9 votes

Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of March 1

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!

13 comments

  1. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    My city has now a curfew - 20h to 5h every day - and my state has a lockdown, preventing many business from working starting last Friday and going untill next Wednesday. Our ICUs are overflowing....

    My city has now a curfew - 20h to 5h every day - and my state has a lockdown, preventing many business from working starting last Friday and going untill next Wednesday. Our ICUs are overflowing.

    I helped my girlfriend take her grandmother to ICU with suspicion of COVID and now I'm quarantined with her and cannot go back to my house.

    It doesn't seem her grandmother has COVID, but the old lady is literally 100 years old so everything about her requires extra care.

    I just wanna go home.

    13 votes
  2. [3]
    Omnicrola
    Link
    Texas becomes biggest US state to lift COVID-19 mask mandate In addition to lifting the mask mandate: ... ... So infuriating. "Personal responsibility" aka "every person for themselves". Unless...

    Texas becomes biggest US state to lift COVID-19 mask mandate

    In addition to lifting the mask mandate:

    The repealed rules include doing away with limits on the number of diners or customers allowed indoors

    ...

    “Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” said Abbott, speaking from the crowded dining room where many of those surrounding him were not wearing masks.

    ...

    “The fact that things are headed in the right direction doesn’t mean we have succeeded in eradicating the risk,” said Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers
    [...]
    She said the recent deadly winter freeze in Texas that left millions of people without power — forcing families to shelter closely with others who still had heat — could amplify transmission of the virus in the weeks ahead, although it remains too early to tell.

    So infuriating. "Personal responsibility" aka "every person for themselves". Unless you're rich. Again glad I don't live in Texas.

    12 votes
    1. [2]
      Rez
      Link Parent
      It is premature especially given the winter freeze situation, but I think we've been in the pandemic for so long that people are forgetting that it will end and that you have to make this choice...

      It is premature especially given the winter freeze situation, but I think we've been in the pandemic for so long that people are forgetting that it will end and that you have to make this choice at some point. Republican states were the slowest to undertake the measures needed, but the reverse may play out where Democratic states are too hesitant to lift restrictions after they're no longer merited.

      The mass vaccination we have going on is really promising (Texas is pretty behind in the pack). COVID-19 will always be something that exists that goes around, like the flu, but I'm really optimistic about the summer. I think the media has if anything been downplaying the efficacy of the vaccines. For example, I've seen some people have an idea about the single dose vaccine being "bad" or weak in some sense, but the efficacy rate of that vaccine is higher than most flu vaccines. There's also been confusion with the efficacy rates in terms of mild/moderate/severe cases and the hospitalization it prevents; there are different rates to look at. You can still get sick after being vaccinated, it just won't be as bad as it would've been, and hospitalization/death basically becomes a non-concern (at a population level).

      At the end of the day too, we also have the intersection between policy and what people are doing. People who feel unsafe are going to keep on isolating and masking as they see fit. People who already flouted the rules will continue doing so. I've still seen plenty of businesses in California flout the rules pretty blatantly just because the enforcement hasn't been there to match the policy, my point being I'm sure there's been tons of restaurants in Texas allowing in all the customers they can. But there's more and more vaccinated people every day. Fauci saying we may need to mask through 2022 - I honestly don't see how it could still be a need at that point unless something goes horribly wrong with a new strain. I know he's being cautious, but being in the biotech industry I really trust and am excited by the science and can see the light at the end of the tunnel, at least for America and other countries (Israel, UK, etc.) rapidly vaccinating their population.

      8 votes
      1. eladnarra
        Link Parent
        There's enough people with mild illness ending up with long COVID that I'm not super thrilled about the idea that as long as you're vaccinated, you're fine. We don't have enough data yet to know...

        There's also been confusion with the efficacy rates in terms of mild/moderate/severe cases and the hospitalization it prevents; there are different rates to look at. You can still get sick after being vaccinated, it just won't be as bad as it would've been, and hospitalization/death basically becomes a non-concern (at a population level).

        There's enough people with mild illness ending up with long COVID that I'm not super thrilled about the idea that as long as you're vaccinated, you're fine. We don't have enough data yet to know if mild cases after vaccination are less likely to result in long COVID or not.

        6 votes
  3. skybrian
    Link
    Much of the world is seeing coronavirus cases fall. But Brazil’s outbreak is worse than ever. [...]

    Much of the world is seeing coronavirus cases fall. But Brazil’s outbreak is worse than ever.

    “It’s the first time in Brazilian history that two-thirds of the medical systems in the Brazilian capitals are collapsing at the same time,” Nicolelis said. “And I’m not talking about Manaus. I’m talking about São Paulo. São Paulo. The wealthiest city in the Southern Hemisphere. It may have two weeks until it collapses.”

    Nicolelis and Alves both urged an immediate nationwide shutdown for three weeks to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. “We are not going to be able to manage the bodies,” Nicolelis said. “We can either right the country, or it will go downhill. And this time, I guarantee the abyss will be bigger than Brazil.”

    [...]

    Some cities have imposed new restrictions, such as a curfew in Brasilia and the closure of nonessential businesses in Porto Alegre. Health analysts say they’re woefully insufficient. But leaders have been extremely hesitant to fully shut down. Unemployment is peaking. The pandemic has plunged millions of Brazilians into poverty. The emergency cash payments the federal government offered last year have now been cut off. In Brazil, a country of vast inequality and social instability, shutting down without additional benefits could generate hunger and violence.

    10 votes
  4. skybrian
    Link
    The FDA approved the Quidel QuickVue At-Home COVID-19 Test. It sounds like it could be a good thing, since you can get results in 10 minutes! But it's nerfed. It's prescription only and it is only...

    The FDA approved the Quidel QuickVue At-Home COVID-19 Test.

    It sounds like it could be a good thing, since you can get results in 10 minutes! But it's nerfed. It's prescription only and it is only authorized for use "within the first six days of symptom onset."

    So, useless for screening.

    8 votes
  5. skybrian
    Link
    Single dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine cuts hospitalization risk by more than 80%, study shows [...]

    Single dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine cuts hospitalization risk by more than 80%, study shows

    A single dose of either the AstraZeneca–Oxford vaccine or the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 shot cuts the risk of hospital admission among older adults by more than 80% percent, Public Health England (PHE) said, citing a preprint study.

    The real world study, which was published on Monday and hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed, showed that protection against any COVID-19 symptoms in those over 70 ranged between 57% and 61% for one dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech shot, and between 60% and 73% for the AstraZeneca–Oxford one four weeks after the first shot.

    PHE said the data suggested the vaccine from U.S. drug company Pfizer PFE caused an 83% reduction in COVID-19 deaths among the over-80s. There were no equivalent data for the vaccine from Anglo-Swedish drug company AstraZeneca AZN , which began to be administered at a later date.

    [...]

    U.K. health minister Matt Hancock described the results of the study as “very strong,” and said that they “may also help to explain why the number of COVID admissions to intensive-care units among people over 80 in the U.K. have dropped to single figures in the last couple of weeks.”

    6 votes
  6. Kuromantis
    Link
    As the pandemic reaches a new worst in Brazil, a new, albeit highly limited aid package has been passed to deal with it (When the article was written it was still to be voted on, but now the bill...

    As the pandemic reaches a new worst in Brazil,
    a new, albeit highly limited aid package has been passed to deal with it

    (When the article was written it was still to be voted on, but now the bill has been passed.)

    Brazil’s senate started discussing a $7 billion round of Covid aid for the poor as a new wave of the pandemic batters the economy and pushes the health system to the brink of collapse.

    The plan to revive last year’s cash handout program is part of a constitutional amendment that includes compensatory fiscal measures sought by Economy Minister Paulo Guedes to show the government remains committed to fiscal austerity after a record budget deficit in 2020.

    Discussions started on Wednesday afternoon in Brasilia and a vote is expected later tonight. As a constitutional amendment, it needs to be approved by a three-fifth majority in a two-round vote. If the bill passes the senate, it will move to the lower house.

    Some senators are piling pressure to boost the program and water down the austerity measures, however, fanning investors’ fear of a looming budget crisis. The very permanence of the economy minister in the administration has become a matter of concern should his proposals fail to pass.

    The government spent 322 billion reais ($56 billion) in 2020 on a more generous program that benefited over 60 million Brazilians with stipends of as much as 600 reais per month. This time, the plan is to support some 40 million citizens with four monthly payments of 250 reais at a cost of 40 billion reais.

    I think the austerity talk in this article should basically show what the stimulus talks in the US would have looked like if there were no federal midterms like in Brazil and the Republicans still had their 2016 trifecta in Congress.

    5 votes
  7. skybrian
    Link
    British Columbia accelerates timeline for first vaccine doses, rolls out appointment system for seniors over 80

    British Columbia accelerates timeline for first vaccine doses, rolls out appointment system for seniors over 80

    Also on Monday, the province announced it is extending the time between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to four months. The change, as well as Health Canada's approval of a third vaccine, means every eligible person in B.C. will receive the first dose of their vaccine by mid- to late July.

    Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control — and countries around the world such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand — shows "miraculous" protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

    4 votes
  8. skybrian
    Link
    Wirecutter: Where to Buy N95s, KN95s, and Surgical-Style Masks You Can Trust

    Wirecutter: Where to Buy N95s, KN95s, and Surgical-Style Masks You Can Trust

    This guide is an ongoing project: Not only will we continue to track down legitimate respirators and masks, and reliable retailers that sell them, but we’ll also be testing the masks for fit, comfort, and (for those who want to layer up) compatibility with our cloth-mask picks. So far, we’ve consulted five scientists, five manufacturers, three importers, two retailers, an e-commerce expert, and two government agencies, and we’ve also tried on 16 respirators and other disposable masks ourselves. See what might work for you, adjust the fit as best you can, and chances are, you’ll end up with a mask you can feel confident wearing for the times you need it most.

    3 votes
  9. skybrian
    Link
    How to Administer RNA – And How to Do It Again

    How to Administer RNA – And How to Do It Again

    Here’s yet another one of those balancing acts, though: for a vaccine, some of the adjuvant effect of the mRNA vaccines may well be through the lipids in the formulation. In fact, lipid nanoparticles themselves are being investigated as adjuvants for non-mRNA vaccines. What happens, then, if you’ve been dosed with an LNP-formulated vaccine and then (perhaps a few years later) need to take another LNP-formulated therapy? Does its efficacy decrease because of your prior immune response? On the other side of the question, would an mRNA vaccine whose lipid formulation was somehow completely immunologically silent even work as well? The situation is reminiscent of the potential problems with (for example) adenovirus vaccine vectors. You have populations with pre-existing antibodies to some of those, of course, but after you’ve vaccinated a large population you’ve just created a bunch more of them. There are reports of RNA therapies in animal models that do not elicit immune responses on repeated dosing, but the ABC literature shows that it can be a real problem. And you can also see that people are working on the problem by coming up with formulations featuring “PEG-shedding” to ameliorate the immune response.

    I’m not sure yet how this all works out. I’m not sure if anyone is sure. With some of these new therapies and new vehicles, we are leaving immunological footprints, and we’re going to have to keep that in mind. Some of them might end up being like footprints on the beach, and wash away after a while – but others are going to be like the footprints we’ve left on the Moon. . .

    2 votes
  10. skybrian
    Link
    Swiss government to offer free tests for all

    Swiss government to offer free tests for all

    On 5 March 2021, the government announced that everyone will soon qualify for free tests. To ensure that everyone can be tested rapidly, all tests in pharmacies and test centres will be free of charge, even for people without symptoms, said the government.

    The move is part of a strategy to improve the prevention and early detection of outbreaks by allowing companies and schools to conduct regular testing.

    Employees at companies that test frequently can be exempted from the quarantine requirement for persons who have had contact with someone who has tested positive. In addition, the Federal Council wants to provide each member of the public with five free self-tests a month as soon as reliable tests are available.

    1 vote