CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 5/17/2022

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE.

FROM THE NYT:

1. How Often Can You Be Infected With the Coronavirus?

”…“If we manage it the way that we manage it now, then most people will get infected with it at least a couple of times a year,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. “I would be very surprised if that’s not how it’s going to play out.”…Still, the good news is that most people who are reinfected with new versions of Omicron will not become seriously ill. At least at the moment, the virus has not hit upon a way to fully sidestep the immune system….To keep up with the evolving virus, other experts said, the Covid vaccines should be updated more quickly, even more quickly than flu vaccines are each year. Even an imperfect match to a new form of the coronavirus will still broaden immunity and offer some protection, they said…”

(J. Harris: This is a good, short article. )

2. ”We may never bookend the first Covid death with the last, but I long for the day we no longer need to chart them daily.”

FROM STAT NEWS:

1. FDA rejects antidepressant seen as possible Covid-19 treatment

FROM WEBB MD:

Smell, Taste Loss Less Likely With Newer COVID Variants

”…Rates of smell and taste loss were 17% for Omicron, compared with 44% for Delta and 50% for Alpha, the investigators found…”

FROM JAMA:

1. Association of Prior BNT162b2 COVID-19 Vaccination With Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Children and Adolescents During Omicron Predominance

”…Among children and adolescents, estimated VE for 2 doses of BNT162b2 against symptomatic infection was modest and decreased rapidly. Among adolescents, the estimated effectiveness increased after a booster dose…” 

2. Protecting Children Against Omicron (AN EDITORIAL)

”…Prior to emergence of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant, and at the time of the issuance of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) COVID-19 vaccine, the efficacy of 2 doses of the 30-µg vaccine in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age and of the 10-µg dose in children 5 to 11 years of age were 100% (95% CI, 75.3%-100%) and 90.7% (95% CI, 67.7%-98.3%), respectively.1,2 However, 2 studies published in this issue of JAMA demonstrate that the estimated vaccine effectiveness among children and adolescents with Omicron is considerably lower than in the initial studies, and protection wanes rapidly, especially with the novel SARS-CoV-2 variants.3,4…Although these 2 studies found relatively short time periods to waning of vaccine effectiveness, hope is on the horizon. As SARS-CoV-2 infections increase in children, hybrid immunity, a combination of immunity induced by vaccine and natural infection, will likely provide additional protection against future infections....The encouraging message should be that although vaccine protection for children and adolescents was lower in the Omicron era than with previous variants and that such protection wanes rapidly, vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization remains high and booster doses confer additional protection.

FROM BECKERS: 

1. Retired baby boomers are flocking to rural areas, boosting hospital demand

”…Retired people are moving to rural areas in search of natural beauty and a slower pace of life, boosting desperate local economies and bringing demand for services, including healthcare, reported The Wall Street Journal May 8. [I COULDN’T OPEN]…At 162 rural spots in the U.S., the population increased faster than the national average, bucking the trend that plagues most rural locations of population decline. Drawn in by natural attractions such as mountains and lakes, more retired people are settling down in areas such as Sevier County, Tenn., that saw a 13 percent increase in population over the past decade. …The influx of retirees brings a boost to the local economies of these sleepy towns. More residents means more consumers for local business, increased school services and a boosted workforce. In Sevier County, a new high school recently opened and a 79-bed hospital opened. 

Can You Use Expired Covid Tests?

”…Expired tests have this problem:…The probability of a false negative result (the test says I don’t have a Covid-19 infection when I do) is higher with an expired test, according to Jared Auclair, director of the Biopharmaceutical Analysis Training Lab at Northeastern….Expired Covid-19 tests are more likely to be inaccurate. Covid-19 tests that are expired should go into the trash.”

DO CATS CARRY AND SPREAD COVID. WHAT TO DO?

(J. Harris: I know of several families who have school age children and house cats and seem to suffer from recurrent bouts of Covid.)

SARS-CoV-2 in animals

(J. Harris: From the American Veterinary Medical Association [AVMA]: Seems to be good information if somewhat less concerned than I about potential Covid spread from the pet cat.) 

DOES THE COVID-19 OMICRON VARIANT SPREAD AFFECT PETS?

(J. Harris: From Texas A&M–the answer is YES.)

AND ON A LITTER SUBJECT:

(READ IT ALOUD)

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P.O. Box 721

Scottsville Texas

75688

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 5/9/2022

J. HARRIS: Likely we have a new but “mild’ variant creeping into our area. Watch SHV counts and Houston, then Austin and Dallas. 

Hospital rates are not impacted in our area at this time. … What about in late May? I don’t know but I am worried. We don’t

test much in Harrison County so our initial rates will always be artificially low. I have some doubts about the validity of the available

home administered rapid Covid tests. I don’t find the color codes Threat Warnings of much benefit. They are too slow to be of much value.

FROM THE NYT (Tuesday)

1. This is why a Covid vaccine mandate is unlikely in New York City schools this fall.

”…The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend vaccination for all children and adolescents ages 5 and older, including for those were previously infected. But jumping from that to a mandate is a big step…”

2. A company with an early contract to produce coronavirus vaccine hid evidence of problems.

”…A report sheds new light on Emergent executives’ own worries about deficiencies in the company’s quality control systems at its troubled Baltimore plant; no contaminated doses were ever released to the public.”

FROM BECKERS:

1. US may see ‘pretty sizable’ fall COVID-19 surge, Dr. Ashish Jha warns

”The U.S. may see a “pretty sizable wave” of COVID-19 infections this fall and winter as the virus continues to evolve and immunity wanes, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha, MD, said May 8 on ABC News’ “This Week.”

Federal health officials are looking at a range of disease forecasting models, which suggest the U.S. could experience a large surge in late 2022, similar to the last two winters, according to Dr. Jha. On May 6, the White House projected 100 million COVID-19 infections could occur this fall and winter, according to The Washington Post….”If we don’t get ahead of this thing … we may see a pretty sizable wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths this fall and winter,” he said. “Whether that happens or not is largely up to us as a country. If we can prepare and if we can act, we can prevent that….More funding to purchase COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics will be crucial to stave off a potential surge, according to Dr. Jha. The Biden administration is asking Congress for an additional $22.5 billion in emergency aid to support these efforts…If Congress does not do that now, we will go into this fall and winter with none of the capabilities that we have developed over the last two years,” Dr. Jha said.

FROM HOPKINS:

1. White House Documents Detail a Looming Squeeze on Covid-19 Boosters (STAT News) The White House could run out of Covid-19 vaccines if it moves forward with plans to encourage all adults to get a second Covid-19 vaccine booster dose by roughly Sept. 1, according to a tranche of budget documents sent to Congress that have not previously been made public. Although Food and Drug Administration officials have hinted that all American adults may be encouraged to get second boosters this fall, right now, second booster doses are only available to people over the age of 50.

The budget documents make it clear that if the administration does want to push second boosters, it will need more money to make it happen: it needs at least 87 million more vaccines for adult boosters, and another 5 million more for first boosters for kids.

2. FDA Dramatically Narrows Use of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine (POLITICO) The Food and Drug Administration has restricted the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to adults who are unable or unwilling to get the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA shots. The decision comes after the agency completed an updated risk analysis of developing thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS, a rare and possibly fatal combination of blood clots and low platelet counts one to two weeks after receiving the vaccine, the agency said Thursday. Given the severity and urgency of the syndrome, and the availability of other Covid-19 vaccines, FDA decided that the benefits of Covid-19 protection from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine outweigh the risk of TTS only for those who cannot or will not receive other forms of vaccination.

FROM THE NYT (last week)

The Vanishing Variants: Lessons from Gamma, Iota and Mu

(J. Harris: A readable Mu (and variant) article about why some variants are more “successful” than others and why some of our attempts at control are not likely to be helpful.)

FROM SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN:

A Guide to the Different Omicron Subvariants

(J. Harris: A short readable understandable variant article.)

CDC GUIDELINES FOR LONG COVID DX AND HELP:

Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions

FROM REITERS:

South Africa Covid-19 Test Positivity Rate Nears Record

AND LASTLY:

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P.O. Box 721

Scottsville Texas

75688

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 5/6/2022

WE GOT 4 INCHES OF RAIN YESTERDAY

FROM BECKERS:

COVID-19 hospitalizations up in 40 states

”…The more contagious omicron subvariant BA.2 makes up 68.1 percent of new cases in the U.S., according to the latest estimates from the CDC. Rhode Island has the highest proportion of BA.2 cases of all states, according to the latest ranking of states by the subvariant’s prevalence…”

FOR HOPKINS:

1. Comparative Effectiveness Over Time of the mRNA-1273 (Moderna) Vaccine and the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) Vaccine (Nature) Observational data incorporating cases of Delta VOC have suggested a higher rate of infection in individuals immunized with two doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine compared with two doses of the mRNA-1273 vaccine, suggesting that the real-world performance of the vaccines may differ from one another. We therefore conducted a retrospective cohort study that examined the incidence and severity of Covid-19 infections as a function of the time from vaccination in over 3.5 million individuals across the United States who were fully vaccinated via either the mRNA-1273 or the BNT162b2 vaccine, including over 8800 infections.

2. More Uniformly Infectious, More Treatable, More Genetically Predictable: How Coronavirus is Getting Closer to Flu (STAT News) SARS-CoV-2 remains a long way from being ordinary. It has not yet found seasonal cadence — take the recent surge in Europe and the U.K., which comes just weeks after the initial Omicron wave subsided — and it’s still capable of inflicting mass death and disability (see Hong Kong’s lethal last few months). But there are signs that the virus — and our relationship to it — is shifting in subtle ways that make it more like seasonal flu than it was at the start of the pandemic. One of the most intriguing shifts involves how Covid now spreads from person to person. Also, flu and SARS-CoV-2 are starting to resemble each other at a more basic level too — how they evolve.

FROM JAMA:

1. Studies Examine Risk of Hearing Loss After COVID-19 Vaccination

(J. Harris: Apparently it happens — but rarely.)

2. NOT COVID RELATED BUT POTENTIALLY USEFUL:

A. First Donepezil Transdermal Patch Approved for Alzheimer Disease

B . First Amphetamine Transdermal Patch Approved for ADHD

FROM THE NYT 

1. The global death toll during the pandemic far exceeds what countries have reported, the W.H.O. says.

”… a startling glimpse of how drastically the death counts reported by many governments have understated the true toll of the pandemic…

”…In the United States, the W.H.O. estimated that roughly 930,000 more people than expected had died by the end of 2021, compared with the 820,000 Covid deaths that had been officially recorded over the same period… Overall, roughly 14.9 million more people worldwide died in 2020 and 2021 than would have been expected to in normal times, the experts estimated. Most were victims of Covid itself, they said, but some died because the pandemic made it more difficult to get medical care for ailments such as heart attacks. The previous toll, based solely on death counts reported by countries, was six million…Much of the loss of life from the pandemic was concentrated in 2021, when new and more contagious variants drove surges of the virus even in countries that had fended off earlier outbreaks…Nearly a third of the excess deaths globally — 4.7 million — took place in India, according to the W.H.O. estimates…Scientists also noted that excess death rates were not necessarily indicative of a country’s pandemic response: Older and younger populations will fare differently in a pandemic, regardless of the response. And the W.H.O. experts said that they did not account for the effects of heat waves or conflicts…W.H.O. officials cited Britain as an example of a country that had accurately recorded Covid deaths: Their analysis found that about 149,000 more people than normal had died during the pandemic, nearly identical to the number of Covid deaths Britain reported… a statistician at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, who has studied excess deaths in Germany, said that the country’s rapidly aging population meant that the W.H.O. analysis may have underestimated the number of people who would have been expected to die in a normal year. That, in turn, could have produced overestimates of excess deaths…”

2. A new subvariant is spreading rapidly in the United States.

”…The coronavirus is constantly mutating. While some variants seem to vanish, causing little ripples of surges in their wake, others have kept driving large outbreaks. Experts say a new form, BA.2.12.1, is spreading rapidly and will likely in the next weeks become the dominant form of the virus in the United States. There’s no indication yet that it causes more severe disease…virtually every reported infection across the nation is from an Omicron subvariant, and although BA.2 is still the dominant form, BA.2.12.1 is quickly gaining ground…[ EXPERTS] expects rising infections to spread from the Northeast to the South then the West, driving more outbreaks. “We’re already seeing it here in Louisiana,” said Dr. Queen, who oversees genetic analysis for the virus at the university. “Our most recent sequencing runs of community samples have all been BA.2.12.1, and those samples are from mid-April….But reported cases are likely an undercount of the virus’s true spread, since access to at-home tests has increased and the results are often not officially reported…“We’re in this phase of pandemic fatigue and complacency,” he said. “And while we need to balance the weight of mental health with the risk of contraction, as a result we’ve seen an uptick not only in the Omicron variant but other respiratory illness….”

3. Virus cases spread after White House Correspondents Dinner.

”…On Saturday, the comedian Trevor Noah stood before a ballroom of 2,600 journalists, celebrities and political figures at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and asked: What are we doing here?…“Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron Dinner? Nothing,” Mr. Noah said, referring to another elite Washington gathering in April, after which dozens of attendees tested positive for the coronavirus. “Do you read any of your own newspapers?”

FROM HOPKINS SELECTIONS”

BOOSTER DOSES The debate over whether additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine booster doses are needed continues to heat up as several Omicron subvariants are driving increasing transmission rates in the United States and abroad. A study from Israel published on May 5 provides evidence that a second booster dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is capable of protecting against infection for 4 weeks and severe disease for 6 weeks. However, the WHO has yet to release an official recommendation for additional booster doses, and many health officials remain skeptical about the widespread administration of boosters since neutralizing antibodies tend to wane rapidly after the first and second booster in healthy populations. One point of agreement among experts is that elderly and immunocompromised individuals receive the most benefit from additional doses of vaccine, and the US FDA has authorized additional booster doses for adults aged 50 and older. Notably, 42% of COVID-19 deaths in the US at the beginning of 2022 were among vaccinated individuals, the majority of whom were not boosted. Additional countries such as Israel, Denmark, and Singapore also have authorized second booster doses for certain high-risk populations. US health officials appear confident they will have enough information to decide whether a second booster dose is necessary for the wider population at some point this summer. A major consideration for additional doses is whether the original vaccine formulation is sufficient or if Omicron-specific vaccine formulations are needed. 

FROM THE LANCET:

AN EDITORIAL: 5 POINTS “THE NEXT PHASE AND BEYOND”

1. ”…the pandemic situation is not the same everywhere in the world. China, for example, continues to employ its so-called dynamic zero COVID strategy of mass testing, quarantining of those testing positive, and lockdown of districts or even whole cities (most recently Shanghai)

2. … the global vaccination strategy is far from on track.

3. … vaccine inequity is mirrored by slow and delayed access to one of the few effective oral treatments for COVID-19—paxlovid…When taken early, paxlovid reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 89%…

4. … now is the time to plan, learn from mistakes, and create strong resilient health systems, as well as national and international preparedness strategies with lasting funding.

5 … Nationally, countries need independent inquiries into their responses to COVID-19. Learning from mistakes is never easy and governments can be reluctant to even accept that they have been made. When the UK High Court ruled last week that it was unlawful to discharge hospital patients to care homes without COVID-19 testing, the UK Government claimed to have acted on the best evidence available at the time. This is a blatant lie. The evidence for asymptomatic transmission was clearly available by late January, 2020.”

AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:

MILTON TOMATO HAS A NEW  110 POUND GUARD DOG TO PROTECT AGAINST WILD HOGS

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P.O. Box 721

Scottsville Texas

75688

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 5/4/2022

TUESDAY AND FRIDAY ARE USUALLY THE MOST IMPORTANT COVID NEWS DAYS. I PLAN TO CUT BACK TO TWO OR THREE MAILOUTS A WEEK WHILE THINGS ARE QUIET. I ALSO PLAN TO KEEP MY MASK HANDY. 

SUGGESTED BY A CERTAIN NORWEGIAN OVERSEER: 

Two Therapies Effective Against Long COVID Breathlessness, Fatigue

FROM NYT:

Vanishing variants such as Gamma, Iota and Mu hold lessons for the future.

”… likely because Mu found itself competing with an even more formidable variant: Delta. Delta was not as skilled at dodging antibodies as Mu, but it was more transmissible. “So, in the end, Delta spread more widely…vaccinations and multiple waves of infection have changed the immune landscape. A highly immune-evasive variant should now have more of an edge, scientists said, which is likely part of the reason Omicron has been so successful…”

FROM HOPKINS 

1. “…The WHO and other health experts continue to emphasize that full vaccination and booster doses provide the best protection against circulating and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. This study provides some evidence that immunity conferred by recent BA.1 infection and vaccination may be less effective against the emerging BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants; however, additional research is needed before we can have a clear picture of how well natural and vaccine-induced immunity protect against infection, symptomatic COVID-19 disease, and severe symptoms or death associated with the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants…”

2. ”…epidemiologists have turned to different metrics to better estimate COVID-19’s impact, looking instead at hospital data to estimate severe disease levels in communities and strain on healthcare systems. Others are watching wastewater surveillance to help predict where and when outbreaks might occur. As the nation shifts its response from an acute emergency phase to a more long-term response, and as immunity from vaccination and natural infection wane, the country will continue to rely on these imperfect data to help inform individuals and jurisdictions about their current and future risks of contracting COVID-19….”

3.  ”OMICRON-SPECIFIC VACCINES Global vaccine manufacturers are racing to update their vaccines to target the Omicron variant of concern (VOC) and its subvariant descendants. Although booster shots have been fairly successful in preventing severe outcomes from COVID-19, they have not been nearly as effective in preventing infection altogether as Omicron has swept many areas of the world. Moderna announced that it is aiming for a Fall release of its Omicron-specific mRNA vaccine booster. The company earlier this year began trialing various formulations of Omicron-specific candidates and stated recently they have identified at least 2 strong candidates for further trials and possible authorization. Pfizer also is set to launch human trials for its own Omicron-specific mRNA vaccine candidates soon…” 

LASTLY: 

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75688

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 5/3/2022

MILTON REPORTS TWO INCHES OF RAIN THIS MORNING.

FROM BECKER

 COVID-19 hospitalizations up in 38 states

FROM MNM:

FROM JAMA

Association of SARS-CoV-2 Infection During Pregnancy With Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes

 ”SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy was significantly associated with increased risk of adverse maternal outcomes and preterm birth.”

CDC COVID PREVENTION, TREATMENT, AND VARIANTS UPDATE

FROM THE NYT:

New York City Enters Higher Coronavirus Risk Level as Case Numbers Rise

”…New York City entered a higher risk level for the coronavirus on Monday, a troubling reminder that the pandemic is not over and that the virus still has the power to harm New Yorkers.

The city moved into the medium, or yellow, risk category for virus transmission as cases continued their steady rise, a development that could trigger the return of public health restrictions, although they are not required to be reinstated at this point.

The city is now seeing nearly 2,500 new cases per day, a significant jump from about 600 daily cases in early March. The latest rise, fueled by the highly contagious Omicron subvariant known as BA.2, does not rival the first Omicron surge in December and January, but recorded case levels are as high as they were when the Delta variant swept through the city last year.

What’s more, case levels in New York and around the country are probably much higher than the official statistics because many residents are testing at home, and positive at-home tests are not typically included in official tallies…”

FROM HOPKINS: (you have seen this before in other forms)

South Africa’s Latest Surge Is A Possible Preview Of The Pandemic’s Next Chapter (New York Times) Coronavirus cases are surging again in South Africa, and public health experts are monitoring the situation, eager to know what’s driving the spike, what it says about immunity from previous infections and what its implications are globally. South Africa experienced a decline in cases after hitting an Omicron-fueled, pandemic peak in December. But in the past week, cases have tripled, positivity rates are up and hospitalizations have also increased, health officials said. The surge has the country facing a possible fifth wave. The spike is linked to BA.4 And BA.5, two sub variants that are part of the Omicron family. Tulio de Oliveira, director of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform, said that BA.4 and BA.5 demonstrate how the virus is evolving differently as global immunity increases.

AND LASTLY:

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 5/2/2022

FROM JAMA:

Fluvoxamine for Outpatient Management of COVID-19 to Prevent Hospitalization

Based on currently available clinical trial data, we demonstrate high probability of an association between fluvoxamine and at least a moderate reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations, under a variety of assumptions. By comparison, outpatient trials with hydroxychloroquine1 and ivermectin28 have not shown any efficacy and yet these agents continue to be prescribed.

FROM REUTERS:

Two new sublineages of the Omicron coronavirus variant can dodge antibodies from earlier infection well enough to trigger a new wave, but are far less able to thrive in the blood of people vaccinated against COVID-19, South African scientists have found.

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST:

Covid deaths no longer overwhelmingly among unvaccinated as toll on elderly grows

”…Unvaccinated people accounted for the overwhelming majority of deaths in the United States throughout much of the coronavirus pandemic. But that has changed in recent months, according to a Washington Post analysis of state and federal data…..The pandemic’s[DEATH] toll is no longer falling almost exclusively on those who chose not to get shots, with vaccine protection waning over time and the elderly and immunocompromised — who are at greatest risk of succumbing to covid-19, even if vaccinated — having a harder time dodging increasingly contagious strains….A key explanation for the rise in deaths among the vaccinated is that covid-19 fatalities are again concentrated among the elderly….The bulk of vaccinated deaths are among people who did not get a booster shot, according to state data provided to The Post. In two of the states, California and Mississippi, three-quarters of the vaccinated senior citizens who died in January and February did not have booster doses…., these deaths serve as a reminder that vaccines are not foolproof and that those in high-risk groups should consider getting boosted and taking extra precautions during surges.vaccines have shown to be 85 percent effective in preventing death..

FROM HOPKINS SELECTIONS

1. Find answers to your COVID-19 testing questions

(J. Harris: Worth keeping.)

2. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Treatment Guidelines

(J. Harris: Worth keeping. )

BA.2 Lineage Report

Yale scientists find a big cause of severe COVID-19 and death

”…Researchers have known that once the COVID-19 virus infects the lungs it can trigger what has been called a “cytokine storm,” or an overactive immune response that leads to deadly inflammation in the lungs. In the study, the team examined the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice engineered to have a human immune system.They found that immune cells themselves, not just epithelial cells lining the lung, can harbor the virus…”

AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED

MILTON TOMATO IS BACK! NO WILD HOG DAMAGE THIS YEAR. ONE PLANT.

MILTON SAYS HE HAS GIVEN UP MARY GOLD IN FAVOR OF PATTY PEPPER, BELOW.

HE SAYS, “SHE’S HOT.”

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P.O. Box 721

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75688

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 4/29/2022

I WISH YOU A NICE WEEKEND

FROM HOPKINS:

1. ANNUAL BOOSTERS The US FDA has authorized second booster, or fourth, doses for parts of the US population, raising questions over how frequently boosters will be required moving forward. Several companies, including Novavax and Moderna, have begun initiatives to develop joint influenza and COVID-19 shots, creating what would be a new annual vaccine administered each fall. But several US scientists and researchers recently urged more involved dialogue regarding future plans for the use of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine boosters, pushing back on the idea of annual boosters and calling for more data on the value of annual SARS-CoV-2 booster doses. While there is no evidence suggesting any harm from additional booster doses, the experts have shared several concerns that could stem from a policy requiring annual vaccinations. First, they worry that an emphasis on boosters diminishes the long-lasting protection that current vaccine doses provide against severe COVID-19 disease. Second, experts worry that a lack of evidence in regulatory decision making could set a dangerous precedent moving forward. The group specifically urged the FDA to measure T-cell responses, in addition to antibody responses, when conducting SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trials. Lastly, they noted the lack of response for both first and second booster doses signals fatigue from the US public. More than 100 million US residents have received the first COVID-19 booster, roughly 50% of eligible people. Some worry that “booster fatigue” will be a problem, adding to calls for a more prudent, data-driven approach to annual boosters. 

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST:

Vaccines for young kids could be available as soon as June, FDA official says

AND LASTLY:

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 4/28/2022

FROM NYT 

Officials watch and wonder as the hottest U.S. coronavirus hot spot swells to two dozen counties.

”…Health experts say that people in the hot spot, which includes cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Binghamton, should be increasing their precautions. “These are areas where C.D.C. recommends people should wear a mask in public indoor settings due to an increasing level of severe disease and the potential for significant health care strain,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the C.D.C. director, told reporters on Tuesday….No one is quite sure why a new wave of coronavirus cases, caused by the highly contagious Omicron subvariants BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1, took hold first in central New York….it broke the pattern of past surges. “It didn’t make a lot of sense…Being in the middle of the state, we see the peaks halfway through, or at the end.”

REVIEWS FROM BECKERS:

1. Fauci: US ‘out of the pandemic phase’

”….”So, if you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are. What we hope to do, I don’t believe — and I have spoken about this widely — we’re not going to eradicate this virus. If we can keep that level very low, and intermittently vaccinate people — and I don’t know how often that would have to be…”

2. Cedars-Sinai physicians using VR to treat chronic pain

”…A Cedars-Sinai physician in Los Angeles is running a virtual reality initiative and is discovering how the new technology can be useful to those dealing with chronic pain, The New York Times reported April 26…Virtual reality is becoming a tool to treat chronic pain, an issue that affects around 50 million Americans. In November 2021, the FDA gave approval for one VR product to be marketed as a treatment for chronic pain.  

FROM JAMA:

The COVID-19 Pandemic Rages on for People Who Are Immunocompromised

”…To help protect people with compromised immune systems, the US Food and Drug Administration in December authorized a combination of 2 anti–SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies, tixagevimab and cilgavimab (Evusheld), for preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). But some candidates for the treatment, as well as some of their physicians, still don’t know who should get it….“In general, my recommendation is for all transplant patients to get antibody testing” after vaccination against COVID-19…”

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

Guide to the pandemic Track confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. and the spread around the world. U.S. vaccine distribution and delivery, tracked by state. Guides: Booster shots | Vaccines | Variants | Masks

(J. Harris: Scroll down and click on the site)

FROM REUTERS:

Measles cases jump 79% in 2022 after COVID hit vaccination campaigns Measles cases jumped by 79% in the first two months of this year compared to 2021, after COVID-19 and lockdowns disrupted child vaccination campaigns around the world, according to data from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

FROM nature:ATTENTION DEER HUNTERS

NEWS FEATURE 26 April 2022 COVID is spreading in deer. What does that mean for the pandemic?

”…It’s not yet clear whether the virus can spread in long chains of infection among deer, or whether deer-to-human transmission could spark outbreaks. But researchers are growing increasingly concerned about the animals becoming a viral reservoir, serving as a recalcitrant source of outbreaks and potentially breeding new variants. Some researchers think that the highly infectious Omicron variant spent time in an animal reservoir before popping up in people…..Researchers have been concerned about wildlife infections since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but tracking the movements of such a promiscuous virus is tricky. To target surveillance efforts, they started by looking at ACE2, a host-cell protein that the virus typically uses to enter cells. Animals with an ACE2 receptor similar to that found in humans were considered at risk. Teams around the world then began experimentally infecting those animals to see whether they were susceptible and could pass the infection along. Among the prospects were cats, deer mice …and raccoon dogs … as well as white-tailed deer….other ungulates, such as cows, sheep and goats, are fairly resistant to infection, …..Another route might be contaminated waste water that trickles into the animals’ water sources. Although many studies have found viral RNA in sewage, they haven’t isolated infectious SARS-CoV-2. Also, it’s not just urban deer that are getting infected; some live in the middle of nowhere, say researchers….Deer-to-human transmission, if confirmed, would be concerning, as would reinfection among deer — something Kuchipudi might have observed. From sampling this past December and January, he identified a deer infected with Omicron that also had antibodies against Delta7. “If the animals are able to be reinfected, just like people, then the virus will not fade out; it will continue to circulate,” he says….”

AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:

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75688

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 4/21/2022

THERE’S NOT MUCH HAPPENING LOCALLY. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK SOMETIME.

 FROM BECKERS:

New booster data validates Moderna’s bivalent vaccine strategy

FROM NEJM:

A single dose of AZD7442 had efficacy for the prevention of Covid-19, without evident safety concerns.

AND LASTLY:

HOWEVER, BILL IS MARRIED.

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” – Billy Wilder

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But I’m afraid this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx

The exchange between Winston Churchill & Lady Astor: She said, “If you were my husband I’d give you poison.” He said, “If you were my wife, I’d drink it.”

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75688

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 4/20/2022

HELLO,

The exodus of young nurses

Moderna says trial results suggest redesigned vaccines can better protect against variants.

”… findings show it can design a vaccine that offers better, longer-lasting protection than its initial product…But the company said it was also testing another version of the vaccine that it expected would do even better, with results expected in late May or early June….Moderna said its research showed the promise of a so-called bivalent vaccine, even against other variants besides the two versions of the virus specifically targeted. In this case, researchers combined the existing vaccine with one designed to attack the Beta variant, which was first detected in late 2020. They found the combination provided a stronger defense not only against those forms of the virus, but also against the Delta and Omicron variants, the company said...Volunteers who got a booster shot of the reconfigured vaccine produced more than two times the level of antibodies against the Omicron variant compared with those who got a booster dose of the existing Moderna vaccine. The added protection persisted for six months against the Omicron variant but fell against Delta to essentially the same level as that elicited by the existing vaccine, the study showed.

Unvaccinated children hospitalized at twice the rate during Omicron surge -U.S. study

18 APRIL 2022 AREAS WITH BA.2 VARIANT:

FROM BOSTON GLOBE  TODAY:

How to weigh your risks as mask mandates lift

”…Does wearing a mask provide adequate protection even if people around you aren’t masked?…

Yes, provided you’re wearing a high-quality mask such as an N95 or KN95, said Dr. Robert M. Wachter, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Individuals have the tools to protect themselves quite well,

Wachter said that he doesn’t have any concerns about removing the mandate, but that he wishes the decision had been made by public health officials and medical experts. When a judge with little public health knowledge makes such a call, it sets “a dangerous precedent” that could limit the government’s ability to respond to future surges or pandemics, Wachter said….

…The experts interviewed were unanimous in urging people to continue wearing masks on public transit, for their own protection as well as that of others…..Which are safer — buses, trains, subways, or planes?  

The difference, experts agreed, is not so much in the mode of transportation but the circumstances: whether the vehicle is well-ventilated, how crowded it is, how long the trip is, and what the transmission rates are in the community. A bus with windows open is safer than one with windows closed…“Probably the most important factor is, ‘What are the chances the person sitting within a few feet of me has COVID?’ ”…For children ages 2 to 5, who are heading on an important trip, he’d take them if they could be trusted to stay masked. But if the trip can be postponed, it would make sense to wait until a vaccine is approved for that age group. For younger toddlers and babies, Wachter would cancel the trip — not because the child might get sick and die, which is highly unlikely, but because growing evidence suggests long-term harm from COVID exposure, including heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes….

What will it take to get to the point that normal routines feel safe?“There’s no reason I can think of that things will be much safer a year or two from now,”…

That will happen, Wachter said, when people simply get tired and stop talking about it. “I can’t see what would happen that would make the risk materially lower than it is now,” he said. “Maybe a better vaccine comes out, but how many people are going to take it? Maybe the [next] variant gets milder, but it’s just as likely it gets nastier.”

AND LASTLY:

“People who live long, who will drink from the cup of life to the very bottom…

Must expect to meet with some of the usual dregs…”

                                                                             Benjamin Franklin, housebound, age 84

 “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West

 “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

 “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.” – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A PRETTIER PUPPY? 

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75688