Long read for the weekend!
America’s most famous doctor talks mitigating covid, giving your adversaries the benefit of the doubt and working way too much. https://t.co/cMoJRAJ4p9
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 29, 2022
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday recommended COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers change the design of their booster shots beginning this fall to include components tailored to combat the currently dominant Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the coronavirus.
If authorized, the changes would mark the first major retooling of COVID vaccines, but also could slow their rollout as the FDA has recommended a design somewhat different from what the companies had already tested and started producing.
The FDA will not require new studies testing the BA.4/BA.5 shots in humans to be completed for authorization, a top agency official told Reuters, similar to how annual changes to flu vaccines are handled…
BA.4 and BA.5 are estimated to account for more than 50% of U.S. infections, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and have also become dominant elsewhere.
The FDA said on Thursday that it hoped the modified vaccines could be used in early to mid-fall.
Scientists have suggested redesigned boosters could spur a broader range of immune responses that might also protect against future variants that may emerge.
“Predicting the future with COVID-19 in particular is hazardous, because COVID has faked us out on a number of occasions,” Schaffner said…
Pfizer/BioNTech, which on Wednesday announced a $3.2 billion contract to supply more COVID vaccine doses to the United States, said they would have a substantial amount of BA.4/BA.5 vaccine ready for distribution by the first week of October.
Moderna said it would be late October or early November before its modified vaccine is ready…
Another excellent (long weekend) read:
… Here in the U.S., vaccine enthusiasm has a pretty dire prognosis. Fewer than half of the vaccinated Americans eligible for a first booster have opted for one; an even paltrier fraction of those who could get second and third boosters are currently up to date on their shots. Among high-income countries, the U.S. ranks embarrassingly low on the immunity scale—for a nation with the funds and means to holster shots in spades, far too many of its residents remain vulnerable to the variants sweeping the globe, and the others that will inevitably come.
Those numbers are unlikely to budge in future inoculation rounds, unless “we do something very dramatically different,” says Kevin Schulman, a physician and economist at Stanford University. The next round of vaccines could start its rollout by early October, depending on its contents, making this autumn the first COVID-shot update of the rest of our lives—and marking one of the ways we’ll have to permanently incorporate SARS-CoV-2 into our thinking. The round of shots rolled out this fall, then, won’t just be a sequel to the injections of the past year and a half; it will be a chance for a true cultural reboot. By year’s end, America will likely set a vaccine precedent, either breaking its pattern of injection attrition or further solidifying it, and letting the virus once again lap us…
The shots have also become much harder to get. Mass vaccination sites have closed, especially affecting low-income and rural regions, where there’s a dearth of medical centers and pharmacies. Pandemic funds have dried up, imperiling shot supply. Ever-changing recommendations have also created an impossible-to-navigate matrix of eligibility. Since the booster rollout began, recommendations on when to boost and how many times have shifted so often that many people haven’t realized the shots were actually available to them, or were mistakenly turned away from vaccination sites that couldn’t parse the complex criteria dictating who was allowed an extra dose. Pile onto that the persistent problems that have stymied initial vaccinations—a lack of paid sick leave, fears of side effects, the hassles and costs of scheduling and traveling to a shot—and it sends a message: The shots can’t be so necessary if they’re this cumbersome to get…
“People just aren’t as concerned,” says Mysheika Roberts, the health commissioner of Columbus, Ohio. “The fear of the virus has changed a lot.” Of the 230,000 vaccines Roberts’s team has delivered to her community since December 2020, only 16,000 have been boosters. In an atmosphere of mass relaxation, the urgency of more vaccines—a reminder of the pandemic’s persistent toll—simply doesn’t register. Compared with the pandemic’s early days, we’re now “fighting complacency and fatigue” that wasn’t bogging us down before, says Angela Shen, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Immunization ennui has created cracks into which anti-vaccine misinformation has quickly seeped. “It allowed the dominance of the negative messages,” Schulman told me, with a fervor that pro-vaccine messages have yet to match…
… WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said cases were on the rise in 110 countries, mostly driven by the omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.
“This pandemic is changing, but it’s not over,” Tedros said this week during a press briefing. He said the ability to track COVID-19′s genetic evolution was “under threat” as countries relaxed surveillance and genetic sequencing efforts, warning that would make it more difficult to catch emerging and potentially dangerous new variants.
He called for countries to immunize their most vulnerable populations, including health workers and people over 60, saying that hundreds of millions remain unvaccinated and at risk of severe disease and death…
Tedros said that while more than 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally, the average immunization rate in poor countries is about 13%.
“If rich countries are vaccinating children from as young as 6 months old and planning to do further rounds of vaccination, it is incomprehensible to suggest that lower-income countries should not vaccinate and boost their most at risk (people),” he said.
According to figures compiled by Oxfam and the People’s Vaccine Alliance, fewer than half of the 2.1 billion vaccines promised to poorer countries by the Group of Seven large economies have been delivered…
I think we would do what "the rest of the world" is doing if we wanted the same outcomes as the "rest of the world". This is not the case. mRNA vaccinations won't do much about Long-COVID so would not affect the Zero-COVID policy.https://t.co/qHVtAJo0M6https://t.co/swAfp0OhdJ pic.twitter.com/2JSFFWjrvR
— Naomi Wu 机械妖姬 (@RealSexyCyborg) June 30, 2022
… Announcing results of an investigation, the North ordered people to “vigilantly deal with alien things coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons in the areas along the demarcation line and borders,” the official KCNA news agency said.
The agency did not directly mention South Korea, but North Korean defectors and activists have for decades flown balloons from the South across the heavily fortified border, carrying leaflets and humanitarian aid.
South Korea’s unification ministry, handling inter-Korean affairs, said there was “no possibility” of the virus entering the North through leaflets sent across the border…
The North’s first admission of a COVID outbreak came months after it eased border lockdowns enforced since early in 2020 to resume freight train operations with China.
But it would have been difficult for Pyongyang to point fingers at China, said Lim Eul-chul, a professor at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University.
“If they concluded the virus was from China, they would have had to tighten quarantine measures on the border area in a further setback to North Korea-China trade,” Lim said.
The North has claimed the COVID wave has shown signs of subsiding, although experts suspect under-reporting in the figures released through government-controlled media…
In today's @washingtonpost, I describe why it's prudent to remain careful despite the fall in hospitalizations & deaths in recent months.
It's all about Long Covid – both prolonged symptoms & the elevated long-term risk of MI, stroke, diabetes, & more. https://t.co/wypEQ2TJCJ
— Bob Wachter (@Bob_Wachter) June 29, 2022
But it seems like the poor cat caught it from her people:
… The feline finding, published in on 6 June, came about by accident, says co-author Sarunyou Chusri, an infectious-disease researcher and physician at Prince of Songkla University in Hat Yai, southern Thailand. In August, a father and son who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 were transferred to an isolation ward at the university’s hospital. Their ten-year-old cat was also swabbed and tested positive. While being swabbed, the cat sneezed in the face of a veterinary surgeon, who was wearing a mask and gloves but no eye protection.
Three days later, the vet developed a fever, sniffles and a cough, and later tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, but none of her close contacts developed COVID-19, suggesting that she had been infected by the cat. Genetic analysis also confirmed that the vet was infected with the same variant as the cat and its owners, and the viral genomic sequences were identical…
The @washingtonpost Editl Bd
"Mr. #Trump embraced a wrongheaded policy that appealed to his hope the virus would go away…How wrong was Dr. Atlas? He said that the virus might cause abt 10,000 deaths. In the end, it directly caused at least 1 million…"https://t.co/1YoKhWb9zZ
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) June 30, 2022
Blue state, losing patience…
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