Coronavirus Tidbits # 96 11/18/20

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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.

News 

Another successful looking vaccine!

Moderna, joined by U.S. government scientists, announced Monday that their mRNA vaccine candidate was 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19.

The Moderna vaccine appears to have been protective in important subsets of participants — the elderly and people from communities of color, the latter of which make up 37% of the volunteers in Moderna’s trial.

There were 11 cases of severe disease, all of them in the placebo group.

As with Pfizer’s vax, there are unanswered questions–including duration of immunity, “if the vaccine candidates can block infections entirely, or if they’re just making people less sick. Another: If people can still contract SARS-2 after getting vaccinated, are they less infectious to other people?”

(I wrote about other questions surrounding the Pfizer vax here. They have released fewer details than Moderna did.)

Both vaccines caused fatigue, muscle pain, and headache. Pfizer also reported fever.

All the other “top candidates are targeting the virus’ spike protein, which the pathogen uses to infect cells. The results from the Pfizer and Moderna trials give hope that other vaccine candidates could be effective as well, given that they’re all going after the same bull’s-eye.”

Pfizer’s vax requires an ultra-cold freezer, unavailable in most places. Moderna said its vaccine can be safely stored in a conventional refrigerator.

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Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent lack of testing.

Interesting article on the politics of home testing for Covid:

https://www.statnews.com/2020/11/16/build-covid-19-home-testing-plan-on-reason-not-speculation-or-politics/?

Drugs:

Moderna vaccine success in clinical trials– 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19

Moderna and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine candidates are both based on the same kind of technology, mRNA.

https://www.statnews.com/2020/11/16/modernas-covid-19-vaccine-is-strongly-effective-early-look-at-data-show/

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The modern-day Curies: Meet the scientist couple behind 90% effective COVID-19 vaccine

Ozlem Tureci and Ugur Sahin are rapidly becoming the most celebrated marriage in science since Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radioactivity.

The German-Turkish couple are on the brink of claiming the first effective coronavirus vaccine but, like their predecessors, they ride everywhere on bikes, are not interested in the billions of dollars they could make from their discovery and are happiest working together in their white lab coats, even on their wedding day. Like Marie Curie, they are immigrants, their parents both came to Germany from Turkey as part of the guest worker program, and they may yet share a Nobel prize after their company, BioNTech — along with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer — announced Monday their COVID vaccine is more than 90 percent effective.

https://nypost.com/2020/11/14/meet-the-scientist-couple-behind-90-effective-covid-19-vaccine/

Devices:

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Hogan: Western Maryland hospitals ‘already at their capacity limit’

and this was before the MAGAts’ unmasked trip to the Trump rally on Saturday.

https://www.times-news.com/coronavirus/hogan-western-maryland-hospitals-already-at-their-capacity-limit/article_9240aa66-290b-11eb-8bfe-8b6d191d26b7.html

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Hospital-Acquired SARS-CoV-2 Infection Lessons for Public Health

Aaron Richterman, MD1, et al  JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.21399

A review of 2 early case series in China estimated that 44% of 179 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections were hospital acquired.1 An illustrative example of the devastating potential for health care transmission of SARS-CoV-2 came from St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban, South Africa, a facility with 469 beds, including 18 wards, 6 intensive care units, and 735 clinical staff.2 Through a detailed epidemiologic study supplemented by phylogenetic analyses, investigators documented how a single unsuspected case of SARS-CoV-2 led to 6 major clusters involving 5 hospital wards and an outside nursing home and dialysis unit, with infection ultimately confirmed among 80 staff members and 39 patients, 15 of whom died.2

Simultaneously, mounting evidence supports the effectiveness of a relatively simple intervention in reducing hospital transmission of SARS-CoV-2: universal use of surgical masks by health care workers and patients. This intervention appears to be effective, despite a relative inability to completely physically distance within the hospital. A study of 21 000 health care workers found that nosocomial-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections decreased significantly after implementation of a universal masking policy, whereas community-acquired cases continued to increase, consistent with the overall community incidence.3

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/10.1001/jama.2020.21399?

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Track COVID-19 Superspreader Clusters and Events

Good Dataviz in this interactive map with timeline and locations

Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

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Politics:

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Florida’s DeSantis proposal could allow citizens to shoot, run over suspected rioters

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Health care vs. ‘radical leftists’: Parties re-running 2020 playbooks in Georgia runoffs

The first full week of campaigning had Democrats again arguing for greater access to health care, while Republicans said they were the bulwark against “socialism.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/15/georgia-runoffs-senate-health-care-436534

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Feel good du jour:

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Comic relief:

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Perspective:

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This is one hell of a thread, too, albeit w a slightly happier ending:

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And this shows that normalcy is possible if people work together and listen to science:

“Where I’m living, we gather without fear. Life is unfolding much as it did a year ago…

The pandemic has changed the way people live, here, too. We stand six feet apart in the line at the grocery store. There is plexiglass around the cashier at Starbucks. I had to keep my dinner party guest list to 10 people in total. Nova Scotia has required everyone to wear a mask in any indoor public space, including upper grade schools, since July. But that seems normal, by now, just one more thing in the morning: got your homework, got your lunch, got your mask? I can go days without the virus really intruding on my life…

When I asked Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s avuncular public health chief, what he thought allowed us to maintain this level of normality, he added another ingredient to my list: Public health officials, not politicians, set the policy here about what opens. And people (mostly) follow the rules on closures and gatherings and masks. “The message has been that we need to do it to keep each other safe,” he told me. ”I think there’s something about our culture, our collective ethic, if you will, that means people accept that.”

we have a sense here in Halifax of what has kept us safe and we know that those things are deeply controversial in the United States: public health care; public media; a social safety net. It’s baffling to watch the epidemic in the United States spin wildly out of control, knowing it could easily be different. We know that it could, because we’re living it…

Our freedom feels precious and fragile. It has not come cheap. But it’s a steadying thing, the knowledge that we will make hard choices for each other, and that sometimes when we do, the reward is a life we recognize.

Poem:

Bits of beauty:

 

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2 Comments

  • lydia A.P. Martin

    Thank you, Judy, for all the up to date informations and giving us bits of beauty and humor as well!
    Jim and I look forward to your posts. Thank you for all your work and care you put in these , each time!
    The photography is beautiful too!
    Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, in the best way possible. Lydia.

    • Judy Stone

      Thank you, as always, for your continued encouragement. Wishing you and your family the best, too. Please stay home and stay safe!

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