Tulane Outbreak Daily – April 9, 2021

The Science Behind Why New Variants Are Spreading Faster – Wall Street Journal Video

As highly transmissible coronavirus variants sweep across the world, scientists are racing to understand why these new versions of the virus are spreading faster, and what this could mean for vaccine efforts. New research says the key may be the spike protein, which gives the coronavirus its unmistakable shape.

The next phase of the pandemic in the U.S. will be defined by burgeoning virus variants – Washington Post

The highly transmissible variant that originated in the United Kingdom is now the most common one circulating in the United States, with two other variants, which originated in South Africa and Brazil, also spreading with increasing frequency.

Health workers report ‘long COVID’ after just mild illness – CIDRAP

Fifteen percent of healthcare workers at a Swedish hospital who recovered from mild COVID-19 at least 8 months before report at least one moderate to severe symptom disrupting their work, home, or social life, according to a research letter published yesterday in JAMA.

Most U.S. infections are now caused by a contagious virus variant, the C.D.C. says – NYT

A highly infectious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in Britain has now become the most common source of new infections in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday — a worrisome development that comes as officials and scientists warn of a possible fourth virus surge.

COVID-19 surges intensify in global hot spots – CIDRAP

Countries in multiple parts of the world reported new daily records for COVID-19 cases, with the latest regulatory assessments of a link between the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and rare blood clot conditions continuing to trigger more precautions across more nations.

Analysis: How worried should you be about coronavirus variants? A virologist explains his concerns – PBS Newshour

Spring has sprung, and there is a sense of relief in the air. After one year of lockdowns and social distancing, more than 171 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. and about 19.4% of the population is fully vaccinated. But there is something else in the air: ominous SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The end of “hygiene theater” – New York Times

You can put away the disinfectant and stop wiping down your groceries. This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines on the dangers of coronavirus infection from touching a doorknob, a subway pole, or other surface. The risk is extremely low.

Just 5 states account for nearly half of all new U.S. coronavirus infections – Los Angeles Times

Nearly half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are in just five states — a situation that is putting pressure on the federal government to consider changing how it distributes vaccines by sending more doses to hot spots.

Nowhere as worrisome for COVID-19 infections as South America-PAHO director – Reuters

Intensive care units are nearing capacity in Peru and Ecuador and in parts of Bolivia and Colombia cases have doubled in the last week, Etienne said, adding the southern cone is also experiencing acceleration in cases

Vaccine Headlines

COVID-19 Vaccines Vs. COVID-19 Variants – NPR

It’s one of the hottest areas of COVID-19 research: How well do the various vaccines work against the variants? New findings are coming out daily. Here’s what’s known so far, and what’s pending.

The champion of mRNA – NYT

Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology is the bedrock of the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. It’s the genetic script that carries instructions to the protein-making machinery of cells. For its newly prominent role protecting the world from the coronavirus pandemic, we can thank Katalin Kariko, a Hungarian-born scientist, and her close collaborator, Dr. Drew Weissman.

The story behind COVID-19 vaccines – Science

Amid the staggering amount of suffering and death during this historic pandemic of COVID-19, a remarkable success story stands out. The development of several highly efficacious vaccines against a previously unknown viral pathogen, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), in less than 1 year from the identification of the virus is unprecedented in the history of vaccinology. A frequently asked question is how such an extraordinary accomplishment could have been realized in such a short time frame, when timelines for other vaccines are measured in years if not decades. In fact, concern about this truncated timeline has contributed in part to the hesitancy in accepting these vaccines. What is not fully appreciated is that the starting point of the timeline for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines was not 10 January 2020, when the Chinese published the genetic sequence of the virus. Rather, it began decades earlier, out of the spotlight.

Americans are hitting the road to get vaccinated – Washington Post

One year into the pandemic, Americans are focused on travel precautions, vaccine passports and securing vaccination appointments. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new travel guidelines saying it is safe for fully vaccinated people to travel domestically, the paradox is that some unvaccinated Americans are traveling during the pandemic to get a vaccination — giving new meaning to the label covid long-hauler.

NIH begins study of allergic reactions to Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines – NIH

A clinical trial is underway to determine whether people who are highly allergic or have a mast cell disorder are at increased risk for an immediate, systemic allergic reaction to the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. A systemic allergic reaction to a vaccine occurs in one or more parts of the body beyond the injection site. If such an allergic reaction occurs in study participants, investigators will assess whether the reactions are more frequent in participants who are highly allergic or have a mast cell disorder than in participants with no allergic history. In addition, investigators will examine the biological mechanism behind the reactions and whether a genetic pattern or other factors can predict who is at most risk.

North Carolina, Colorado Vaccination Sites Close Temporarily After Some Adverse Reactions – Wall Street Journal

Two mass-vaccination sites in North Carolina and Colorado closed temporarily this week after some people experienced adverse effects after receiving Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 shot.

Clinical Considerations

None Today

Official Reporting for April 9, 2021

World Health Organization

Weekly Epi Update April 5, 2021

Confirmed Cases: 132 730 691

Deaths: 2 880 726

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 133,796,725
Deaths: 2,900,922

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 30,737,477 (+74,860 New Cases)
Total deaths: 556,106 (+871 New Deaths)

Science and Tech

Origin of Covid-19 Pandemic Is Sought in Old Blood Samples – WSJ

Frozen specimens stored in China and elsewhere could show how long new coronavirus had been circulating before first cases were discovered. As part of an international effort to pinpoint the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic and prevent future disease outbreaks, scientists are looking for new clues in frozen blood.

Psychological and Sociological Impact

At the root of your pandemic boredom may be a feeling of loss of control – NYT

Before the pandemic, I found comfort in the routine of my life and the rhythms of my family — what Nora Ephron once called the “peanut-butter-and-jellyness” of days with children. I liked the morning thunderdome of getting the children dressed and fed, dropping them at school and taking the 20-minute walk to the subway.

Lessons Learned About Substance Use Disorders During the COVID-19 Pandemic – NIH Director’s Blog

Every spring, I and my colleague Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), join with leaders across the country in the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit. Our role is to discuss NIH’s continued progress in tackling our nation’s opioid crisis. Because of the continued threat of COVID-19 pandemic, we joined in virtually for the second year in a row.

Published Research

Symptoms and Functional Impairment Assessed 8 Months After Mild COVID-19 Among Health Care Workers – JAMA

Incident systemic rheumatic disease following COVID-19 – Lancet

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories

Colorado doctor accused of spreading vaccine misinformation – Colorado Local News

Dr. Katia Meier, a Colorado doctor who operates the Clear Sky Medical practice in Centennial, is accused of discouraging patients from getting a COVID-19 vaccine and encouraging them to buy her supplements instead. Former patient Lydia Fettin has filed a complaint against Dr. Meier with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies better known as DORA. “Their office does not recommend anyone getting the vaccine. ‘It changes people’s DNA,’” is what Fettin remembers being told by Dr. Meier.

Coping in 2020 (and probably most of 2021)

‘The Angriest Octopus’ Lashes at a Tourist on an Australian Beach – NYT

But wait, there’s more!

Don’t You Hate When a Seal Slaps You in the Face With an Octopus? – NYT

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