9 votes

Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of January 24

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!

10 comments

  1. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    The blood markers that could help to diagnose long COVID Here is the paper.

    The blood markers that could help to diagnose long COVID

    Chansavath Phetsouphanh at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and his colleagues analysed blood samples from people with long COVID and found that a SARS-CoV-2 infection elicits an immune response distinct from that of other types of coronavirus, such as those that cause the common cold.

    This response persists in people experiencing long COVID. The team’s analysis pointed to a collection of immune-system molecules that remained abnormally high in individuals with long COVID eight months after infection. These molecules, such as type 1 and type 3 interferons, are usually made at the time of a viral infection. They activate immune cells called T cells and trigger inflammation.

    Here is the paper.

    11 votes
  2. [2]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Covid isn't a human being, it doesn't care what you think about it.

    Covid isn't a human being, it doesn't care what you think about it.

    One of the more strange, uniquely American phenomena over the past two years is when media personalities and politicians talk about Covid like it’s a sentient, rational enemy that must be defied, stood up to, and spited. It’s not just a quirky cultural framework that’s interesting to note in its own right, but part of a larger epistemological regime in American political discourse: So much of how we speak about the world is based on tough-guy bullshit, solipsism, martial posturing, hyper-individualism, and triggering the libs.

    This silly anthropomorphizing of Covid manifests in other ways, similarly marked by the American obsession with personal liberty, spite, and martial posturing. “We can’t live in fear of the virus” has been a popular refrain from mugging politicians and pundits, particularly among Republicans in the summer of 2020. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis repeatedly says “hysteria and fear won't drive Florida,” and countless op-eds repeat a similar theme: “We must not be scared.” But what does this even mean? Would a politician ever say, as storm alarms were blaring, “We can’t live in fear of tornadoes,” or as the earth shook, “We can’t live in fear of earthquakes”? Covid doesn’t care if we live in fear, nor does this concept have any meaning when it comes to what is, in effect, a natural phenomenon.

    8 votes
    1. Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      My brother said this to me sometime in the summer of 2020, and my brain ground to a halt as I tried to process how utterly nonsensical it seemed. At the time the first thing I could think of was...

      “We can’t live in fear of the virus”

      My brother said this to me sometime in the summer of 2020, and my brain ground to a halt as I tried to process how utterly nonsensical it seemed. At the time the first thing I could think of was to attempt to draw a comparison to the British in WWII living under threat of being bombed, and not hiding when the sirens went off because "the kids need to be outdoors". It was a weak comparison, because the opposition in that scenario was still other humans with intent. This comparison to natural disasters is a much better device.

      7 votes
  3. skybrian
    Link
    There’s a new version of omicron but so far it doesn’t appear to be more dangerous [...]

    There’s a new version of omicron but so far it doesn’t appear to be more dangerous

    Known as BA. 2, the new version of the virus is a descendant of the omicron variant responsible for huge surges of covid-19 in the United States and elsewhere around the globe. Virologists are referring to the original omicron variant as BA. 1.

    [...]

    Anders Fomsgaard a virologist at the State Serum Institute in Denmark, said in an email Monday that BA. 2 has become the dominant form of the virus in his nation of nearly 6 million people, where it now accounts for about 65 percent of new cases as BA. 1 is on the decline.

    At the same time, Fomsgaard said, “we are not so concerned, since we so far do not see major differences in age distribution, vaccination status, breakthrough infections and risk of hospitalization. Also, despite the high infection rate of BA. 2, the numbers of hospitalizations [in] ICUs are decreasing.”

    3 votes
  4. [2]
    JakeTheDog
    Link
    Here's an excellent podcast with encouraging and positive news in the wake of Omicron and lots more data analysis. Really helped reduce my heightened anxiety lately,...

    Here's an excellent podcast with encouraging and positive news in the wake of Omicron and lots more data analysis. Really helped reduce my heightened anxiety lately,

    https://peterattiamd.com/covid-part2/

    1 vote
    1. HotPants
      Link Parent
      COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase, driven by the Omicron variant. -- CDC

      Hospitals are truly strained, but it’s really those who had Delta

      COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase, driven by the Omicron variant.

      -- CDC

      3 votes
  5. [3]
    balooga
    Link
    Random thought I had: Are viruses an important part of an ecosystem? Is there such a thing as a "good" virus? What would happen if some technology was invented, picture aerosolized...

    Random thought I had: Are viruses an important part of an ecosystem? Is there such a thing as a "good" virus? What would happen if some technology was invented, picture aerosolized self-replicating nanobots or something, that actively destroyed every virus it encountered. If we could eradicate all viruses from the earth, would there be a downside?

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      PetitPrince
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Some viruses are indeed mutualistic ("symbiotic"), including for humans. This Nature review paper is very approachable for the layman, you should have a look. But for the sake of the answer I will...

      Some viruses are indeed mutualistic ("symbiotic"), including for humans. This Nature review paper is very approachable for the layman, you should have a look. But for the sake of the answer I will paste the (freely accessible) key points below; I'll let you, err... look at your scientific hub of choice for the full text.

      • Viruses have traditionally been thought of as pathogens, but many confer a benefit to their hosts and some are essential for the host life cycle.
      • The polydnaviruses of endoparasitoid wasps have evolved with their hosts to become essential. Many of the viral genes are now encoded in the host nucleus.
      • Endogenous retroviruses are abundant in many genomes of higher eukaryotes, and some have been involved in the evolution of their hosts, such as placental mammals.
      • Some mammalian viruses can protect their hosts from infection by related viruses or from disease caused by completely unrelated pathogens, such as bubonic plague.
      • Viruses can protect their hosts by killing off competitors, as is seen with the killer viruses in yeasts.
      • A fungal virus confers thermal tolerance to a plant in a complex symbiosis involving its fungal host and the plant that the fungus colonizes.
      • Several acute plant viruses confer conditional mutualism by enhancing drought tolerance in plants.
      • Insect viruses have numerous mutualistic relationships with their hosts; in addition, viruses play parts in bacterium–insect mutualisms.

      As usual when talking about life, it has a head start of a few billion years in term of fine tuning and equilibrium, so eradicating a whole class of organism is not without consequences.

      4 votes
      1. balooga
        Link Parent
        Thanks for the thoughtful response I was afraid of, haha. I guess genocide really is never the answer!

        Thanks for the thoughtful response I was afraid of, haha. I guess genocide really is never the answer!

        1 vote