Thursday, February 24, 2022

How long does a COVID booster shot offer protection against omicron?

Specifically, the researchers found that after a third shot of Pfizer, protection against hospitalizations starts out above 95% (two weeks after the shot) and remains around 80% even after four months.

By comparison, with only two shots of any vaccine, protection against severe disease declines to 40% after six months.

The researchers only have short-term data for the Moderna vaccine, but the results are likely to echo the Pfizer numbers given the similarities of these mRNA vaccines and their comparable behavior with the delta variant.

The findings from the study raise the question of what the future holds for these vaccines, says immunologist Deepta Bhattacharya at the University of Arizona.

"I don't think it's a sustainable strategy to ask people to get boosters of the same vaccine every two months or three months. People just aren't going to do it," he says. "I myself felt awful after I got the second shot."

Perhaps, instead, the goal may need to shift from stopping infections to making sure everyone is protected against severe disease over the long-term.

"Could we get to the point where public health officials recommend a shot once a year," Bhattacharya says. "I think that's fairly likely. Now, whether everyone will absolutely need that shot to prevent severe disease each year, that's a different question, and we'll have to wait for the data

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

COVID still threatens millions. So why are so many Americans eager to move on?

"I'm that disgusted. The lack of care for each other, to me, it's too much," said White, 30, of Los Angeles. She has multiple sclerosis and takes a medicine that suppresses her immune system. "As a Black disabled person, I feel like nobody gives a [expletive] about me or my safety."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a strict definition of who is considered moderately or severely immunocompromised, such as cancer patients undergoing active treatment and organ transplant recipients. Still, millions of other people are living with chronic illnesses or disabilities that also make them especially susceptible to the disease. Though vulnerability differs based on each person and their health condition — and can depend on circumstances — catching COVID is a risk they cannot take.

As a result, these Americans who are at high risk — and the loved ones who fear passing along the virus to them — are speaking out about being left behind as the rest of society drops pandemic safeguards such as masking and physical distancing.

Their fears were amplified this month as several Democratic governors, including the leaders of California and New York — places that were out front in implementing mask mandates early on — moved to lift such safety requirements. To many people, the step signaled that "normal" life was returning. But for people considered immunocompromised or who face high risks from COVID because of other conditions, it upped the level of anxiety.

Pandemic ends Thursday (UK)

The UK is dropping its mandates.  One out of 25 people in the UK is currently infected with COVID-19.  In the United States, it is one out of 12.

The Omicron variant is becoming endemic, where it is far less deadly but far more infectious.  It probably is here to stay.  Possibly everyone will be exposed to it.

Friday, February 18, 2022 - Free at-home COVID-19 tests

This website offers 4 free COVID-19 tests.  I think that mine came with 5 tests.  Maybe the supplier changed.

Early this week I was feeling sick, so I took the test and it was negative.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

10 scientific arguments for Lab Leak

1) No animals have been found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2

Under the natural origin theory, the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, would have originated in an animal and traveled to humans either directly or through an intermediate host animal. 

This natural spillover has precedent. For example, researchers traced the first Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 back to bat caves in China's Yunnan province, and the likely intermediary host animals were masked palm civets that tested positive for the virus. 

The trouble with drawing the same conclusion for COVID-19 is that no one has identified an animal that has tested positive for the novel coronavirus that caused the global pandemic.

It's not for a lack of trying. Investigators tested more than 80,000 animals in China, including hundreds linked to the Huanan seafood market associated with the early cases of COVID-19, but "no positive result was identified for SARS-CoV-2," the World Health Organization (WHO) study on the origins of COVID-19 says.

"They tested an unprecedented 80,000 animals covering 209 species, including wild, domestic and market animals … and they found no infections in animals," Muller, the professor emeritus, told Fox News Digital. 

"They found nothing. But instead of drawing a scientific conclusion from that, the World Health Organization came up with excuses."

The controversial World Health Organization (WHO) study on the origins of COVID-19 says the most likely scenario was a transmission from bats to an unknown host animal to humans, while the lab leak is "extremely unlikely." But even the WHO has backtracked and admitted it was too quick to rule out the lab theory and has revived its investigation.  

2) No evidence of pre-epidemic infections

During past coronavirus epidemics, such as SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2013, there was evidence of extensive human infection from animals prior to the virus mutating to become transmissible between humans and sparking the pandemic, Muller said. 

Investigators tested more than 9,000 human biological samples – including blood, plasma and throat swabs – that were stored at hospitals and blood banks prior to the pandemic, Muller said, citing data from the WHO report. 

It was expected that between 100 and 400 would be positive for SARS-CoV-2, based on the natural outbreak experiences with SARS and MERS, Muller said. But in this case, zero tested positive.

"There is no evidence of multiple animal-to-human transmissions," said Dr. Steven Quay, a physician and founder of Atossa Therapeutics. 

Muller and Quay have worked together on studying coronavirus origins and have presented their findings to Congress and in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

The lack of evidence of pre-pandemic infection and genetic purity of the virus suggests COVID-19 wasn't a natural spillover from animals, but a lab-acquired infection, the scientists say.

3) The genetic fingerprint of the virus is so unique it has never been observed in a natural coronavirus 

Quay, who is writing a book on why COVID-19 originated from a lab, said SARS-CoV-2 has a unique trigger on its surface called a furin cleavage site and a unique code in its genes for that site, called a CGG-CGG dimer. This combination has never been found naturally and therefore points to a lab-manipulated virus, he says.

Since 1992, in gain-of-function research experiments, laboratories have inserted furin sites into viruses repeatedly, Quay said. The end result is supercharged, more infectious viruses, he said. 

"These gene jockeys have put in a furin site into a virus that didn't have one in the laboratory," Quay told Fox News Digital. "Eleven out of 11 times it makes it more effective, more transmissible, more lethal -- all the bad things you'd want. So if you want to juice up a virus and make it more infective or make it go from bats to humans, putting in a furin cleavage site is a great idea."

and 7 points...

10 reasons why scientists believe coronavirus originated from lab in Wuhan, China | Fox News

The lab leakers tend to be more interested in biosecurity, transparency, and human hubris. They exhibit an admirable drive to follow the money, to upend centralized power, to overturn academic hierarchy, and to expose the injustices of oppressive governments. Some are China hawks. By and large, they have not done virus-hunting field or lab work.

On the natural-origin side, most people have done the kind of field and lab work that the W.I.V. pursued—and are regularly bowled over by nature's endless diversity. They believe in scientific precedent, as opposed to uncertainties that have yet to be resolved. Many people in this camp have devoted their careers to conservation, biodiversity, and public health, and have been warning about a future pandemic for years. Spillovers most often happen because of land-use change, or human encroachment into previously wild places, which is happening on pretty much the entire planet, but particularly in areas that are developing rapidly, like south China and southeast Asia.

More than one virologist reminded me that nature is the best bioterrorist. It's far more creative than humans are. With enough time, evolution is capable of anything we can imagine, and everything we can't. "If you look at a platypus, you can very clearly realize that that's not something somebody would have designed, right?" Andersen said. "Because it's too absurd. It's a bit of a disaster. But it works pretty well." It occupies its own ecological niche. Some of the notable features of sars-CoV-2, Andersen said, make it "the platypus of coronaviruses."

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Pusan National University Scientists Reveal Links Between Sperm Quality and Cell Phone Use

In an effort to bring more up-to-date results to the table, a team of researchers led by Assistant Professor Yun Hak Kim from Pusan National University, Korea, conducted a new meta-analysis on the potential effects of cell phones on sperm quality. They screened 435 studies and records published between 2012 and 2021 and found 18—covering a total of 4280 samples—that were suitable for the statistical analyses. Their paper was made available online on July 30, 2021 and was published in Volume 202 of Environmental Research in November, 2021.

Overall, the results indicate that cell phone use is indeed associated with reduced sperm motility, viability, and concentration.

Correlation is not causality.  I think that the study is questionable.  You would have to rule out other factors.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Risks of myocarditis, pericarditis, and cardiac arrhythmias associated with COVID-19 vaccination or SARS-CoV-2 infection | Nature Medicine


This is the largest study to date of acute cardiac outcomes after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination or infection, the first to compare the risk of cardiac events between different vaccine products and SARS-CoV2 infection and the first to investigate the association between cardiac events and the ChAdOx1 vaccine.

Our findings are relevant to the public, clinicians and policy makers. First, there was an increase in the risk of myocarditis within a week of receiving the first dose of both adenovirus and mRNA vaccines, and a higher increased risk after the second dose of both mRNA vaccines. In contrast, we found no evidence of an increase in the risk of pericarditis or cardiac arrhythmias following vaccination, except in the 1–28 days following a second dose of the mRNA-1273 (Moderna) vaccine. Second, in the same population, there was a greater risk of myocarditis, pericarditis and cardiac arrhythmia following SARS-CoV-2 infection. Third, the increased risk of myocarditis after vaccination was higher in persons aged under 40 years. We estimated extra myocarditis events to be between 1 and 10 per million persons in the month following vaccination, which was substantially lower than the 40 extra events per million persons observed following SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Number of active cases

The number of active cases has remained flat for a few days.  Still, with roughly 30 million cases, this means that one out of eleven Americans has COVID-19 right now.  That seems like an astonishing number.  This only includes people who report being infected.  There could be many more who don't.

About a month ago, we were setting records for daily new cases and this continued for a while.  Now it is dropping.  Maybe the virus is running out of people to infect.

I feel like Omicron is a different disease.  It is 10 times less deadly but at least 10 times more infectious.  Hospitalizations did not go down with Omicron but peaked around January 20nth.

Whereas the vaccines were 80% effective against Delta, according to a couple of different articles, the booster vaccine is either 34% or 80% effective against the Omicron variant, but it wanes maybe after 3 months.