A new study suggests that the recent trend of shortening isolation and quarantine periods for COVID-19 may be in error. The scientists measured the presence of active virus using RNA sequences rather than virus fragments, which polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing detects. They found that more than 1 in 10 people who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 retained active infections for more than 10 days. It is not clear whether the extended presence of active virus means that it remains infectious.
There are two key differences between omicron and previous variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that emerged in late 2019. Early data suggests that omicron cases are milder than infections caused by the delta variant. On the flip side, omicron is far more transmissible – meaning it spreads easier – than previous variants. It can be confusing to think about the overall effects of a milder virus that is also far more infectious.
The variant is spreading widely, but won’t necessarily give us strong protection from new infections. Even before Omicron hit the United States in full force, most of our bodies had already wised up to SARS-CoV-2’s insidious spike—through infection, injection, or both. By the end of October 2021, some 86.2 percent of American immune systems may have glimpsed the virus’s most infamous protein, according to one estimate; now, as Omicron adds roughly 800,000 known cases to the national roster each day, the cohort of spike-zero Americans, the truly immunologically naive, is shrinking fast.
N95 respirators have long been the best disposable face coverings for protection against airborne viruses, but until recently, they were scarce.
When worn properly, N95s can filter out at least 95 percent of particles in the air, including the virus that causes covid-19. Only pricey air-purifying respirators or hazmat suits offer better protection.
Omicron was probably present in New York City’s wastewater more than a week before the first case of the new variant was detected in the United States, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and researchers across the country.
Restaurants and bars will close early in Tokyo and a dozen other areas across Japan beginning Friday as the country widens COVID-19 restrictions due to the omicron variant causing cases to surge to new highs in metropolitan areas.
A number of governments have changed their approaches to the coronavirus, to one that is more like how we treat the flu. Public health experts say it’s too soon to make that call.
At the beginning of 2020, as the nation celebrated the start of a new year, many Americans were still unaware of the “mysterious pneumonia” that had sickened dozens of workers at a live animal market in Wuhan, China.
But prior infection could affect male fertility, study suggests. Couples who were vaccinated against COVID-19 did not have a lower likelihood of getting pregnant, but previous infection with SARS-CoV-2 could affect male fertility, according to a prospective study.
Globally, millions of people have taken the Chinese-manufactured Sinovac (CoronaVac) COVID-19 vaccine. A recent study, which appears in Nature Medicine Trusted Source, questions how well it performs against the Omicron variant. The scientists found that after two doses of the vaccine, “Neutralization of Omicron was undetectable.”
While more adverse events (AEs) were reported among those who received the COVID-19 vaccine during clinical trials versus placebo, the number of AEs reported in the placebo group was disproportionately high, a systematic review and meta-analysis found.
Vaccine boosters provide robust protection against severe disease from the omicron variant in the United States, according to three reports released Friday that offer the first real-world data in this country showing the utility of the additional shots in keeping vaccinated people out of the hospital.
Testing shows young people have trouble concentrating months after acute infection. Young adults performed worse on memory and attention tests several months after an acute case of mild COVID-19, according to a small study that may support the “brain fog” reported by many.
Patients recovering from COVID-19 showed cardiac dysfunction on transthoracic echocardiography 3 to 4 months after hospital discharge, according to a Norwegian study.
Official Reporting for January 21, 2022
World Health Organization
Weekly Epi Update January 18th (latest release)
New Cases: 1,586,889
Confirmed Cases: 328,532,929
Confirmed Cases: 344,002,803
Total cases: 68,671,563 (+768,190 New Cases)
Total deaths: 856,288 (+2,542 New Deaths)
Science and Tech
Rapid antigen testing using a nasal swab with the BinaxNOW test was able to detect the Omicron variant at an urban community testing site, whereas other swabbing routes did not perform as well, researchers found.
The stunning Covid vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna drew upon long-buried discoveries made in the hopes of ending past epidemics.
Two years into the COVID pandemic, as the highly contagious Omicron variant pushes infections to record highs, U.S. physicians have a growing arsenal of therapies to keep mild disease from worsening. At the same time, limited availability and challenging logistics are complicating decisions about which patients receive them. Here is a rundown of what is on hand for hospitalized patients, as well as for people who are primarily recovering at home.
When infected with the novel coronavirus, pig cells undergo a sort of strategic suicide called apoptosis, which kills the infected cells and stops them from spreading the virus.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
When Dr Anthony Fauci challenged Senator Rand Paul last week during US congressional hearings, he exposed how politicians have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic for their own personal advantage. Fauci showed screenshots of Senator Paul’s website, which included the message “Fire Dr Fauci”. He pointed out that Paul was inviting people to send donations to firefauci.org. He explained how Paul’s exaggerations were creating the conditions for violent attacks on himself and his family. In December, 2021, a man was arrested on his way to Washington, DC, with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle in his car. When asked why he was travelling with this gun, he replied that he was going “to kill Dr Fauci”. Fauci provided compelling evidence that, in his words, “you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your personal gain”. As the pandemic enters its third year, the difficult truth is that the political debate about COVID-19 has evolved into a bitter culture war, where arguments have become struggles between different social groups holding different beliefs about how society should be constructed and governed. As one UK Government adviser said to me recently, his greatest worry was that the mistakes made by scientists over the risks posed by the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 might have emboldened the right wing of the Conservative Party to attack and undermine the government’s efforts to manage the country out of a pandemic.
A prospective cohort study of COVID-19 vaccination, SARS-CoV-2 infection, and fertility – American Journal of Epidemiology
Cardiac Dysfunction and Arrhythmias 3 Months After Hospitalization for COVID‐19 – Journal of the American Heart Association
Neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 Delta and Omicron variants following heterologous CoronaVac plus BNT162b2 booster vaccination – Nature
The COVID-19 response in Hong Kong – The Lancet
Omicron neutralising antibodies after COVID-19 vaccination in haemodialysis patients –The Lancet
Attenuated replication and pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 Omicron – Nature
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
This may get you to stand up and take notice. A nurse in the U.K. reportedly credits Viagra for saving her from severe, life-threatening Covid-19. Yes, that Viagra, the one typically used for erectile dysfunction. Such news has already helped the word “Viagra” trend on Twitter with tweets such as the following from Robert M. Wachter, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Video of this story here from the NYPost
Coping with COVID