 years of age and people with chronic, stable HIV (human immunodeficiency viruses), Hepatitis C, or Hepatitis B infection, as well as provide additional safety and efficacy data,"

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Ethical or exploitative—should prisoners participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials?

As 38 clinical trials seek tens of thousands of volunteers to receive doses of experimental vaccines, researchers are discussing how to find and recruit participants effectively and ethically. Some people who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 have not been well represented in studies—or represented at all. Prisoners, for instance, have borne a heavy burden of COVID-19, with more than 125,000 U.S. prisoners infected, and more than 1000 dead. But prisoners have also been excluded from the trials out of concern that they might be coerced into participating or exploited if they do.

Now, some researchers argue that including prisoners in studies could offer outsize health benefits. Correctional facilities have experienced many COVID-19 outbreaks and are structurally unsuited to social distancing (among other precautions). And so, the researchers argue, like other people at high risk of catching the disease, prisoners should be allowed to participate in clinical trials.

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When to expect a vaccine? 

@CDCgov director Robert Redfield had just told a Senate committee it will likely be summer or early autumn 2021 before most Americans can be vaccinated against #Covid19 and the broadcast went blank. Summer or early autumn 2021.
Redfield also says CDC needs $5B-$6B to distribute #Covid19 vaccines — and it doesn't have the money. Bob Kadlec, assistant secretary, says HHS needs an additional $20B for #Covid19 vaccines — and it doesn't have the money.


that's if everything went smoothly with an efficient government...

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New Ab8 COVID-19 Drug: Tiny Antibody Component Completely Neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 Virus

The tiny antibody component is the variable, heavy chain (VH) domain of an immunoglobulin, which is a type of antibody found in the blood. It was found by “fishing” in a pool of more than 100 billion potential candidates using the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as bait. Ab8 is created when the VH domain is fused to part of the immunoglobulin tail region, adding the immune functions of a full-size antibody without the bulk.

At very low concentrations, Ab8 completely blocked the virus from entering cells. UNC colleagues tested Ab8 at varying concentrations in mice using a modified version of SARS-CoV-2. Even at the lowest dose, Ab8 decreased by 10-fold the amount of infectious virus in those mice compared to their untreated counterparts. Ab8 also was effective in treating and preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in hamsters,


Added benefit of face masks

An unproven but exciting new theory suggests that even if face masks don’t fully protect the user, they work to reduce the viral load — and this, in turn, is likely to trigger immunity following an asymptomatic infection, somewhat similar to vaccine inoculation.

It was addressed in a commentary published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world.

“Universal masking seems to reduce the rate of new infections; we hypothesize that by reducing the viral inoculum, it would also increase the proportion of infected people who remain asymptomatic,” write Monica Gandhi and George Rutherford, two infectious experts...

For instance, the typical rate of asymptomatic infection is estimated to be around 40% by the CDC. However, in places with universal or near-universal face masking, the asymptomatic infection rates are much higher, even reaching 80%. Countries that have adopted widespread face masks tend to have much better survival rates, which also suggests a shift to more asymptomatic cases.

Epidemiology/Infection control:

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Watch out for Vit-D deficiency

Low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] in hospitalized COVID-19 patients were inversely associated with the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) requiring admission to the ICU (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.01-1.12, P=0.038).

Levels <20 were problematic.

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What Is the Risk of Catching the Coronavirus on a Plane?

relatively low if the airline is following the procedures laid out by public health experts: enforcing mask compliance, spacing out available seats and screening for sick passengers.

Airlines frequently note that commercial planes are equipped with HEPA filters, the Centers for Disease Control-recommended air filters used in hospital isolation rooms. HEPA filters capture 99.97% of airborne particles and substantially reduce the risk of viral spread. In addition, the air in plane cabins is completely changed over 10 to 12 times per hour, raising the air quality above that of a normal building.

Because of the high air exchange rate, it’s unlikely you’ll catch the coronavirus from someone several rows away. However, you could still catch the virus from someone close by.

“The greatest risk in flight would be if you happen to draw the short straw and sit next to or in front, behind or across the aisle from an infector,” said Richard Corsi, who studies indoor air pollution and is the dean of engineering at Portland State University.

boarding — when the plane’s ventilation system is not running and people are unable to stay distanced from one another — is one of the riskiest parts of the travel process.

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New Research Shows Disproportionate Rate of Coronavirus Deaths in Polluted Areas

COVID-19 can be made more serious — and, in some cases, more deadly — by a specific type of industrial emission called hazardous air pollutants, or HAPs,

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78% of pediatric coronavirus deaths occur in Black, Hispanic or Indigenous populations

Tips, general reading for public:


Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

How to protect yourself from non-maskers:



A whistleblower at ICE exposed that mass hysterectomies are being performed on detained immigrants.

“I’m a single mother of 5. (Irwin County Detention Center) was my means of employment. But Because I began to ask questions about why we were doing no #COVID19 testing, I was demoted.” Nurse Dawn Wooten,

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Fine people surrounding Trump:


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Michael Caputo, Trump's top healthspokesman, reveals their plans...

Caputo:"And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.” He added: “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”

Caputo, in tweets from his Twitter-verified personal account, said “gas all of them” while commenting on a post from a self-described journalist who had published a video saying they were about to be tear-gassed....

Politico reported that Caputo was involved in attempting to manipulate scientific reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over fears they would harm President Donald Trump politically.

Separately, the New York Times reported Monday that Caputo had made a Facebook video in which he claimed the CDC harbored a “resistance unit” meant to undermine the president, and said that his life was in danger.

“You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” Caputo said on the video, according to the Times.

"Caputo, who lived in Russia for six years, was an adviser to Boris Yeltsin from 1995 to 1999 and helped him get elected as president. He also served as an adviser to a subsidiary of the state-owned energy company Gazprom, and reportedly helped shore up Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reputation.

Caputo’s Kremlin ties were so concerning that he became a target of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was questioned but was not charged with any offenses."

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Trump administration appoints climate skeptic for a leading post at NOAA

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Trump's Doral Hotel Miami will host an anti-vaxxer confab Oct. 8-11 called AMPFest, co-hosted with #QAnon. They will oppose any #COVID19 #vaccine. So, how will @realDonaldTrump square that element of his base with promises to end the epidemic soon w/a vax? - Laurie Garrett

Feel good du jour:

Comic relief:

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Naomi Osaka uses her platform to make a powerful statement:

Bits of beauty:


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