week ending 2022-11-24 General

Mitigation Measures

This press release from the Government of Canada says that all Canadians in federally regulated private workplaces (like banking, telecommunications and interprovincial transportation) get ten days of paid sick leave, starting on 1 Dec 2022. (They don’t get all ten days at once, it accrues.) About 6% of Canadians work in federally regulated private workplaces. NB: BC mandates five paid sick days.


As this article reports, Novavax has been formally approved as a booster. It had been possible to get Novavax as a booster before — I got one — but you had to go through a few hoops, consent to a statement that this was off-label use and yes you know that and yes you want it anyway. I expect that now there will be fewer hoops and no need for a formal consent.

This paper from Singapore says that mRNA vaccines and inactivated-virus vaccines generate similar numbers of antibodies, but the inactivated-virus ones target a wider range of sites, while the mRNA vaccines (understandably) only make anti-spike antibodies. This means the inactivated-virus vaccines have broader protection. However, the inactivated-virus vaccines did not elicit killer T cells, only helper T cells; the mRNA vaccines elicited both.

This paper says that New York City saved $10.19 for every $1 it spent vaccinating people against COVID-19.


This preprint from the USA found that people who got treated with Paxlovid shortly after a COVID-19 infection had a 26% lower risk of Long COVID than patients who did not get Paxlovid.

This paper from Germany says that there are zero monoclonal antibody treatments which work against BQ.1.1. Zero.

This study from the US says that patients who were prescribed Paxlovid had a 51% lower hospitalization rate than those who were not.

This is great, but it’s not as good as the original study, which said that there was an 89% reduction in hospitalization. It is not entirely surprising that real-world effectiveness is lower than clinical trial data because clinical trials tend to exclude a lot of people who are less healthy. However, it’s disappointing.

This article says that Ensitrelvir, a 3CL protease inhibitor, was approved for use in Japan. I know that doesn’t do us Canadians any good, but I mention it to show that it’s not just Paxlovid, but other protease inhibitors seem to work. This press release from September says that Ensitrelvir reduces recovery time by a day and cuts the viral load. (The clinical trial did not look at hospitalization rates.)


Wow, I guess there’s a reason why I’ve been feeling like everybody but me has gotten COVID-19: this preprint from the USA says that 94% of Americans were infected with COVID-19 by 9 Nov 2022. 97% have either been infected or vaccinated.

This paper from the USA found that an NFL football game with more than 20,000 people attending led to 2.23 times as many spikes in COVID-19 as non-football game weekends.

I’m a little surprised, as football games are outdoors. However, they are crowded and full of shouting. Plus, toilets and concession stands are indoors.


This paper from January 2021 from the France compared smokers and non-smokers on a naval vessel. It found that smokers were only 64% as likely to catch COVID-19 as smokers and former smokers. What’s more, the risk dropped to 33% for people who smoked more than ten cigarettes per day.

There is an idea floating around that viruses co-evolve with humans to become milder. This pre-preprint from South Africa found that when they evolved some virus in a lab (simulating a long-term infection, as sometimes happens in immunocompromised people), the virus got more virulent (i.e. nastier, less mild).

This paper from Spain (from August) found long-term changes in the expression of a protein P53 which has been implicated in some kinds of cancer. Translation: getting COVID-19 might make you more susceptible to cancer later.

This paper from BC found that the rate of myocarditis or myopericarditis after an mRNA vaccination was 14.81 times higher than the pre-pandemic baseline. For men aged 18-29 years old, the myocarditis/myopericarditis rates were 148 time higher than the baseline. (Reminder: that’s lower odds than if you get a COVID-19 infection, it’s still quite rare, and almost all cases are mild.)

This paper from the USA says that mental health in athletes was significantly better in Spring 2021 than in Spring 2020.

This paper from the USA found that veterans with PTSD were 18% more likely to be hospitalized and 13% more likely to die than other veterans.

This paper from Brazil says that people with COVID-19 have higher levels of ATP (the molecule in the blood which carries energy around to where it is needed) and lower levels of ADO (which you get when ATP is converted into ADP+energy). In other words, your body isn’t getting energy out efficiently. ATP is also a relatively strong inflammatory agent.

This paper from the USA suggests that children are at a higher risk of stroke if they have had COVID-19. It’s a small study and the effects are not huge, but more study is needed.


This article describes a neat COVID-19 test that can be used in ambient air. There are nanobubbles with COVID-19 receptors on the surface, and if a COVID-19 virus docks with the bubble, the bubble bursts, releasing salts. The salts close a circuit and can drive an alarm. I’m sure it’s a long way from commercialization, but it’s really cool! (And of course you could test for any airborne virus this way — and actually, just about any toxin.)

This paper from Quebec (from October) describes a COVID-19 test that gives results 11 minutes after you give it a spit sample.

Recommended Reading

This article (from October) talks about the hunt for protein-based therapies.

This article (from October) is from a virologist asking for less experimentation with viruses.

This article talks about how viruses interfere with (and don’t interfere with) each other.

This article is about what science learned about influenza from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This article talks about how COVID-19 and influenza interfere with each other. (Or do they?)