1. The F.D.A. authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech boosters for children ages 5 to 11.

”…More than eight million of the 28 million children in that age group in the United States have received two vaccine shots, and will now be eligible for the extra dose at least five months after their second shot. (The newly authorized booster dose is the same strength as the first two shots. In a news release on Tuesday, Pfizer said its clinical trial data showed that the additional shot produced a strong immune response in the age group, generating neutralizing antibodies against both the Omicron variant and original version of the virus[NOTE FROM HOPKINS]


1. BA.4/BA.5 SUBVARIANTS On May 12, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reclassified the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages from variants of interest to variants of concern (VOC). BA.4 and BA.5 were first identified in South Africa in January and February 2022, respectively. Since their identification, they have spread to other parts of the world, including to Portugal, where BA.4/5 currently account for around 37% of cases. Similar to other Omicron subvariants, such as BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 appear to be significantly more transmissible than previous variants. BA.5 has an estimated growth advantage of 13% over BA.2 under laboratory conditions. Even individuals previously infected with an Omicron variant do not appear to be well protected against infection from BA.4/BA.5. Notably, BA.4/BA.5 contain enough mutations in key sites to evade both naturally acquired immunity and previous vaccinations. Fortunately, BA.4 and BA.5 do not appear to cause more severe disease than previous variants, although more studies are needed to solidify this observation. In the US, BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 still remain the dominant subvariants at this time, but it is likely that more cases will result from BA.4/BA.5 infection as the summer approaches and as more cases are imported from South Africa and Europe. 

2. Moderna last week released data showing its 2-dose SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is safe and effective in inducing strong immune responses and preventing COVID-19 in children aged 6 to 11 years. 

3. ”Around the globe, Australia’s death rate is about one-tenth of the rate in the US. In other words, if the US had the same death rate as Australia, 900,000 people might have been saved. One important trait differentiates the US and Australian responses: trust. At the beginning of the epidemic, 76% of Australians said they trusted the healthcare system, compared with about 34% of Americans, and 93% of Australians said they felt supported by their friends, colleagues, or communities. Australia’s leadership worked quickly to translate much higher levels of public trust in science and institutions, as well as interpersonal trust, into action, urging individuals to take steps that would prove vital to protecting themselves and their communities. Early in the pandemic, Australia’s politicians and public health officials—who adopted a “one voice” cooperative approach—moved to close borders; quarantine international travelers; implement isolation, surveillance, and contact tracing tactics; and enforce long-term lockdowns. Unlike the US, Australia’s non-partisan response to the pandemic, national health insurance program, smaller gaps in income inequality, and a concept of “mateship”—of not wanting to let down one’s neighbor—helped the nation comply with public health guidance and vaccination requirements. All of these measures helped Australia weather the pandemic and reach a vaccination rate of more than 95% among people aged 16 years and older, which is proving vital during its latest surge of cases due to the Omicron variant.”

4. Scent Dogs in Detection of COVID-19: Triple-blinded Randomised Trial and Operational Real-life Screening in Airport Setting (BMJ Global Health)  This large randomised controlled triple-blinded validation study with a precalculated sample size conducted at an international airport showed that trained scent dogs screen airport passenger samples with high accuracy. One of our findings highlights the importance of continuous retraining as new variants emerge. Using scent dogs may present a valuable approach for high-throughput, rapid screening of large numbers of people.

Paxlovid for Covid Infection: 6 Facts

(J. Harris: Good simple article with CDC reference for details.)

The White House opens up another round of free, at-home virus tests to order through the Postal Service.

(J. Harris: It takes about one minute to order these free tests on line.)


1. Christus Health blocks ransomware attack


1. SARS-CoV-2 RNA Can Persist in Stool Months After Respiratory Tract Clears Virus

”…After respiratory samples tested negative, a small proportion of the 113 study participants continued to shed SARS-CoV-2 RNA in their feces—about 4% of them for at least 7 months—and those people were more likely to report ongoing gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, researchers reported in the journal Med….The findings provide more evidence that SARS-CoV-2 infects the gut as well as the lungs and could help explain why some people with “long COVID” have persistent abdominal pain, nausea, and other GI symptoms, according to the authors.

…In [A] new study, fecal SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in about half of the participants within the first week after a polymerase chain reaction–confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. At 4 months, no participants were still shedding viral particles from the respiratory tract, but 12.7% continued to shed SARS-CoV-2 RNA in feces. At 7 months, 3.8% were still shedding SARS-CoV-2 in feces….”

QUESTIONS RAISED: 1. Why would SARS-CoV-2 linger in the gut longer than in the respiratory tract? 2. Is live, infectious SARS-CoV-2 commonly shed in stool?  3. How might persistent fecal shedding change how wastewater epidemiology interprets findings?   4. Does SARS-CoV-2 directly infect gut tissue?  5. Might the SARS-CoV-2 RNA found in feces at the later time points represent reinfection, not persistent infection? 6. Could persistent SARS-CoV-2 infection of the gut help explain postacute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as long COVID? 

2. First Breathalyzer Test to Diagnose COVID-19

3.Severity and Incidence of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children During 3 SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic Waves in Israel


1. There’s a fine line between a numerator and a denominator. (…Only a fraction of people will get this  joke.)

2. What do dentists call their x-rays? 

Tooth pics!

3. Did you hear about the first restaurant to open on the moon? 

It had great food, but no atmosphere.


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