We are switching to a twice-weekly Tulane Outbreak Daily format starting today, Tuesday April 27, 2021. After more than a year of 4-5 issues a week covering COVID, the volume of high value news content has slowed. We will continue to bring our readers timely, relevant, science based COVID coverage from around the world every Tuesday and Thursday morning. We welcome your feedback, and contributions!
Researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland have warned that pets could act as a potential reservoir for Covid-19 after they identified two cases where cats are believed to have contracted the virus from their owners, one of which died, underscoring the need for scientists to improve their understanding of whether pets play a role in infecting humans.
A blaze set off by an exploding oxygen cylinder swept through a hospital that lacked smoke detectors or sprinklers. More are expected to die from severe burns.
In a sweeping move likely to be followed by campuses across the nation, the University of California and California State University systems — two of the country’s largest public university systems — are planning to require Covid-19 vaccinations by the start of the fall semester for all students, faculty and staff.
Since the rollout of the various COVID-19 vaccines, optimism has been on the rise that the pandemic may be finally heading in the right direction. Yet, as all good scientists know, we must remain vigilant and stringent in monitoring variants for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In recent months, many areas of the world have seen a rise in viral variants, many of which are more virulent and could potentially lead to breakthrough infections in vaccinated populations. The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 VOC 20I/501Y.V1 (B.1.1.7 lineage) strain and its spread throughout Switzerland from the beginning of 2021 has led to an increased need for identifying the circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
A combination of nailing the virus and rolling out vaccines at one of the fastest rates in Asia saw Singapore top Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking this month, dethroning New Zealand for the first time in our measure of the best and worst places to be in the pandemic era.
The sudden spike in cases has brought the nation’s healthcare system to its knees. There are no hospital beds, no oxygen, no medicines. And then there are the variants.
The world’s largest vaccine producer is struggling to overcome its latest COVID-19 surge—and that’s everyone’s problem.
Viruses mutate all the time, producing different versions or variants of themselves. Most of these mutations are insignificant – and some may even make the virus less dangerous – but others can make it more contagious and harder to vaccinate against.
Delhi resident Nitish Kumar was forced to keep his dead mother’s body at home for nearly two days while he searched for space in the city’s crematoriums – a sign of the deluge of death in India’s capital where coronavirus cases are surging.
Coronavirus infections in India have been hitting record peaks for the past few days and the death toll has been on the rise. But the official death count doesn’t tell the full story, say experts.
The U.S. will send India raw materials for vaccines and step up financing aid for Covid-19 shot production, joining European countries in pledging to help stem the world’s biggest surge in cases.
President Biden, under intense pressure to do more to address the surging pandemic abroad, including a humanitarian crisis in India, intends to make up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine available to other countries, so long as federal regulators deem the doses safe, officials said Monday.
Researchers in Germany and Canada have added provocative new details to their proposal for how the COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca might be causing an unusual clotting disorder in a small number of recipients. The mechanism, involving stray human proteins and a preservative in the vaccine, remains speculative. And it is not clear whether their hypothesis explains similar reactions observed in recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson (J&J).
The pandemic is at its worst, globally, and expert eyes are trained on the role of new variants. Catastrophic surges are tearing across places where some thought the darkest days were already over. In India, where hospitals are running out of oxygen and COVID-19 cases are increasing exponentially, officials are concerned about a “double mutant” version of SARS-CoV-2 called B.1.167. In Brazil, where more than 2,500 people are dying every day, the government is urging people not to get pregnant for fear of variants like P.1. And such variants are giving rise to further variants, as mutations layer on mutations.
White House Covid adviser Andy Slavitt said in a tweet Monday that doses would be sent to other countries “as soon as they become available.”
Drugmaker Sanofi SA has signed an agreement to help manufacture as many as 200 million doses of Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S. starting in September, Sanofi said Monday.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that COVID-19 hits pregnant women harder than the general population. Now, one of the first large studies with a proper control group has firmed up earlier evidence for how the virus can alter the course of pregnancy and harm mothers and their newborns.
Even as cases drop among vaccinated Americans, the coronavirus still can spread among unvaccinated people—who will be disproportionately children.
Antibodies introduced by SARS-CoV-2, while largely protective, do not completely protect against reinfection in young people, according to a longitudinal, prospective study of more than 3000 young, healthy members of the US Marines Corps, which was published in The Lancet.
Official Reporting for April 27, 2021
World Health Organization
Confirmed Cases: 146 841 882
Deaths: 3 104 743
Confirmed Cases: 147,880,799
Total cases: 31,883,289 (+34,641 New Cases)
Total deaths: 569,272 (+294 New Deaths)
Science and Tech
The U.S. death rate in 2020 was the highest above normal since the early 1900s — even surpassing the calamity of the 1918 flu pandemic.
In a search for an Achilles’ heel for the virus, the scientific world is monitoring potential targets for virus neutralization. One of these targets is a highly conserved region of the receptor-binding domain in the spike protein and two new monoclonal antibodies targeting this region are rapidly advancing in development and trial.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
Last year, the coronavirus pandemic forced many summer camps to close and families to change their plans. Now, new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says camps will be able to open for in-person activities, provided they take specific steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Genomic Epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 Infection During the Initial Pandemic Wave and Association With Disease Severity – JAMA
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
The doses were seized by authorities in the two countries and confirmed by tests to be fake. In Mexico, they had false labels, while the substance in Poland was believed to be anti-wrinkle treatment, Pfizer said.
A UK parliamentary sub-committee is asking members of the public to submit examples. The committee has particularly requested submissions of disinformation spread in private groups and closed apps such as WhatsApp.
The potentially deadly chlorine dioxide solution, marketed as “Miracle Mineral Solution,” is typically used for industrial water treatment.
Coping in 2020 (and probably most of 2021)
The head of the European Commission said the bloc would switch policy, under certain conditions, after more than a year of mostly banning nonessential travel.
And with this wonderful news, I’m already plotting to get on a plane to go see my kid! It’s been over a year since I’ve seen my son (thanks COVID). Like so many others, I’ve really missed travel. Here is a pic from those travel days… from that time we ended up in Turkey.