2021-03-10 General

It really seems to me like there is less COVID news than there used to be, even a month ago. There could be several contributing factors to the slowdown:

  • Fewer massive screwups (especially in the US, especially compared to under the Trump administration).
  • Less anxiety about the future. The vaccines have arrived, they are going into arms, and they are working.
  • Less anxiety on my part, which makes me have a higher bar for what I think is interesting. For example, I didn’t think it was a big deal that the US ordered another 100 doses of J&J, because they won’t arrive until the end of the year. (I wouldn’t put that here, anyway, because I’m focusing on BC, but I might have put it into a different doc a month ago.)

Treatments

A study came out which showed that convalescent plasma does absolutely no good for COVID-19 patients. 🙁

Testing

A study found that when they looked at blood from a bunch of symptomless people from a bunch of different places, the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test kits said that some people had antibodies to COVID, but a more sensitive test said that they did not. This was especially common in people from Africa (Ghana, Madagascar, and Nigeria).

This is important because as a side note to the Novavax clinical trial, they mentioned that the people who tested positive for COVID Classic in their South Africa trial got COVID (presumably B.1.351, which had become dominant) at the same rate as people who tested negative, i.e. catching COVID Classic didn’t protect you from B.1.351. Well, if those people who tested positive were actually negative, then you can’t draw that conclusion.

There is some speculation that the ELISA tests picked up on the presence of some “common-cold” coronaviruses which had circulated in those areas.

Children

A study found (again) that COVID-19 doesn’t bother kids much. In over 137 million children and young adults in 7 countries, the COVID-19 fatality rate was only 0.19 per 100,000, which is 0.5% of all deaths in that age group.

Vaccines

Moderna said today that they had put B.1.351-booster doses in the arms of people who had previously gotten two shots. But they said they shipped the vax to the NIH two weeks ago! Is this a different study, or did it take them two weeks to get shots in arms?


Yet another study says that people who have gotten COVID-19 before really only need one vaccine dose, not two. (The question then, is how to tell who has had COVID? Antibody tests can give false positives, so you really want to only skip people who have had a positive PCR test.)

Long COVID

There’s a study from Sweden with three people with Long COVID who were diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. One of them improved with POTS treatment, which isn’t great, but it sure beats 0%.

VOC

There’s a report out on the “California variant” (1.427/B.1.429 or 20C/L452R), and it looks less scary than it did a week ago. It’s less transmissible than B.1.1.7 and the vaccines should have no trouble with it.


Yet another study says that yes, B.1.1.7 is more lethal than Classic COVID.


Yet another study showing that the mRNA vaccines give reduced protection against B.1.351, but are fine against B.1.1.7, the California variant, and the mink variant. (Note that “reduced” does not necessarily mean “inadequate.)

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