This paper from Germany has some good news: it says that mild to moderate COVID infections in unvaccinated people does not lead to cognitive deficits several months after recovery than in controls. The caveat is that the study had only 223 people in each arm of the study, so it might not have found people with bad Long COVID.
COVID-Related Excess Death and Sickness
This paper from Germany finds (yet again) that COVID-19 infections lead to a higher risk of coming down with diabetes. They found that the risk of Type 1 diabetes was 57% higher in children who had had COVID-19 infections.
This preprint from Japan details a model which takes wastewater data in and gives R-number and number of cases out.
This paper from Germany found that the number of particles people breathe out goes up with age: people who were 60 to 76 years old emitted a lot more aerosol particles than people 20 to 39 years old. This was true both at rest and during exercise. The elderly cohort emitted, on average, three times as much at rest than the young cohort, with elderly women emitting 37% more than elderly men. Particles increased with exercise as well.
This paper from Belgium studying three nursing home outbreaks found that each outbreak was started by one introduction, and that they found COVID-19 in air samples for up to 52 days afterwards.
This paper from Singapore found that people shed about the same or more from Omicron than from previous variants, even if they were vaccinated.
People with Omicron also shed for longer than people with other variants:
They looked at big (>5µm) and small (<5µm) particles, and found that breathing emitted fewer little particles than talking, which emitted fewer little particles than singing. The reverse was true for big particles.
Interestingly, they couldn’t grow virus from little particles in any of the cell cultures. I don’t know if that means the little particles were not infectious, or if there’s something about growing virus in culture that makes little particles not work very well.
This paper from Canada (go Canada!) found that with multimerized antibodies, mice were fully protected at doses 1/30th the level of monoclonal antibodies. (Note: I dithered hard about whether to put this under “Treatments” or under “Vaccines”, since antibodies can be protective like vaccines.)
As near as I can understand, multimerized antibodies are proteins which have several different antibodies stuck to them, instead of just one-antibody per thing which floats around. I think this is sort of like what I’ve called “the spikey ball” vaccines, especially the ones which have multiple COVID-19 spikes on the ball.
This paper from the US using Danish data found that people get reinfected faster with COVID-19 with Omicron than they did with previous strains. This is true both for Omicron->Omicron reinfections and Other Strain->Omicron infections.
This press release from the UK government says that they have approved SKYCovione (though for some reason they spell it SKYCovion without the terminal e), a vaccine made by a South Korean company named SK Chemicals, based on a design by the Institute for Protein Design of the University of Washington and using SK Chemical’s AS03 adjuvant.
I am very excited. This vaccine is what they had been calling GBP510. SKYCovine is really different: instead of spikes or a ball covered with spikes, it has just the critical part of the spike (the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD), the piece which connects to the ACE2 receptor) connected to a ball by a flexible rope-like structure. This lets antibodies come at the RBD from all kinds of different directions. The vaccine did really really well in the University of Washington lab, as discussed in this article. (It also can be stored at fridge temperatures, win!)
This press release about from SK Chemicals from 13 months ago says that it also worked really well in the clinical trial. South Korea approved it two months later, but then it sort of…. disappeared. This article says that production was suspended in Nov 2022.
Well. It looks like they were doing more clinical trials, which flew under my radar. (There had been some complaints with the original trial that it was too small.) In February 2023, two studies came out:
- This preprint from South Korea found that SKYCovione was better than AstraZeneca in humans from 38 sites in six countries. If I understand the terminology correctly, SKYCovione elicited three times the number of antibodies (in test tubes) and four times as many people’s blood cleared the virus (in test tubes) as AstraZeneca. There were slightly more local side effects (e.g. painful arms), but about the same number of serious effects.
- This paper from the US found that monkeys given SKYCovione did really well when challenged by Delta, maybe that was enough to tip the UK into approving it?
As far as I could tell, the RBD on the end of the SKYCovoine “ropes” is the COVID Classic (D614G strain) RBD. One would hope that they have versions for Omicron in the works. The paper did say, “analysis in a subset of participants provided some evidence of neutralising antibody responses against Omicron BA.1 and BA.5 after vaccination with GBP510/AS03.”
Speaking of spikey-ball vaccines, this preprint from USA says that a sortase-conjugate nanoparticle (scNP) vaccine containing pieces of three different spikes (SARS-CoV-2, RsSHC014 (a bat coronavirus), and MERS-CoV) protected mice from COVID-19 BA.1, SARS, and MERS.
This paper from USA says that the only risk from vaccines for kids is a small risk of myocarditis or pericarditis (39.4 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis per one million doses, and none in kids under 11). This article reports that this paper from USA found that the risk of myocarditis was 1.8 per one million doses. This paper from USA found that if kids got bivalent boosters at the same rate as flu shots, that would avert 5.4 million school days lost to illness, and 5791 hospitalizations.
This preprint found that mothers can pass on COVID-19 antibodies in their breast milk without affecting the levels of helpful biota did not change. The antibody levels were highest one week after vaccination, but unfortunately waned pretty fast, and were almost gone after a month.
This paper from Japan found that mice which were
fat around the belly uh which had high visceral adipose tissue were more at risk from COVID-19 than mice which were obese in other ways.
This paper from UK found that SARS-CoV-2 was associated with fetal brain hemorrhages.
Yet another study (from Spain) has found that air pollution makes COVID-19 worse:
- An increase of 3.2 µg/m3 of PM2.5 gave a 19% increase in hospitalizations.
- An increase of 16.1 µg/m3 of NO2 gave a 42% increase in ICU admissions.
- An increase of 0.7 µg/m3 of black carbon gave a 6% increase in deaths.
This paper from USA found that people who got heart transplants from donors who had active COVID-19 cases at the time of death had significantly worse all-cause mortality rates at six months and one year than those who got heart transplants from people who had COVID-19 during their final hospitalization, but tested negative before they died. (There wasn’t much difference between donors who were recently recovered and those who didn’t have COVID-19 at any point in their final hospital stay.)
This Research Letter from Germany found that during the pandemic, Type 1 diabetes was diagnosed at a rate of 28.5 per 100,000 people, and 55.2 per 100,000 people if there was a COVID-19 diagnosis in the same quarter. The incidence was 38.8 per 100,000 in the next two quarters, and 50.7 per 100,000 after six months. People with a confirmed COVID-19 positive case were 69% more likely to get diagnosed with diabetes.
This preprint from Germany found spike proteins — not the full virus, just the spikes — in the skull marrow, meninges (the lining of the brain), and the brain tissue of autopsy tissue from both humans and mice. When they injected spike proteins straight into mice brains, a lot of brain cells died (and so did some of the mice). (NB: Vaccines injected into your deltoid are supposed to stay in your lymph system, not get into your bloodstream.)
This paper from Germany found that there were brain changes in after COVID-19 that were so distinct on MRIs that they could train an AI to tell if someone had had COVID-19 just by looking at a brain MRI (with really high accuracy). Interestingly, they didn’t see cognitive changes (although the followup period was shorter than some studies which did see changes). (NB: Everyone in the study — the ones who had had COVID-19 infections and the controls — was unvaccinated.)
This blog post goes into this paper and the previous one (about spikes in the brain) in great detail.
This paper found that people with Long COVID had lower Vitamin D levels than controls, especially among people with neurocognitive symptoms. Note: it might not be that low Vitamin D causes Long COVID; it might be that Long COVID makes it harder to get outside and get some Vitamin D. Still, catching some rays might be good for you.
This article says that tourism spending in Canada in 2022Q4 was double that in 2021Q4, mostly from Americans, mostly to ON, BC, QC, and AB.
This blog post talks about what’s new and exciting in vaccines.