CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 6/24/2022

HELLO, 

YOU CAN HAVE A GOOD TIME WHILE BEING VERY CAREFUL AND WEARING YOUR MASK. 

FROM THE NYT today:

(J. Harris: Notice the recent Covid counts in East Texas are markedly elevated. Fortunately, most of these folks do not require hospitilization — which means most likly that we now have the Omicron subvariants BA .4-.5  making a visit. I personally know several local and Texas people who have become ill this week.)

FROM THE NEJM: 

Neutralization Escape by SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Subvariants BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5

”…These data show that the BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 subvariants substantially escape neutralizing antibodies induced by both vaccination and infection. Moreover, neutralizing antibody titers against the BA.4 or BA.5 subvariant and (to a lesser extent) against the BA.2.12.1 subvariant were lower than titers against the BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants, which suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant has continued to evolve with increasing neutralization escape. These findings provide immunologic context for the current surges caused by the BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 subvariants in populations with high frequencies of vaccination and BA.1 or BA.2 infection…”

FROM HOPKINS SELECTIONS”

1. Hospitalized Patients with Severe COVID-19 During the Omicron Wave in Israel – Benefits of a Fourth Vaccine Dose (Clinical Infectious Diseases) Among hospitalized patients with severe/critical breakthrough COVID-19, a recent fourth dose was associated with significant protection against mechanical ventilation or death, compared to three doses.

2. SARS-COV-2 REINFECTION The newest Omicron subvariants of BA.4 and BA.5 are driving increases in new SARS-CoV-2 infections in several regions, with many people experiencing reinfections despite immunity from prior infection or vaccination (1+ shots). These subvariants appear to be able to evade antibodies more easily than their predecessors, possibly due to new and different spike proteins. Though global COVID-19-associated mortality appears to be decreasing, a new preprint study posted on Research Square cautions that reinfections pose an increased risk of hospitalization (HR 2.98), all-cause mortality (HR 2.14), and sequelae in pulmonary and other organ systems. The risk of these adverse outcomes—including those impacting the heart, blood, kidneys, lungs, and brain—were most pronounced in the acute phase of infection but persisted throughout the 6-month follow up. Additionally, for every reinfection (1, 2, 3+) there was a stepwise increase in risk for all sequelae evaluated, including hospitalization. Although not yet peer-reviewed, the study serves as a signal that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat to the health of the world’s population, and individuals must continue to take precautions to prevent infection.

FROM BECKERS:

1. Pending approval, Moderna aims to deploy subvariant vaccine in August

Moderna expects to distribute its bivalent booster vaccine candidate by August and has already produced the doses as it awaits approval.

“We’ve been producing millions of doses over the last couple of months,” Moderna’s president, Stephen Hoge, MD, told the Financial Times. “We would hope to have tens of millions to hundreds of millions of doses available in August, September and October to support boosting prior to the fall respiratory virus season.”

The candidate boosted antibodies “5.4-fold above baseline” against omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 among the phase 2/3 trial’s 800 participants, according to a June 22 press release. Moderna said it has “already shared these data” with regulators and, if authorized by the CDC and FDA, expects rollout to be this fall.

The subvariants accounted for almost 35 percent of COVID-19 cases as of June 18, according to CDC data. The week earlier, they caused 21.6 percent of cases.

FROM JAMA

Experimental Open-source Low-cost Ventilator Could Meet Critical Need

FROM SCIENCE:

What causes Long Covid? Here are the three leading theories

(J. Harris: This is a very readable article of importance.)

FROM REUTERS:

Mexico records most daily COVID-19 cases since February, signaling 5th wave

Mexico reported 16,133 new COVID-19 cases in the country on Thursday, the highest daily number reported since late February, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

FROM THE LANCET:

1. How to interpret the total number of SARS-CoV-2 infections

”…since the beginning, it has been clear that reported cases represent only a fraction of all SARS-CoV-2 infections….According to COVID-19 Cumulative Infection Collaborators findings, a staggering number of people, 3·39 billion (95% uncertainty interval 3·08–3·63) or 43·9% (39·9–46·9) of the global population, are estimated to have been infected one or more times between March, 2020, and November, 2021. Remarkably, this was before the highly transmissible omicron (B.1.1.529) variant swept the globe. These estimates of total infections are wildly different from the number of reported cases, which stood at 254 million as of Nov 14, 2021.3..COVID-19 Cumulative Infection Collaborators study also highlights vast regional discrepancies, painting a very different picture from that provided by reported cases. From case reports, one would conclude that the highest cumulative incidence was observed in Europe and North America and the lowest in Africa. However, this study estimated that 70·5% (61·6–75·9) of the population in sub-Saharan Africa has been infected with SARS-CoV-2, compared with 30·9% (28·8–32·8) of the population in high-income North America. Underlying this apparent reversal of patterns are stark differences in case detection; fewer than 1% of infections were reported as cases in sub-Saharan Africa whereas nearly half were reported in high-income North America. It is crucial that this underreporting is considered when we compare the impact of the pandemic and the effectiveness of responses among nations…..one could argue that the proportion of the population ever infected is no longer a meaningful metric of population immunity… how do layers of vaccine-induced and virus-induced immunity combine to confer protection to the population? Perhaps most importantly at this moment in the pandemic, we need to identify the sub-populations that remain susceptible to severe disease and death. Serosurveys combined with morbidity and mortality surveillance and detailed monitoring of vaccine coverage are essential to identify the groups lacking immunity from vaccination or previous infection.5,  6,  7 Integrating data enables the kinds of insights offered by COVID-19 Cumulative Infection Collaborators to inform the next phase of the pandemic response, and we should sustain this effort…”

(J. Harris: This Comment in Lancet is very readable and very sobering. It seem “the fat lady” hasn’t sung yet — if fact, she doesn’t even have the musical score yet. Hell.)

2. COVID-19 in North Korea

AND LASTLY:

1. MILTON TOMATO wishes to announce that yesterday he used his personal influence and got 0.2 inches of rain!

2. Tom Allin sends out good jokes as he travels the world:

(Norweigan?)

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P.O. Box 721

Scottsville Texas

75688

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 6/17/2022

I WISH YOU A NICE WEEKEND, BUT DON’T TAKE UNNECESSARY CHANCES.

REPEAT COMMENTS FROM JUNE 8 NYT REGARDING BA .4 AND .5

”…Globally, the most recent data suggest that BA.4 and BA.5 still represent a relatively small share of cases, but that could change in the weeks ahead. In a recent report, the U.K. Health Security Agency noted that in many countries, the two subvariants were replacing BA.2 about as quickly as BA.2 replaced the original version of Omicron….The subvariants have become especially common in parts of the southern United States. In the region comprising Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, BA.4 and BA.5 account for more than one in five infections, according to the new figures….”

”…Latest trends IN LA FROM NYT

An average of 1,421 cases per day were reported in Louisiana in the last week. Cases have increased by 38 percent from the average two weeks ago. Deaths have increased by 38 percent..”

(J. Harris: Bossier and Caddo Parishes are right next door. They may test more there, but we 

will be increasingly plagued by the new BA.4 and BA.5 variants. I have just been told that “BA” stands for Bad Ass in Norwegian.)

IF YOU HAVE HAD COVID BUT ARE STILL TEST POSITIVE, ARE YOU CONTAGIOUS?

1. Some Test Positive for COVID for 10 Days or Longer

2. Early data suggests many individuals still COVID+ after 5 days of isolation, challenging return-to-work recommendations

3. From Positive to Negative to Positive Again—The Mystery of Why COVID-19 Rebounds in Some Patients Who Take Paxlovid

FROM NEJM:

Effects of Previous Infection and Vaccination on Symptomatic Omicron Infections

RESULTS:

1. The effectiveness of previous infection alone against symptomatic BA.2 infection was 46.1%

2. The effectiveness of vaccination with two doses of BNT162b2 and no previous infection was negligible , but nearly all persons had received their second dose more than 6 months earlier.

3. The effectiveness of three doses of BNT162b2 and no previous infection was 52.2%

4. The effectiveness of previous infection and two doses of BNT162b2 was 55.1%

5. The effectiveness of previous infection and three doses of BNT162b2 was 77.3%.

CONCLUSIONS:”No discernable differences in protection against symptomatic BA.1 and BA.2 infection were seen with previous infection, vaccination, and hybrid immunity. Vaccination enhanced protection among persons who had had a previous infection. Hybrid immunity resulting from previous infection and recent booster vaccination conferred the strongest protection.

(Most of the people with whom I confer, have had a total of 4 jabs of vaccine — and are waiting now for a recommendation for a new vaccine or a “mix and match” with existing vaccines.

ALSO FROM NEJM LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

In this study, we characterized infection-induced immunity and vaccine-induced immunity against newly emerged omicron subvariants. Booster vaccination provided sufficient neutralizing-antibody titers against the BA.4/5 and BA.2.12.1 subvariants, albeit to a lower extent than against BA.1 and BA.2.4,5 These findings underscore the importance of booster vaccination for protection against emerging variants.

FROM HOPKINS:

1. ACUTE HEPATITIS & LONG COVID Researchers from Israel published findings from their study on instances of long-term COVID-19 liver manifestation among children. The study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, involved a retrospective investigation of 5 patients hospitalized in an Israeli children’s hospital. Each of the patients had a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and presented with long-term liver injury stemming from their infection. Two of the patients in the study, both under 6 months of age, presented with acute liver failure, the other 3 patients, ranging between ages 8 and 13 years, presented with acute hepatitis and cholestasis.

This review adds to the growing list of evidence tying post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC/Long COVID) to cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin. Last month, multiple technical and news media publications documented an international cohort of children with severe hepatitis. Many experts have suggested that COVID-19 could be a potential source for this unexplained manifestation, considering the lack of apparent epidemiological explanations. The US CDC is examining a series of US cases of acute hepatitis as well, and a recent update indicates that adenovirus type 41 could be a possible causative agent as well. While much has been written about Long COVID, many questions remain, and advocates continue to call for expanded research efforts into explanations and treatments.

2. BA.4 & BA.5 SUBVARIANTS IN EUROPE The European CDC published an epidemiological update on the emergence and prevalence of the BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant of concern (VOC). The subvariants were first detected in Europe in March, and in May, Portugal was the first European country to report a COVID-19 surge associated with one of the subvariants (BA.5). Notably, Portugal’s daily incidence appeared to peak in late May/early June. While most European countries have reported relatively low prevalence of these subvariants, they represent an increasing proportion of new sequenced specimens in multiple countries over the past several weeks, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. In particular, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants represent more than 25% of sequenced specimens in Belgium over the second half of May, and more than 10% in some communities in Spain. The increasing prevalence of BA.4/BA.5 corresponds to increasing COVID-19 daily incidence in most of those countries as well. 

The ECDC projects that BA.4 and BA.5 will become the dominant variants across Europe “in the coming weeks” and that the continent can expect an associated COVID-19 surge like those in the countries noted above. The daily incidence in Europe has increased nearly 30% since June 6, with even larger increases in the UK. While there is “no evidence” these subvariants pose higher risk of severe disease, the ECDC notes that an overall increase in transmission can be associated with subsequent increases in hospitalizations and mortality.

J. Harris: So why is the USA reducing vigilance in travelers from Europe? 


3. WASTEWATER SURVEILLANCE Researchers from the University of Illinois and University of Florida published (preprint) findings from a study on the implementation of neighborhood-scale SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has popularized wastewater surveillance as a tool to provide early warning of impending outbreaks; however, most of these efforts have focused on large-scale sewer systems. Neighborhood-scale systems can provide more targeted early warning capacity, but as the catchment population decreases, the volume of fecal matter is less consistent, which can make it more difficult to analyze the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and accurately detect emerging outbreaks. This study covered 7 neighborhood-scale wastewater surveillance systems in Champaign County, Illinois, from January-November 2021, with catchment populations ranging from 853 to 2,402 individuals. In an effort to improve the system’s accuracy, the researchers developed a methodology to normalize the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 N gene fragments by the concentration of pepper mild mottle virus (PMMOV) detected in the system. The presence and concentration of PMMOV served as an analogue for the presence of fecal matter in the sample, which enabled the researchers to establish more accurate baseline metrics and better analyze the relative concentration of SARS-CoV-2. Based on the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 N gene fragments to PMMOV, the system output a binary risk assessment (ie, Low or High). Over the 11 months of the study, the 7 neighborhoods experienced 26 total local COVID-19 outbreaks, and the surveillance system identified High COVID-19 risk corresponding to 19 of those time periods (73% sensitivity). The system identified 17 total High-risk time periods, and 12 of those corresponded to local COVID-19 outbreaks (71% specificity). The researchers also indicated that the surveillance system was capable of providing sufficiently accurate risk assessment for specific variants of SARS-CoV-2, which could provide early warning of the geographic spread of variants of concern. This study provides evidence that smaller-scale wastewater surveillance systems can provide indication of increased transmission risk among specific communities, particularly during periods of relatively low local incidence 



 



 

4. Newest Omicron Covid-19 Lineages Gaining Ground in United States (STAT News) The Omicron lineage BA.2 and its spinoff, BA.2.12.1, drove cases this spring, building into waves of infections in places like the Northeast and parts of California. Now, two other forms of Omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, are eating into the BA.2 group’s dominance. More than 1 in 5 Covid-19 infections last week were caused by BA.4 and BA.5, according to updated estimates posted  by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 13% the week prior. The rest of the cases are from the BA.2 lineages. BA.4 and BA.5 are picking up speed because they’re able to evade the body’s antibody response even more so than other variants, meaning they’re very good at establishing infections in people who have some level of protection.

5. Pfizer Reports Additional Data on PAXLOVID (Pfizer) Today, we shared data from the Phase 2/3 EPIC-SR study evaluating the use of PAXLOVID™ tablets and ritonavir tablets in patients who are at standard risk for developing severe COVID-19. In previously reported interim analyses, the company disclosed that the novel primary endpoint of self-reported, sustained alleviation of all symptoms for four consecutive days was not met, and a non-significant 70% relative risk reduction was observed in the key secondary endpoint of hospitalization or death (treatment arm: 3/428; placebo: 10/426). An updated analysis from 1,153 patients enrolled through December 2021 showed a non-significant 51% relative risk reduction (treatment arm: 5/576; placebo: 10/569). A sub-group analysis of 721 vaccinated adults with at least one risk factor for progression to severe COVID-19 showed a non-significant 57% relative risk reduction in hospitalization or death (treatment arm: 3/361; placebo: 7/360).

6. How Months-long COVID Infections Could Seed Dangerous New Variants (Nature) Virologist Sissy Sonnleitner tracks nearly every COVID-19 case in Austria’s rugged eastern Tyrol region. So, when one woman there kept testing positive for months on end, Sonnleitner was determined to work out what was going on. Sonnleitner and her colleagues collected more than two dozen viral samples from the woman over time and found through genetic sequencing that it had picked up about 22 mutations. Roughly half of them would be seen again in the heavily mutated Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 that surged around the globe months later. “When Omicron was found, we had a great moment of surprise,” Sonnleitner says. “We already had those mutations in our variant.”  

(J. Harris: Here’s the article from Nature: )

How months-long COVID infections could seed dangerous new variants

FROM JAMA:

1. Effect of Text Messaging and Behavioral Interventions on COVID-19 Vaccination Uptake

”There was no detectable increase in vaccination uptake among patients receiving text messaging compared with telephone calls only or behaviorally informed message content.”

FROM BERCKER SELECTIONS”

Former Houston Methodist employees lose appeal in vaccination mandate case

FROM THE NYT:

Here’s how long some popular at-home virus test kits actually last, according to the F.D.A.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:

EARLY PHOTO OF NORWEGIAN INVASION OF TEXAS:

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75688

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 6/10/2022

Have a nice weekend. This report has mostly good news except that our local Covid numbers are going up. The hospitals are not crowded. JHH

FROM THE LANCET

Risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after the COVID-19 mRNA vaccination in the USA: a cohort study in claims databases

”…A total of 411 myocarditis or pericarditis, or both, events were observed among 15 148 369 people aged 18–64 years who received 16 912 716 doses of BNT162b2 and 10 631 554 doses of mRNA-1273. Among men aged 18–25 years, the pooled incidence rate was highest after the second dose, at 1·71 (95% CI 1·31 to 2·23) per 100 000 person-days for BNT162b2 and 2·17 (1·55 to 3·04) per 100 000 person-days for mRNA-1273. The pooled IRR in the head-to-head comparison of the two mRNA vaccines was 1·43 (95% CI 0·88 to 2·34), with an excess risk of 27·80 per million doses (–21·88 to 77·48) in mRNA-1273 recipients compared with BNT162b2….Interpretation

An increased risk of myocarditis or pericarditis was observed after COVID-19 mRNA vaccination and was highest in men aged 18–25 years after a second dose of the vaccine. However, the incidence was rare. These results do not indicate a statistically significant risk difference between mRNA-1273 and BNT162b2, but it should not be ruled out that a difference might exist. Our study results, along with the benefit–risk profile, continue to support vaccination using either of the two mRNA vaccines.

FROM THE NYT:

1. Two new versions of Omicron are gaining ground in the U.S., according to C.D.C. estimates.

2. Moderna says new trial results show that a revised vaccine works better against Omicron.

3. Even with federal funds, U.S. schools still rely on low-cost methods to slow Covid, a study shows.

FROM THE DMN:

After a brief increase, Dallas COVID hospitalizations have stabilized

”…Local public health experts don’t know exactly why the area’s hospitals are seeing so few COVID patients, but they suspect it’s a combination of COVID strains that cause less severe illness, widespread immunity, and possibly even Texas’ warm climate…..COVID cases are still climbing across North Texas. Dallas and Tarrant counties could each see more than 600 new infections daily in the next several weeks, according to a June 1 forecast from UT Southwestern….though North Texas is seeing few hospitalizations currently, that could change quickly. Immunity from previous infections and vaccinations can wane within months…..Anyone age 5 or older is eligible for booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 5 through 11 can get a booster shot five months after the initial Pfizer vaccine series. People 12 or older who are immunocompromised can get a second booster at least four months after their first booster dose, while anyone 50 or older can receive a second booster in the same time frame…”

FROM JOHNS HOPKINS SELECTIONS:

1. NOVAVAX VACCINE The US FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) is meeting today to discuss and vote on the question of whether the benefits of Novavax’s 2-dose SARS-CoV-2 vaccine outweigh the risks of use among adults. The Novavax vaccine uses decades-old technology, and a vaccine using more traditional technology could help fill gaps in vaccination coverage among those who are hesitant to be vaccinated with shots using newer mRNA technology. In clinical trials, the vaccine demonstrated 90.4% efficacy in preventing mild, moderate, or severe infections with older variants, and 100% efficacy in preventing moderate or severe infection. However, it is unclear how effective the vaccine is against currently circulating Omicron subvariants. There also are concerns over the risk of the heart conditions myocarditis and pericarditis associated with the vaccine, particularly among young men, outlined in a briefing document for the meeting. These rare occurrences of heart inflammation also are associated with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines. Notably, there is not enough data to evaluate the Novavax vaccine for use among pregnant women, children, or immunocompromised individuals. 

If VRBPAC recommends the vaccine and the FDA grants emergency use authorization, after also evaluating information about the company’s manufacturing processes, the vaccine will be the fourth authorized for use in the US and could be available later this summer. 

2. Pregnant people are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes, including death, and health experts recommend that pregnant people and those looking to become pregnant remain up to date on their vaccinations. Notably, vaccination of pregnant people likely has benefits to newborns, as well.

 3. A new report, which is not yet peer-reviewed, estimates the US death toll of each variant. According to the researchers from Yale University and Public Citizen, nearly half of COVID-19 deaths (46%) have occurred after the ancestral strain of SARS-CoV-2 was replaced by variants. The research dispels the myth that Omicron causes less severe disease than previous variants. This year, more deaths have been among older adults, especially those in long-term care facilities. The research highlights the importance of continuing vaccination and other public health strategies as long as the virus is circulating and underlines the need for additional surveillance to detect the emergence of new variants. 

4.” …An accepted manuscript by researchers in Israel published last week in Clinical Infectious Diseases evaluates the effectiveness of Paxlovid in a real-world setting among vaccinated and unvaccinated adults during Omicron variant predominance. According to the study, treatment with Paxlovid reduced the risk of severe COVID-19 or death by about half (46%) regardless of vaccination status, while up-to-date vaccination reduced the risk 80%. Notably, Paxlovid was more effective in older patients, immunocompromised patients, and those with underlying neurological or cardiovascular disease, and no interaction was observed between Paxlovid therapy and vaccination status.”

5. Pfizer to Invest $120 Million to Produce COVID-19 Oral Treatment in the U.S. (Pfizer) Pfizer announced today that it will further strengthen its commitment to United States manufacturing with a $120 million investment at its Kalamazoo, Michigan, facility, enabling U.S.-based production in support of its COVID-19 oral treatment, Paxlovid. The investment will expand the production of active pharmaceutical ingredient and registered starting materials used in the manufacture of nirmatrelvir, a novel main protease (Mpro) inhibitor originating in Pfizer’s laboratories. This investment is another major step in Pfizer’s effort to bring more key biopharmaceutical manufacturing to the U.S., increasing Pfizer’s capability to produce and supply treatments and medicines for patients in the U.S. and around the world.

6. The Omicron variant of concern (VOC) continues to account for essentially all analyzed SARS-CoV-2 samples worldwide. Together, the BA.2 sublineages represent 86.2% of all sequenced specimens last week***. Both the BA.4 (4.1%) and BA.5 (8.8%) sublineages are increasing in prevalence, and collectively, the BA.1 sublineage represents less than 0.2% of sequenced specimens last week. The WHO now categorizes the Delta VOC as “previously circulating,” joining the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma variants.

FROM SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN:

How to Compare COVID Deaths for Vaccinated and Unvaccinated People

FROM REUTERS: 

1. Novavax COVID vaccine gets backing of U.S. FDA advisers

Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday voted to recommend authorization of Novavax Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine for adults.

2. Novavax says COVID vaccine for U.S. to be manufactured by India’s Serum

Novavax Inc said on Tuesday that its COVID-19 vaccine initially available in the United States, if authorized, will be manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

3. Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 account for up to 13% of COVID variants in U.S. – CDC

The BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron are estimated to make up nearly 5% and 8% of the coronavirus variants in the United States as of June 4, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday.

FROM THE GUARDIAN:

We’re playing with fire’: US Covid cases may be 30 times higher than reported

”…But Covid cases could be undercounted by a factor of 30, an early survey of the surge in New York City indicates. “It would appear official case counts are under-estimating the true burden of infection by about 30-fold…”

(J. Harris: Readable. Contains some food for thought.)

FROM THE NEJM VIA JOURNAL WATCH:

Cardiac Events in College Athletes 1 Year After SARS-CoV-2 Infection

”… Concerns about the high frequency of myocarditis in athletes infected with SARS-CoV-2, and the possibility of life-threatening arrhythmias, led to various protocols and the development of prospective registries. In the current study, the Outcomes Registry for Cardiac Conditions in Athletes Study Group prospectively followed 3675 athletes from 45 colleges and universities to assess their risk for adverse cardiovascular events after SARS-CoV-2 infection…Cardiovascular testing including electrocardiogram, troponin, echocardiogram, or cardiac magnetic resonance imaging was performed in 97% of athletes. Definite or probable myocarditis was found in 21 athletes (0.6%), who were temporarily restricted from sport and later cleared to resume...

During a median follow-up of 1.2 years among all athletes, only two cardiac events occurred (incidence rate, 0.05%). One was a cardiac arrest in an athlete subsequently discovered to have a preexisting genetic structural cardiac disease, and the other was atrial fibrillation that was possibly related to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE:

Omicron booster shots are taking longer than expected. Will the wait be worth it?

”…By the time the US Food and Drug Administration convenes a meeting late this month to discuss plans for updating booster shots in the fall, more than 200 days will have elapsed since Moderna and Pfizer began working on their Omicron vaccines…So what’s the holdup?…. reasons for the delay. To start, the virus keeps changing too quickly. There’s also conflicting data on the superiority of variant-specific boosters over what’s already available, casting doubt on their value. And with the majority of Americans yet to get even their first booster shot, the companies’ financial incentive for making new ones has diminished….In theory, designing the new vaccine is a simple matter of tweaking its mRNA sequence to match the genetic code of Omicron —  But making enough of the vaccine to begin clinical trials takes at least several weeks…“Having the variant-specific vaccine only makes sense if that variant persists for a long enough period of time to vaccinate people against it…Running clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of the shots is the most time-consuming step of vaccine development ― regulators need to be sure that the updated shots are safe…Although the Omicron boosters triggered somewhat higher antibody levels against that variant, Although the Omicron boosters triggered somewhat higher antibody levels against that variant, the original booster also worked fairly well…

In March, Moderna began testing a so-called bivalent booster that contains mRNA for both the original coronavirus and the Omicron strain — an effort to “hedge your bets” against the evolving virus, Thackray said. The FDA’s vaccine advisory committee will likely debate the relative merits of the original, Omicron, and bivalent boosters when it meets at the end of the month….But if the updated vaccines are not markedly better, companies may lack the financial incentive to actually produce them…And given that less than half of vaccinated Americans and fewer than one-third of all people in the United States have yet to get their first booster shot, the lack of urgency to make second-generation boosters probably shouldn’t come as a surprise…Throughout the pandemic, health officials have stressed that the goal of the vaccines is to prevent serious disease, hospitalization, and death. “I would argue that we’ve achieved that goal with the [existing] ancestral vaccine,”..“We are going to have to get used to mild and moderate infection and have a reasonable goal for this vaccine, because we are driving people crazy,…There is already booster fatigue.”…

AND LASTLY: 

Milton and the Norwegian both assure me that it will rain today!

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 5/13/2022

HAVE A NICE WEEKEND.

FROM BECKERS :

The 25 most common passwords

FYI

The healthiest county in each US state | 2022

Texas

Collin County

The unhealthiest county in each US state | 2022

Texas

Brooks County

FROM JAMA:

1. Assessment of Neutralizing Antibody Response Against SARS-CoV-2 Variants After 2 to 3 Doses of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine

”…Question  Are neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 sufficiently induced after 2 to 3 doses of the BNT162b2 messenger RNA vaccine in recipients of different ages?

Findings  In this cohort study of 82 Japanese participants, 28% and 6% had neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant at 2 and 7 months, respectively, after 2 doses of the vaccine; both titer values were low in all age groups. After receiving a booster vaccination, all participants acquired much higher levels of neutralizing antibodies irrespective of age….Meaning  This study suggests that booster vaccination was associated with induction of higher levels of neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant, irrespective of the recipient’s age.

2. Two mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Stimulate Different Immune Responses

”…Subtle variations in immune responses to the mRNA-1273 (Moderna) and BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) COVID-19 vaccines suggest that each may confer somewhat different protection, according to a study in Science Translational Medicine. This could mean that a mix-and-match booster strategy might increase protection against future variants and could have implications for future therapy development…”

3. THE PATHOS OF MODERN DAY MEDICAL TRAINING: “WE ARE DROWNING”

(J. Harris: And about 50% of these heros are heroines.)

SUGGESTED BY HOPKINS

1.The ‘five pandemics’ driving 1 million U.S. Covid deaths (FROM STAT)

(J. Harris: Wonderful, graphic, readable, sensible, helpful article.)

2. LONGCOVID ARTICLE: From The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, a study of nearly 1,200 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, followed up at 6 months, 12 months, and 2 years post-discharge to determine the persistent health effects of COVID-19. While physical and mental health improved over time, 68% of participants reported experiencing at least 1 original COVID-1 symptom at 6 months, and 55% reported at least 1 original symptom 2 years later. Around half of participants had symptoms of long COVID such as fatigue and sleep difficulties at 2 years, and those participants reported poorer quality of life, reduced ability to exercise, more mental health problems, and increased use of healthcare services than those without long COVID symptoms. Additionally, recovered patients tended to be in poorer health 2 years after discharge compared with the general population.

FROM THE NYT:

1. Moderna’s vaccine provoked a strong immune response in children aged 6 to 11, researchers report.

”… based on small numbers of infections with the Delta variant among the participants, the researchers estimated that the vaccine had an efficacy of 88 percent against infection.”

2. North Korea says 6 are dead as Covid-19 spreads ‘explosively.’

”…They were infected with the BA.2 subvariant of the virus, it said….The country declared a “maximum emergency” and ordered all cities and counties in the nation of 25 million to lock down, and told them to isolate “each working unit, production unit and residential unit from each other.”…The danger posed by the Covid outbreak is greater in North Korea than in most other nations because most of its people are unvaccinated. …North Koreans are chronically malnourished and unvaccinated, there are barely any medicines left in the country, and the health infrastructure is incapable to deal with this pandemic,…Hours after admitting to the outbreak on Thursday, North Korea launched three ballistic missiles from near Pyongyang toward the sea off its east coast…”

(J. Harris: N. Korea and probably China will continue to have a widespread dangerous Covid vulnerablity.)

FROM THE LANCET:

Zero COVID in China: what next?

”…Many people in Shanghai have written on social media about the collateral damage of confinement rules, including many patients with chronic and non-COVID-19-related diseases losing their access to medical care….. “COVID-19 has become a highly politicised disease in China, and any voice advocating for the deviation from the current zero-COVID path will be punished”, one official said…lack of protection in the groups most susceptible to severe disease makes it difficult for China to change its policy safely. “It’s mind boggling that for the most part of the last 2 years, China has had very few cases but has failed to fully vaccinate the elderly, who are at the most risk of getting infected and developing severe symptoms from the virus”…“Experience in Singapore demonstrates that a safe exit from zero COVID is possible if vaccine coverage in older adults can reach a very high level”……vaccine hesitancy has been fostered by the lack of urgency to get vaccinated in China. China’s control of COVID-19 gives citizens fewer reasons to get vaccinated, especially when there was widespread misinformation on the side-effects of vaccines such as frequent heart attacks and severe allergies. The [FAULTY] logic goes: there is no need to get vaccinated when there is no virus in the first place….”

”With the influenza season due to begin soon after the party Congress, the timeline for China’s reopening is murky at the best. “The earliest possible time for China to drop the current measures is early next year, and even that has no guarantee whatsoever…’Stepping up vaccination among older people while strengthening the health-care sector is an absolute “prerequisite”, …Informing the public about the changing nature of infection—the decreased severity of the B.1.1.529 (omicron) variant and the reduced risks following vaccination—will also be needed. One argument frequently used by the Government and those who stand by the zero-COVID strategy is that …[IF AND WHEN] the policy is relaxed, the health-care system will soon be overloaded and there will be an unmanageable increase in deaths. To tackle this issue, experts have proposed solutions that are aligned with international practice. Chen said that the Government should start drafting regulations or guidelines on the treatment of patients with varying degrees of severity, with the aim of not admitting everyone infected with the virus to hospital (as previously required) by asking for home quarantine, and leaving hospital and intensive care unit beds for those who need them most. “If you can prohibit millions of people from stepping out of home during a lockdown, then there really is no merit to the argument that you can’t ask people with mild symptoms to not visit hospitals…”

AND LASTLY: 

”If you find yourself feeling useless, remember it took 20 years, trillions of dollars, and four presidents to replace the Taliban with the Taliban.”

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 4/13/2022

FROM:  verywellhealth.com 

(J. Harris: Nice little civilian magazine with numerous pertinent, understandable articles. The articles I read, I agreeded with.)

How Long Does An Omicron Infection Last in the Body?

”…people were most infectious with Omicron three to six days after symptom onset. However, it’s important to note that they can be contagious before that, and that not everyone will develop symptoms…Another study on Delta and Omicron infections in the NBA found that on average, Omicron infections lasted for about 10 days, while Delta infections lasted for about 11 days.2 Whether or not the difference in timeframe could be attributed to characteristics of the variants themselves, or to factors like vaccinations and natural immunity was unclear, according to the researchers….the severity of Delta and Omicron hospitalizations were comparable for people admitted to the hospital, but that people with Omicron appeared less likely to be admitted to the hospital to begin with…Still, experts say there’s not a big difference between an Omicron infection and a Delta infection…”…[ROUTINE] COVID-19 testing doesn’t show you which variant you have—that data is only for the sake of public health surveillance, and it wouldn’t change your treatment protocol at this time anyway…”

FROM REUTERS:

1.  Nearly 86% of U.S. COVID caused by BA.2 Omicron subvariant -CDC

”…The BA.2 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus is now responsible for 86% of U.S. COVID-19 cases and more than 90% of infections in the Northeast, according to data on Tuesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)….For the week ending April 2, BA.2 made up 75.4% of the variants identified in the country, up from a previous estimate of 72.2%, according to CDC estimates…”

FROM BECKERS

1. COVID-19 cases up in 26 states, hospitalizations up in 10

2. WHO monitoring ‘sister variants’ of omicron: 4 notes

From HOPKINS

1. MORE ABOUT THE NEW VARIANTS: NEW OMICRON SUBVARIANTS The WHO is tracking cases of 2 new sublineages of the Omicron variant, adding BA.4 and BA.5 to the monitoring list alongside BA.1, BA1.1, BA.3, and the globally dominant BA.2. Dr. Tulio de Oliveira, Director of the Centre for Epidemic Response & Innovation (CERI) in South Africa, tweeted about the presence of BA.4 and BA.5 in South Africa, one of the first countries to identify the original Omicron variant in November 2021. The series of tweets said the sublineages have been found in samples from Botswana, Belgium, Germany, and the UK but not yet caused a rise in cases in South Africa. BA.4 and BA.5 have mutations on their spike proteins similar to BA.2, in addition to several other mutations. De Oliveira said that where the subvariants differ from each other is in amino acid mutations outside of the spike protein and work is underway to further characterize the 2 Omicron sublineages. 

2. HOW TO GET THE COMMUNITIES WASTEWATER TESTED FOR VARIANTS

AND LASTLY:

 “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”-William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”- Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS –1/15/2022

Today, the numbers from the state are not functional. So,  I have used Harrison County numbers from the NYT. What is apparent is that things are WORSE in East Texas.  The Gregg and Smith County numbers are released every three or four days. 

TODAY’S MNM:

COVID IN MARSHALL

FROM BECKER

83% of ICU beds in use nationwide: How each state stacks up

17% of US hospitals critically understaffed, 23% anticipate shortages: Numbers by state

FROM HOPKINS:

1. WHO Recommends Two New Drugs to Treat Patients with COVID-19 (WHO) The drug baricitinib (a type of drug known as a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor, also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis) is strongly recommended for patients with severe or critical covid-19 in combination with corticosteroids, says a WHO Guideline Development Group of international experts in The BMJ today. Their strong recommendation is based on moderate certainty evidence that it improves survival and reduces the need for ventilation, with no observed increase in adverse effects.

2. COVID-19 Therapeutics for Nonhospitalized Patients (JAMA) Substantial progress has been made in therapeutics for nonhospitalized patients with COVID-19, but supply of and access to treatment remain limited. This Viewpoint summarizes currently available therapeutics for nonhospitalized patients in the setting of the Omicron variant including principles for equitable allocation. Patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 are those who have respiratory and systemic symptoms but not hypoxia, tachypnea, or other complications that necessitate hospitalization.1 During this early phase of illness, viral replication is occurring and antiviral therapies are used to prevent disease progression, hospitalization, and death.

3/ Even Poorly Matched Flu Vaccines Protect Children from Serious Illness, Study Shows (Healio) A new study reinforced that influenza vaccination protects children from serious illness even when vaccines are a poor match for circulating viruses. The study’s authors found that vaccination during the 2019-2020 season was 63% effective overall against critical influenza among children. Vaccination reduced the risk for severe influenza among children by 78% against influenza A viruses that matched the vaccine viruses, by 47% against mismatched influenza A viruses, and by 75% against mismatched influenza B-Victoria viruses, they reported.

The study comprised 291 patients in 17 U.S. hospitals — 159 children who were critically ill with influenza and 132 controls.

Some experts call for a switch from nasal swabs to saliva-based tests, to better detect Omicron (some of which are manufactured in Marshall.)

NYT ON BURNOUT CRISIS

AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:

I don’t mean to interrupt people. I just randomly remember things and get really excited.

Prison is just one word to you, but for some people, it’s a whole sentence.

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS –12/16/2021

Expecting a Surge….FROM NYT THIS AM. VERY CURRENT.

Booster doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are likely to offer substantial protection from Omicron, Fauci says. Video

FROM HOPKINS:.THREE GOOD NEWS EXCERPTS:

1. T Cells Might Be Our Bodies’ Best Shot Against Omicron (The Atlantic) Killer T cells, as their name might imply, are not known for their mercy. When these immunological assassins happen upon a cell that’s been hijacked by a virus, their first instinct is to butcher. The killer T punches holes in the compromised cell and pumps in toxins to destroy it from the inside out. The cell shrinks and collapses; its perforated surface erupts in bubbles and boils, which slough away until little is left but fragmentary mush. The cell dies spectacularly, horrifically—but so, too, do the virus particles inside, and the killer T moves on, eager to murder again.

2.Trial Begins of Needle-free Covid Vaccine Targeting New Variants (BBC) A trial has begun of a new needle-free Covid-19 vaccine to protect against future variants of the virus. The vaccine, administered through a jet of air, has been developed by Prof Jonathan Heeney of Cambridge University and chief executive of DIOSynVax. Participants, aged between 18 and 50 years old, will take part at the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility. Prof Heeney said: “As new variants emerge and immunity begins to wane we need newer technologies.”

3. Pfizer Study Confirms 89 Percent Reduction In Hospitalizations And Death For Covid-19 Oral Antiviral (Homeland Preparedness News) Results came in this week from a Phase 2/3 trial of Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment, and the data showed a drug capable of cutting risks of hospitalization or death by 89 percent among high-risk adults, when given within a few days of their first symptoms. The final data from the EPIC-HR study, which studied 2,246 participants, confirmed prior efficacy of the Paxlovid treatment, noting that risk reduction to hold when given within three days of symptom onset, followed by a slight reduction to 88 percent when given within five days. In total, five hospitalizations emerged among those treated with Paxlovid pills over the course of 28 days, and no one died. Comparatively, nine of those given placebo in the study died, while 44 were hospitalized.

Princeton, Cornell, Others Urge Students to Head Home Because of Covid-19 Outbreaks

COVID-19: Challenging Clinical QuestionsJ. Harris: Short readable discussion followed by an infectious disease forum, one of 7 which are available to watch:

”…SARS-CoV-2 is a stubborn virus, an alphabet of variants has emerged, testing remains suboptimal, and pandemic fatigue and reliance on misinformation have resulted in too many people choosing not to adhere to recommendations for vaccination and other public health measures. The body of knowledge about SARS-CoV-2 that researchers have amassed since early 2020 is remarkable. Yet, as we learn more, new questions emerge. This is particularly the case in light of the recent recognition of the Omicron variant in late November 2021 and the emergence of promising antiviral therapies….They emphasized the importance of widespread vaccination both to reduce the adverse clinical impact of Omicron and other variants and to prevent the emergence of new variants….There was a robust discussion of the degree to which infection with SARS-CoV-2 protects against subsequent infection. Panelists agreed that infection surely boosted antibody levels, offering some immunity, but the protection was temporary. Vaccination after acute infection clearly augments immunity….Clinicians have many questions about why measuring antibody levels to assess the degree of people’s level of immunity has not become recommended clinical practice. All 3 panelists dissuaded clinicians from measuring antibodies outside of research settings. Commercially available antibody assays are widely variable and questionable in their accuracy…Outpatient therapies, monoclonal antibodies, and oral antivirals are important components of the clinical armamentarium necessary to move us from pandemic to endemic disease…They all agreed that timely and easily accessible COVID-19 testing at sites that are able to administer treatment to people who test positive was necessary to realize the benefit of existing and emerging therapeutics...Panelists emphasized the critical need to expand testing. Even if imperfect, rapid home tests can guide safe behavior as people resume activities, such as travel and gathering with others…Other topics addressed included vaccine side effects, persisting symptoms following acute COVID-19, use of ineffective and even harmful therapies, and emerging data that persons with immunocompromise may have difficulty clearing the virus after acute infection and remain at risk for transmitting infection outside of normal quarantine time frames..”

Immunogenicity and safety of a third dose of CoronaVac, and immune persistence of a two-dose schedule, in healthy adults: interim results from two single-centre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled phase 2 clinical trials. Harris: This Chinese vaccine is inactivated, cheap, easy to store and has been used all over the world. I works better when the third does is given after 8 months rather than 2.”...A third dose of CoronaVac in adults administered 8 months after a second dose effectively recalled specific immune responses to SARS-CoV-2, which had declined substantially 6 months after two doses of CoronaVac, resulting in a remarkable increase in the concentration of antibodies and indicating that a two-dose schedule generates good immune memory, and a primary third dose given 2 months after the second dose induced slightly higher antibody titres than the primary two doses…

AND LAST AND THE VERY LEAST:

ODELL BECKHAM JR. IS ALMOST FROM MARSHALL:

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 Opinion: Definition of Patriot

 Opinion: Definition of Patriot

By George Smith  — December 9, 2021

Let’s talk straight.

Definition of patriot

”one who loves and supports his or her country”

If you believe the results of the 2020 elections are false and you believe the election was  stolen from Donald Trump…you are not a patriot.

If you would vote for Trump in 2024… you are not a patriot.

If you refuse to acknowledge that the Jan. 6, 2021 attack of the Capitol was NOT an insurrection attempt and a domestic terrorist attack…you are not a patriot.

If you are a supporter of Majorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert or Paul Gosar, or Sens. Mitch McConnell, Tom Cotton or Ted Cruz, you are not a patriot, but a wrong-headed follower of suppression politics.

All of those legislators are only interested in two things…and the fate of the country is not one of them. They all have two things in common: Power…getting it and holding onto it, and money, getting it and getting more of it.

To those folks, the fate of the country and its foundation of democracy are secondary to personal gratification in gaining and holding onto power.

If you value democracy, you cannot support those that want to dilute freedoms that define America, including equality and justice for all and preserving a democratic form of government.

It’s time for real patriots to stand up to the false idolatry worshippers who advocate the suppression of entire classes of voters in order to increase their support base.m, and, thus, individual power.

Let your voices be heard. It’s the right thing to do…the American thing to do.

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A day in the Life of Sue Republican

A day in the Life of Sue Republican

Sue gets up at 6 a.m. and fills her coffeepot with water to prepare her morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.

With her first swallow of coffee, she takes her daily medication. Her medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and  that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of her medications are paid for by her employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now  Sue gets it too.

She prepares her morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Sue’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the shower, Sue reaches for her shampoo. Her bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought  for her right to know what she was putting on her body and how much it contained.

Sue dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air she breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from  polluting our air.

She walks to the subway station for her government-subsidized ride to work. It saves her considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants  liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Sue begins her work day. She has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought  and died for these working standards. Sue’s employer pays these standards because Sue’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union.

If Sue is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, she’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think she should lose her home  because of her temporary misfortune.

It’s noon and Sue needs to make a bank deposit so she can pay some bills. Sue’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect  Sue’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Sue has to pay her Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and her below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Sue and the government would be  better off if she was educated and earned more money over her lifetime.

Sue is home from work. She plans to visit her father this evening at his farm home in the country. She gets in her car for the drive. Her car is among the safest in the  world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards.

She arrives at her childhood home. Her generation was the third to live in the house financed by Farmers’ Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural  loans. The house didn’t have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.

She is happy to see her father, who is now retired. Her father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure  he could take care of himself so Sue wouldn’t have to.

Sue gets back in her car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention  that Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Sue enjoys throughout her day. Sue agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m self-made and believe everyone should take care of themselves, just  like I have”.

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Opinion: Butts, bed sheets and horizontal gravity

 Opinion: Butts, bed sheets and horizontal gravity

By George Smith  — December 1, 2021

Ohhhhh, sometimes the mind climbs out of the proverbial “box” on its own.

Butts, bed sheets and horizontal gravity

I’ve never claimed that a certain percentage of my thoughts are what one might call “normal.” It is (pick one) A) a blessing, or a curse to have thoughts that sometimes fall outside the realm of those shared by a vast majority of people.

Since I have them on occasion, I go with A.

An example: Have you ever been sitting up in bed, leaned against the headboard, pillows at your back, thumbing the heck out of a good novel and all of a sudden … you realize you have slid down in the bed without realizing it? Instead of being in a sitting position, you find yourself practically supine! How did that happen?

I surmise it’s a little known and totally misunderstood element of physics – horizontal gravity. As you might surmise, there’s got to be more to it than just the fact that scientists and philosophers have overlooked this phenomenon for the past several thousand years, ever since the invention of sheets with thread count over six. Not 600, but six.

I have come to the belief that there is a direct correlation between the thread count of sheets, the square inch-ary of butt surface and the theory of horizontal gravity. Check that: It is my contention that horizontal gravity is not a theory, but an existing condition that has not been properly studied.

That’s about to change.

I am writing a federal grant to study the phenomenon and, with the bringing-home-the-bacon money available from my elected officials, I expect to get started as soon as my grant can be approved, which should be as soon as this latest, silly Middle East conflict question can be resolved. Knowing members of congress like I do, I know it’s easy to stick this type of expenditure as a “tail-er” on a bigger bill about nuclear proliferation or some such.

I have already done sufficient research to warrant the grant that I value at about $49,750. (I am convinced if I keep it under $50,000, it is such a fiscal pimple as to be invisible in any General Account Office audit.)

You want proof of my initial reasoning and research? How’s this: Sheets vary widely in thread count, as well as material from which they are constructed; 300-, 600-, 800-thread count sheets are commonplace. It is easy to buy higher thread count sheets of up to 1,800 threads per square inch (900 vertical and 900 horizontal). A higher thread count than that and you have Sarah Wrap.

A portion of the study will have to do with the surface area of butts on bed sheets. I am firmly convinced that the total surface area of a butt will slide horizontally in direct proportion to thread count; the bigger the butt surface, the faster the horizontal movement.

Of course, the study will have to include the movement of bare buttocks vs. clothed; the type of covering material or lack thereof and its affect on rate of horizontal movement will have its own section in the final report.

Those of you who may scoff at my research grant proposal do not know the depth of federal grant follies. Do you know whether or not it is economically feasible to create bite-sized bales of hay for cows? It is not economically feasible according to a 1980s federal grant to the University of Michigan.

What is the composition of 17th Century violin varnish? We know this important fact due to a federal grant.

And federal funds were used to compile the history of comic books.

Surely, a study to research the theory of horizontal gravity is just as important.


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