EAST TEXAS  area remains Covid quiet. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all of the Norwegians that I know. 

MILTON THE TOMATO decided to head on back to the equator ‘where the weather is cooler.”


‘Escape variants’ account for 16% of US COVID-19 cases: 10 updates


QUESTION: I have had all of the vaccines and boosters — a total of five jabs to date. I’ve had many coronavirus tests, but none positive. Is it possible that I have had asymptomatic covid and didn’t know I had it? — Lynn, Tallahassee, Fla.

ANSWER:” While there is growing research surrounding people who have never contracted the coronavirus, researchers know a majority of Americans have been infected. So if someone has never tested positive for the coronavirus and has never experienced symptoms, there could be two reasons: One, they are among the lucky few who have managed to dodge the virus, or, two, the time when they took the test did not coincide with a peak infection in their body. The latter is especially true if a person has symptoms of a coronavirus infection but tests negative.

…Two tests can detect a coronavirus infection: a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and an at-home rapid test. The home test is not as reliable because it can only detect specific proteins from the virus, while PCR tests can identify lower levels of the virus. Neither test can detect a past infection.

…A serology test is the only way to identify if a person’s body has produced antibodies in response to SARS-CoV-2, thus identifying a previous infection.

…But even serology tests are not a guarantee as “antibody levels can decline over time, so a negative [antibody] test is not definitive proof of never having had COVID,” Daniel R. Kuritzkes, chief of the infectious-diseases department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told The Washington Post in an email. “A positive test is definite evidence of past infection; a negative test is less reliable over time…Kuritzkes adds there is not much reason clinically to order the test because antibody levels decay at different rates in different people….” 


ACIP meeting: Updated info on COVID-19, vaccine safety for kids and pregnancy

(J. Harris: Up to date information about Vaccination for youngsters.)



The US CDC is reporting 96.8 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 1.06 million deaths. Daily incidence continues to decline, down to 37,052 new cases per day, the lowest average since mid-April. Average daily mortality also continues to decline, down to 323 deaths per day on October 18.**


IMMUNE EVASIVE OMICRON SUBVARIANTS While past surges in COVID-19 cases have been driven largely by single SARS-CoV-2 variants, experts are eyeing a collection of Omicron subvariants that could drive an anticipated wave of infections this fall and winter. In the US, BA.4.6 appeared to be gaining momentum, although BF.7, BQ.1, and BQ.1.1 are showing recent potential growth advantage. The same sublineages are also showing evidence of growth advantage over BA.5 in the United Kingdom. Additional variants, including the recombinant variant XBB, are fueling increases in cases in Southeast Asia and Europe. The US has yet to see a large surge due to these subvariants, with the number of new cases continuing to drop. But public health experts warn data on new cases is unreliable—many are turning to wastewater surveillance to help predict where and when surges may occur—and most expect the downward trend to reverse over the next few weeks. The collection of variants, sometimes referred to as “scrabble variants” or “subvariant soup,” accounts for nearly 1 in 3 new infections reported in the US last week. Globally, detecting these variants and developing accurate assessments of the risk they pose to public health is challenging, as many countries have rolled back their surveillance efforts…

…While available vaccines remain effective in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19, there are concerns the emerging subvariants will be more immune evasive than previous variants, particularly due to mutations in the receptor binding domain that would prevent antibodies from docking and attacking the virus. AstraZeneca’s EvuSheld, the only monoclonal antibody authorized to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, is ineffective against BA.4.6. Other monoclonal antibodies in development already demonstrate vulnerabilities to newly emerging Omicron subvariants. With this new information, the Biden administration is searching for other potential candidates for use among immunocompromised persons…”


America Created Its Own Booster Problems

“…And with daily COVID vaccination rates only a notch above their all-time nadir and barriers to inoculation rising, the nation might be bogged down in its booster doldrums for a good while yet—leaving Americans potentially vulnerable to yet another catastrophic surge… The country’s booster problem is the culmination of months of such confusion. It is also an exacerbation of the inequities that plagued the country’s initial immunization efforts. Booster uptake may present its own issues, but those only piled on the problems that vaccination efforts had encountered in all the months before….this messy discourse warped into confusion, consternation, and apathy. “When the scientists don’t agree, what are the rest of us supposed to do?”…Nor have the logistics of booster recommendations been easy to follow. In the past few months, the FDA and the CDC have issued roughly half a dozen shifts in guidance—over not only who should boost, but also when they should boost, how many boosts to get, and whether booster brands should be mixed….The erratic narrative on vaccines writ large also hasn’t done the U.S. booster campaign any favors. When the shots were fresh out of the gate, Americans were set up to believe that they could take an initial course of doses and be done—with COVID vaccines, maybe even with the pandemic itself. But as more data emerged, it became evident that the shots’ protective powers had been oversold. Vaccines operate best in gradations, blunting and truncating the worst symptoms of disease; they never completely obliterate risk. “We failed to communicate that,”….Even if the message on boosters had been clearer from the get-go, that wouldn’t have ensured that people got them. Vaccination rates have tended to track with risk perception,..One fact about boosting hasn’t changed. Asking people to get an additional shot means … asking people to get an additional shot, and that’s become harder than ever. As shot uptake has dropped off, vaccination sites have closed, while community outreach has pulled back….Issues with access, at least, have straightforward (though still difficult-to-implement) solutions. “We need to make the process easier, and more convenient,” Fishman, of UPenn, told me. Reviving and more evenly distributing community vaccination efforts could help. Stand-alone sites could take walk-in appointments; teams of volunteers could bring vials and syringes directly to the places where people live and work. Paid sick leave, subsidized transportation, or even financial incentives for vaccinations could make a big difference too. Perhaps most crucial, additional federal funding to keep vaccines free for everyone would mean shots stay within reach of some of society’s most at-risk members….Clearer policies have a role to play too. Many workplaces, for instance, issued strict requirements for initial doses last year. But booster mandates have been sparser. With eligibility ever-changing, and the possibility of annual shots on the table, that’s logistically understandable, but it sends an implicit message, Lewis told me: “One inference people are making is If boosting was really that important, the government or my boss would be issuing a mandate…”

(J. Harris: Vaccines, masks, hand washing, distance, and go0d sense have clearly worked in controlled environments like smaller universities, the military, and well-managed companies. Personally, I’m about  ”talked out” on the vaccine question. Even some people with good sense won’t take the vaccines. Ok. You probably won’t die this late in the pandemic. But God help you if you wind up with a severe case of Long Covid. Tough luck, Dude. I’ll worry about folks who haven’t had a chance to take the vaccines and myself and my family. In the next few years, the magnitude of and devastation caused by Long Covid will be apparent and will swamp medical resources. )



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