You might be wondering what the holdup is with shots for toddlers and babies. After all, the Pfizer shots were effective (during the Delta regime) for the under-two babies, just not for the toddlers (presumably because the dose:weight ratio was high enough for the babies but not the toddlers). This article about the approval process in the US implies that Pfizer started getting data that the 3µg dose wasn’t effective against Omicron, so they wanted to wait and see how the third dose did against Omicron.
Meanwhile, Moderna is experimenting with a lower dose because they were concerned about myocarditis in the first dose they tried.
The good news is that both companies think they will have good data in a very few weeks.
(The fact that both Pfizer and Moderna are having some trouble getting the dose right makes me think, yet again, that OMG we got so lucky that the adult Pfizer and adult Moderna worked so well so quickly!)
This paper says that they found a human gene variant which reduces susceptibility to COVID-19 by 40%. The gene makes people produce fewer ACE2 receptors.
This article says that Omicron is at least 40% more deadly than influenza in the Japanese population, so not adjusted for who has gotten vaccinated and who has not. Japan currently has about 80% of its people is fully vaccinated.
This article says that Baricitinib, an anti-arthritis drug, lowers morality from COVID-19 by 13%. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s on top of whatever benefit was given by all the other drugs they were also taking. Also nice: it can be given as a pill and is pretty cheap.
Note: The effectiveness of Baricitinib against COVID-19 was found via the UK’s RECOVERY study framework, which also found that dexamethasone and Tocilizumab work well against COVID-19. (Perhaps as important, they also showed that some drug treatments were not useful.) The RECOVERY framework is, in my opinion, a medical advance almost on par with the development of the mRNA vaccines.
This paper says that most monoclonal antibodies are ineffective against BA.2, including sotrovimab (which does work against BA.1). However, both Evusheld and bebtelovimab are effective against BA.2. Neither treatment has been authorized by Health Canada yet, however.
This paper says that variations in susceptibility reduces the percentage of people you have to vaccinate to get herd immunity and overstates how useful mitigation measures are.
At the beginning of the pandemic, everybody was worried about catching COVID-19 from surfaces, but then it turned out that basically nobody caught COVID-19 from surfaces. This paper suggests that mucins — the sticky part of snot — probably inhibit transfer. When a droplet of mucous and virus dries a bit, the mucins tend to gather around the edges of the droplet. The authors theorize that this creates a little shell that makes it harder for the virus particle to get out.
This paper says that they figured out how to use AI to design better genetic tests so that they can distinguish between most of 1,930 vertebrate-infecting viral species within 2 hours and all of them in 24 hours. (There are 3 other viruses which they couldn’t.) I didn’t understand the paper well enough to be able to give more details on how it works, sorry. If they can do it, that’s a BFD! Currently, tests for viruses are very specific, like it takes 15 minutes with a RAT or several hours with PCR to be able to tell only if it is COVID-19 or not.
There is something similar called TIBA which does a similar kind of analysis for spotting cancer from blood tests, so maybe this isn’t smoke and mirrors.
Good news and bad news. Bad news: this preprint from France says they saw seven people with variants that were combinations of Delta and Omicron, which some people have been called Deltacron. The good news is that they watched these patients for a time period, and Delta and Omicron both outcompeted Deltacron in those people.
This article isn’t directly about COVID-19, it’s about the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). While it might have some connection to Long COVID, I think EBV is important in its own right: everybody has it, and it has some really awful long-term possible side effects, like Multiple Sclerosis.