Tulane Outbreak Daily – February 18, 2021

Featured Headlines

New CDC reports warn that variants could lead to “rapid rise” in Covid-19 cases – CNN

Two new reports from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that new coronavirus variants could lead to a rapid rise in the numbers of Covid-19 cases.

The coronavirus canceled Carnival, but Brazilians won’t stop partying – Washington Post

Vaccine supplies are running out. The number of daily deaths has reached a record high. A new variant that health officials say is three times as transmissible as the original coronavirus is spreading throughout the country. Some are calling for more lockdowns.

The FDA’s Experience with Covid-19 Antibody Tests – NEJM

In January 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began considering the U.S. response to Covid-19. On February 4, after the declaration of a public health emergency, we began authorizing tests to diagnose active infections. In such an emergency, the FDA can grant an emergency use authorization (EUA) for medical products on the basis of a review of the scientific evidence.

COVID-19 Cases Are Dropping Fast. Why? – The Atlantic

Four reasons: social distancing, seasonality, seroprevalence, and shots.

This Region Of The Covid-19 Virus Is One We Can’t Ignore – Forbes

Random variation is an essential component of all living things. It drives diversity, and it is why there are so many different species. Viruses are no exception. Most viruses are experts at changing genomes to adapt to their environment. We now have evidence that the virus that causes Covid, SARS-CoV-2, not only changes, but changes in ways that are significant.

Scientists Call on C.D.C. to Set Air Standards for Workplaces, Now – New York Times

The agency has not fully reckoned with airborne transmission of the coronavirus in settings like hospitals, schools and meatpacking plants, experts said.

True toll of coronavirus on sub-Saharan Africa may be obscured by tremendous variability in risk factors and surveillance – Princeton University

One early feature of reporting on the coronavirus pandemic was the perception that sub-Saharan Africa was largely being spared the skyrocketing infection and death rates that were disrupting nations around the world.

Vaccine Headlines

Vaccinating Children against Covid-19 — The Lessons of Measles – NEJM

magine a highly contagious virus circulating in the community. Many infected children have fever and some general misery but recover without incident. Rarely, devastating complications occur, leading to hospitalization, severe illness, and occasional deaths.

Thousands of service members saying no to COVID-19 vaccine – ABC News

By the thousands, U.S. service members are refusing or putting off the COVID-19 vaccine as frustrated commanders scramble to knock down internet rumors and find the right pitch that will persuade troops to get the shot.

Delayed Second Dose versus Standard Regimen for Covid-19 Vaccination – NEJM

You chair the Governor’s task force on rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine. Given concerns about the limited availability of the two-dose mRNA vaccine, you have been asked to weigh in on the debate regarding the most effective use of the currently available doses. Should people who have already received a first dose of vaccine have their second dose delayed by a number of months until there is a greater supply, so that more people can receive a first dose? Or should those who have gotten the first dose receive the second dose according to the standard schedule, 3 to 4 weeks after the first dose, as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? You must consider the benefits and risks of the two approaches, on both individual and population levels, and decide what to recommend to the task force.

Clinical Considerations

Covid-19 Vaccines And Autoimmune Disease – Forbes

Since autoimmune diseases are so common in women, I’ve long waited to see if there were specific recommendations for Covid-19 vaccinations in patients with these underlying family of illnesses. The answer is “no.” Unfortunately, this is based on hunches and physicians’ experiences, rather than solid data. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) just released their recommendation: “Although there is limited data from large population-based studies, it appears that patients with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions are at a higher risk for developing hospitalized COVID-19 compared to the general population and have worse outcomes associated with infection,” said Dr. Jeffrey Curtis, chair of the ACR COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Guidance Task Force. “Based on this concern, the benefit of COVID-19 vaccination outweighs any small, possible risks for new autoimmune reactions or disease flare after vaccination.”

Pregnancy tied to estimated 70% higher COVID-19 rate – CIDRAP

Pregnant women in Washington state were infected with COVID-19 at a 70% higher rate than others of similar ages, with nonwhite women shouldering a disproportionate burden, according to a study published yesterday in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Surprise Find in COVID-19 Brain Capillaries – MedPage Today

Large cell nuclei that appeared to be megakaryocytes were found in cortical capillaries of five people who died with severe COVID-19, neuropathologists reported.

A Novel Tx for Severe COVID-19 Pneumonia – MedPageToday

All three patients described were able to avoid ICU admission. A 60-year-old woman presents to hospital in St. Petersburg, Russia, with symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection for the previous 14 days, including persistent dry cough, weakness, and intermittent fever. She also notes that she has been urinating much less than usual.

Official Reporting for February 18, 2021

World Health Organization

Weekly Epi Update February 16, 2020

Confirmed Cases: 109 217 366

Deaths: 2 413 912

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 109,872,348
Deaths: 2,428,492

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 27,600,391 (+57,970 New Cases)
Total deaths: 486,466 (+1,396 New Deaths)

Science and Tech

How does SARS-COV-2 Enter Cells? – University of Utah

A significant and positive outcome of the COVID-19 epidemic is the speed at which many members of the biological research community have been able to redirect and apply their specialized skills towards an increased understanding of SARS-CoV-2. The rapid pace of publication and sharing of data, however, brings new concerns: what aspects of coronavirus biology are now well documented and understood, and what areas represent “black boxes” where there is inadequate research coverage or conflicting results? How trustworthy are the currently available data, and how close are we to having a consensus model of different stages of the SARS-CoV-2 life cycle?

White House Announces Expanded COVID-19 Testing, Manufacturing And Virus Sequencing – NPR

The White House plans to increase testing capacity in the U.S. through multiple channels, officials said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

Psychological and Sociological Impact

The virus divides Israel – New York Times

As the virus has torn through Israeli society, it has caused a collision between mainstream Jews and the ultra-Orthodox minority that The Times is documenting.

Published Research

Clarifying the evidence on SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid tests in public health responses to COVID-19 – Lancet

Challenges in interpreting SARS-CoV-2 serological results in African countries – Lancet

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories

Escaping Catch-22 — Overcoming Covid Vaccine Hesitancy – NEJM

In September 8, 2020, AstraZeneca announced that it was pausing its late-phase SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trial because of a serious adverse event in a U.K. participant. The next day, my hairdresser, Ms. J., asked me what I thought about the news. I said the halting of the trial to investigate the adverse event was reassuring — an example of science doing its job. “What do you think?” I asked.

Coping in 2020 (and probably most of 2021)

For your pandemic viewing enjoyment, a song.


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