Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of January 17
This thread is posted weekly, and is intended as a place for more-casual discussion of the coronavirus and questions/updates that may not warrant their own dedicated topics. Tell us about what the situation is like where you live!
Back on December 27, @xnaas posted this in the weekly thread:
I'm following up to say this remains true for me. In the past weeks the number of cases in my social and familial circles have gone up so much that they are no longer distinctly countable. The numbers in my area have rocketed up well past our previous peak -- we are seeing far more positives for COVID than ever before. I now know of too many people who've had it to mentally "keep track", like I had been doing for nearly two years now.
Anecdotally, I also have a lot of people in my circles who suspect they've had it but weren't able to get PCR tests due to demand and who continued to test negative on rapid tests.
Staffing and student attendance remain an issue at my school. We came close to closing down but were able to weather it by pooling kids in common areas when we were down staff. It's a lot easier to have one/two adults watch a large group of kids in the auditorium instead of having them all spread out between multiple classes, for example.
My husband (who also works a high-exposure job) and I have moved our goalposts from "we hope we don't get it" to "when we do get it we hope it's mild". It feels inescapable at this point.
This is where I'm at currently as well. It feels like the rational thing to do, both objectively and for my own mental health. I can relax a bit, try to shed some of the learned paranoia/anxiety of the last 2 years. At the same time, I'm not going fully back to pre-2020 "normal" either. Still wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings, and will get any boosters that come around. But I think I'm in a place where I can accept that I'll be ok if I do get it, and my primary concern will be to avoid infecting anyone else.
Meanwhile I can try and spend more time with small groups of vaccinated friends.
I admit I had been doing that as well. As of yesterday, I've stopped. The reason is that every single person in my (decently large) local social circle has now gotten it at one point or another. This is not an exaggeration; I don't know anyone here who hasn't caught it. And omicron's breakthrough is ... rough. My skating partner had three shots and got it symptomatically.
As for me, I still haven't caught it. I'm taking regular tests for, among other reasons, the CureVac study and not a single one has come back positive yet. Given the current wave (and my lack of personal protection measures), it's moved on from "luck" to "the mix of shots I got might actually have something to do with it".
So, two CureVac shots (early march and early april), and two Moderna shots (early july and august). That's four, all mRNA. I've been avoiding getting a booster for as long as possible, so I haven't had a new one in almost six months.
Both CureVac and Moderna are vaccines targeting the original virus. I find it somewhat unlikely that four doses would be a magic number which grants such strong immunity to catching the virus. Especially because CureVac had the same problems as Pfizer and Moderna when it started facing the Delta wave.
Consensus does seem to be that changing up your booster to a different vaccine grants better immunity.
I feel bad for CureVac. If it turns out their vaccine, in conjunction with Moderna, offers such strong protection, it sucks they didn't get past EMA approval.
I've had similar thoughts as well regarding boosters.
I talked a few weeks back about how my mom was exposed, and she was the only one in her group that didn't get COVID. She was also the only one in her group that was boostered. Sheer coincidence, or the shot at work?
One of my coworkers is boostered and her unvaccinated son got symptoms and tested positive. He's only 4 years old and thus isn't self-isolating, wearing a mask, or socially distancing from her at home. She just assumed that she was going to get it from him -- how could she not? -- but she made it through the entire cycle of her child's symptomatic infection without getting it herself. Lucky break, or something else?
It's hard to know, and I wish we had more clarity on it. I'm in a somewhat unique boat having got the J&J vaccine first, but you're in a league of your own with the CureVac trial you did!
Luck probably does play a part, but from my comment below:
COVID-19: mRNA booster vaccine offers best protection against Omicron
Have you been frequently tested? You may have caught it but were asymptomatic
Yes I’m tested at least once a month, more if I travel or show any symptoms.
who knows, could've slipped through or been suppressed before it reached levels detectable through PCR. It affects everyone differently.
I’m sure I’ve breathed in loads of Covid air. If it’s suppressed before it’s detectable by pcr then the whole point is that the vaccine induced immunity worked.
McSweeney's: The safest place for your kids right now is inside the scorpion pit
Tell me, do you think this is a good article? Do you find it insightful?
Personally, I think it's exactly the sort of FUD that detaches people from reality and gets them paranoid and depressed about COVID. Shock comparisons so it's easily shared and some easy quotes in there so you can have parents yell "I won't send my kids to the scorpion pit!!".
Obviously, the comparison is invalid. And frankly, it's not worth the time to debunk it. But I want to point this out:
Subtext: "School [especially in the US] has problems so it's fucking useless to children anyway".
Man, I thought McSweeney's was better than that.
I will admit to getting a dark, defeated chuckle out of this. It's nothing more than an inflammatory, sardonic unloading -- essentially a Twitter hot take with more words -- but stuff like that occasionally hits the spot, especially to someone who's pretty damn tired of being in the scorpion pit day in and day out.
I don't think it's meant to be taken as serious argument. The part you quote is so hyperbolic it can't really be taken at face value. Instead I think he's just cheekily (and a bit too flippantly, if you ask me) pointing out other longstanding systemic issues my country has failed to adequately deal with in education. I read it more as a pithy way of pointing out that "think of the children" rhetoric rings a bit hollow, especially when it's coming from leaders who have consistently failed to address something as unequivocally harmful as school shootings.
Yeah, maybe. I dunno. I'm not quite taking it at face value, but I find it really hard to read anything other than "school doesn't matter that much anyway so why are we going through so much trouble keeping kids in it?".
And I say this as a secondary school dropout and a strong proponent of out-of-system education.
Keeping in mind that I was also a proponent of closing schools early… it's a complex issue and I am so tired of seeing oversimplifications like these, especially when all I see them leading to is noise and outbursts.
Case in point: I asked @spit-evil-olive-tips a simple question:
And got what amounts to a "fuck you" as a response. (And I think what makes me the saddest is the vote count on it. Really Tildes, this is what we're going for, now?)
I am reminded of the pre-trump election coverage and commenting. Just a bunch of toxicity driving clicks because polarization makes content more viral. People forgetting the human behind the screen in favour of a vilified caricature, because it's simpler to think of them this way.
I don't know what else to say. I am constantly amazed at your ability to see the good faith in these things, kfwyre.
I think it's actually the opposite. I'm not reading this article in good faith; it's instead speaking to a deeply embedded cynicism in me — the darkest part of my heart.
I don't think your reading of it is invalid in the slightest, and I think you have every right to feel the way you feel about it. Despite my earlier comment, I actually feel the same as you do about this. Anyone who uses school shootings as a political football like this author does raises my hackles in the worst way, and the only reason I'm even able to give it the slightest bit of a pass here is because he's using it to make a point I largely agree with. It’s bad rhetoric on his part and even worse praxis on mine, but the author's darkness speaks directly to mine. There's a part of me that's defeated, tired, burnt out, and has no fight left. It's sad; it's hurt; but mostly it's just numb.
I've resolved not to COVID rant here anymore, but if you're interested in the emotional context this article is landing on -- that dark part of my heart -- here's a post of mine from December 2020 where I unequivocally rail against the rhetoric this article is also targeting: the "no spread in schools" drumbeat. This has been persistent and continues even now. I'm coming up on two years of people continually asserting that me, my coworkers, and my students are not in harm's way, that I'm a prissy drama queen for even believing that we could be, and that I'm an entitled blight on society for believing that we deserve something as simple as breathable air. There is genuinely a valid discussion to be had about what’s right regarding schools and student/staff safety (I actually support schools being open believe it or not, albeit with some pretty significant caveats), but most of what I’ve seen relative to this has been in such bad faith or so transparently one-dimensional it poisons the whole topic. That’s what lets me find value in something like this, which flips the direction and lets that one dimension finally work in my favor rather than against me.
This article and tweets/posts like it are like picking at a scab for me. Instead of letting the wound in me heal, it feels good to poke at it, disrupt it, live in it. That burnt out part of me is numb to nearly everything, but what cuts through that deadening? Spite. Smugness. That's what this author serves up, and it feels good to me even though I know, intellectually, it's bad. Your indictment of the article for being "just a bunch of toxicity driving clicks because polarization makes content more viral" is spot on. The feeling this gives me isn't genuine but illusory. It does nothing tangible but distract from the numbness. My response to it is maladaptive, and I know that. I should leave the scab be, but for some reason my hand wants to keep coming back to it.
Part of the reason I made a promise to myself not to COVID rant here anymore was because it was one of the ways I could force myself to keep my hand off the scab. I had to stop going to r/teachers for the same reason. Even though I can guarantee you the complaints there are 110% valid, living and breathing and seething in them daily felt as close to self-gratifying as it did to self-harm.
This is all a very long way of saying that I'm in the wrong on this one, not you. This article isn’t meaningful discussion; it’s empty catharsis.
we're approaching 2 years of this goddamn thing. let people enjoy a fucking satire article.
I thought it was a nice little bit of humor on an otherwise pretty dark subject. I'll take the laughs I can get.
For those in the US, order your test kits now (@kfwyre - looking at you)
Was wondering if that should be a separate post in case not everyone reads this thread anymore.
You can (I live in fear of the moderator.)
Came here to post this myself! Thanks for thinking of me.
I agree with @monarda and think this would be best as a separate post. It's pretty big news for those of us in the US, and many people probably don't keep up with these threads.
I saw somewhere that there's been issues with ordering them in MDU settings-- that in a lot of cases, it is treating the whole building as one residence and not letting more than the first person order.
I did also see that putting the apartment or unit number in the first line has circumvented that for some, but it's something to watch out for if you're in an apartment or condo.
I have a foreboding premonition that this is going to end up as a manufactured scandal, because some smart cookie figured out a way to order millions of these things.
I don't know if anyone here needs to hear this, but I've seen this bad argument elsewhere so apparently this needed to be written:
It’s a Terrible Idea to Deny Medical Care to Unvaccinated People (Ed Yong, The Atlantic)
I’m gonna drop a hard disagree with the overall gist of the article: denying care to the unvaccinated under normal circumstances would be morally dubious, but currently, we have finite healthcare resources, and greater demand than supply. People in many areas can’t get timely emergency care because ER clinicians are preoccupied with covid patients.
Triage is not morally dubious. Vaccinated people can’t get the care they need because of the unvaccinated. I have absolutely zero ethical qualms about deprioritizing (or as the author chooses to frame it, “denying”) care to the unvaccinated wherever it compromises the greater ability of the medical system to do its job. Utilitarianism 101.
(Non-clinical healthcare worker; opinions are my own, not those of my employer.)
Triage does happen and I think it’s legitimate to ask how those procedures might be improved. A thoughtful approach would look at what hospitals are already doing and figure out what’s wrong with it. I don’t think the chatter on the Internet about this from people blowing off steam is all that thoughtful, though?
Are there good proposals that would make sense to people in health care?
Viable proposals? Not really; American healthcare as a whole isn’t fixable in the current political climate.
If I were personally made dictator tomorrow? Sure, abolish the ACA and EMTALA and implement a greenfield, streamlined single payer program. As I understand it, the EMTALA is the legislative barrier to (what is IMO) “proper”/ethical COVID triage, but I won’t pretend to be an expert on healthcare legislation (I’ve definitely read more of it than the vast majority of the population, but have no formal legal training and don’t work in that realm at all).
COVID-19: mRNA booster vaccine offers best protection against Omicron
Discussion on /r/science:
Thanks to Omicron, My school posted that they will only say whether classes will be presential 3 days before classes begin. Given cases on Brazil have gone from 3 thousand a day to 100 thousand, I'm not bullish on in-person classes.
Your Local Epidemiologist has a good overview of recent studies comparing Antigen to PCR tests.
What is Biological E, the Indian company producing Corbevax? (The Guardian)
I got the 'rona. I feel better now - no more chills, no more fever, no more fatigue, no more headache, no more cough, no more runny nose. Just that crusty, post-flu or post-cold feeling. The worst symptoms lasted about a day each: a day of nasty chills, and a day-long horrible sinus headache. The coughing lasted probably 4 or 5 days but wasn't too bad compared to a flu I had once.
I am vaccinated and had the booster shot the month before. I mask up and use alcohol hand sanitizer every time I enter a building.
Direct Comparison of SARS-CoV-2 Nasal RT- PCR and Rapid Antigen Test (BinaxNOW(TM)) at a Community Testing Site During an Omicron Surge (Preprint)
Here is the abstract:
For that last part, the absolute numbers are 42/49 for Nasal alone and 44/49 for Nasal and Throat.
An important limitation: