From the Washington Post:

“…Australia and Israel offer two different examples of the ways countries are responding to the delta coronavirus variant. The variant has emerged in Australia, triggering a lockdown in Sydney and mask mandates and increased restrictions in other cities that had, till now, escaped the pandemic’s worst. “We’ve been the victims of our own success so far because, to some degree, there’s been a level of complacency and we’ve been living in a very gilded cage,” as the vice president of the Australian Medical Association put it over the weekend…”


Texas man who declined COVID-19 vaccine speaks out after undergoing double lung transplant

At-home virus tests could still be useful, even for the vaccinated. (click)

Assessment of a COVID-19 Control Plan on an Urban University Campus During a Second Wave of the Pandemic

“…This case series from a large [Boston] university found that strong central leadership; internal communication to students, staff, and faculty; frequent and adaptive testing of students15,16; short testing turnaround time; highly effective contact tracing coupled with isolation and quarantine; and vigorous enforcement combined to prevent widespread campus outbreaks of COVID-19 despite the worsening local situation…”

(J. Harris: East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas also educated, vaccinated, tested, and protected its student body, faculty, campus workers, and the community during this Pandemic. There is no substitute for enlightened leadership — in good times as well as in during crises. You don’t have to be in Boston to do things right.)

Seattle scientist digs up deleted coronavirus genetic data, adding fuel to the covid origin debate

“…it bolsters evidence that the virus was circulating in Wuhan, China, before a December outbreak of covid-19, the illness caused by the virus, that was linked to a market selling live animals…“These SARS-CoV-2 sequences were submitted for posting in SRA in March 2020 and subsequently requested to be withdrawn by the submitting investigator in June 2020. The requestor indicated the sequence information had been updated, was being submitted to another database, and wanted the data removed from SRA to avoid version control issues,” NIH said…Robert F. Garry, a Tulane University virologist who co-wrote an influential March 2020 paper saying SARS-CoV-2 was a natural virus and not engineered, took issue with the new Bloom paper. Among his criticisms: The key data from the China study, a list of mutations seen in the virus sequences, has remained available to researchers in an appendix. He said Bloom found the same mutations…it bolsters evidence that the virus was circulating in Wuhan, China, before a December outbreak of covid-19, the illness caused by the virus, that was linked to a market selling live animals…”

Utility of Mass SARS-CoV-2 Testing of Asymptomatic Patients Before Ambulatory and Inpatient Preplanned Procedures Requiring Moderate Sedation or General Anesthesia

“…A total of 75 528 preprocedure tests were performed….A total of 318 (0.4%) tested positive (Figure 1). The median (IQR) test turnaround time was 7.8 (6.5-9.4) hours..”

(J. Harris: Basically, routine preop Covid testing revealed what to me was a surprisingly low number of positive tests.)

Clinical Outcomes for Patients With Anosmia 1 Year After COVID-19 Diagnosis

“…Persistent COVID-19–related anosmia has an excellent prognosis with nearly complete recovery at 1 year. As clinicians manage an increasing number of people with post-COVID syndrome, data on long-term outcomes are needed for informed prognostication and counseling….[96.1% objectively recovered by 12 months]…”


DELTA VARIANT The Delta variant (B.1.617.2) currently accounts for an estimated 20% of new COVID-19 cases in the US and likely will become the dominant strain in a matter of weeks, according to White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, who also noted the variant as the United States’ greatest threat in dealing with COVID-19. The European CDC (ECDC) Threat Assessment for the Delta variant projects that the variant will be responsible for 90% of cases by the end of August. Russia has already reached that threshold, where 90% of new cases in Moscow are being attributed to the Delta variant. This variant of concern (VOC) has been reported in 85 countries, is 40-60% more transmissible than Alpha (B.1.1.7), and may be associated with a higher risk of hospitalization. 

According to a Public Health England study, a single dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines reduced a person’s risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms caused by the Delta variant by 33%, compared to 50% for the Alpha variant. A second dose of AstraZeneca brought protection to 60% (66% for Alpha), and a second dose of Pfizer increased protection to 88% (90% for Alpha). A Scottish study found an increased likelihood of hospitalization among patients infected with the Delta variant, nearly double the risk for the Alpha variant. Additionally, that study showed that among fully vaccinated individuals, Pfizer’s vaccine provided 79% protection against the Delta variant, while it offered 92% against the Alpha variant. Vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine showed substantial but reduced results among those fully vaccinated, with 60% efficacy against the Delta variant and 73% protection against the Alpha variant. These studies underline the importance of vaccination as a tool to reduce hospitalizations and disease severity among COVID-19 patients. 


 What’s the easiest way to make a glow worm happy? Cut off its tail—it’ll be delighted!

How do you organize an astronomer’s party? You planet.


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

Click here to submit feedback.  Let us know what you think.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE