2021-11-26 General

Variants

This article talks about the race to contain B.1.1.529, now formally named Omicron (not Nu).


This article reports that Pfizer/BioNTech say that they will know in under two weeks how effective their vax is against Omicron, and that they can have a revamped shot done in 100 days. Moderna says they’ve been working on variant-specific boosters.

Note that Pfizer/BNT already made Alpha- and Delta-specific boosters, not because they thought they would be good products to roll out, but for them and the regulators to get practice around manufacturing/approving strain-specific boosters.


This thread says that Omicron is not descended from Alpha, Beta, Gamma, or Delta! It descends from a mid-2020 strain. That means it was circulating in an area with poor genomic surveillance (and probably somewhat geographically isolated, too) or it was in one person for a long time. The (highly respected) author estimates that the index case was 7 October 2021, and that Omicron cases are doubling every 4.8 days. 🙁


I have seen some discussion of the known cases which have travelled (e.g. to Belgium or Hong Kong), and people point out that their cases are mild. However, all of the cases I have seen were vaccinated, and it might be early in their infection course.

Vaccines

This article reminds Canadian parents that if their kidlet got a flu shot, they should wait two weeks before getting their COVID-19 vax. This is not because it’s unsafe or less effective, it’s so that they can tell which side effects are from the flu shot and which are from the COVID-19 shot.

Mitigation Measures

This article says that the Government of Canada put in travel restrictions for southern African countries to try to keep Omicron out. I have seen pleas from South Africa saying, “please don’t punish us for doing a good job and sequencing a lot of our genomes!” I empathize, but also want to contain the spread. If I were the South African government, I would have said, “Here’s the deal: give us N dollars to pay our poor people so they can afford to stay home, and we will put the entire country on a lockdown, except for food deliveries, which we will do for free and knockless. AND give us enough vax for 100% of our population, which we will distribute right after the lockdown.”

Treatments

This article says that Merck’s treatment (molnupiravir) is only 30% effective at reducing hospitalization, not 50% like they thought from their preliminary analysis. 🙁

That makes it approximately as effective as Fluvoxamine, which is about seventy times cheaper and doesn’t work by mutating the hell out of viruses.

Recommended Reading

This article talks about how bad the pandemic has been for people with eating disorders.

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