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Virus Variants Threaten to Draw Out the Pandemic, Scientists Say

State of COVID-19: What you should know about the CDC’s 5 variants of concern

(J. Harris: Quick read, Variants all listed.)


1. Interim Estimates of Vaccine Effectiveness of BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 COVID-19 Vaccines in[PFIZER AND MODERNA] Preventing SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Health Care Personnel, First Responders, and Other Essential and Frontline Workers — Eight U.S. Locations, December 2020–March 2021 (CDC MMWR) Prospective cohorts of 3,950 health care personnel, first responders, and other essential and frontline workers completed weekly SARS-CoV-2 testing for 13 consecutive weeks. Under real-world conditions, mRNA vaccine effectiveness of full immunization (≥14 days after second dose) was 90% against SARS-CoV-2 infections regardless of symptom status; vaccine effectiveness of partial immunization (≥14 days after first dose but before second dose) was 80%.

2. Side Effect Worry Grows for AstraZeneca Vaccine (Science) It’s been one step forward, two back for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. Even as the company rebutted criticism of its efficacy claims last week, a bigger problem loomed for the vaccine and the many millions depending on it. Evidence continues to accumulate that an unusual clotting disorder seen in dozens of European recipients is a real, albeit rare, side effect. A preprint has detailed a proposed mechanism, and multiple scientific groups have said the worry is legitimate and must be seriously weighed against the vaccine’s COVID-19 protection.

3. Mask Mandates, On-Premises Dining, and COVID-19 (JAMA) Evidence-based prevention strategies can reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Consistent and correct use of masks can prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission, which predominantly occurs through inhalation and other exposure to respiratory droplets from infected persons. Mask use is particularly important because presymptomatic and asymptomatic spread is responsible for nearly 60% of COVID-19 cases.

 (J. Harris: Keep using your masks in dangerous locals and around potential carriers).

4. Pfizer and BionTech Confirm High Efficacy and No Serious Safety Concerns Through Up to Six Months Following Second Dose in Updated Topline Analysis of Landmark COVID-19 Vaccine Study (Pfizer) Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced updated topline results from analysis of 927 confirmed symptomatic cases of COVID-19 observed in their pivotal Phase 3 study through March 13, 2021, showing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, was 91.3% effective against COVID-19, measured seven days through up to six months after the second dose. The vaccine was 100% effective against severe disease as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 95.3% effective against severe COVID-19 as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Safety data from the Phase 3 study has also been collected from more than 12,000 vaccinated participants who have a follow-up time of at least six months after the second dose, demonstrating a favorable safety and tolerability profile.


(Thank you David Collins)

Save the whales. Collect the whole set.

On the other hand, you have different fingers.


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Good computer help available to schedule. Phone number available. If we don’t use this vaccine, we might not get more. Call your friends and family and employees — here or nearby. We need to use this vaccine. 


From Hopkins Citations:

1. Post-covid Syndrome in Individuals Admitted to Hospital With Covid-19: Retrospective Cohort Study (BMJ) Over a mean follow-up of 140 days, nearly a third of individuals who were discharged from hospital after acute covid-19 were readmitted (14 060 of 47 780) and more than 1 in 10 (5875) died after discharge, with these events occurring at rates four and eight times greater, respectively, than in the matched control group. Rates of respiratory disease (P<0.001), diabetes (P<0.001), and cardiovascular disease (P<0.001) were also significantly raised in patients with covid-19, with 770 (95% confidence interval 758 to 783), 127 (122 to 132), and 126 (121 to 131) diagnoses per 1000 person years, respectively.

(J. Harris: All the bulletproof young folks who aren’t worried about Covid are really gambling on their lives. There NOW is virtually no reason not to get a vaccination. Even Superman got vaccinated!)

 2. Pfizer COVID-19 Shot 91% Effective in Updated Data, Protective Against South African Variant (Reuters) Pfizer Inc and BioNTech said on Thursday their COVID-19 vaccine is around 91% effective at preventing the disease, citing updated trial data that included participants inoculated for up to six months.

3. A City in Brazil’s Amazon Rain Forest Is a Stark Warning about COVID to the Rest of the World (Scientific American): Manaus, a Brazilian city of more than two million that lies hundreds of miles from the Atlantic coast in the midst of the Amazon rain forest, has stood out as one of the world’s leading COVID hotspots. Tragically, it continues to provide the wrong lessons about what should be done to ease the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease.

4. FDA Authorizes 2 Rapid, At-Home COVID Tests (NPR) Imagine waking up, brushing your teeth, and quickly swabbing your nose to find out whether you have COVID-19 — whether you feel sick or not. That reality just got a bit closer today with an announcement from the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday that two rapid antigen at-home tests will soon be sold over-the-counter on drugstore shelves. The newly authorized tests are Abbott’s BinaxNOW test and Quidel’s QuickVue.This is a diagnostic test that determines if you are infected by analyzing a sample to see if it contains genetic material from the virus.

Risk Factors Associated With SARS-CoV-2 Infections, Hospitalization, and Mortality Among US Nursing Home Residents

In this cohort study of more than 480 000 US long-stay nursing home residents, we found that the risk of infection was primarily associated with geography and the particular nursing home facility, with minimal contribution of individual characteristics of residents.

What Can You Do Once You’re Vaccinated?

(J. Harris: Extensive evaluation. )



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Good computer help available to schedule. Phone number available. If we don’t use this vaccine, we might not get more. Call your friends and family and employees — here or nearby. We need to use this vaccine. 


Association Between Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System Inhibitors and Clinical Outcomes in Patients With COVID-19

 The study’s findings suggest that ACEIs and ARBs may be associated with protective benefits for patients with COVID-19 and that patients may continue receiving ACEIs and ARBs for the treatment of any condition without an increased risk of worse outcomes unless specifically advised to avoid them by treating clinicians….Conclusions and Relevance  In this systematic review and meta-analysis, receipt of ACEIs or ARBs was not associated with a higher risk of multivariable-adjusted mortality and severe AEs among patients with COVID-19 who had either hypertension or multiple comorbidities, supporting the recommendations of medical societies. On the contrary, ACEIs and ARBs may be associated with protective benefits, particularly among patients with hypertension. Future randomized clinical trials are warranted to establish causality.

(J. Harris: A year ago we looked at some suggestions and undocumented theories that this common group of drugs might make infections with Covid more common or more serious. There were no studies proving this, and, since this group of drugs contains some of the very best and most commonly used and inexpensive drugs for BP control, several good doctors (and I ) recommended patients should continue their medications until scientific studies were reported in the medical literature regarding the drugs or until their personal MD (where they still exist) tell their patients to stop taking the drugs. WELL, THE DRUGS ARE NOT ONLY SAFE, THEY MAY BE PROTECTIVE! THIS IS WHY SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IS DONE. KEEP TAKING THESE DRUGS UNLESS YOU DOCTOR TELLS YOU DIFFERENTLY:

From the NYT:

1. Getting One Vaccine Is Good. How About Mix-and-Match?

“…The researchers suspect that the first dose produces a broad range of antibodies that can stick to spots along the length of the spike protein, and that the second dose delivers a big supply of particularly potent antibodies to the tip of the spike. Together, the assortment of antibodies does a better job of stopping the coronavirus…As the number of authorized vaccines grows, the possible combinations in which they can be used will explode…As the number of authorized vaccines grows, the possible combinations in which they can be used will explode.”

(J. Harris: There has been some success with other infections doing this “mix and match.”)

Eastman Foundation awards $125,000 grant to Christus foundation for COVID-19 vaccine hub


Why next flu season may be severe

Low levels of flu activity amid the COVID-19 pandemic have made it more challenging for experts developing next year’s flu shot to predict which strains will predominate next winter….Without a strong enough vaccine, the U.S. could experience a severe flu season.




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Cases are rising again in the U.S

“….Several factors are fueling the upturn… A more contagious variant (the one first identified in Britain, called B.1.1.7) is spreading. Some mayors and governors have continued to lift restrictions and mask rules. Many Americans are behaving less cautiously. And vaccinations have not gotten the country near herd immunity.

“Many experts aren’t surprised. “For literally a month and a half, [they have] all been predicting that the second half of March is when B.1.1.7 would become the dominant variant in the United States…But the success of the country’s ongoing vaccination drive should keep deaths and hospitalizations well below their January peaks. Many of the people at the greatest risk of severe illness have already been inoculated, which means new cases are likely to be concentrated among younger and healthier people…”

Florida variant cases double in 2 days to 2.3K+

 California variants may be 20% more transmissible, are officially ‘of concern,’ CDC says

”Two coronavirus variants first detected in California are now officially “variants of concern,” according to a March 16 update from the CDC.

The variants B.1.427 and B.1.429, both initially identified in California, are classified by the CDC as variants of concern. The three-tier classification system has “variant of high consequence” as the most worrisome group, followed by “variant of concern” and then “variant of interest.” No variant is currently considered a variant of high consequence.

Five variants are currently considered variants of concern, including the U.K. variant B.1.1.7, South Africa variant B.1.351 and Japan/Brazil variant P.1.

The California variants are classified as “of concern” because they may be about 20 percent more transmissible, the CDC said, citing early research. It’s also unclear if treatments are less effective against the strains. “


Young, unvaccinated adults fuel COVID-19 hospitalization surge in Michigan

Between March 1 and March 23, hospitalizations jumped 633 percent for adults ages 30-39 and 800 percent for adults ages 40-49, according to data from MHA. In comparison, hospitalizations increased by just 37 percent among those 80 and older over the same time period


The spatial landscape of lung pathology during COVID-19 progression

We provide evidence that SARS-CoV-2 infects predominantly alveolar epithelial cells and induces a localized hyper-inflammatory cell state associated with lung damage. 


Why indoor spaces are still prime COVID hotspots

J. Harris: This is the best ventilation and Covid article I have seen. Good read. Good reference to keep for educators, builders, building owners.

“The precise infectious dose for SARS-CoV-2 is also unknown8. But researchers can infer how much exhaled virus is needed to cause infection by analysing disease outbreaks. For example, Jimenez and colleagues used details from an infamous choir rehearsal in Skagit Valley in Washington — where one person probably infected 52 of the 60 other attendees — to estimate the amount of infectious virus exhaled8.

“Opening windows is the easiest method that health authorities suggest to improve ventilation. Although it is better than doing nothing, an open window rarely exchanges enough air between the indoor and outdoor environment, especially if there is no cross-breeze…

Hopkins Cited:

1. Hayat-Vax Becomes First COVID-19 Vaccine Produced in the Arab World (Precision Vaccinations) In a historic move, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on March 28, 2021, the commencement of the manufacturing of a COVID-19 vaccine in the country. The vaccine, called Hayat-Vax [Hayat means life in Arabic], is the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine in the region that will be manufactured by a newly created JV between Sinopharm China National Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd. (CNBG) and G42, the leading technology company based in Abu Dhabi.

2. CDC Head Pleads with Americans as COVID-19 Cases Rise (CIDRAP) “I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, today during the White House COVID-19 press briefing. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared.” Growing visibly emotional, Walensky explained that after weeks of going down or remaining stable, COVID-19 cases across the country have jumped again, as has happened at least twice in the past year before the nation experienced a major surge in virus activity.

(J. Harris: Here we go again.)

LAST BUT NOT LEASED: (I’ve been scratching my head wondering if I haven’t already sent this sign out)?


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J. Harris: Concerning the above charts: The first one, I piece together from several sources, almost daily, with some reports lagging a day or two. It takes me about an hour a day to put it together.

The second chart was in the Marshall News Messenger today and gives WEEKLY stats including fatalities.

The third chart is from the NYT and is a piece of a chart made to order for me. It arrives before the sun comes up daily and requires no effort on my part to assimilate the information — and it is accompanied by up-to-date, edited medical and Covid information in a readable form. You DO NOT HAVE TO BE A SUBSCRIBER to receive it by email or to make your own daily list of places that you’d like to see including virtually anywhere in the world.  Were you to read this magnificent WORK, you could know ‘most everything that is going on in the Covid world ( and could localize your areas of interest as well). The Times does a great job with this constantly updated feature. I don’t know what to call it: a “work” or  a “UNIT.” There are many dashboards, including some very good ones provided by The Texas Department of Health and Johns Hopkins, and from Oregon. However, in my opinion, this is the most useful Covid information that I receive, and these NYT folks are the only ones emailing me a personalized copy. Free. And, oh, you don’t see editorials.

From the NYT: More Good Vaccine News 

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are very effective in real-world conditions at preventing infections, the C.D.C. reported.


Safety and immunogenicity of a recombinant tandem-repeat dimeric RBD-based protein subunit vaccine (ZF2001) against COVID-19 in adults: two randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 1 and 2 trials

“…Although several COVID-19 vaccines have been developed so far, they will not be sufficient to meet the global demand. Development of a wider range of vaccines, with different mechanisms of action, could help control the spread of SARS-CoV-2 globally. We developed a protein subunit vaccine against COVID-19 using a dimeric form of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as the antigen.

:…  The [new] vaccine candidate, ZF2001, is a protein subunit vaccine that has advanced into phase 3 development. 

“Compared with other vaccine candidates in clinical trials targeting mainly the whole virus or the S protein, ZF2001 targets the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein. 

(J. Harris: The vaccine uses less antigenic material but  has been found to stimulate antibody production and provide protection with tolerable side effects in a vaccine that might lend itself to mass production “cheaply”. It does not require extensive refrigeration. It is involved in  large trials in China at this time.)

Routine asymptomatic testing strategies for airline travel during the COVID-19 pandemic: a simulation study

Routine asymptomatic testing for SARS-CoV-2 before travel can be an effective strategy to reduce passenger risk of infection during travel, although abbreviated quarantine with post-travel testing is probably needed to reduce population-level transmission due to importation of infection when travelling from a high to low incidence setting.


1. What it Will take to Vaccinate the World Against COVID-19 (Nature) A special report outlines the challenges — from unleashing the power of mRNA vaccines, to the battle for temporary intellectual-property relief. Within just a few months, pharmaceutical firms have produced hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine. But the world needs billions — and as fast as possible. Companies say they could make enough vaccines to immunize most of the world’s population by the end of 2021. But this doesn’t take into account political delays in distribution, such as countries imposing export controls — or that the overwhelming majority of doses are going to wealthier countries.

2. Wastewater monitoring outperforms case numbers as a tool to track COVID-19 incidence dynamics when test positivity rates are high

Incidence dynamics estimated based on wastewater data were found to better track the timing and shape of the reference infection peak compared to estimates based on confirmed cases. In contrast, case confirmations provided a better estimate of the subsequent decline in infections. Under a regime of high-test positivity rates, WBE thus provides critical information that is complementary to clinical data to monitor the pandemic trajectory.


1. First Mobile Vaccination Units in US to Open in Maryland The nation’s first federally operated mobile COVID-19 vaccination units will soon roll through eastern Maryland. The two mobile sites will provide access to COVID-19 vaccinations for thousands of Marylanders who live in remote or otherwise underserved areas in eight eastern Maryland counties. Targeted to people who are socially vulnerable or live in remote areas, appointments will be booked through the health department in the county of residence. (FEMA, 3/29/2021)

2. Connecticut First State to Open COVID-19 Vaccine Mobile Unit In the ongoing effort to bring the COVID vaccine to communities and people in socially vulnerable areas, Connecticut will open the country’s first Mobile Vaccination Unit (MVU) on March 29, 2021 at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The MVU will travel throughout Connecticut for 60 days to reach populations in 17 communities. Destinations were targeted based on the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index, US Census Bureau’s Community Resilience Estimates, low vaccine coverage, metrics and other barriers to vaccine access. The MVU will be used to complement ongoing efforts of local public health departments, health care providers, pharmacies, community and faith-based organizations, employers, private sector vaccinators and other federal resources. (FEMA, 3/26/2021)

Amazon gets FDA authorization for COVID-19 test kit



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J. Harris: Scroll down to :

Then click the blue writing as above

Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation – Week of March 29 (Week 16)

Another way to click the same list in a different format.


Risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection after natural infection

“… the authors were able to determine that 3·27% of those who were uninfected during the first surge had a positive test during the second surge, compared with 0·65% among those who had previously recorded a positive test. Thus, they determined from that, in general, past infection confers 80·5% protection against reinfection, which decreases to 47·1% in those aged 65 years and older…the findings are similar in a sensitivity analysis of nurses, doctors, social workers, and health-care assistants who were tested regularly due to their profession.

“…many will find the data reported by Hansen and colleagues about protection through natural infection relatively alarming. Only 80·5% protection from reinfection in general, decreasing to 47·1% in people aged 65 years and older are more concerning figures than offered by previous studies. Until now, one of the largest datasets has come from Qatar during a period of high disease burden and reported an estimated reinfection risk of 0·2%.10…

 “…emerging variants of concern might shift immunity below a protective margin, prompting the need for updated vaccines. Interestingly, vaccine responses even after single-dose are substantially enhanced in individuals with a history of infection with SARS-CoV-2.14 These data are all confirmation, if it were needed, that for SARS-CoV-2 the hope of protective immunity through natural infections might not be within our reach, and a global vaccination programme with high efficacy vaccines is the enduring solution.

(J. Harris: Data from Denmark which has uniform medical care which provides good computer data and widely available medical care.)

mRNA vaccination boosts cross-variant neutralizing antibodies elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants have raised concerns about resistance to neutralizing antibodies elicited by previous infection or vaccination. We examined whether sera from recovered and naïve donors collected prior to, and following immunizations with existing mRNA vaccines, could neutralize the Wuhan-Hu-1 and B.1.351 variants. Pre-vaccination sera from recovered donors neutralized Wuhan-Hu-1 and sporadically neutralized B.1.351, but a single immunization boosted neutralizing titers against all variants and SARS-CoV-1 by up to 1000-fold. Neutralization was due to antibodies targeting the receptor binding domain and was not boosted by a second immunization. Immunization of naïve donors also elicited cross-neutralizing responses, but at lower titers. Our study highlights the importance of vaccinating both uninfected and previously infected persons to elicit cross-variant neutralizing antibodies.

CDC-recommended vaccines should be mandatory for healthcare personnel, infectious disease experts say

Rutgers says all students must be vaccinated before coming to campus in the fall.




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We have appointments available to get the J&J COVID 19 vaccine in our office on Monday, March 29th. Sign up through our website Anyone 18 years old and older is now eligible to get the vaccine. 

Jennifer Hancock, RN, BSN  

Executive Director – Marshall-Harrison County Health District


States are racing to vaccinate as many people as possible as the coronavirus infection curve continues its plateau for a third week.
At least 34 states are giving all adults vaccine access by mid-April, and at least 14 more have announced plans to expand eligibility on or before May 1, a goal set by President Biden. Track your state here. Above, a vaccine clinic in Coraopolis, Pa.
The expansion comes at a critical juncture. The U.S. is logging more than 54,000 new cases per day, a level that health experts warn could rapidly escalate into a new wave.
As U.S. manufacturers hit their stride, vaccine scarcity will soon turn to glut. And then there’s the battle against disinformation: Far-right extremist groups have shifted their focus from “stop the steal” to bashing the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines.********

READ THIS AND WEEP  Epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm on what the UK variant means for the pandemic’s 3rd act

J. Harris: Unfortunately, the events predicted in this piece are likely to come true. Very readable and extremely important. You may be vaccinated, but most folks are not.

Don’t quit being careful yet.

Post-acute COVID-19 syndrome

(J. Harris: Fabulous article worth keeping if you have Long Haul problems. Fairly readable for civilians.)

How the US Failed to Prioritize SARS-CoV-2 Variant Surveillance

“Despite leading the world in infections, the nation ranked 43rd globally for its percentage of cases sequenced. At the time, the US had sequenced about 50 000 of its more than 18 million cases—just 0.3%. Britain, another high-income nation with a large outbreak, had sequenced almost 160 000 samples, 7.4% of its 2.1 million cases…there’s no consensus on what number of sequences is ideal. Modeling by genomic sequencing company Illumina Inc, suggests that 5% of tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 must be sequenced to detect a new variant early on, before it causes more than 1% of cases. Some US experts are arguing for more volume—even up to 30% of cases.”

(J. Harris: Readable article, and we are making progress.)

From Hopkins Edits:

1. UNITED STATES: The US CDC reported 29.8 million cumulative cases and 542,584 deaths. Daily incidence has increased slightly over the past 5 days, up from 53,501 new cases per day to 57,249 (+7%). It is too early to determine if this is the beginning of a longer-term trend, but this is the highest daily incidence since March 7. Daily mortality continues to level off, hovering at slightly more than 1,000 deaths per day for more than a week.


The B.1.1.7 variant has been identified for the first time in household pets. In a preprint study published in bioRxiv, veterinarians from a specialty veterinary clinic located in the southeast of England describe the first cases of B.1.1.7 infection among 8 cats and 3 dogs, all of which required veterinary visits due to new-onset symptoms, including lethargy, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, and severe cardiac abnormalities. All of the owners had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 prior to their pets developing symptoms. In another report, researchers from Texas A&M University, as part of an ongoing research project funded by the US CDC, describe a cat and dog from the same household infected with the B.1.1.7 variant but showing no symptoms at the time of initial testing. Their owner was diagnosed with the B.1.1.7 variant only two days prior to the pets’ tests. The report notes both pets later developed symptoms, including sneezing, that resolved after one month. The researchers say these cases raise questions regarding the risk companion animals may play in the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly given the enhanced infectivity and transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant, and encourage additional research.  


The latest

Outside of big cities, where office buildings remain vacant, people in America are becoming more active. That’s according to cellphone data The Washington Post analyzed showing that in certain regions – parts of the Deep South and Mountain West – mobility is higher than it was before the coronavirus hit. This spring fever is palpable across much of the country, and as people are on the move so is the virus: There is increasing evidence of a new bump in cases.


(J. Harris: Extensive article and pod cast for Long Haulers with diminished sense of taste)


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They didn’t have it last year!     

From the current photos in the MNM, the participants, families, and buyers were young, healthy-looking people elbow to elbow in the crowds.  Likely, most of them are not vaccinated — yet. Of course, few if any wore masks. No sweat. We’re bulletproof in East Texas. A little virus isn’t going to shut us down. Country folks aren’t SuperSpreaders. Besides, most of the sick old folks are already dead.)

Local rotary club signs up almost 200 community members for COVID-19 vaccine

Despite CDC changes, Longview-area schools keeping COVID-19 distancing guidelines

Pre-existing conditions are associated with COVID-19 patients’ hospitalization, despite confirmed clearance of SARS-CoV-2 virus

This study shows that hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were re-admitted to the hospital following confirmed viral clearance of SARS-CoV-2 had higher rates of pre-existing conditions including: acute kidney injury, anemia, and cardiac arrhythmias. This suggests that these pre-existing conditions may be risk factors for the post-clearance complications of COVID-19 which require hospitalization.

Hopkins Cited:

1. New SARS-CoV-2 Variants — Clinical, Public Health, and Vaccine Implications (New England Journal of Medicine) Three new variants that have rapidly become dominant within their countries have aroused concerns: B.1.1.7, 501Y.V2, and P.1. All three variants have the N501Y mutation, which changes the amino acid asparagine (N) to tyrosine (Y) at position 501 in the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein.Four key concerns stemming from the emergence of the new variants are their effects on viral transmissibility, disease severity, reinfection rates (i.e., escape from natural immunity), and vaccine effectiveness (i.e., escape from vaccine-induced immunity).

2. Few Facts, Millions Of Clicks: Fearmongering Vaccine Stories Go Viral Online

3. ‘Alarm Bells’: Brazil’s COVID-19 Chaos Sparks Fear, Countermeasures from Neighbors (Reuters) Brazil has been so ravaged by coronavirus, including a new and highly contagious home-grown variant known as P1, that Colombia would not permit Brazilian [basketball players] to land on their soil for the Copa America tournament last month. Sports are just the beginning. Brazil’s neighbors and trading partners are taking steps to limit contact with South America’s largest country – and contemplating more draconian ones.

4. The Next Trick: Pulling Coronavirus Out of Thin Air

(An air sampler that can diagnosis the presence of Covid in the room air)

Bias in National News Coverage of Covid?

(J. Harris: I read the NYT version of the story, which is a bit startling to those of us whose media reverence, particularly for the written media, goes all the way back to Clark Kent. Good read.)

“About 87 percent of Covid coverage in national U.S. media last year was negative. The share was 51 percent in international media, 53 percent in U.S. regional media and 64 percent in scientific journals…Notably, the coverage was negative in both U.S. media outlets with liberal audiences (like MSNBC) and those with conservative audiences (like Fox News)…[the author] is careful to emphasize that he does not think journalists usually report falsehoods. The issue is which facts they emphasize.

…If we’re constantly telling a negative story, we are not giving our audience the most accurate portrait of reality. We are shading it. We are doing a good job telling you why Covid cases are rising in some places and how the vaccines are imperfect — but not such a good job explaining why cases are falling elsewhere or how the vaccines save lives. Perhaps most important, we are not being clear about which Covid developments are truly alarming…The U.S. media is giving the audience what it wants…In the modern era of journalism — dating roughly to the Vietnam War and Watergate — we tend to equate impact with asking tough questions and exposing problems. There are some good reasons for that. We are inundated by politicians, business executives, movie stars and others trying to portray themselves in the best light. Our job is to cut through the self-promotion and find the truth. If we don’t tell you the bad news, you may never hear it.”

Pfizer begins early-stage study of oral COVID-19 drug 

(J. Harris: Brief mention of all the oral antiCovid medications currently being developed. I expect some of these medications will prove to be helpful — like Tamiflu for Influenza.)



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The Brown Recluse Spider

The Brown Recluse Spider

Editor’s note:  I have known one person that was  bitten by a Brown Recluse.  It took him about 6 months to fully recover.

About 4 years ago I had a Doctor appointment. That morning they called and postponed it because our Dr. was in surgery. Two days later they called back and cancelled my appointment because our Doctor had died on the operating table. We thought that he was the one doing the operation. He had been bitten by a Brown Recluse. He had tried treating himself instead of getting help. He was fairly young (late 40’s) and the best Doctor we had ever had.

Brown Recluse Spider . . ..

At this time of year, this is worth seeing.

Show these pictures to your spouse, your kids, grand kids, and friends. It could save their lives. Remember what this Spider looks like and be careful while cleaning, as told below.

It’s summertime & cleanup is going on. Be careful where you put your hands. They like dark spaces & woodpiles. Also cool areas in the attic……………………………………..

The Brown Recluse Spider is the most

dangerous spider that we have here in the USA.

A person can die from it’s bite. We all should know what the spider looks like.

Send this around to people you love, because it is almost summer time.

People will be digging around, doing yard work, spring cleaning, and sometimes in their attics.

Please be careful.

Spider bites are dangerous and can have permanent and highly negative consequences.

They like the darkness and tend to live in storage sheds or attics or other areas that might not be frequented by people or light.

If you have a need to be in your attic, go up there and turn on a light and leave it on for about 30 minutes before you go in to do your work. 


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“The average number of new cases in Harrison County reached five yesterday, a 10 percent increase from the day before. Since January of last year, at least 1 in 14 people who live in Harrison County have been infected, and at least 1 in 652 have died.”

 Hopkins Cited:

1. Major Coronavirus Variant Found in Pets for First Time (Science) Two reports released this week have found the first evidence that dogs and cats can become infected by B.1.1.7, a recent variant of the pandemic coronavirus that transmits more readily between people and also appears more lethal in them. The finds mark the first time one of the several major variants of concern has been seen outside of humans.

NIAID: AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine data may be outdated

NIAID’s statement, issued just after midnight on March 23, said that its data and safety monitoring board expressed concern that AstraZeneca’s announcement was based on “outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.” The data and safety monitoring board notified AstraZeneca and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of its concerns.

U.S. Health Officials Question AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial Results

In a two-page letter to AstraZeneca and federal authorities on Monday, an independent panel of medical experts that was helping oversee the vaccine’s clinical trial in the United States said the company had essentially cherry-picked data that was “most favorable for the study as opposed to the most recent and most complete.”

But the independent oversight board said in its letter that the vaccine’s efficacy may have been between 69 percent and 74 percent. The letter reprimanded AstraZeneca for an overly rosy description of the trial data. (J. Harris: That’s not too bad if accurate. The FDA and the company have had communication trouble for a year or two — but so have other people.)

 The company said on Tuesday that the interim results appeared to be “consistent” with more recent data collected during the trial. AstraZeneca said it would immediately share its latest efficacy data with the monitoring board. The company said it would reissue fuller results within 48 hours.

Many millions of people have received the AstraZeneca shot worldwide, including more than 17 million in Britain and the European Union, almost all without serious side effects. In an effort to increase public confidence, many European political leaders have gotten the injections in recent days. The AstraZeneca vaccine has also been administered in the past week to leaders in South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

Ageism: a social determinant of health that has come of age 

Globally, ageism affects billions of people: at least one in two people hold ageist attitudes against older adults,5 with rates much higher in lower-income countries (figure). In Europe, the only region for which data about ageism are available for all age groups, one in three people have experienced ageism, with rates highest among 15–24 year olds.

The Global Report on Ageism makes three recommendations for concrete actions that all stakeholders can take to combat ageism. First, invest in effective strategies to prevent and respond to ageism. Second, fund and improve data and research to better understand ageism and how to address it. Third, build a movement to change the narrative around age and ageing. The promise of the Decade of Healthy Ageing can only be fully realised if ageism is recognised as a social determinant of health and tackled.

Vaccination and non-pharmaceutical interventions for COVID-19: a mathematical modelling study

“Effective vaccines with high uptake are likely to be an essential element in the long-term control and potential elimination of COVID-19. However, experience with other diseases has shown that elimination is difficult and generally requires a targeted multi-strategy approach.35 The same is likely to be true for SARS-CoV-2, with eradication unlikely to be feasible in the short-term and requiring a global perspective. Although mass vaccination will inevitably reduce R and disease prevalence, other measures, such as intensive test, trace, and isolate strategies, will be needed to target pockets of infection. Maintaining low levels [KEEPING THE LEVELS LOW] of infection is likely to be key to the success of test, trace, and, isolate strategies and in reducing the risk of vaccine escape.37 Ultimately, whether we achieve the eradication of SARS-CoV-2 is likely to depend on the long-term natural history of the infection and the public health importance attached to this goal.

(J. Harris: Except for the summary (maybe) this very long, virtually incomprehensible British statistical article is saying “it ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings” and the singing isn’t going to start just because we vaccinate a lot of people. To eradicate Covid will take a long time and will require testing, tracing, and quarantines, and I would suggest masks, distance, and good sense….

I wonder what statisticians talk about at cocktail parties? With whom? Do they even get invited to parties? Come to think of it, who goes to parties anymore, anyway?




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