11 votes

Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of January 18

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!

31 comments

  1. [2]
    kfwyre
    Link
    Usual personal update: One of my co-teachers tested positive. We share a class in a somewhat cramped room, so this is someone who I stand six feet away from for an hour each day. We wear masks,...

    Usual personal update:

    One of my co-teachers tested positive. We share a class in a somewhat cramped room, so this is someone who I stand six feet away from for an hour each day. We wear masks, keep the windows open, have air purifiers running, and don't go near one another, so I'm trying to tell myself that there's a chance I don't have it on account of our myriad precautions, but we share space with one another for an hour each day. We also have to project our voices through masks and over the background noise of fans, which is about the worst thing you can do for viral spread. I think it's very likely that I have it.

    I already had a precautionary test scheduled for this afternoon (now that I'm back with kids and my local testing isn't swamped, I am getting myself tested twice a week), so that was lucky. I'll find out the results of that tomorrow, but it won't be definitive if it's a negative because I could still be in the incubation phase, so I'll be signing up for another test a few days from now when those appointments open. I've initiated a full quarantine already, and the next few days are going to be nerve-wracking. No symptoms yet, which is good, but that doesn't really mean anything yet given how early I likely am in the timeline.

    I've been very lucky so far in all of this, but I don't know that my good luck is going to hold this time. This is by far the closest contact I've had with a positive case.

    10 votes
    1. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Test results from yesterday came back negative. While I'm happy it wasn't a positive, I'm definitely not out of the woods yet. Talked to my co-teacher today who described feeling as if she had...

      Test results from yesterday came back negative.

      While I'm happy it wasn't a positive, I'm definitely not out of the woods yet. Talked to my co-teacher today who described feeling as if she had "been hit by a car". I'm worried about her. She's a fantastic teacher and co-worker, and it sounds like her case isn't a mild one.

      The only potential symptom I have at present is a scratchy throat I've had since yesterday, but I pretty much end every workweek with a scratchy throat because of how I have to stress my voice to be heard on account of masks, distancing, and fan noise. I still have taste and smell, I have no fever, I'm not coughing, and I'm not feeling any fatigue. Hopefully all of that holds.

      11 votes
  2. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    Canada’s best-kept secret? The Atlantic bubble [...] [...]

    Canada’s best-kept secret? The Atlantic bubble

    On the east coast of Canada, the Atlantic provinces — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island (PEI) — have spent the first year of the pandemic quietly honing an enviable blueprint for how to live with the coronavirus. In the region — which has a land area twice the size of the United Kingdom and a population of 2.3 million — active case numbers have mostly remained in the single or double-digits, and fewer than 100 deaths have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic. All the while, the economies haven't fared as poorly as the rest of the country.What's been dubbed the "Atlantic bubble" has been hailed as a "miracle" by some and touted as "North America's New Zealand" by others.

    [...]

    When the pandemic hit, public health authorities on the east coast quickly realized their health systems wouldn't be able to cope with skyrocketing cases — so they acted swiftly and strictly, imposing a set of tough restrictions, including closing parks and schools, closing the provincial borders to any non-essential travel, and mandating a two-week quarantine period for those entering the region.

    Dr. Susan Kirkland, head of the epidemiology department at Halifax's Dalhousie University and a member of Nova Scotia's COVID-19 task force, says it was "one of the most successful things we've done. People who are not from the Atlantic region find that to be a very tight restriction, but quite frankly it's a tight restriction that's worked very well for us."

    [...]

    By July, the four Atlantic provinces were all faring so well that they formed a bubble, so residents from the four provinces could travel freely within the region without having to quarantine, while non-residents were allowed entry as long as they quarantined. The free movement within the region lasted until just before Christmas, when New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and PEI saw an uptick in cases and closed their borders — though there's already talk of re-opening the bubble.

    9 votes
    1. rogue_cricket
      Link Parent
      Oh hey I live here. In New Brunswick, which is currently having its second wave as mentioned. Restrictions in my province have again been tightened to get ahead of it and hopefully it works....

      Oh hey I live here. In New Brunswick, which is currently having its second wave as mentioned.

      Restrictions in my province have again been tightened to get ahead of it and hopefully it works. Internally, we have a tiered response depending on the amount of community spread, with "red" phase being the most severe, which we're in now. The red phase shuts down many businesses completely when previously they could be active with restrictions, and social bubbles are currently limited to a single household plus necessary caregivers. Unfortunately, the rules about schools have been loosened, so I don't think the second outbreak is being dealt with as well as the first one, but red phase just started recently so we'll see over the coming weeks.

      One side-effect of handling this virus decently is that folks have been moving to our low cost-of-living, relatively Corona-stable area much more, especially with remote work becoming more common. A lot of people who move out for work are coming back (a local joke is that NB's top export is New Brunswickers). Housing prices are being driven up slowly but noticeably; rent is going up much faster. This isn't something we've dealt with before as a province, so there's no laws dealing with spiking rent. I hope renters can get some help soon. I am glad to not be renting right now, it's not easy out there for local renters.

      6 votes
  3. [2]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Still going to the grocery store? With new virus variants spreading, it’s probably time to stop. I've been going to the grocery store once or twice a week pretty consistently, because (at least...

    Still going to the grocery store? With new virus variants spreading, it’s probably time to stop.

    While these variants haven’t been shown to be more deadly, a more transmissible virus is actually worse in many ways than a more lethal one. Cases snowball at a faster rate, Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch said on a recent press call. With a 50 percent rise in infectiousness, for example, “in less than two weeks, you get twice the number of cases,” Lipsitch said. “And in a month or so, you have four, five times as many cases. But that’s very approximate.”

    When you do have to be around other people, use a mask — but not just any mask. The other lesson of the new variants, Frieden told Vox, is that we need to get better at masking.

    “The fact that [the variants] are so infectious suggests to me having a better mask is a good idea,” Frieden said. When it comes to avoiding an infection, “a surgical mask is better than a cloth mask, a tight-fitting surgical mask is better than a loose-fitting mask, and an N95 is better than a surgical mask.”

    Most Americans, however, still rely on cloth masks. Part of the problem is that the CDC continues to recommend cloth masks — what should have been a stopgap measure while the government procured better, medical-grade masks for citizens, Zeynep Tufekci and Jeremy Howard pointed out in the Atlantic.

    I've been going to the grocery store once or twice a week pretty consistently, because (at least here in Seattle) everyone is good about wearing masks and social distancing in the store. Going to re-think that now.

    8 votes
    1. Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      Here in the Midwest, Kroger has had pickup services at most locations for a few years before the pandemic. I used it before because it was convenient (searching with a keyboard is easier than...

      Here in the Midwest, Kroger has had pickup services at most locations for a few years before the pandemic. I used it before because it was convenient (searching with a keyboard is easier than searching a shelf). I have set foot in a grocery store exactly 3 times in the last 9 months, and you couldn't pay me to go into one now.

      6 votes
  4. [3]
    skybrian
    (edited )
    Link
    Why Aren’t We Wearing Better Masks? I don’t know what to buy either but I think it’s long past time to try actual N95 masks and ordered these based on a review.

    Why Aren’t We Wearing Better Masks?

    Tragically, America is swamped with fraudulent medical-grade masks, some of which are only 1 percent effective. Many masks do not have labels clearly indicating their manufacturer. Some official mask-testing methods are inappropriate, including the use of far higher pressure than normal breathing exerts. No reasonable certification is available for the most useful masks generally available to the public. All of this means that everyone has to somehow figure out for themselves which masks are effective.

    We routinely get PR pitches for excellent new solutions as well as snake-oil remedies, and we sometimes have trouble telling them apart—how is an ordinary person supposed to evaluate competing claims? When we share our articles about masks on social media, we are asked where to buy proper masks. Not only do we have no answer, but we often find that marketers will answer instead, directing readers to unreliable, overpriced masks. Worse, the supply situation apparently remains so dire that the CDC still “does not recommend that the general public wear N95 respirators,” because they’re crucial supplies that must continue to be reserved for health-care workers and other first responders.

    Not all countries have this problem. Taiwan massively scaled up its manufacturing of masks at the start of 2020, such that by April every citizen received a fresh supply of high-quality masks each week, and the distribution system was regulated by the government. Taiwan’s COVID-19 death rate per capita is more than 1,000 times lower than that in the U.S. Hong Kong has been distributing patented six-layer masks (the efficacy of which has been laboratory tested) to every citizen. Singapore is on at least its fourth round of distributing free, reusable, multilayer masks with filters to everyone—even kids, who get kid-size ones. In Germany, Bavaria has just announced that it will be requiring higher-grade masks. If all of these places can do this, why can’t we?

    Fixing this problem is more urgent now that a new variant of the coronavirus, known as the B.1.1.7 lineage, is making its way around the world. [...]

    I don’t know what to buy either but I think it’s long past time to try actual N95 masks and ordered these based on a review.

    7 votes
    1. skybrian
      Link Parent
      The duckbill N95 masks arrived today and we like them. I can't speak to effectiveness, but I think this is the first mask I've had that doesn't fog up my glasses.

      The duckbill N95 masks arrived today and we like them. I can't speak to effectiveness, but I think this is the first mask I've had that doesn't fog up my glasses.

      6 votes
    2. skybrian
      Link Parent
      Europe’s growing mask ask: Ditch the cloth ones for medical-grade coverings [...]

      Europe’s growing mask ask: Ditch the cloth ones for medical-grade coverings

      Germany on Tuesday night made it mandatory for people riding on public transport or in supermarkets to wear medical style masks: either N95s, the Chinese or European equivalent KN95 or FFP2s, or a surgical mask.

      It follows a stricter regulation from the German state of Bavaria this week that required N95 equivalents in stores and on public transport. Austria will introduce the same measures from Monday.

      Meanwhile in France, the country’s health advisory council on Monday discouraged the wearing of inefficient cloth and homemade masks, also arguing they may not offer sufficient protection against the more highly transmissible coronavirus variants.

      [...]

      And while French health authorities are recommending the use of masks that filter a high ratio of particles, such as surgical masks and industrial equivalents, they actually discourage public use of the higher grade fitted masks like the FFP2.

      3 votes
  5. spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    A Black American woman who moved to Bali, Indonesia, last year is facing deportation and intense backlash after promoting the sale of an e-book she wrote with her girlfriend to help others move to...

    A Black American woman who moved to Bali, Indonesia, last year is facing deportation and intense backlash after promoting the sale of an e-book she wrote with her girlfriend to help others move to the country during the pandemic.

    "In March, when the pandemic hit and our 6-month plan went out the window, we decided to stay in Bali to 'wait it out' and we've been here ever since," Gray wrote, adding a list of "major benefits of moving to Bali" that included "Luxury Lifestyle" and "Queer Friendly."

    Their e-book, which sold for $30, included "direct links to our visa agents and how to get into Indonesia during COVID," she wrote.

    The thread sparked massive outrage among Indonesians and the wider Southeast Asian community. They said Gray was encouraging an influx of Westerners to travel to a country that has closed its borders to foreigners over the worsening COVID-19 situation.

    It's a refreshing change of pace, I guess, to have an example of "don't brag about doing crimes on social media" that doesn't involve the US Capitol insurrection.

    7 votes
  6. skybrian
    Link
    Biden signs order requiring masks on planes, buses, trains and at airports

    Biden signs order requiring masks on planes, buses, trains and at airports

    Biden’s move marks a clear break from Trump’s handling of masks, although some specifics, including how it might be enforced, remain unclear pending the release of the order. It will require masks “on certain public modes of transportation and at ports of entry to the United States,” according to a White House strategy document released Thursday.

    6 votes
  7. cfabbro
    Link
    Why scientists are more worried about the Covid-19 variant discovered in South Africa

    Why scientists are more worried about the Covid-19 variant discovered in South Africa

    There’s evidence from several small, and not-yet-peer-reviewed, studies that mutations in the South Africa variant — known as 501Y.V2 and already present in at least 23 countries — may have a higher risk of Covid-19 reinfection in people who’ve already been sick and still should have some immunity to the disease.

    Scientists haven’t confirmed that this variant is more contagious, though evidence is pointing in this direction. They’re also concerned that 501Y.V2 could have implications for treatments for Covid-19. Regeneron, a company that has developed a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies as a therapy for patients with the illness, reported that 501Y.V2 may be able to evade one of the antibodies in its mix. The drug is still effective, but subsequent mutations could render it less so.

    But perhaps most alarming is the prospect that the mutations in the variant could limit the effectiveness of existing vaccines, one of the best tools we have for controlling the pandemic.

    The results of these recent studies are “a serious indication we have to look hard at how well vaccines might work,” Penny Moore, a virologist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, told Vox. Taken together, they highlight the dangers of letting Covid-19 spread unchecked and also portend the challenges that lie ahead as the virus continues to evolve.

    In 21 cases — nearly half — the existing antibodies were powerless against the new variant when exposed in test tubes. This was especially true for plasma from people who had a mild previous infection, and lower levels of antibodies, to begin with.

    The findings suggest immunity from previous versions of the virus might not help individuals fend off the new variant if they’re exposed, particularly if their prior case was mild or symptom-free.

    6 votes
  8. [2]
    psi
    (edited )
    Link
    Biden’s Covid-19 Plan Is Maddeningly Obvious In short, the article argues, this administration's failure to contain the coronavirus can be traced to a lacking federal response. Ultimately a...

    Biden’s Covid-19 Plan Is Maddeningly Obvious

    In short, the article argues, this administration's failure to contain the coronavirus can be traced to a lacking federal response. Ultimately a pandemic is an international problem; but instead of acting in concert with other nations, the Trump admin abdicated its responsibility to lead at any level, leaving us with haphazard state-level responses as though viruses respect state borders. Even worse, due to the lack of coordination, states were forced to compete against each other for resources.

    Even Operation Warp Speed, perhaps the only federal response approaching a semblance of success, is still marred by failures. Vaccines have now been developed -- a fact that would hold true even without Operation Warp Speed -- but the distribution infrastructure does not exist, leaving the US tens of millions of vaccinations short when compared to past projections.

    5 votes
    1. skybrian
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Biden sticks to vaccine goals nearly met by his predecessor These numbers are tricky. I've had to correct myself twice now. First, notice that 100 million doses doesn't mean 100 million people...

      Biden sticks to vaccine goals nearly met by his predecessor

      Even with vaccine shortages and bottlenecks in delivery, the pace needed to meet the new administration’s goal — 1 million doses administered per day — was already achieved Friday and four other days of the previous eight, according to Washington Post data. The accelerating speed of the program undercuts assertions by some Biden advisers that they were left no plan by the Trump administration and suggests they need only to keep their feet on the pedal to clear the bar they set for themselves.

      These numbers are tricky. I've had to correct myself twice now.

      First, notice that 100 million doses doesn't mean 100 million people vaccinated. Worst-case would be 50 million vaccinated, if everyone gets two doses. (But it still looks like 135 million will have gotten the first dose by April 30.)

      Second, having people vaccinated doesn't mean they've gotten immunity yet. If you assume it takes three weeks then immunity lags people vaccinated. (I read those numbers wrong on the projections graph.)

      Edit: and it looks like some of this confusion is deliberate:

      The framing around the 100 million was deliberately vague, the official said. It was often left unstated whether 100 million shots meant 50 million people fully vaccinated with two doses, or 100 million first shots, the person said, adding, “There was meant to be wiggle room.”

      8 votes
  9. [2]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Long read in Politico: The crash landing of 'Operation Warp Speed': Born as a second Manhattan Project, the Trump administration vaccine program actually achieved most of its goals – until...

    Long read in Politico: The crash landing of 'Operation Warp Speed': Born as a second Manhattan Project, the Trump administration vaccine program actually achieved most of its goals – until distribution problems marred its success.

    Complete with HHS secretary Alex Azar going full Michael Scott about the distribution failures:

    And asked if he was disappointed by recent news of setbacks, the cabinet secretary who steered the project offered a response as enigmatic as the program itself.

    “You fail to achieve 100 percent of the goals you do not set," Azar says now.

    5 votes
    1. JakeTheDog
      Link Parent
      To be fair, that is a rephrasing of Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take” which is based on old-timey, self-evident advice. Michael Scott used "chances" in his line, which I...

      Complete with HHS secretary Alex Azar going full Michael Scott about the distribution failures:

      And asked if he was disappointed by recent news of setbacks, the cabinet secretary who steered the project offered a response as enigmatic as the program itself.

      “You fail to achieve 100 percent of the goals you do not set," Azar says now.

      To be fair, that is a rephrasing of Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take” which is based on old-timey, self-evident advice. Michael Scott used "chances" in his line, which I think is pretty good and compassionate advice too.

      3 votes
  10. [2]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Single Covid vaccine dose in Israel 'less effective than we thought' Difficult to untangle how much of this is a single dose not providing as much protection vs. people taking more risks as soon...

    Single Covid vaccine dose in Israel 'less effective than we thought'

    Israel’s coronavirus tsar has warned that a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine may be providing less protection than originally hoped, as the country reported a record 10,000 new Covid infections on Monday.

    Questions over the effectiveness of the vaccine were raised amid reports that thousands of Israelis were still becoming sick after receiving the vaccine, although the public health services head, Sharon Alroy-Preis, said that in most cases this was because the individuals had not built up sufficient antibodies after being inoculated before being exposed to the virus.

    Difficult to untangle how much of this is a single dose not providing as much protection vs. people taking more risks as soon as they get the first dose rather than waiting for immunity to develop.

    Amid warnings that 30% to 40% of the new infections were being driven by a Covid-19 variant first identified in the UK, the Israeli cabinet was meeting on Tuesday to consider tightening existing restrictions. Some analysts, however, have put the prevalence of the new variant at lower levels.

    ...plus, of course, the additional variable that the more-transmissible UK variant may not be deterred by a single vaccine dose.

    5 votes
    1. skybrian
      Link Parent
      CDC says 2nd coronavirus vaccine shot may be scheduled up to 6 weeks later [...]

      CDC says 2nd coronavirus vaccine shot may be scheduled up to 6 weeks later

      The recommended interval between doses is three weeks for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s.

      “The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible,” according to guidance updated Thursday. But if it is not feasible to get the second dose in that period, the CDC says a second shot may be scheduled “up to 6 weeks (42 days)” after the first shot.

      “We’re just ensuring clinicians that if they can’t do it at exactly 21 days or 28 days, that there’s leeway or flexibility,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said.

      The CDC updated its initial guidance after it “received feedback that some flexibility in our language might be helpful to reduce barriers to vaccination, especially if there are challenges around returning on a specific date or if someone’s circumstances had changed,” such as being discharged from or entering a long-term care facility, Nordlund said.

      [...]

      The CDC guidance says, “Every effort should be made to determine which vaccine product was received as the first dose, in order to ensure completion of the vaccine series with the same product.” But it also states: “In exceptional situations in which the first-dose vaccine product cannot be determined or is no longer available, any available mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at a minimum interval of 28 days between doses to complete the mRNA COVID-19 series.”

      4 votes
  11. skybrian
    Link
    America’s Most Reliable Pandemic Data Are Now at Risk [...] [...] The headline is alarmist and the article seems somewhat disorganized, but it seems they're happy with the HHS hospital data.

    America’s Most Reliable Pandemic Data Are Now at Risk

    Since July, [hospital] data have been routed through the Department of Health and Human Services, but some officials inside the CDC are trying to regain control. It might seem obvious that the CDC, the traditional repository of infectious-disease information, should win this intragovernmental battle, but the reality is much more complicated. The current, HHS-run system works—unlike so much else in the response—and with these data flowing in, the federal government can dispatch help to hospitals that need it. If the new administration changed that system, it would be setting aside the best available data about the pandemic, and gambling that it could build a better system when it cannot afford to lose.

    [...]

    At the COVID Tracking Project, we were initially dismayed by the HHS changeover, but we watched closely as the system stabilized and began to become more reliable. In a series of analyses that we ran over the past several months, we came to nearly the opposite conclusion of other media outlets. The hospitalization data coming out of HHS are now the best and most granular publicly available data on the pandemic. This information has changed the response to the pandemic for the better.

    [...]

    The idea that the Trump administration would try to suppress COVID-19 data was not far-fetched, but the HHS staffers I spoke with said that public perception was misguided. The people on the team were not Trump-administration loyalists, but civil servants from across the federal government. Its leader, Amy Gleason, came from the U.S. Digital Service, a signature achievement of the Obama administration that brings technologists into the government from private industry.

    The headline is alarmist and the article seems somewhat disorganized, but it seems they're happy with the HHS hospital data.

    5 votes
  12. [2]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Tweet thread from Trevor Bedford, my virology whisperer I don't claim to understand the details, but here's his summary:

    Tweet thread from Trevor Bedford, my virology whisperer

    Important new study by Wibmer et al (https://biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.18.427166v1) of neutralization by convalescent sera on wildtype vs 501Y.V2 variant viruses circulating in South Africa. It shows that mutations present in 501Y.V2 result in reduced neutralization capacity.

    I don't claim to understand the details, but here's his summary:

    However, if these results are confirmed by further studies, my guess based on the seasonal influenza comparison is that we need to investigate the manufacturing timeline and regulatory steps required to update the "strain" used in the vaccine.

    501Y.V2 is still largely restricted to South Africa, but it (or other antigenically drifted variants) may spread more widely in the coming months. I would be planning this potential "strain" update for fall 2021.

    And all this said, I'll be getting the vaccine as soon as I'm able. We have an amazing vaccine now that works against currently circulating viruses. And if it becomes necessary, this emerging situation can be dealt with through a forthcoming vaccine update.

    5 votes
    1. skybrian
      Link Parent
      Denmark is sequencing all coronavirus samples and has an alarming view of the U.K. variant [...] [...] [...]

      Denmark is sequencing all coronavirus samples and has an alarming view of the U.K. variant

      Cases involving the variant are increasing 70 percent a week in Denmark, despite a strict lockdown, according to Denmark’s State Serum Institute, a government agency that tracks diseases and advises health policy.

      [...]

      Danish public health officials say that if it weren’t for their extensive monitoring, they would be feeling a false sense of confidence right now. Overall, new daily confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Denmark have been dropping for a month.

      [...]

      But the British variant is spreading so quickly that Danish authorities project it will be the dominant strain of the virus in their country as early as mid-February.

      [...]

      Danish officials say that as a result, daily coronavirus cases there could quadruple by the beginning of April. Charts from the public health institute project that in the worst-case contagion scenarios, even with a strict lockdown in effect, cases would skyrocket. Under better-case scenarios — if the variant turns out to be less contagious than thought, or if the country can get caseloads down even further right now — the outbreak would stay more under control while they administer vaccines.

      6 votes
  13. Kuromantis
    Link
    Covid: Brazil approves and rolls out AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines (P.S: It's 26 states and the federal district AKA the capital. Rookie mistake.) A brief opinion piece from a Brazilian:

    Covid: Brazil approves and rolls out AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines

    A nurse has received Brazil's first Covid-19 vaccine dose after regulators gave emergency approval to two jabs.

    Brazilian state regulator Anvisa gave the green light to vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca and China's Sinovac, doses of which will be distributed among all 27 states.

    (P.S: It's 26 states and the federal district AKA the capital. Rookie mistake.)

    Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello told reporters that the national vaccination programme in the country of 211 million people would begin in earnest in the coming days. Two Brazilian biomedical centres which have been given approval to produce the jabs will be heavily involved.

    About six million doses of the Sinovac-developed CoronaVac have already been produced in Brazil, while the government is waiting for shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine from a laboratory in India.

    A brief opinion piece from a Brazilian:

    This has been a rare piece of good news today for Brazilians who are grappling with a devastating second wave.

    From where I am, the city of Manaus, the vaccine does not feel real. People here are trying to recover a collapsed health system and doing what they can to keep their sick relatives alive.

    Earlier this week researchers said the Chinese vaccine had been found to be 50.4% effective in Brazilian clinical trials. This, results showed, was significantly less effective than previous data suggested - barely over the 50% needed for regulatory approval.

    The news comes after revelations that a new coronavirus variant has emerged in Brazil. Several cases were traced back to the Amazonas state, where a state of emergency is in place.

    4 votes
  14. grahamiam
    Link
    One of my favorite short essays about the pandemic so far, that tries to account for both the loss and the anger: https://popula.com/2021/01/14/the-incalculable/

    One of my favorite short essays about the pandemic so far, that tries to account for both the loss and the anger: https://popula.com/2021/01/14/the-incalculable/

    4 votes
  15. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    Looks like there's a new website for finding the vaccine in Massachusetts. It seems to be pretty rough and they're going to redo it.

    Looks like there's a new website for finding the vaccine in Massachusetts. It seems to be pretty rough and they're going to redo it.

    4 votes
    1. skybrian
      Link Parent
      Massachusetts lagging behind most other states in COVID-19 vaccination rollout [...] [...] [...]

      Massachusetts lagging behind most other states in COVID-19 vaccination rollout

      The rollout in Massachusetts fell behind from the start. Other states, including Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Connecticut began vaccinating nursing home residents and staff a week before Massachusetts started on Dec. 28. Since then, both of the required rounds of doses have been given at nursing homes in other New England states. In Massachusetts, which has one of the nation’s highest virus death rates in long-term care, most nursing homes have just completed their first round.

      [...]

      Further slowing vaccination efforts, staff at long-term care centers were sometimes hesitant to be vaccinated. Operators say between 40 and 70 percent of their staffers were injected in the first series of vaccination clinics, compared to 85 percent or more of residents. Resistance is highest among immigrants from Haiti, Russia, and other countries, including some young women rattled by unfounded Internet rumors that vaccines will make them infertile, administrators say.

      “I’ve been in the buildings on weekends trying to get my staff to take the shots,” said Frank Romano, chief executive of Essex Group Management, which owns six nursing homes and two assisted-living residences in Massachusetts. “But they see all the misinformation on these crazy [Internet] sites.”

      Vaccine hesitancy isn’t just a nursing home problem. Interviews with hospital leaders indicate a number of their workers are at least initially declining shots, prompting intensive, time-consuming education sessions aimed at overcoming hesitancy. Although no statewide data is available, Mass General Brigham estimates about 20 to 25 percent of its workers have so far declined.

      [...]

      One sign that the Baker administration is trying to speed the process came in an e-mail to hospitals Wednesday immediately granting them permission to vaccinate all their workers, including those working remotely or in back offices. It also said hospitals could use existing vaccines on “selected high-risk patients.”

      [...]

      A number of states that are doing well have a preregistration system that matches supply with demand, she said. New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Indiana are among states that have some sort of central preregistration system and are in the top third nationally for administering more doses per population. New Mexico’s system, however, recently hit a snag when it reportedly allowed some residents to enroll before they were eligible.

      3 votes
  16. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    A pretty detailed blog post, though speculative in parts. Exploring the Supply Chain of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines [...] [...] So, it seems that confusion about vaccine...

    A pretty detailed blog post, though speculative in parts.

    Exploring the Supply Chain of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines

    Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna each have two largely independent supply chains in Europe and the United States. This makes sense in order to maximize utilization of available manufacturing capacity and to add resilience through redundancy. Bloomberg’s Supply Lines newsletter points out that it also appeases certain “protectionist governments intent on hobbling international cooperation by exerting sovereignty over supply chains”.

    [...]

    Pfizer owns marketing and distribution rights for all but three countries in the world. Those three exceptions are: Germany and Turkey where BioNTech themselves markets and distributes, and China where Shanghai Fosun Pharma holds the marketing rights.

    [...]

    Pfizer intends to bypass government-operated distribution processes in all countries. [...] This is well-aligned with Pfizer’s stated goal to start selling the vaccine to customers other than governments in the future.

    In the United States the government supplies these supplies, as part of Operation Warp Speed (OWS). Kitting and delivery of Moderna and all future OWS partners’ kits is handled by OWS distribution partner McKesson.69 In this system, Moderna vaccine shipments are accompanied by the supplies required to administer them. As usual, Pfizer bypasses the government-operated supply chain and ships “mega kits” of supplies that contain enough materials to administer 1,000 doses as well as one set of gloves for handling dry ice. “Mega kits” arrive at the point of care separately from the vaccine.

    So, it seems that confusion about vaccine supplies might in part be due to which vaccine you're talking about? Pfizer does everything themselves while Moderna works with the government.

    4 votes
    1. skybrian
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Why some vaccine sits on shelves while shortages intensify nationwide So it sounds like the failure here is trying to allocate doses "fairly" among the states. A first-come, first serve policy...

      Why some vaccine sits on shelves while shortages intensify nationwide

      That some jurisdictions aren’t ordering all available vaccine while others beg for more goes to the heart of the disjointed immunization effort underway in the United States. It also helps explain why the federal government has liquidated its reserve of second doses at the same time that Pfizer maintains it has millions of doses in reserve — as many as 5 million by the end of last week, or about 25 percent of what had been made available to the United States at that point, according to former federal officials.

      Those are not doses earmarked for booster shots, according to multiple people knowledgeable about the process, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to address it. Rather, those are doses that have accumulated week after week because some states are not ordering up to their limit or are putting aside a set amount of their vaccine supply for purposes including inoculations in nursing homes or mass vaccination clinics.

      Ordering limits are set for states twice a week, on Thursday and Sunday. They reflect updated allocations, so the actual number of unclaimed doses is a moving target. The ordering is spaced out both to ease the burden on distributors and to help states distinguish between first and second doses, with priority given to the latter.

      As of early this week, states not ordering up to their limits included Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas, according to Michael Pratt, a former Health and Human Services spokesman. Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates the fewest doses per capita have been distributed in Nevada, South Carolina and Texas. By the end of the week, Mississippi had ordered all the vaccine available to the state, officials said.

      The discrepancy is so glaring in South Carolina that the public health director, Brannon Traxler, affirmed Wednesday that the state is receiving its “fair and appropriate allocation.” She was responding to concerns that South Carolinians were being shortchanged in favor of people in other parts of the country.

      The reason so much of South Carolina’s allocation has gone unused, she said, is that the state had set aside the entire amount needed for long-term-care facilities rather than parceling that out in increments, as other states have done. CVS and Walgreens pharmacies are handling immunizations at long-term-care facilities as part of a federal partnership, which has been slow to get off the ground in some places. Maine recently redirected nearly 2,000 doses from Walgreens to two hospitals because the pharmacy had no immediate plans to administer the shots, according to state officials.

      So it sounds like the failure here is trying to allocate doses "fairly" among the states. A first-come, first serve policy would get people vaccinated faster. It sounds like Maine at least did the right thing here?

      I have read elsewhere that another mistake is asking retail pharmacies to help with nursing homes, when the nursing homes have their own pharmacists that already know how things work there.

      4 votes
  17. spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    New head of the Ohio state senate's health committee seems like a nice dude

    New head of the Ohio state senate's health committee seems like a nice dude

    A Republican lawmaker and doctor who questioned whether members of “the colored population” were disproportionately contracting the coronavirus because of their hygiene is drawing new criticism from Black lawmakers after his appointment to lead the state Senate Health Committee.

    “Could it just be that African Americans – or the colored population — do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear masks? Or do not socially distance themselves?” state Sen. Stephen Huffman asked a Black health expert in June 11 testimony. “Could that just be the explanation of why there’s a higher incidence?”

    Huffman, of Tipp City, was appointed last week by Senate President Matt Huffman, his cousin, to chair the committee even after he was fired from his job as a Dayton-area emergency room physician for his comments.

    4 votes
  18. Omnicrola
    Link
    New Zealand Records 1st Suspected COVID-19 Community Case Since November

    New Zealand Records 1st Suspected COVID-19 Community Case Since November

    A 56-year-old woman, who had traveled to Spain and the Netherlands for work late last year, has tested positive for the coronavirus after being in managed isolation for the required 14 days upon her return to New Zealand, the country's Ministry of Health said.

    3 votes