A decision by a federal judge in Florida to throw out a national mask mandate for public transportation across the U.S. created a confusing patchwork of rules for passengers as they navigate airports and transit systems. https://t.co/uMqa8qzWTa
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 19, 2022
Shanghai, battling a major #Omicron BA.2 outbreak, reports its 1st deaths. Health officials in the mega-city of >26M say 3 people, all elderly, have died of Covid. That raises to 4641 the number of people who've reportedly died of Covid in China since 2019 https://t.co/h9u652RFIg
— delthia ricks ? (@DelthiaRicks) April 18, 2022
With covid, not from covid…
Shanghai reported deaths of three people infected with COVID on April 17, the first time during the current outbreak that it reported deaths among coronavirus patients https://t.co/2i92elycQZ pic.twitter.com/qYB6qYIU5r
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 18, 2022
After watching Shanghai — China’s richest, most sophisticated metropolis — humbled and traumatized by the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and a resulting weekslong shutdown, officials across the country have every incentive to jump early, even if residents have no time to prepare…
While global attention has fallen on Shanghai, where 27 million people have been cooped up in their homes for weeks in China’s largest lockdown, there are over 20 other Chinese cities, large and small, under lockdowns or heavy restrictions on movement, according to Caixin, a Chinese magazine.
Many have millions of residents, but names unfamiliar to most foreigners, like Lu’an, Yongcheng and Siping. Qindong, a town with 15,000 residents in northwest China, imposed a virtual shutdown although it has not recorded any cases of Covid. One person there was identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, officials said.
The closure of each town and city, officials maintain, brings China closer to beating Covid. But each closure also burdens populations and an economy weary after over two years of pandemic restrictions…
Senior Chinese officials and Communist Party-run newspapers have said in recent days that China will not weaken its commitment to “zero Covid.” The risk from wider spread of the coronavirus was too great, Ma Xiaowei, the director of China’s National Health Commission, wrote in a party newspaper, The Study Times.
“Our country has a big population, regional development is uneven, and medical resources are generally inadequate,” Mr. Ma wrote. China, he added, “must clearly oppose the erroneous ideas around now about ‘living with the virus.”
Such arguments have come under growing challenge from Chinese people, including medical experts. The lockdowns in Wuhu and elsewhere have drawn online criticism that they were too hasty. Chinese people have also ridiculed the bureaucratic euphemisms that officials increasingly use to describe lockdowns. Xining, a city of 1.6 million residents in northwest China, has called its restrictions “static management.”…
Thousands of people in Shanghai who test positive for COVID-19 but have few or no symptoms are being ordered into quarantine centers. The biggest is the National Exhibition and Convention Center, which has beds for 50,000 people. https://t.co/2C3Ep6NCpo
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 18, 2022
… During the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, local officials contained the virus without resorting to locking down swathes of the city. Success appears to have fed complacency. The highly contagious Omicron variant was barely slowed by initial attempts to contain it early this year.
But the tougher approach mandated by Beijing, including forcible confinement of most of the city’s 26 million residents, separating infected children from parents plus massive censorship of online complaints, hasn’t gone down well. Expecting the lockdown to be brief, few residents stocked up on adequate necessities, nor was the local government prepared to feed a population spread over 6,000 square kilometres. Social media is full of small acts of defiance.
While the city has reported only ten deaths caused by Covid so far, the “dynamic zero” policy of stamping out transmission at all costs has seen hospitals put off treating more severe conditions. In the end this might cause more deaths than save lives. “I’d be better off in jail,” said one elderly man filmed ranting at health workers in hazmat suits. “At least in jail they’d give me medicine.”
Economically it is a nationwide catastrophe. Shanghai’s $700 billion economy contributes roughly 5% of national output. It hosts China’s largest stock market, the world’s most active port by container throughput, a bevy of multinational headquarters and Tesla’s (TSLA.O) Gigafactory.
Plenty of other cities are under similar restrictions, but Shanghai’s crisis is uncomfortably symbolic. The Chinese Communist Party was founded there in 1921, and it was a refuge for starving peasants during the massive famine Mao Zedong set off in 1958. Its cosmopolitan, wealthy residents were among the biggest beneficiaries of economic reform and thus some of the regime’s staunchest supporters. Now even famous wealthy investors must forage for food in online chat groups.
More broadly, the failures highlight how the powerful are starting to experience the downsides of President Xi Jinping’s rule. When a central policy goal fails, state media typically shunts blame onto individual local officials for moral or intellectual failings – as with those who fumbled the response to the early Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan. But Shanghai was supposed to be the best-run city in the country…
Signs of discontent include increasing interest in emigration among wealthy individuals. For the rest of the educated middle class, though, passivity and risk aversion are more likely responses. Recent college graduates’ revived enthusiasm for low-paying but safe government jobs over technology companies or startups is a worrying trend; the country needs entrepreneurs, innovators and a vibrant private sector if it wants to reduce dependence on U.S. technology and universities. But the efficiency gains the People’s Republic won by joining the World Trade Organization in 2001 have been used up; an analysis by economist Harry Wu suggested total factor productivity growth turned negative after the financial crisis. State enterprise reform has stalled. China cannot afford Japanese-style malaise when its gross national income per capita is only 40% of Japan’s.
Xi’s trademark “Chinese Dream of National Rejuvenation” was supposed to be about improving ordinary people’s lives. But the government is demanding more sacrifices with diminishing economic returns. Covid-zero might not attainable, yet it remains a useful propaganda tool to highlight Western democracies’ failure to contain the virus, so the government is stubbornly sticking with it despite rising costs. Unfortunately, in the battle against Covid, Chinese people are getting sick of winning…
— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@hkfp) April 19, 2022
The case for testing Pfizer's Paxlovid for treating long COVID https://t.co/dAUALMGpxP
— Reuters Health (@Reuters_Health) April 18, 2022
Very small sample study, but so many people are desperate for relief. Strong caveat, as noted at the end of the article: Paxlovid interacts badly with a *lot* of common medications, so caution is advised!
Reports of two patients who found relief from long COVID after taking Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) antiviral Paxlovid, including a researcher who tested it on herself, provide intriguing evidence for clinical trials to help those suffering from the debilitating condition, experts and advocates say.
The researcher said her chronic fatigue symptoms, which “felt like a truck hit me,” are gone after taking the two-drug oral therapy…
Scientists caution that these cases are “hypothesis-generating only” and not proof that the drug caused relief of lingering symptoms. But they lend support to a leading theory that long COVID may be caused by the virus persisting in parts of the body for months, affecting patients’ daily lives long after acute symptoms disappear.
The best evidence so far comes from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, currently under peer review, in which researchers conducted autopsies in 44 people who died of COVID-19 or another cause but were infected with COVID. They found widespread infection throughout the body, including in the brain, that can last more than seven months beyond the onset of symptoms.
Paxlovid, which combines a new Pfizer pill with the old antiviral ritonavir, is currently authorized for use in the first days of a COVID infection to prevent severe disease in high-risk patients.
Pfizer spokesman Kit Longley said the company does not have any long COVID studies underway and did not comment on whether it would consider them.
The drugmaker has two large clinical trials testing whether Paxlovid can prevent initial COVID infection. That “may provide us with relevant data to help inform future studies,” Longley said…
In one of the case reports, published as a preprint ahead of peer review, a previously healthy and vaccinated 47-year-old woman became infected with COVID in the summer of 2021. Most of her acute symptoms dissipated within 48 hours, but she continued to have severe fatigue, brain fog, exhaustion after exercise, insomnia, racing heartbeat and body aches severe enough that she could no longer work.
About six months after her initial infection, she was reinfected, likely with COVID, and many of her acute symptoms also returned. Her doctor prescribed a five-day course of Paxlovid.
On day 3, she noticed a rapid improvement of long COVID symptoms. “She’s back to normal,” said Dr. Linda Geng, co-director of Stanford Health Care’s long COVID clinic and author of the case report posted on Research Square…
Dr. Igor Koralnik, who heads Northwestern Medicine’s clinic focused on the neurological effects of long COVID, noted the long list of widely-used medications that are affected by ritonavir and said Paxlovid “can’t be used willy nilly.”
“Paxlovid is not a benign medication,” he said. “There should be studies.”
In the lab: New research is uncovering why #LongCovid causes pain. Some people w/ LongCovid have various forms of pain. Mt. Sinai study in NYC. Team found infection leaves a gene expression signature in the dorsal root ganglia even after the virus clears https://t.co/URaBPswiEz pic.twitter.com/krd3K8NFXU
— delthia ricks ? (@DelthiaRicks) April 18, 2022
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) April 18, 2022
Can't wait until everyone complains that their flights are cancelled because all the staff are out sick with COVID pic.twitter.com/yv9Bo3Yi6s
— Dr. Lucky Tran (@luckytran) April 19, 2022