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jimmy m
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13 Feb 2024, 3:26 pm

I was searching around the internet and I came across an article. But the article was missing. It was removed. Strange. So I looked a little deeper inside the article and this is the information that it contained. The article was about research being done globally. It probably related to the probability that COVID was a man-made virus. Millions of people died and people still seem to be continuing on with more research in this area.

Since this article was published a few minutes ago and now it is hidden, I will attempt to provide the information.


China is experimenting on mutant Covid strains again – should we be worried?


Samuel Lovett, Deputy Editor of Global Health Security

Chinese scientists are once again experimenting on mutant coronavirus strains.

Last month, a group of virologists from Beijing cloned and mutated a Covid-like virus found many years ago in a pangolin and used it to infect ‘humanised’ mice.

All eight mice infected with the GX_P2V virus went on to die, sparking doom-laden headlines around the world.

The purpose of the research, the scientists said, was to determine the danger posed to humans by new Covid viruses and provide data for the development of a universal vaccine – one that is capable of protecting against all coronaviruses.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the controversy surrounding the origins of Covid-19, the study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, didn’t land well.

Professor Francois Balloux, the director of the UCL Genetics Institute, derided it as “scientifically totally pointless”.

“I can see nothing of vague interest that could be learned from force-infecting a weird breed of humanized mice with a random virus,” he wrote on X. “Conversely, I could see how such stuff might go wrong…”

But despite the controversy and potential risks, it is not just Chinese scientists who are poking and prodding at coronavirus strains in a bid to better understand them.

With the worst days of the pandemic behind us, there has been a boom in research dedicated to genetically modifying Covid variants, cloning related pathogens, virus-hunting, and more.

Although some of it is happening in the east, much of the work is taking place in the UK, led by some of the biggest names in virology, as well as Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.

The scientists involved insist there is little to fear and much to gain.

They say the experiments, conducted in safe, high-security laboratories, are essential for a better understanding of Sars-CoV-2 and the wider coronavirus family to which it belongs.

‘Reverse genetics’

A body called the G2P2-UK Consortium is leading this research in the UK.

Funded by the British taxpayer and run out of Imperial College in London, it was established with the aim of examining how current and emerging Covid variants are adapting in humans, and the means by which they come to take over in a population.

It also seeks to determine the role that different mutations – random changes in the genetic sequence of a virus – have on a variant’s characteristics, in terms of its lethality, transmissibility, and ability to escape vaccine-induced immunity.

“To understand why different variants of concern behave differently, we need to identify which mutations in the genome confer these properties,” said Professor Wendy Barclay, head of the G2P2 Consortium.

This process typically begins with the emergence of a new Covid variant that has acquired an array of mutations.

Those mutations which haven’t been seen before will take centre stage in the experiments that follow. Their genetic coding will be removed from the Covid strain under investigation and inserted into either the original Wuhan virus that emerged in late 2019 or, sometimes, another variant of concern.

This process – called ‘reverse genetics’ – changes the proteins of the virus that are responsible for its ability to, say, infect and replicate within human nasal cells, or its ability to dodge antibodies and other human defence mechanisms.

This modified virus will then be exposed to human cells grown in the lab or in hamsters to see whether such functions are heightened or diminished.

By repeatedly ‘mixing and matching’ different mutations through these experiments, scientists “can narrow down” which mutations are driving the variant’s troublesome characteristics, said Professor Stuart Neil, a virologist at King’s College London.

“You can break it down to a single point mutation or a group of mutations.”

Prof Barclay said the work has been vital in answering many of the unknown questions that had surrounded Sars-CoV-2 during the acute phase of the pandemic.

“For example, the original Covid virus replicates less efficiently in human nasal cells in the laboratory than Omicron and its sub-variants,” she said. “Why is that? Which ‘bits’ of the virus are responsible for this property?

“We can now say that these differences are due to the spike protein and in future we can look out for mutations that can affect this property and warn public health officials if needed.”

At first glance, the work appears to venture into the sort of genetic territory that enhances the characteristics of Sars-CoV-2 – a feature of so-called “gain-of-function” research.

Yet there’s a crucial difference: the scientists at the consortium aren’t adding any mutations to the virus that it hasn’t already learnt in the wild.

“We limit our studies to naturally occurring mutations that are already in the human population, we are not giving the virus any function it didn’t already have,” said Prof Barclay.

This differs from gain of function experiments which, for example, might fuse together the worst properties of two different viruses and see what risk this ‘chimera’ pathogen poses to humans.

Although the G2P2-UK’ Consortium isn’t conducting research of this high-risk nature, and nor are the Chinese virologists in Beijing, it makes sure to follow the strictest of safety protocols when running its own ‘mixing and matching’ experiments.

All projects begin with a written risk assessment that requires sign-off from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the UK’s workplace safety regulator. If the research is deemed too dangerous, authorisation won’t be granted.

Experiments involving the Covid virus and its variants are meanwhile performed in a ‘Containment Level 3’ laboratory – this is an airtight, gas-tight facility that uses specialised airflow design to prevent the escape of hazardous pathogens.

It’s one tier down from the top level of lab biosafety, CL4, in which the world’s deadliest diseases – from ebola to smallpox – are handled.

These facilities and their staff, who are specifically trained to operate in a CL3 lab, are audited at least once a year by the HSE – though a Telegraph investigation revealed earlier this year that recorded lab leaks and accidents have risen by 50 per cent in Britain since Covid emerged.

It’s understood that safety guidelines for laboratory experiments on the Covid-19 virus – including the swapping of mutations between variants – are being reviewed by HSE.

Regulations for sampling, testing and analysing Sars-CoV-2 were quickly implemented at the start of the pandemic but have never been updated.

Scientific understanding of “what makes the virus tick” has improved drastically since 2020, said one expert involved in the review, raising questions of whether laboratory protocols for the pathogen need to be strengthened – or relaxed.

A HSE spokesperson said: “As scientific knowledge on coronaviruses has now significantly improved, we’d like to know whether further risk assessment advice for genetically modifying coronaviruses would benefit the scientific community. This scoping exercise is ongoing.”

Risks, of course, will always persist in this line of work – especially when dealing with the unpredictability of constantly evolving viruses.

Yet it’s worth the reward of furthering our scientific understanding and, with it, improving humanity’s preparedness against future biological threats, argues Dr Benjamin Neuman, a virologist at Texas A&M University.

“Preparedness requires a certain amount of bravery, individually for the scientist, and collectively for society,” he said. “But preparedness saves lives.”

----------------------------

So that was what was buried deep inside the article and hidden.

"This process – called ‘reverse genetics’ – changes the proteins of the virus that are responsible for its ability to, say, infect and replicate within human nasal cells, or its ability to dodge antibodies and other human defence mechanisms."

So the world has been going through severe trauma, many deaths, much biological devastation because a small select group of scientist are experimenting.

Source: The hidden portion of the article.


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28 Feb 2024, 7:48 pm

Long Covid May Lead to Measurable Cognitive Decline, Study Finds

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Long Covid may lead to measurable cognitive decline, especially in the ability to remember, reason and plan, a large new study suggests.

Cognitive testing of nearly 113,000 people in England found that those with persistent post-Covid symptoms scored the equivalent of 6 I.Q. points lower than people who had never been infected with the coronavirus, according to the study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

People who had been infected and no longer had symptoms also scored slightly lower than people who had never been infected, by the equivalent of 3 I.Q. points, even if they were ill for only a short time.

The differences in cognitive scores were relatively small, and neurological experts cautioned that the results did not imply that being infected with the coronavirus or developing long Covid caused profound deficits in thinking and function. But the experts said the findings are important because they provide numerical evidence for the brain fog, focus and memory problems that afflict many people with long Covid.

“These emerging and coalescing findings are generally highlighting that yes, there is cognitive impairment in long Covid survivors — it’s a real phenomenon,” said James C. Jackson, a neuropsychologist at Vanderbilt Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

He and other experts noted that the results were consistent with smaller studies that have found signals of cognitive impairment.

The new study also found reasons for optimism, suggesting that if people’s long Covid symptoms ease, the related cognitive impairment might, too: People who had experienced long Covid symptoms for months and eventually recovered had cognitive scores similar to those who had experienced a quick recovery, the study found.

In a typical I.Q. scale, people who score 85 to 115 are considered of average intelligence. The standard variation is about 15 points, so a shift of 3 points is not usually considered significant and a shift of even 6 points may not be consequential, experts said.

Still, Dr. Jackson, the author of a book about long Covid called “Clearing the Fog,” said that while cognitive tests like the one in the study “identify relatively mild deficits,” even subtle difficulties can matter for some people. For example, he said, “if you’re an engineer and you have a slight decline in executive functioning, that’s a problem.”

The study, led by researchers at Imperial College London, involved 112,964 adults who completed an online cognitive assessment during the last five months of 2022. About 46,000 of them, or 41 percent, said they had never had Covid. Another 46,000 people who had been infected with the coronavirus said their illness had lasted less than four weeks.

About 3,200 people had post-Covid symptoms lasting four to 12 weeks after their infection, and about 3,900 people had symptoms beyond 12 weeks, including some that lasted a year or more. Of those, 2,580 people were still having post-Covid symptoms at the time they took the cognitive test.

The researchers noted that they relied on self-reported symptoms, rather than diagnoses of long Covid, and that the demands of taking a cognitive test might have meant that participants in the study were not the most seriously impaired


CDC recommends spring Covid booster for older adults
Quote:
People at higher risk for the most severe complications of Covid — primarily those ages 65 and older — should get a booster shot this spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The CDC's recommendation came hours after the agency's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted in support of the extra dose.

Another round of the vaccine given within the next few months would offer the best protection possible, the advisers said, ahead of another likely rise in illness this summer.

Over the past four years, there’s tended to be both a winter and a summer wave of Covid, with cases peaking in January and August, respectively, according to the CDC.

For that reason, advisers to the CDC said that the approach to Covid vaccination is still different from the strategy used for the flu, which typically only peaks during the winter.

“I hope that we are moving in the direction of getting more flu-like where there’s a really clear season, but I don’t think that we are there yet,” Megan Wallace, a CDC epidemiologist, said during a Wednesday meeting of the advisory committee.

The additional dose should be given at least four months after a previous dose for healthy older adults, or at least three months after a Covid infection. People with compromised immune systems may need additional shot.

The spring booster will be the same shot that was approved last fall, which was formulated to target the XBB.1.5 subvariant. The vaccine is effective against the JN.1 subvariant, which is currently causing the vast majority — more than 96% — of new Covid infections in the United States.

On Wednesday, the advisory committee presented new data showing that the shot lowered the odds of being hospitalized with Covid in otherwise healthy people 65 years and older by up to 54%.

Covid hospitalizations peaked at the beginning of January, with 35,000 hospitalizations a week. By Feb. 7, Covid hospitalizations had fallen to around 20,000 a week.

The number of Covid deaths are also decreasing. Still, at the lowest point last summer, the CDC reported about 500 Covid deaths a week.


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01 Mar 2024, 5:41 pm

CDC updates Covid isolation guidelines for people who test positive

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People who test positive for Covid no longer need to isolate for five days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The CDC’s new guidance now matches public health advice for flu and other respiratory illnesses: Stay home when you’re sick, but return to school or work once you’re feeling better and you’ve been without a fever for 24 hours.

The shift reflects sustained decreases in the most severe outcomes of Covid since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as a recognition that many people aren’t testing themselves for Covid anyway.

“Folks often don’t know what virus they have when they first get sick, so this will help them know what to do, regardless,” CDC director Dr. Mandy Cohen said during a media briefing Friday.

Over the past couple of years, weekly hospital admissions for Covid have fallen by more than 75%, and deaths have decreased by more than 90%, Cohen said.

“To put that differently, in 2021, Covid was the third leading cause of death in the United States. Last year, it was the 10th,” Dr. Brendan Jackson, head of respiratory virus response within the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during the briefing.

Many doctors have been urging the CDC to lift isolation guidance for months, saying it did little to stop the spread of Covid.

The experiences of California and Oregon, which previously lifted their Covid isolation guidelines, proved that to be true.

“Recent data indicate that California and Oregon, where isolation guidance looks more like CDC’s updated recommendations, are not experiencing higher Covid-19 emergency department visits or hospitalizations,” Jackson said.

Changing the Covid isolation to mirror what’s recommended for flu and other respiratory illnesses makes sense to Dr. David Margolius, the public health director for the city of Cleveland.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we are suffering from flu at a higher rate than Covid,” he said. “What this guidance will do is help to reinforce that— regardless of what contagious respiratory viral infection you have — stay home when you’re sick, come back when you’re better.”

Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious diseases expert at the Cleveland Clinic, said the new guidance would be beneficial in curbing the spread of all respiratory viruses.


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19 Mar 2024, 8:15 pm

In a pandemic milestone, the NIH ends guidance on COVID treatment

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These days, if you're sick with COVID-19 and you're at risk of getting worse, you could take pills like Paxlovid or get an antiviral infusion.

By now, these drugs have a track record of doing pretty well at keeping people with mild to moderate COVID-19 out of the hospital.

The availability of COVID-19 treatments has evolved over the past four years, pushed forward by the rapid accumulation of data and by scientists and doctors who pored over every new piece of information to create evidence-based guidance on how to best care for COVID-19 patients.

One very influential set of guidelines — viewed more than 50 million times and used by doctors around the world — is the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"I think everyone [reading this] will remember [spring of] 2020, when we did not know how to treat COVID and around the country, people were trying different things," recalls Dr. Rajesh Gandhi, an infectious diseases specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of the NIH's COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel. Around that time, people were popping tablets of hydroxychloroquine and buying livestock stores out of ivermectin, when there was no proof that either of these drugs worked against infection by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 (later studies showed that they are ineffective).

It was early in the COVID-19 pandemic when the NIH convened a panel of more than 40 experts and put out its first guidelines, which became a reference for doctors around the world.

For the next few years, it was an "all hands on deck" endeavor, says Dr. Cliff Lane, director of the clinical research division at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a co-chair of the panel.

Panel members met several times a week to review the latest scientific literature and debate data in preprints. They updated their official guidance frequently, sometimes two or three times a month.

End of an era
Lately, the development of new COVID-19 treatments has slowed to a drip, prompting the guideline group to rethink its efforts. "I don't know that there was a perfect moment [to end it], but ... the frequency of calls that we needed to have began to decrease, and then on occasion we would be canceling one of our regularly scheduled calls," says Lane. "It's probably six months ago we started talking about — What will be the end? How do we end it in a way that we don't create a void?"

The last version of the NIH's COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines was issued in February. The archives of the guidance — available online until August — document how scientific understanding and technological progress evolved during the pandemic.

Lane says specialty doctors groups — such as the American College of Physicians and the Infectious Diseases Society of America — will be the keepers of COVID-19 treatment guidance from now on. They're the usual stewards of best-practice guidelines anyway, he says.


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26 Mar 2024, 4:01 am

FDA Authorizes Pemgarda for Pre-Exposure Prevention of COVID-19 in Certain Immunocompromised Individuals

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The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the monoclonal antibody (mAb) pemivibart (Pemgarda, Invivyd) for the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) of COVID-19 in certain adults and adolescents (≥12 years of age weighing ≥40 kg [about 88 lbs]).

Pemivibart is authorized for individuals:

who are not infected with SARS-CoV-2 and who have not had a known recent exposure to an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2; and
who are moderately to severely immunocomprised due to a medical condition or to taking immunosuppressive medications or treatments and are unlikely to mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination.

he FDA used an immunobridging approach to determine whether pemivibart may be effective for preventing COVID-19. Immunobridging is based on the relationship between neutralizing antibody titers and clinical efficacy identified with other human mAbs against SARS-CoV-2. This includes adintrevimab and certain other mAbs that were previously authorized for the prevention of COVID-19. The serum neutralizing antibody titers of pemivibart were consistent with the titer levels associated with efficacy in prior clinical trials of adintrevimab and certain other mAbs.

CANOPY is an ongoing phase 3 clinical trial of pemivibart for the PrEP of COVID-19, which enrolled adults at least 18 years of age in two cohorts. Cohort A is a single-arm, open-label trial in adults who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (n=306); cohort B is a 2:1 randomized, placebo-controlled trial in which adults who are not moderately to severely immunocompromised received pemivibart (n=317) or placebo (n=162).

The relationship between serum virus neutralizing antibody (sVNA) titers and clinical efficacy was demonstrated in the EVADE clinical trial of adintrevimab, and clinical trials of other mAbs that were previously authorized by the FDA. EVADE was a phase 2/3, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of adintrevimab for PrEP and PEP of symptomatic COVID-19 in SARS-CoV-2–naive, unvaccinated individuals, which showed that a neutralizing titer of 3,514 on day 90 was associated with approximately 70% clinical efficacy in the PrEP cohort (approximately 70% relative risk reduction in development of symptomatic COVID-19 between the adintrevimab and placebo arms).

The CANOPY trial was designed to use current relevant SARS-CoV-2 variants in the analyses of neutralizing titers. The primary immunobridging end point for cohort A was based on calculated sVNA titers on day 28 following pemivibart administration compared with the calculated day 28 reference titer derived from historical day 90 data from the EVADE trial. The most relevant SARS-CoV-2 variant circulating in the United States at the time of the analysis (JN.1) was selected for the analysis of the primary immunobridging end point.

The following is a summary of the initial CANOPY immunobridging data from cohort A (immunocompromised cohort):

The day 28 calculated sVNA titer for pemivibart against JN.1 was 7,365 (90% CI, 7,148-7,589).
The ratio between the day 28 titer for pemivibart against JN.1 of 7,365 and a day 28 adintrevimab reference titer of 8,944 was 0.82 (90% CI, 0.80-0.85), showing that immunobridging was established in the CANOPY clinical trial.

The day 90 calculated sVNA titer for pemivibart against JN.1, prior to redosing, was 3,199 (90% CI, 2,995-3,418).
The titers against JN.1 are projected to stay above the reference titer of 3,514 for approximately 77 days (median) after a single dose of pemivibart.
The range of titers achieved against JN.1 for three months after administration of pemivibart were consistent with the titer levels associated with efficacy of other SARS-CoV-2–targeting mAbs in prior clinical trials (Nat Commun 2023;14[1]:4545).
The authorized initial dose of pemivibart is 4,500 mg administered as a single intravenous infusion. If ongoing protection is needed, a repeat 4,500-mg dose should be administered every three months.

Possible side effects include hypersensitivity reactions (including anaphylaxis), infusion-related reactions, fatigue, nausea and headache. Anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening, was reported with pemivibart in four of 623 (0.6%) of participants in a clinical trial.

Pemivibart should only be administered in settings in which healthcare providers have immediate access to medications to treat anaphylaxis and the ability to activate the emergency medical system, as necessary. Individuals receiving pemivibart should be clinically monitored during the 60-minute infusion and for at least two hours after completion of the infusion.

“People who are immunocompromised continue to be disproportionally impacted by COVID-19 even after receiving multiple vaccine doses,” said Cameron R. Wolfe, MBBS, MPH, a professor of medicine and transplant infectious disease at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C. “These types of patients, among others, continue to have both an impaired response to vaccines and a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.”


COVID Linked to Lower IQ, Poor Memory and Other Negative Impacts on Brain Health
Quote:
Mounting scientific evidence suggests that being infected with SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID — profoundly impacts brain health in many ways.

Ziyad Al-Aly, a physician and clinical epidemiologist, wrote an essay for The Conversation — which was later republished by Scientific American — detailing the numerous studies that highlight what he describes as the "indelible mark" that COVID leaves on the brain and its functioning.

Al-Aly, who is director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center at the VA Saint Louis Health Care System in Missouri, wrote that he has been studying long COVID since early reports of the disease and before the term was even coined by the medical community.

He explained in his essay that "large epidemiological analyses" showed that people who had COVID were at an increased risk of cognitive deficits including memory problems. A study of people with a mild to moderate form of the virus showed significant, prolonged inflammation of the brain and changes that "are commensurate with seven years of brain aging."

Al-Aly also cited imaging studies done on people both before and after their COVID infections, which showed "shrinkage of brain volume" and "altered brain structure" after infection. Other research reveals that people who require hospitalization or intensive care amid their COVID infection may develop "cognitive deficits and other brain damage that are equivalent to 20 years of aging."

In addition, Al-Aly highlighted preliminary analysis pooling together data from 11 studies that showed that COVID increased the risk of development of new-onset dementia in people older than 60.

He also noted that autopsies performed on people who died with COVID revealed "devastating damage" in their brains. Autopsies of people who had severe COVID but died a few months later from other causes showed that the virus was still present in brain tissue, suggesting that "SARS-CoV-2 is not only a respiratory virus."

Studies assessing patients hospitalized with COVID who experienced brain fog indicate that the virus can disrupt the blood-brain barrier, "the shield that protects the nervous system, which is the control and command center of our bodies," Al-Aly wrote.

Most recently, Al-Aly said, a study published on Feb. 29 in the New England Journal of Medicineassessed cognitive abilities including spatial reasoning, memory and planning in nearly 113,000 people who had previously had COVID. "The researchers found that those who had been infected had significant deficits in memory and executive task performance," he wrote.

The deficits were seen among people infected with the virus in the early phase of the pandemic, as well as when the delta and omicron variants dominated.

According to Al-Aly, that same study found that "those who had mild and resolved COVID-19 showed cognitive decline equivalent to a three-point loss of IQ." Those with unresolved persistent symptoms — such as fatigue and shortness of breath — had a six-point loss in IQ, while people who had been admitted to the intensive care unit for COVID had a nine-point decrease.

Another study in the same issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, involving 100,000 Norwegians, documented worse memory function at several points in time up to 36 months after a positive COVID test.

"The growing body of research now confirms that COVID-19 should be considered a virus with a significant impact on the brain," he added. "The implications are far-reaching, from individuals experiencing cognitive struggles to the potential impact on populations and the economy."

COVID ain't the flu no matter how much we treat it like it. In my last post, the article mentioned new research on treatments has "slowed to a drip". This is the opposite of what should be happening. It should be an "all hands on deck" effort to produce a vaccine that unlike the current ones both prevents one from catching it and spreading it like with the polio vaccine. But it is not going to happen.


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01 Apr 2024, 12:20 pm

I came across an article about Long COVID.

What is Long COVID? The article summarizes it as:

A large group of academic researchers identified symptoms that are the most diagnostic of long COVID, including fatigue, especially after exercise; brain fog; dizziness; gastrointestinal symptoms; heart palpitations; sexual dysfunction; loss of smell or taste; thirst; chronic cough; chest pain; and abnormal movements.

Here is a link to the article:

Long COVID Fatigue: The Unwelcome Gift That Keeps on Giving


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30 Apr 2024, 6:24 pm

COVID-19 hospitalizations hit record low, the CDC says

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Weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations have hit their lowest level ever reported since the pandemic began, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 5,615 COVID hospitalizations in the most recent week data that is available. In comparison, there were over 150,000 weekly admissions at the peak of the Omicron variant circulating in early 2022.

"The significant decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths to these new lows is encouraging, showing that our public health measures and vaccination efforts have paid off," said Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News medical contributor.

Forecasts of new hospitalizations from the CDC indicate that admissions will likely remain stable for the next four weeks.

The news comes as the requirements for hospitals to report respiratory illness data, like COVID hospital admissions, expire at the end of April. Federal officials plan to use other data sources such as wastewater, laboratory tests and emergency department data to stay informed about the spread of illnesses.

"It’s important to continue monitoring for new variants and maintaining protective health behaviors to prevent possible surges," Brownstein added.


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08 May 2024, 9:02 am

I came across an article that discussed the next strain of COVID and how to protect people from the deadly surge.

The arrival of the next pandemic is a matter of when not if.

"COVID-19 was the third major and serious coronavirus epidemic or pandemic following SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012,” said researcher Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor College's National School of Tropical Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. “We should anticipate a fourth coronavirus outbreak within the next decade or so."

We have learned a lot about the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the more than four years since the COVID-19 plague shook our world. Because the virus replicates its RNA and mutates in every infection, its spike proteins keep changing. Thus, by the time a vaccine targeting a specific spike protein becomes available, a new variant of the virus with a new spike protein is likely to have emerged, one that might be more transmissible.

The article then went on to discuss an approach to dealing with the next coronavirus and proposed:
-- modifying adenoviruses as a vector for vaccine antigens;
-- using ferritin nanoparticles and self-amplifying RNA (which works similarly to messenger RNA (mRNA) except that it can replicate itself once inside the body's cells);
-- incorporating different fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus' spike proteins, which the virus uses to bind to human cells and gain access to elicit a broader immune response;
-- focusing on parts of the virus that have been highly conserved – that is, that do not tend to mutate – in previous variants of concern.

Source: In the Escalating Arms Race Between Viruses and Humans, New COVID Vaccines Are Critical

In my humble opinion, there is another approach. Take an physicist/engineering approach:
The virus is spread by exposure rate, the number of virus particles that one comes in contact with at any given moment of time. If one minimizes this level, it allows the human body to build up natural immunity protection over time.

How is this done?
1. Using N95 mask when out in public.
2. Purifying indoor air using UVC light filtration and/or high quality HEPA filters to keep the number of particles to a minimum by killing them quickly indoors.
3. Maintaining indoor air humidity to between 40% and 60%. (The closer the humidity levels get to 0% or 100% the deadlier the threat becomes. It grows almost exponentially.)

It is also worth noting that N95 mask can be reused again and again provided they are cleansed with UVC radiation between each use. One mask can last 2 months if properly treated.


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Author of Practical Preparations for a Coronavirus Pandemic.
A very unique plan. As Dr. Paul Thompson wrote, "This is the very best paper on the virus I have ever seen."


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10 May 2024, 5:50 am

New COVID ‘FLiRT’ variants show virus isn’t going away

Quote:
he most recent dominant variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are part of a group sometimes called “FLiRT” variants and serve as a reminder that the virus isn’t going away and some people continue to suffer.

While most of the country and the federal government has put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, the virus is mutating and new variants emerging.

So far, the variants haven’t been proven to cause any more serious illness, and vaccines remain effective, but there’s no certainty about how the virus may change and what happens next.

According to the most recent data available, weekly hospitalizations were at the lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

But as of May 1, hospitals are no longer required to report COVID-19 hospital admissions, hospital capacity or hospital occupancy data to the federal government.

The dominant variant KP.2 accounts for nearly 25 percent of all infections, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). KP.2 is a descendant of the JN.1 variant, which it recently surpassed as the dominant strain. According to the CDC, JN.1 accounts for 22 percent of all infections.

KP.2 is a member of a group of SARS-CoV-2 variants sometimes called “FLiRT” variants, named because of the technical names for their mutations, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Other FLiRT variants, including KP.1.1, are circulating in the U.S. but are not yet as widespread as KP.2.

William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said there’s nothing substantially different about the new variants compared to past mutations of the virus. They are all subvariants of omicron and contain spike protein mutations that make them more transmissible.

“We’re in the omicron era, and there have been several subvariants that have become dominant. They’re highly communicable, but they don’t appear to produce more severe disease,” Schaffner said.

The spike protein mutations mean vaccines and previously acquired immunity may not protect a person as completely as they did against earlier strains, but lab test show there’s still substantial protection against severe disease, he said.

“We’re now treating this as one of the serious respiratory infections that are predominantly seasonal. It’s now endemic, we’re all learning how to deal with it in a routine fashion. It’s not going to go away,” Schaffner said.

Federal health officials are planning a fall vaccination campaign, and the Food and Drug Administration this week said it is delaying an advisory committee meeting on the formulation of those shots until next month so experts can get more data on the circulating variants.

Officials want the newest vaccine to target the dominant variant, but that can be a moving target. The real world is not a lab. By the time the shots are manufactured and distributed, there will likely be a new dominant strain — something that happens with the annual flu shot as well.

But fewer than 1 in 4 U.S. adults received the shots last fall, and there’s concern that low vaccination rates combined with mutating variants could be a recipe for a summer surge.

The latest variant is also a reminder that some people are still suffering from long COVID.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) this week said it was launching clinical trials to investigate potential treatments for long-term symptoms after COVID-19 infection, including sleep disturbances, exercise intolerance and the worsening of symptoms following physical or mental exertion.

The new trials will enroll approximately 1,660 people across 50 study sites and add to six earlier investigations that are part of the NIH’s Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery Initiative.


AstraZeneca withdraws Covid-19 vaccine, citing low demand
Quote:
AstraZeneca is withdrawing its highly successful coronavirus vaccine, citing the availability of a plethora of new shots that has led to a decline in demand.

The vaccine — called Vaxzevria and developed in partnership with the University of Oxford — has been one of the main Covid-19 vaccines worldwide, with more than 3 billion doses supplied since the first was administered in the United Kingdom on January 4, 2021.

But the vaccine has not generated revenue for AstraZeneca since April 2023, the company said. It has not been used in the United Kingdom for some time.

“As multiple, variant Covid-19 vaccines have … been developed, there is a surplus of available updated vaccines. This has led to a decline in demand for Vaxzevria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied,” it said in a statement shared with CNN Wednesday.

“AstraZeneca has therefore taken the decision to initiate withdrawal of the marketing authorizations for Vaxzevria within Europe,” it added.

In a notice on its website, the European Medicines Agency also announced the withdrawal, which means that Vaxzevria is no longer authorized to be marketed or sold in European Union countries.

AstraZeneca said it would work with regulators in other countries to “align on a clear path forward,” including withdrawing marketing authorizations for the vaccine where no future commercial demand is expected.


Countries struggle to draft ‘pandemic treaty’ to avoid mistakes made during COVID
Quote:
After the coronavirus pandemic triggered once-unthinkable lockdowns, upended economies and killed millions, leaders at the World Health Organization and worldwide vowed to do better in the future. Years later, countries are still struggling to come up with an agreed-upon plan for how the world might respond to the next global outbreak.

A ninth and final round of talks involving governments, advocacy groups and others to finalize a “pandemic treaty” is scheduled to end Friday. The accord’s aim: guidelines for how the WHO’s 194 member countries might stop future pandemics and better share scarce resources. But experts warn there are virtually no consequences for countries that don’t comply.

WHO’s countries asked the U.N. health agency to oversee talks for a pandemic agreement in 2021. Envoys have been working long hours in recent weeks to prepare a draft ahead of a self-imposed deadline later this month: ratification of the accord at WHO’s annual meeting. But deep divisions could derail it.

U.S. Republican senators wrote a letter to the Biden administration last week critical of the draft for focusing on issues like “shredding intellectual property rights” and “supercharging the WHO.” They urged Biden not to sign off.

Britain’s department of health said it would only agree to an accord if it was “firmly in the U.K. national interest and respects national sovereignty.”

And many developing countries say it’s unfair that they might be expected to provide virus samples to help develop vaccines and treatments, but then be unable to afford them.

“This pandemic treaty is a very high-minded pursuit, but it doesn’t take political realities into account,” said Sara Davies, a professor of international relations at Griffith University in Australia.

For example, the accord is attempting to address the gap that occurred between COVID-19 vaccines in rich and poorer countries, which WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said amounted to “a catastrophic moral failure.”

The draft says WHO should get 20% of the production of pandemic-related products like tests, treatments and vaccines and urges countries to disclose their deals with private companies.

“There’s no mechanism within WHO to make life really difficult for any countries that decide not to act in accordance with the treaty,” Davies said.

Adam Kamradt-Scott, a global health expert at Harvard University, said that similar to the global climate agreements, the draft pandemic treaty would at least provide a new forum for countries to try to hold each other to account, where governments will have to explain what measures they’ve taken.

The pandemic treaty “is not about anyone telling the government of a country what it can do and what it cannot do,” said Roland Driece, co-chair of WHO’s negotiating board for the agreement.

There are legally binding obligations under the International Health Regulations, including quickly reporting dangerous new outbreaks. But those have been flouted repeatedly, including by African countries during Ebola outbreaks and China in the early stages of COVID-19.

Suerie Moon, co-director of the Global Health Center at Geneva’s Graduate Institute, said it was critical to determine the expected role of WHO during a pandemic and how outbreaks might be stopped before spreading globally.

“If we fail to seize this window of opportunity which is closing … we’ll be just as vulnerable as we were in 2019,” she warned.

Some countries appear to be moving on their own to ensure cooperation from others in the next pandemic. Last month, President Joe Biden’s administration said it would help 50 countries respond to new outbreaks and prevent global spread, giving the country leverage should it need critical information or materials in the future.

Yuanqiong Hu, a senior legal and policy adviser at Doctors without Borders, said it’s unclear what might be different in the next pandemic, but hoped that focusing attention on some of the glaring errors that emerged in COVID-19 might help.

“We will mostly have to rely on countries to do better,” she said. “That is worrisome.”


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18 May 2024, 1:54 am

COVID "likely growing" in D.C. and 12 states, CDC estimates

Quote:
COVID-19 infections are now likely growing in at least 12 states and the District of Columbia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated Friday, as health authorities are watching for signs the virus might be starting to accelerate again after a springtime lull.

Based on data analyzed by the agency from emergency department visits, CDC modeling suggests COVID-19 infections are increasing in Alaska, Arizona, California, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas and Washington state.

The uptick comes as nearly all parts of the country remain at "low" or "minimal" levels of so-called "respiratory illness activity" under the CDC's benchmarks, similar to previous years' slowdowns in COVID-19's spread over the spring and early summer.

An average of 0.3% of emergency room patients through May 10 were diagnosed with COVID-19 nationwide, far below last summer's peak at nearly 3% in late August. Reported COVID-19 cases in nursing homes also remain close to record lows nationwide.

Preliminary data from the CDC's COVID-19 wastewater surveillance also estimates that levels of the virus remain "minimal" nationwide, though virus levels appear to be trending up in sewersheds from the West.


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“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman