2023-03-16 General

Many people mark 11 March 2020 as the day “shit got real” with COVID-19. That was the day that Tom Hanks announced that he’d gotten COVID-19 and the NBA shut down. To mark the anniversary, there were a ton of three-year retrospectives this week, and there apparently was a Canadian National Day of Observance (which I only discovered after it was over).

My take? It will probably be no surprise to both of the readers of this blog that obviously, clearly, things are better, but the pandemic is not over yet. Yes, it’s endemic — but endemic does not mean mild. (Malaria is endemic in many parts of the world, and it kills a ton of people.)

Mitigation Measures

This thread talks about ventilation, and how effective it can be for preventing the spread of disease… in pig farms! Apparently pig farms put a lot of money and effort into cleaning pig farm air because the return on investment is very high. Maybe we should try cleaning humans’ air?

This article reports that a lot of Canadian PPE manufacturers are going bankrupt, allegedly because the various government entities are buying from 3M instead of domestically-produced PPE. The manufacturers are kind of bitter about it.


This preprint from China says that ~95% of 155 people who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 had smell loss after three years, and all were over 50. However, there were only nine who had done the smell test initially, and only two of them had loss of smell then. Two had loss of smell initially, and both had fully recovered. Thus, this was a very small study group!

This paper also found that ~37% of the recovered patients showed anxiety and depression at the three-year mark; ~20% had insomnia that was at least mild and 57% had Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores of more than 254. (The average PSQI score is 4.21, and higher is worse.)

This paper from Australia says that volumes of two areas of the brain are larger (as measured by MRI) in people with ME/CFS and in Long COVID than in controls. The paper said that the volumes were basically the same in Long COVID and ME/CFS patients. (While they didn’t say what caused the increase in brain volume, I’m pretty sure people don’t make more brain cells, so I assume that those areas are swollen/inflammed.) There was one additional section of the brain which was bigger in Long COVID patients than in either ME/CFS patients or controls, and although they found correlations between brain area volumes and some symptoms (like “trouble breathing”), those were different for ME/CFS and Long COVID. Takeaway: ME/CFS and Long COVID have some distinct, important similarities, but also some differences.

HC=”Healthy Control”

Multiple Sclerosis patients get MRIs of their brain on a regular basis, so some docs said hey, what if we look at before-and-afters? This paper from Switzerland said that there was a reduction in volume in the parahippocampal gyri in people with MS after COVID-19 infection.


This paper from the USA says that if men don’t get enough sleep, their vaccination won’t work as well. Women also had less effective vaccinations if they were low on sleep, but it wasn’t enough to be statistically significant.

This paper from Germany says that neutralizing antibody levels are a bit higher in people who had their second dose of vax in the same arm as the first, compared to people who had the second dose in the opposite arm.

This paper from the France says that an infection plus vaccination is much better than either vaccination alone or infection alone.

Antibody levels after:
Grey: no vax, mild COVID-19 infection
Black: no vax, severe COVID-19 infection
Yellow: one Pfizer+infection
Orange: Two Pfizer+infection
Red: one AZ+infection
Blue: two Pfizers, no infection
Dark blue: one Pfizer, one AZ, no infection

NB: That’s a log scale there, so it’s more impressive than you thought at first glance.

This case study from the USA gives an existence proof that COVID-19 can cause face blindness.


This paper from Canada says that Alpha, Delta, and Omicron were about equally severe in children. “Hospitalization and intensive care admission rates were comparable across variants.” Children with Omicron, however, were more likely to have subsequent emergency room visits.

Secondary Effects

This report from Quebec says that the percent of Quebecers who gamble online increased from 5.2% in 2018 to 15.6% in 2020.


This paper says that giving obese mice an insulin sensitizer was highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19 disease, especially coupled with nirmatrelvir (half of Paxlovid).

Recommended Reading

This blog post talks about viruses, and how they aren’t routine, inevitable, and temporary. One thing it mentions, for example, is that shingles increases your stroke risk by 80% for the next year! (I also found the pig barn thread via this post.)

This article talks about new evidence that COVID-19 might have come through the Wuhan wet market in raccoon dogs (who probably caught it from bats).