2021-02-28 General

Long COVID

There is a good thread by Dr. Iwasaki, a prominent virologist, suggesting possible mechanisms for Long-COVID and a clever vaccine trial which could help shed light on which mechanism it is.

The possibilities she lists are:

  1. A persistent viral reservoir, i.e. the virus is hiding somewhere (like maybe the Central Nervous System)
  2. Inactive fragments (either RNA or protein) which are still hanging around and driving inflammation
  3. An autoimmune response induced by the infection

If you set up a four-way study, where long-haulers are given either

A) mRNA SARS-CoV-2 Spike vaccine
B) mRNA antigen vaccine for some irrelevant protein (e.g. ZIKV)
C) mRNA not coding for protein (as near as I can tell, this means “dud” mRNA, where the mRNA “instructions” say “stop immediately”, not making anything)
D) Placebo (saline)

then by looking at the results carefully, it will tell you what the mechanism is:

I hope somebody does this study! It could mean a lot for long-haulers, which is, in and of itself, a very good thing, but it also might shed light on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

Viruses of Concern

Here’s a Twitter thread which seems to think we are worrying too hard about the California strains, B.1.429 and B.1.427. Basically, the big increase in cases in California came before the increase in the prevalence of the strains. The author thinks, yeah, we should keep an eye on it, but not lose our minds.

That author thinks the New York strain – B.1.526 – is much more worrying: it’s got known-scary mutations, and there’s been rapid increase in frequency in a part of the country which had a lot of cases early on (so you would think a lot of people would be COVID-immune).

(Someone else on Twitter thought we should call B.1.526, “the Trump Tower variant”. ;-))

Airborne transmission

While I believe that while COVID can be carried on aerosols lingering in the air for long periods and infect people, I stubbornly believe that it usually doesn’t. This BBC article on Australian quarantines says that there have been a few cases in Australia where it is pretty clear that the infection was from lingering airborne particles.

Vaccines

This paper says that the effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine at preventing vaccinated people from transmitting the virus (versus preventing symptoms!) is at least 60%.


A 60 Minutes broadcast, says

  • Johnson & Johnson will only deliver about a third of what it contracted to the US due to manufacturing difficulties.
  • Pfizer says they will ship 200 million doses by the end of May, two months ahead of schedule.
  • Moderna says they will deliver 300 million doses by July, two months ahead of schedule.

Remember when the vax supply dried up, and the manufacturers said a) it’s hard! and b) we’re upgrading our manufacturing lines so we can produce more! ? Looks like both were true.


An article in the Guardian reports on a study where people with a body mass index over 30 made only about half as many antibodies in response to the Pfizer vaccine. Addendum: maybe it’s not a good study?

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