Coronavirus Tidbits #85 9/24/20

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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.

What a week from hell…besides RBG’s death and the sleazy response to that, I’m not going to post each piece of travesty from this regime…I wrote 2 posts on Forbes that I will refer you to. 

1) an overview of political interference at the CDC, FDA, and EPA–agencies that are suppose to protect our health.

Politics Around The CDC And FDA Is Eroding Trust In Their Covid-19 Recommendations 

and then a post

2) specifically in vaccine uptake and what that means for our outlook.

Public Trust In Covid-19 Vaccines Is Being Eroded By Politics

News 

Question from @BrianKarem 9/23/20:

Do you commit to making sure there is a peaceful transfer of power?

Trump: We’re going to have to see what happens.

Pressed on it again:

Trump: “Get rid of the ballots, we’ll have a very peaceful transfer. There won’t be a transfer, frankly, we’ll have a continuation.”

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CDC director’s office ordered softening of Covid safety protocols

Rachel Maddow reports on the CDC changing the language on its own coronavirus safety protocols for a South Dakota Smithfield meat processing plant to make the language more optional on orders from CDC Director Robert Redfield’s office.

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Sidelining Physicians Contributed to 200,000 U.S. Deaths

— Ideology and hubris conspired to weaken U.S. COVID response

https://www.medpagetoday.com/blogs/marty-makary/88730?

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How Pinterest beat back vaccine misinformation

and what Facebook could learn from its approach https://statnews.com/2020/09/21/pinterest-facebook-vaccine-misinformation/…

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Trump Administration Plans Crackdown On Hospitals Failing To Report COVID-19 Data to HHS (rather than CDC)

Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (also part of HHS) abruptly issued a rule indicating that failure to comply could cause hospitals to lose their federal Medicare funding.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/09/24/916310786/trump-administration-plans-crackdown-on-hospitals-failing-to-report-covid-19-dat

Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent lack of quick accurate testing.

Drugs:

My post in Forbes:

Public Trust In Covid-19 Vaccines Is Being Eroded By Politics

https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2020/09/23/public-trust-in-covid-19-vaccines-are-being-eroded-by-politics/#52dbfbc15340

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Asked about stricter guidelines by the FDA before a vaccine can be released, Trump said: “That has to be approved by the White House.”

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Not trusting the FDA, Black doctors’ group creates panel to vet Covid-19 vaccines

https://www.statnews.com/2020/09/21/black-doctors-group-creates-panel-to-vet-covid19-vaccines/

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64 high-income nations join effort to expand global access to Covid-19 vaccines, but U.S. and China do not

https://www.statnews.com/2020/09/21/64-high-income-nations-join-effort-to-expand-global-access-to-covid-19-vaccines-but-u-s-and-china-do-not/? ~ ~ ~

Andy Harris, a physician lawmaker who has railed against masks and stay-at-home orders is now overseeing a drug company’s COVID-19 treatment trial. (Politico)

Many questions re ethics…

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Although the CARES Act ensures free vaccine coverage, if one is approved under an emergency-use designation, Medicare wouldn’t cover it. (The Wall Street Journal)

Devices:

At Johns Hopkins Hospital, nurses are still being asked to reuse N95s. Why is there still a shortage? (Washington Post)

The Department of Health and Human Services did fund the invention of a “one-of-a-kind, high-speed machine” that could make 1.5 million N95s per day. But when the design was completed in 2018, the Trump administration did not purchase it.

This year, as the virus spread from Wuhan to Washington state, HHS turned down a January offer from a manufacturer that could make millions of N95s. The agency didn’t start ordering N95s from multiple companies until March 21….

Fuller was desperate to make the stockpiled N95s last as long as possible. He wanted every employee wearing one to also wear a face shield, but those, too, were impossible to find.

So at the end of March, the warehouse filled with folding tables spaced six feet apart. Volunteers were given foam strips, elastic straps and sheets of plastic to make homemade shields. At one of the most prestigious medical institutions in the country, they were trying to fix the problem for themselves, with scissors, staplers and hot glue guns…

An August survey of 21,500 nurses showed 68 percent of them are required to reuse respirators, many for more than the five times recommended by the CDC,

Where is the Defense Production Act???

Peter Tsai, the scientist who invented a method to charge the fibers inside the respirator filter, knows why: “It is not profitable to make respirators in the United States,” he said. It can take six months just to create one manufacturing line that makes the N95′s filter.

But there is a workaround, Tsai said. Companies that already make similar filters — for vehicle emissions, air pollution and water systems — can modify their equipment to make N95 filters…

The DPA does have a provision that would allow manufacturers to work together without being subject to antitrust laws. But it has yet to be used for N95s….Instead, established U.S. makers of N95s, whose products have been successfully protecting miners, construction workers and health-care professionals for decades, have continued to protect their processes as intellectual property.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/local/news/n-95-shortage-covid/

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Silk offers homemade solution for COVID-19 prevention in masks

Biology study finds silk offers more protection than cotton or synthetics

With personal protective equipment still in short supply, researchers at the University of Cincinnati examined what common household fabrics might work best as a face covering.

Next to a single-use N95 respirator or surgical mask, UC found the best alternative could be made by a hungry little caterpillar. Silk face masks are comfortable, breathable and repel moisture, which is a desirable trait in fighting an airborne virus.

Perhaps best of all, silk contains natural antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties that could help ward off the virus, said Patrick Guerra, assistant professor of biology in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Studies have shown that copper, in particular, can kill bacteria and viruses on contact. And that’s where the little caterpillars have their own superpower, Guerra said.

“Copper is the big craze now. Silk has copper in it. Domesticated silk moths eat mulberry leaves. They incorporate copper from their diet into the silk,” Guerra said.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uoc-soh092220.php

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Excellent thread from Muge Cevik – I highly recommend her entire thread.

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https://twitter.com/meganranney/status/1307738186689413123?s=20

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Study shows that 40% of healthcare workers asymptomatic when COVID-19 positive, raising risk of silent transmission

A review of studies (meta-analysis) presented at this year’s ESCMID Conference on Coronavirus Diseases (ECCVID, online 23-25 September) shows that 40% of healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic, raising the risk of silent transmission in healthcare settings.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/esoc-sst092220.php

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BCG vaccination during infancy actually does not protect against the coronavirus.

Their results, which appear in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, suggest that other, related factors likely underlie the disparities between countries.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uoc–vi092120.php

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Finland to deploy coronavirus-sniffing dogs at Helsinki Airport

The voluntary canine tests will deliver results within 10 seconds, and require less than a minute of travelers’ time, said Anna Hielm-Björkman, a researcher at the University of Helsinki who is using the trial to gather data.

In Dubai, health officials this summer began using dogs to analyze sweat samples from randomly selected air travelers, with more than 90% accuracy, according to initial results.

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/finland-to-deploy-coronavirus-sniffing-dogs-at-helsinki-airport/

Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Politics:

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Highlight of my day:

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‘Trump Card’ Killed Drug Price Deal

The Trump administration and the pharmaceutical industry missed an opportunity to control drug prices especially for older Americans, with a last-minute snag upending a deal they had struck recently, the New York Times reports.

Executives with a few pharma companies agreed to pay $150 billion to handle out-of-pocket consumer costs and most Medicare recipients’ drug copayments.

But White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows demanded the companies also pay for $100 medication vouchers to be mailed to seniors before November’s election, industry officials told the newspaper.

The executives balked at this request, citing factors including bad policy and reluctance to politicize the deal. “We could not agree to the administration’s plan to issue one-time savings cards right before a presidential election,” said Priscilla VanderVeer of PhRMA. “One-time savings cards will neither provide lasting help, nor advance the fundamental reforms necessary to help seniors better afford their medicines.”

https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/ethics/88770?

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https://twitter.com/RexChapman/status/1307077618466947073?s=20

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Belief in conspiracy theories is a barrier to controlling spread of COVID-19

Conspiracy beliefs predict resistance to COVID-19 vaccination and preventive behaviors, study finds

… also is associated with reluctance to accept a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available and to engage in behaviors such as mask-wearing that can prevent its spread, according to researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center… “To control the pandemic we need high rates of mask-wearing, physical distancing, and hand-washing now – and of vaccination when a safe and effective vaccine is available.”

The study was published today in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/appc-bic092120.php

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Feel good du jour:

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https://twitter.com/SierraClub/status/1307465757262000128?s=20

Comic relief:

https://twitter.com/Laurie_Garrett/status/1308084915720916994?s=20

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Perspective/Poem

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Bits of beauty:

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