The White House unveils a new Covid strategy, including an initiative to pair coronavirus tests with treatment.

The White House issued a new coronavirus strategy on Wednesday, a 96-page plan aimed at ushering the United States into what some are calling a “new normal” with four main goals: protecting against and treating Covid-19; preparing for new variants; avoiding shutdowns and fighting the virus abroad…The idea behind the new strategy is to get the nation out of crisis mode and to a place… where the virus will no longer disrupt everyday life…The administration also pledged in the plan to work with Congress to “give schools and businesses guidance, tests and supplies to stay open, including tools to improve ventilation and air filtration…

The coronavirus invades cells in the penis and testicles of monkeys, researchers discover. Image

140 million Americans have had coronavirus, according to blood tests analyzed by CDC

”…The estimates, compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show that about 43 percent of the country has been infected by the virus. The study shows that the majority of children have also been infected…”

New Coronavirus Lineage Discovered in Ontario Deer

”’…Scientists have identified a new, highly mutated version of the coronavirus in white-tailed deer in southwestern Ontario, one that may have been evolving in animals since late 2020…..But the paper was posted online just days after another team reported that the Alpha variant may have continued to spread and evolve in Pennsylvania deer even after it disappeared from human populations…“Based on current information,… the risk of wildlife, including deer, spreading the virus to people is low,…”


PLANT-BASED VACCINE After authorizing Novavax’s protein-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine Nuvaxovid for adults aged 18 and older on February 17, Canada’s drug regulator last week cleared a second non-mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, authorizing Medicago’s Covifenz vaccine for adults ages 18 to 64. The 2-dose vaccine uses plant-based, non-infectious virus-like particles (VLP) of spike protein from the original SARS-CoV-2 strain, as well as an adjuvant from GlaxoSmithKline to boost immune response. Quebec-based Medicago has agreed to supply up to 76 million vaccine doses to the Canadian government, the first shipments of which are expected in May. In a study of 24,000 adults, the overall vaccine efficacy rate was 71% against all SARS-CoV-2 variants, although the clinical trial was performed prior to the emergence of the Omicron variant of concern. The authorization represents the first of a vaccine manufactured using plant-based technologies, and public health officials are hopeful Covifenz and Nuvaxovid will provide options to people who are not willing to receive an mRNA-based vaccine. However, since 81% of the total Canadian population is fully vaccinated, many of the vaccine doses likely will be shipped overseas. Health Canada has authorized the use of 6 SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.


1. Wuhan Market Was Epicentre of Pandemic’s Start, Studies Suggest (Nature) Scientists have released three studies that reveal intriguing new clues about how the COVID-19 pandemic started. Two of the reports trace the outbreak back to a massive market that sold live animals, among other goods, in Wuhan, China, and a third suggests that the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spilled over from animals — possibly those sold at the market — into humans at least twice in November or December 20193. Posted on 25 and 26 February, all three are preprints, and so have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

2. Association of COVID-19 Quarantine Duration and Postquarantine Transmission Risk in 4 University Cohorts In this cohort study of 301 quarantined university students and staff who tested positive for COVID-19, 40 (13.3%) tested negative and were asymptomatic on day 7, implying an approximate 13% postquarantine transmission risk for 7-day test-based quarantine. To maintain the 5% transmission risk used as the basis for the 7-day guideline, our data suggest that quantitative polymerase chain reaction test–based, nonstrict quarantine should be 10 days.

(J. Harris: It is suggested that quarantine of infected individuals be maintained 10 days unless they test negative after 5 or more days.)




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