2021-07-30 General

Variants

The US CDC changed its advice about masks, advising people to wear them more, because of what they’ve found about Delta. They were particularly shook by info from a big outbreak (~900 people) in Providencetown, MA. The study looked at 469 cases in more detail. (Here is the US CDC’s report on it, if you want to go to the source.)

  • 80% of the people who got sick had been vaccinated.
  • 79% of the vaccinated people who got infected were symptomatic.
  • The vaccinated people had as much virus in their noses as unvaccinated people.
  • Only five people were hospitalized, but four of them had been vaccinated.

Fear Delta. That’s some bad shit.

Long COVID

This preprint about double-vaxxed health care workers in Israel which a lot of people are going OMG SO MUCH LONG COVID! about. The preprint mentions that 19% of the 2.6% of double-vaxxed health care workers who got breakthrough infections had symptoms after six weeks. I didn’t panic about this for several reasons.

  • The numbers we are talking about are really small. 39 people got sick, which means 7 people had symptoms after six weeks. One of the people who got sick was immunocompromised.
  • The paper’s focus was not on Long COVID, they just mentioned the persistent symptoms in passing. This is perhaps because they realized that the sample size was really small.
  • I know people who took two months to fully recover from bronchitis, so six weeks doesn’t sound like an excessively long time to recover. I think of Long COVID as “the stuff which goes on for months and months”. In my mind, those seven people still have time to recover.
  • Only one person had not gone back to work after six weeks.
  • They didn’t talk about how severe the symptoms were.

This isn’t exactly Long COVID, but it isn’t exactly not: a Argentinian study of people over 60 who had COVID-19 has found that for the elderly, getting COVID accelerates cognitive declines. They found:

  • 60% of patients had memory problems afterwards, and it was severe for 1 in 3.
  • The severity of the illness does not correlate with the severity of the cognitive loss.
  • Loss of smell does correlate with cognitive loss.

Vaccines

The authors of the preprint about Israeli health care workers (that I talked about in the Long COVID section above) actually focused on correlates of protection. It found that the level of antibodies in the blood was inversely correlated with whether or not people got sick.

This is important because it means that COVID-19 vaccine (and booster) Phase 3 clinical trials can perhaps be faster in the future. Instead of having to follow a bunch of people closely for months in order to figure out what the efficacy is, they can vaccinate a bunch of people, wait a few weeks, and look at the antibody levels. If the antibody levels look good, they can approve it. (They will still have to do safety tests (Phase 2), no getting around that.)


This study found that AZ+mRNA gave higher antibody levels, higher spike-specific killer T cells than AZ+AZ or mRNA+mRNA. Side effects were worse for AZ than mRNA on the first dose, but AZ+mRNA was fine and very similar to mRNA+mRNA.

Recommended Reading

This article is aimed at the USA (what’s new?) but urges people to vote with their feet/dollars to get the public sector to give us safer spaces.

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