2024-05-10 General



This press release from USA (2024-05-08) says that they are starting two programs with two trials each:

  • Modafinil and solriamfetol to treat long haulers who have trouble staying awake during the day;
  • Melatonin and light therapy for long haulers who have trouble falling alseep;
  • Personalized cardiopulmonary rehabilitation for long haulers without post-exertional malaise (PEM);
  • Structured pacing for long haulers with PEM.

Me, I would like to see more drug trials and fewer physio&hope trials. >:-(

This paper from UK (2024-04-30) found that the percentage of kids who got Long COVID went up after Omicron. Pre-Omicron, 12%-16% of kids who got COVID-19 went on to get Long COVID. (There was no difference if the kid got infected for the first or second time.) After Omicron, 17.4% of kids with first-time cases got Long COVID, and 21.9% of kids with reinfections got Long COVID.

This press release about a conference presentation says that children have different Long COVID-19 symptoms depending on their age.

  • People age 6-25 tended to have general symptoms: low energy; tiring after walking; headaches; body, muscle, and joint pains; lightheadedness or dizziness; trouble concentrating or focusing; and gastrointestinal symptoms, like nausea and vomiting.
  • Ages 6-11 had more phobias/fears and school refusal.
  • Ages 12-17 had more fears of crowds or enclosed spaces and panic attacks.
  • Ages 12-25 had more smell or taste changes.
  • Ages 18-25 had more chest pain and palpitations.
  • Ages under 6 had more general symptoms, including poor appetite, trouble sleeping, and fussiness, and prolonged respiratory symptoms like stuffy nose and cough.


This preprint from Australia (2024-04-17) looked at the cost effectiveness of different combinations of staff masking (surgical, N95) and patient admission screening testing (none, RAT, PCR). They found that staff wearing N95 and screening with RATs was the most cost-effective strategy, in addition to giving a lower mortality rate.


This article reports that the AstraZeneca COVID vax got pulled from the market. I want to make it really clear to you that if you (like me!) got an early AZ vax, you are not in danger of something new and bad happening! If you were going to get a blot clot from AZ, it would have happened a long time ago.

This blog post defends the AstraZeneca COVID vax, and points out that it was early, it was cheap, it was easy to ship (not requiring ultra-cold temperatures!), it was effective, and it was way safer than catching COVID. The author points out that it’s appropriate to pull it now because better vaccines exist now, but it was good for its time.

This paper from USA (2024-05-07) found that a national public education campaign to boost vaccination in high-risk groups returned almost $90 in social benefits for every $1 spent.

This article (2024-05-10) reports that Novavax and Sanofi entered into a partnership/licensing deal which included cash dollars going to Novavax. This makes Novavax’ continued survival more likely. I think that’s a Good Thing because competition etc., however, this price list from US CDC shows that Novavax has jacked its prices up to be essentially the same as the mRNA vaccines — which, as this article (2023-01-10) reported, was itself jacked up to ~USD$130/dose despite them making absolute bank at USD$26/dose before the pandemic emergency was declared over. For comparison, this old article (2021-08-11) reveals that back then, Novax was selling then for about USD$21/dose in Europe (and the mRNAs at ~USD$20-35).

Capitalism is supposed to mean “price competition”, not “everybody selling it for the same amount”!!


This paper (2024-05-06) did statistical analyses of COVID-19 genomes before and after the introduction of molnupiravir. Molnupiravir works by mutating the hell out of the virus, “randomly”, but it’s not quite random. They were able to show with statistical analysis that molnupiravir-caused changes made it out into the wild, into the genome database. There are a lot of people who said that molnupiravir was a bad idea, and even more are saying that now.

This paper from Australia (2024-05-07) found that — in test tubes — treating long hauler’s blood cells with Naltrexone (yes, that stuff they stop opioid overdoses with) restores the TRPM3 ion channel activity that is frequently messed up in long haulers and people with ME/CFS.

This article from Australia (2024-05-06) says that they are going to try clinical trials of low-dose Naltrexone (LDN) for long haulers. Yay! It’s about damn time someone did. (For literally years, people have been suggesting LDN might help long haulers.)


This article reports that scientists have trained bees — which have extremely sensitive noses — to signal when a sample has COVID-19.

This article reported that Ottawa will stop supplying rapid tests to provinces. (I was a little surprised, because I thought they had already stopped.) The article says that the federal government “is no longer maintaining the stockpile”, but also says that provinces can keep drawing from the stockpile until it runs out, so I’m a bit confused about what the state of the stockpile is. Maybe “maintaining” means “replacing stock”?


More birds and cows are being found with H5N1, but it’s a trickle and not a flood. I don’t have the sense of something going non-linear. However, it might just be that the dairy farms are getting better at hiding it.

I want to express frustration at how difficult it is to talk about the specific illness we are concerned about, the influenza that jumped from birds to cows to at least one human. Bird-cow-human flu? Additionally, there are other H5 influenzas and other bird influenzas (e.g. H5N9, which also infects birds).


This preprint from USA (2024-04-29) is disconcerting. They looked at H5 flu in wastewater collected earlier (but still from 2024) at wastewater treatment plants across the USA. Note that some wastewater treatment plants do get cattle feces and/or milk dumped into them. They found:

  • In three wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Texas near known infected cows, they found that there was no detectable bird flu before early- to mid-March (depending on the WWTP), but there was quite a lot of bird flu detected afterwards.
  • Of the 190 WWTPs, they found H5 flu in 59 of them. (NB: This is could pick up H5 influenza that is not H5N1.) They did not do retrospectives of all of them to see when the H5 levels went up, so it could be that water in those plants had H5 from bird shit for a long time, and not bird flu cow shit/milk recently. It could be that consumers dumped some milk with H5 flu viral particles down the sink in those WWTPs. But it also could be from humans shedding H5 flu.

This preprint from Denmark (2024-05-03) is worrying.

You might know that people get very worried about flu in pigs. That’s because pigs have both SA-α2,6 receptors (which dominate in humans) and SA-α2,3 receptors (which dominate in birds). This means that a pig can get a human flu and a bird flu at the same time, and those viruses can swap genetic code — which has in the past made some diseases which were pretty nasty for humans. (Remember the 2009 H1N1 flu? They think that came from a human flu and a bird flu mixing in a pig.)

Well, this study found that cows have human receptors and SA-α2,3-Gal-β1,4 (chicken receptors) and SA-α2,3-Gal-β1,3 (duck receptors). The proportion is different in different tissues: there were lots of duck and human receptors in mammary glands, while chicken receptors dominated in the respiratory tract. In the brain, there were very low levels of bird receptors.

This means that cow udders can act as mixing pots, just like pigs can. Ulp.

(No, I don’t know why we are just hearing about bovine flu now — if cows can be flu blenders like pigs, why didn’t it happen before?)

Speaking of pigs, this paper (2024-05-07) found that pigs are highly susceptible to (deliberate) infection with a version of H5N1 which went around a mink farm. The good news is that the infected pigs didn’t seem to transmit it to other pigs. The bad news is that they found some mutations in the pigs that would make the virus more dangerous to humans.

Recommended Reading

The focus of this article is more on aging than on COVID-19 or H5N1, but it does have to do with the immune system. It looks like a small tweak to the producers of blood stem cells reverses aging in mice! (NB: Exercise does a little bit of the same kind of tweaking; smoking does the opposite.)

If you want to know what surveillance the US is doing on H5N1, read this US CDC report (2024-05-08). (Is it enough? I don’t know, but there are a fair number of programs looking at lots of different things.)

This article from USA (2024-04-06) talks about the genetic changes which they think would need to happen for H5N1 to spread easily in humans. Spoiler: there are three steps, which take at least four mutations to get through the first two steps, and many more for the third step.