We Haven’t Peaked Out in Area G (Yet)
Booster Shots 90% Effective at Preventing Omicron Hospitalizations: CDC Data
(J. Harris: Readable WebMD article.)
(J. Harris: Contains some surprises.)
Why it’s so hard for hospitals to track incidental COVID-19 cases
SOUTH KOREA CHANGES TESTING TACTICS IN FACE OF INCREASED OMICRON
Rapid antigen tests will be administered only to low-risk groups, while polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., tests will continue to be given to high-risk groups, including those over age 60 and people with underlying health problems. Until now, P.C.R. tests had been available to both groups……While P.C.R. tests must be processed by a lab and results can take more than 24 hours to deliver, rapid antigen tests can be taken at home, and testers can get results within minutes. Some have questioned the accuracy of the rapid tests, which are less sensitive than P.C.R. tests, but experts say both are highly reliable.
Will Omicron Leave Most of Us Immune?
“The variant is spreading widely, but won’t necessarily give us strong protection from new infections.”
(J. Harris: Ms Wu is a noted Covid scholar and writer)
”…Even before Omicron hit the United States in full force, most of our bodies had already wised up to SARS-CoV-2’s insidious spike—through infection. “This wave will not be the last…..A new antibody-dodging variant, for one, could still show up to clobber us. And nearly everyone having some form of spike in their past isn’t as protective as it might sound…..While a duo of vaccines, for instance, isn’t enough to reliably guard against less severe Omicron cases, a trio of shots seems to do the trick for most. It also pays to pace encounters judiciously. Crowd the second and third too close together, for instance, and the latter’s effect may be blunted; a several-months-long wait, meanwhile, can supercharge the body’s response by allowing immune cells sufficient time to mull what they’ve learned…
” Through first, second, and now third doses, we’ve managed to concentrate immune protection among the privileged. Shots remain proportionally sparse in poor communities, rural communities, low-resource communities; unvaccinated people also tend to concentrate geographically,.. By one estimate, a third to half of all Americans may end up infected by Omicron by mid-February. The variant will not encounter all of those people on equal immunological footing, nor will it create such footing. “Some people will be left with immune houses of straw, others of wood, others of brick…’’
Free N95 masks now available at some U.S. pharmacies; wider rollout expected soon
(J. Harris: Finally.)
Researchers identify biological factors that may increase a person’s chances of having long Covid.
(J. Harris: Note from NYT concerning article in CELL.)
Now, a team of researchers who followed more than 200 patients for two to three months after their Covid diagnoses are reporting that they have identified biological factors that might help predict whether a person will develop long Covid….The factors researchers identified included the level of coronavirus RNA in the blood early in the infection; the presence of certain antibodies that mistakenly attack tissues in the body; the reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus; and Type 2 diabetes.
FROM THE LANCET:
(J. Harris: Very readable article which, if correct, could destroy the upcoming Olympics in China. Mostly, I agree with this sensational article.)
COVID-19 will continue but the end of the pandemic is near
”…The unprecedented level of infection suggests that more than 50% of the world will have been infected with omicron between the end of November, 2021 and the end of March, 2022….Understanding the burden of omicron depends crucially on the proportion of asymptomatic infections. A systematic review based on previous SARS-CoV-2 variants suggested that 40% of [DELTA] infections were asymptomatic.3 Evidence suggests that the proportion of asymptomatic infections is much higher for omicron, perhaps as high as 80–90%…Despite the reduced disease severity per infection, the massive wave of omicron infections means that hospital admissions are increasing in many countries and will rise to twice or more the number of COVID-19 hospital admissions of past surges in some countries … In countries where all hospital admissions are screened for COVID-19, a substantial proportion of these admissions will be among individuals coming to hospital for non-COVID-19 reasons who have asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection…
‘’…Surprisingly, IHME models1 suggest that the transmission intensity of omicron is so high that policy actions—eg, increasing mask use, expanding vaccination coverage in people who have not been vaccinated, or delivering third doses of COVID-19 vaccines—taken in the next weeks will have limited impact on the course of the omicron wave. IHME estimates suggest that increasing use of masks to 80% of the population, for example, will only reduce cumulative infections over the next 4 months by 10%. Increasing COVID-19 vaccine boosters or vaccinating people who have not yet been vaccinated is unlikely to have any substantial impact on the omicron wave because by the time these interventions are scaled up the omicron wave will be largely over. Only in countries where the omicron wave has not yet started can expanding mask use in advance of the wave have a more substantial effect. These interventions still work to protect individuals from COVID-19, but the speed of the omicron wave is so fast that policy actions will have little effect on its course globally in the next 4–6 weeks.
‘’…The omicron wave appears to crest in 3–5 weeks after the exponential increase in reported cases begins…As of Jan 17, 2022, omicron waves were peaking in 25 countries in five WHO regions and in 19 states in the USA.2 It is expected that the omicron peak will occur in most countries between now and the second week of February, 2022…The latest omicron peaks are expected to come in the countries where the omicron wave has not yet started, such as in eastern Europe and southeast Asia. Actions to increase SARS-CoV-2 testing, for example, are likely to increase disruption by having more individuals excluded from work or school, but are unlikely to impact the course of the omicron wave.
‘’…In the era of omicron…COVID-19 control strategies need to be reset. Given the speed and intensity of the omicron wave, in [author’s] view efforts to contact trace seem to be futile…. it seems unlikely that China or New Zealand will be able to permanently exclude the omicron wave….I use the term pandemic to refer to the extraordinary societal efforts over the past 2 years to respond to a new pathogen that have changed how individuals live their lives and how policy responses have developed in governments around the world. These efforts have saved countless lives globally.
‘’…New SARS-CoV-2 variants will surely emerge and some may be more severe than omicron. Immunity, whether infection or vaccination derived, will wane, creating opportunities for continued SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Given seasonality, countries should expect increased potential transmission in winter months….After the omicron wave, COVID-19 will return but the pandemic will not….’’
AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:
What did the surgeon say to the patient who insisted on closing up her own incision? Suture self.
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