The Biden administration is extending the #Covid public health emergency thru Jan. 11 as officials brace for a winter spike in cases. Covid has faded from people's minds. Deaths & infections are down &people—many maskless—have returned to pre-pandemic life https://t.co/YqnJ4vxYqr
— delthia ricks 🔬 (@DelthiaRicks) October 15, 2022
I’ll admit: I was dubious about early reports of OMG SCARY VARIANTS from the usual suspects, but now the reporting includes people whose opinions I trust…
… The latest data from the CDC showed that BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 each accounted for 5.7% of sequenced cases in the U.S. (up from less than 1% in mid-September), while BF.7 was responsible for 5.3%.
In an interview with CBS News, Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical adviser to President Biden, said, “When you get variants like that, you look at what their rate of increase is as a relative proportion of the variants, and this has a pretty troublesome doubling time.”
New COVID cases in the U.S. continue on a downward trend, with a 7-day moving average of 37,808, according to the latest CDC data. And deaths are also trending down, with a 7-day moving average of 332.
The uptick overseas comes as some medical professionals in the U.K. have taken to social media to express concern over a potential new increase in COVID-related blood clots as a result of new variants.
Though experts in the U.S. told MedPage Today that they have not yet observed such a trend stateside, they acknowledged that the impact of new variants, such as BQ.1.1, as well as the ongoing risk of blood clotting during and after COVID infection, are both areas to keep a close eye on…
In his interview with CBS News, Fauci acknowledged that likelihood. “The bad news is that there’s a new variant that’s emerging and that has qualities or characteristics that could evade some of the interventions we have.”
“But,” Fauci further told the outlet, “the somewhat encouraging news is that it’s a BA.5 sublineage, so there are almost certainly going to be some cross-protection that you can boost up.”
… The week before last — the week ending Oct. 8 — was the first week of the 2022-2023 flu reporting season. The CDC posted its first update for the new season on Friday, Oct. 14. The percentage of flu tests that were positive has been ticking up for the past few weeks. Is the CDC detecting signs that we might see an early start to the flu season?
I think we are. Nationally, flu positivity in the clinical labs last week was 3.3%, but it was over 10% in the Southeast. And in the South Central region, it was 5%. Flu hospitalizations are going up. And they’re going up in the same places where flu positivity is going up and ILIs [influenza-like illnesses] are going up.
All the pieces are sort of falling into place, and you’re getting sort of a consistent picture in the Southeast and maybe in South Central, and it’s probably spreading out.
So things are starting to bubble. I’ve been waiting to get my flu shot till it seemed like transmission was picking up. Maybe I should start thinking about booking it?
I went and got mine last week. And I usually wait a little bit later. But living here in the Southeast, I thought it was time…
… Former CDC director Robert Redfield, former top deputy Anne Schuchat and others described how the Trump White House and its allies repeatedly “bullied” staff, tried to rewrite their publications and threatened their jobs in an attempt to align the CDC with the more optimistic view of the pandemic espoused by Donald Trump, the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis concluded in a report released Monday.
Several public health officials detailed a months-long campaign against Schuchat sparked by Trump appointees’ belief that her grim assessments of the pandemic reflected poorly on the president, leading Schuchat, a 32-year CDC veteran, to openly wonder if she would be fired in the summer of 2020, her colleagues told the panel.
The panel’s latest report also offers new insight into key flash points, such as a CDC-backed plan to require masks on public and commercial transportation in the summer of 2020, with Martin Cetron, director of the agency’s division of global migration and quarantine, citing evidence that the requirement would reduce covid risks to travelers.
Redfield and other officials told the panel that they believed they might be fired if they angered the White House, hindering the CDC’s ability to fight the virus…
Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who chairs the panel, said that the report demonstrates how the Trump White House engaged in a concerted effort “to downplay the seriousness” of the pandemic.
“This prioritization of politics, contempt for science, and refusal to follow the advice of public health experts harmed the nation’s ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus crisis and put Americans at risk,” Clyburn said in a statement.
Clyburn’s panel has spent more than two years investigating the Trump administration’s pandemic response, issuing reports that detailed White House pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to authorize unproven coronavirus treatments, such as the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, and its efforts to overrule public health officials on coronavirus guidance for churches; and exploring how its focus on challenging the 2020 election outcome distracted from the virus response, among other findings…
The report also details how Trump appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services worked to wrest control of the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWRs), which offer public updates on scientists’ findings and had been considered off-limits to political appointees for decades…
Life expectancy changes during the Covid pandemic among 29 countries: the US among the most pronounced reduction. Several countries had bounce back improvement in 2021 (black arrows below). Vaccination uptake was correlated w/ less deficithttps://t.co/DIxN3ZrvsK @NatureHumBehav pic.twitter.com/GE2VJMjP84
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) October 17, 2022
"Countries with a higher share of vaccinated individuals suffered the least life expectancy deficit."
and to note bounce back of USA for age 80+ in 2021https://t.co/EM2Fq0hciJ
Summary of the paper@jschoeley @jm_aburto @ridhikash07 @OxfordDemSci pic.twitter.com/gHSvgiTj90
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) October 17, 2022
The government's suppression of truth, how Dr. Wenliang was treated even before he got Covid, and important discrepancies are noted pic.twitter.com/q6uu7RioQ1
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) October 15, 2022
India reports 1,542 fresh #Covid19 cases, 1,919 recoveries and 8 deaths in the last 24 hours.
— BQ Prime (@bqprime) October 18, 2022
Thread from an Australian data analyst:
Here's the latest variant picture for Australia:
Lineages with 5+ "Key RBD mutations" continue to grow in frequency, up to 15% of recent samples.
This method includes lineages BQ.1.* and BM.1.* from the "great convergence", as well as those with more mutations.
— Mike Honey (@Mike_Honey_) October 14, 2022
— T. Ryan Gregory (@TRyanGregory) October 15, 2022
"There are now 95 nasal vaccines under development around the world…. 6 have reached the final Phase 3 in clinical trials." None of those late trials are in the US. India and China already have approved nasal/inhaled vaccineshttps://t.co/mVwaXZ9vne @carmenpaun @adamcancryn pic.twitter.com/ix6zZYqun7
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) October 15, 2022
In case you saw some forwarded version of the NYPost’s scaremongering:
… There is no evidence the work, performed under biosecurity level 3 precautions in BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories, was conducted improperly or unsafely. In fact, it was approved by an internal biosafety review committee and Boston’s Public Health Commission, the university said Monday night.
But it has become apparent that the research team did not clear the work with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which was one of the funders of the project. The agency indicated it is going to be looking for some answers as to why it first learned of the work through media reports…
The research has been posted online as a preprint, meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed. The senior author is Mohsan Saeed, from BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories. STAT reached out to Saeed on Monday but had not received a response by the time this article was published.
In emailed comments, the university later disputed the claims made by some media outlets that the work had created a more dangerous virus.
The email, from Rachel Lapal Cavallario, associate vice president for public relations and social media, said that the work was not, as claimed, gain of function research, a term that refers to manipulation of pathogens to make them more dangerous. “In fact, this research made the virus [replication] less dangerous,” the email stated, adding that other research groups have conducted similar work…
The goal of the research was to determine if the mutations in the Omicron spike protein were responsible for this variant’s increased ability to evade the immunity to SARS-2 that humans have built up, and whether the changes led to Omicron’s lower rate of severity.
The testing actually showed, though, that the chimeric virus was more lethal to a type of lab mice than Omicron itself, killing 80% of the mice infected. Importantly, the original Wuhan strain killed 100% of mice it was tested in.
The conclusion of the study is that mutations in the spike protein of the Omicron variant are responsible for the strain’s ability to evade immunity people have built up via vaccination, infections, or both, but they are not responsible for the apparent decrease in severity of the Omicron viruses…
The fatality rate seen in this strain of mice when they were infected with these viruses raises questions about how good a model they are for what happens when people are infected with SARS-2. The Wuhan strain killed less than 1% of people who were infected.
Virologist Angela Rasmussen, who was not involved in the research, had some sympathy for the BU scientists, saying there is ambiguity in the rules as they are currently written.
“I’d personally reach out for clarification from NIAID when in doubt, but it’s often not obvious when additional guidance is warranted. And because it’s not very transparent, it’s hard to look at other decisions NIAID has made for examples,” she said.
“I’m very tired of people suggesting that virologists and NIAID are reckless or don’t care about biosafety,” said Rasmussen, a coronavirus expert at the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization. “The problem isn’t that. The problem is that the guidelines and expectations aren’t clear for many experiments and the process isn’t transparent.”
Thread, with speculations:
Something interesting is happening in New York. Cases have been flat over the past month, however hospitalizations are jumping significantly. New York has the highest BQ.1* proportions in the country, estimated at 25% of cases today by CovSpectrum pic.twitter.com/wNCgrz2CWx
— JWeiland (@JPWeiland) October 16, 2022
.@_DCHealth and @MayorBowser @MurielBowser have an excellent system in place. It is easy to walk in, get your COVID booster, your flu shot and get tested. And they have free rapid antigen tests & KN95 masks to take home with you.
Refreshing to see strong leadership in action. https://t.co/Y7alKMFDLz
— Rick Bright (@RickABright) October 17, 2022
(Data from the Financial Times, not exactly known as a bastien of ‘wokeness’)
The states with the highest rates of long Covid, meanwhile, are all red states no one thinks are home to a bunch of neurotics: West Va, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Idaho, Mississippi, and Alabama. What do these states have in common: very high cumulative Covid case rates.
— James Surowiecki (@JamesSurowiecki) October 15, 2022
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