Coronavirus Tidbits #91 10/15/20

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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’m preoccupied with #GOTV efforts in Swing States.That’s been quite gratifying, and I would encourage others to join in. is a good place to start, or email me for other specific groups I like.

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


Immune cell activation in severe COVID-19 resembles lupus

In severe cases of COVID-19, Emory researchers have been observing an exuberant activation of immune cells, resembling acute flares of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease.

Their findings point towards tests that could separate some COVID-19 patients who need immune-calming therapies from others who may not. They also may begin to explain why some people infected with SARS-CoV-2 produce abundant antibodies against the virus, yet experience poor outcomes.

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  • October 2: Top House lawmakers are investigating whether DoD used its $1 billion in coronavirus relief funds to pay defense contractors rather than buy medical supplies.
  • October 6: After a senior Coast Guard official tested positive for Covid-19, all but one of the joint chiefs of staff are in isolation at home.

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still an incredible, negligent lack of accurate quick testing.


Johnson & Johnson pauses COVID-19 vaccine trial due to unexplained illness — the second US trial now on hold

***NOTE: This is Exactly what SHOULD HAPPEN!

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine trial has been paused due to an unexplained illness in a volunteer. Now two of the four vaccine trials in the United States are now on hold.

The Phase 3 clinical trial was temporarily halted Monday, according to the company. It is not known if the unidentified illness is related to the vaccine, but clinical protocols require a pause while it is investigated.

Another trial, run by AstraZeneca, was halted Sept. 8 after a second participant was diagnosed with a neurological condition.

Johnson & Johnson said Monday it has paused further dosing in its trial while the participant’s illness is reviewed and evaluated by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board as well as the company’s clinical and safety physicians.

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Early approval of a COVID-19 vaccine could stymie the hunt for better ones

ScienceInsider By Jon Cohen

Success in the push to find a COVID-19 vaccine at record-breaking speed could hand the world a new problem. The first vaccine to cross the finish line might be only marginally effective, yet it could become the enemy of the good–or even the great—candidates in the wings by disrupting ongoing studies.

In all likelihood, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other regulators will issue the first COVID-19 vaccine approval or emergency use authorization (EUA) for one vaccine while many other candidates have clinical trials still underway or in the planning. At that point ongoing studies of any vaccine—including that first one—could become unethical, because half the study participants are getting a placebo, and now a vaccine with established efficacy will be available. “It’s a very vexing issue,” says Christine Grady, who heads the bioethics department at the Clinical Center of the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH), which organized a “grand rounds” webinar on the challenges last week.

 “What’s really important is that the science does continue,” says Seth Berkley, who helps run an international effort, COVAX, to develop and manufacture a portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines. He explains that the world needs multiple vaccines against the pandemic coronavirus.

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COVID-19 Antibodies Raise Unanswered Clinical Questions

— Experts noted monoclonal antibodies have yet to show an impact on clinical outcomes

In a media briefing, IDSA experts discussed that while manufacturers of monoclonal antibody treatment, Regeneron and Eli Lilly, both applied for emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA to treat COVID-19, the data on both so far have yet to demonstrate any impact on patient care.

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Understanding dexamethasone, the steroid used to treat Trump’s Covid-19

Dexamethasone, a powerful steroid, is being used more and more to treat Covid-19. This video explains how it works. ~ ~ ~

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NIH’s COVID-19 therapeutic management guidelines were updated with remdesivir as first-line treatment for hospitalized patients requiring supplemental oxygen, and dexamethasone with or without remdesivir for patients requiring oxygen through a high-flow device or mechanical ventilation. ~ ~ ~


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Epidemiology/Infection control:

My latest post:

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Women are the majority of the health care workforce and, as of April, comprise 73% of positive COVID-19 cases among health care workers.

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COVID-19 hot spots may start with young adults

 according to a US study late last week on transmission dynamics by age-group in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Not only does this add another way to surveil potential spikes, but it adds onus to a population that has been noted to sometimes feel impervious to the worst that COVID-19 can bring—even if that notion is being disproved.

A separate MMWR study based on interviews sheds light on why young adults might engage in COVID-19 risk-taking. And a third study shows that infected young adults can have serious disease, with almost 3% of the more than 3,000 patients studied dying.

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“Herd Immunity” is Not an Answer to a Pandemic

IDSA & hivma

Promoting the concept of “herd immunity” as framed in a recently circulated document as an answer to the COVID-19 pandemic is inappropriate, irresponsible and ill-informed. “Community immunity,” or “herd immunity,” a goal of vaccination campaigns, should never come at the cost of planned exposure to infection of millions of additional people as well as the severe illness and preventable deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. To assert that stepping away from the vigilance needed to control the spread of this novel coronavirus and that abdication of efforts to control a pandemic that has overwhelmed health systems worldwide is a “compassionate approach” is profoundly misleading.

As an association of more than 12,000 frontline infectious diseases scientists, physicians, public health experts, and other health professionals, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and its HIV Medicine Association strongly denounce  the “declaration,” released without data or evidence, that states this crisis can be controlled in the absence of critical public health measures.–publications-new/articles/2020/herd-immunity-is-not-an-answer-to-a-pandemic/

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Tips, general reading for public:


Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.


Chinese virologists linked to Steve Bannon dropped another bogus paper claiming the new coronavirus is an ‘unrestricted bioweapon’

The paper’s lead author, Li-Meng Yan, peddled a similar claim to Fox News host Tucker Carlson last month. Yan told Carlson that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had “intentionally” released the “man-made virus.”

Experts quickly debunked the claim, calling it “bizarre and unfounded.”

The idea that China engineered, then released a lab-made coronavirus echoes a fringe conspiracy theory alluded to by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump in May.

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Feel good du jour:

Comic relief:

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Bits of beauty:


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