South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Tuesday that it had recorded at least two cases of the new coronavirus delta-plus variant, which some experts believe to be more transmissible than the original delta variant that was first detected in India and has since thwarted plans for returning to life before the pandemic.
As the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 sweeps across Asia, researchers are increasingly concerned about COVID-19 spreading beyond urban centres to rural regions that were largely spared in earlier waves of the pandemic and have less access to testing, health care and vaccines.
The variant and its subsequent lineages have been detected on U.S. soil, most recently in the Provincetown outbreak; however, just one sample out of 133 there was positive for a Delta Plus sublineage. It’s also been reported in several other countries, including the U.K. and India.
Unvaccinated Americans believe the vaccines are more dangerous than Covid-19, while vaccinated Americans believe the delta variant is worrisome enough that they continue to mask in public and avoid large gatherings. And even though almost 165 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated and the delta variant is raging across the country, the percentage of U.S. adults who say they oppose the Covid vaccines has remained unchanged since December.
Singapore announced it would tighten certain social-distancing measures and ramp up contact tracing and testing to contain a cluster that started at a karaoke lounge. The Ministry of Health said the outbreak will delay reopening plans, which could be rolled back significantly if virus numbers surge.
A South Florida hospital chain is suspending elective surgeries and putting beds in conference rooms, an auditorium and even a cafeteria as many more patients seek treatment for COVID-19.
A smattering of places, mainly across the Asia Pacific region, have seen breathtaking victories in the battle against Covid-19 by effectively wiping it out within their borders. Now they face a fresh test: rejoining the rest of the world, which is still awash in the pathogen.
The latest slew of stark statistics: Daily cases passing 100,000 — numbers not seen since February. A seven-day average of hospital admissions up by more than 40 percent from the week before and deaths trending up by roughly the same rate.
The number of children contracting Covid-19 has increased fivefold since the end of June, with a “substantial” 84% jump in the last week alone, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which comes as numerous states report upticks in child hospitalizations amid the ongoing delta surge.
In Louisiana, which has seen new infections skyrocket to the highest point of the pandemic, the governor implemented a statewide indoor mask mandate as hospitals are again delaying elective surgeries and limiting visitors. In Florida, which has been reporting about a fifth of all new U.S. cases, at least 10 hospitals in the Jacksonville and Orlando areas have hit their all-time peaks in covid-19 admissions. Disney World, New Orleans and Las Vegas, destinations for tourists craving a return to normalcy, are mandating masks again.
Just weeks after India regained its footing from its second wave, pockets of sustained transmission nationwide, including in the south, are creating ripples of concern about a resurgence. Fresh daily cases, which have sometimes edged above 40,000 and have been concentrated in the state of Kerala, are highlighting the difficulty in stamping out the highly infectious delta variant even in a country where antibody studies suggest that two-thirds of the population has previous exposure to the virus.
In the past few months, as COVID-19 vaccination rates slowed across the United States and the Delta coronavirus variant spread, companies and local governments have offered creative incentives for people to get their shots, including free doughnuts, baseball tickets, and cars. Nearly 20 states have also opted to entice those hesitant to get a vaccine with a lottery. And the White House last week called on state and local governments to directly pay $100 to anyone willing to get their first dose—an incentive New York City began to offer on 30 July.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, is now calling for a moratorium – for at least the next two months – on COVID booster shots.
As breakthrough COVID infections among staff at Bay Area hospitals garner attention as the latest Cape Cod-like cluster, one of these facilities has started offering booster shots for some.
The company said that it expected boosters would be needed before winter because of the Delta variant, but some experts disagree.
A 39-year-old woman presents to her community hospital concerned about tiny blood spots that cover most of her body. She explains that she has had muscle aches and has been feeling fatigued for the past 2 days. She has no flu-like symptoms and her sense of taste and smell are normal.
The risk of COVID-19 has been largely communicated only in terms of deaths and hospital capacity, with recovery and survival conflated with each other. Around one in three people with symptomatic COVID-19 still experience symptoms 12 weeks after onset (1). Long Covid can be experienced by all age groups and not only those with acute severe disease. The debilitating symptoms are wide-ranging, multisystemic, and predominantly fluctuating or relapsing. There is still much to understand about Long Covid, but what is not well understood should not be ignored.
A therapeutic dose of heparin was associated with increased probability of survival for non-critically ill COVID-19 patients versus usual-care thromboprophylaxis, but not for the most severe patient population, peer-reviewed results from the REMAP-CAP, ACTIV-4a, and ATTACC multi-platform trial showed.
The surge in pediatric infections worries doctors, especially on the cusp of flu season, saying Covid’s potential impact on kids is “beyond what flu would ever do.”
A team from Boston Children’s Hospital, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center looked at cells from the nose and throat of people with SARS-CoV-2 infections and compared these with the samples from healthy individuals who formed the control group.
Official Reporting for August 6, 2021
World Health Organization
Weekly Epi Update August 4, 2021 (latest release)
New Cases: 658,630
Confirmed Cases: 200,174,883
Confirmed Cases: 201,124,163
Total cases: 35,392,284 (+92,282 New Cases)
Total deaths: 612,958 (+500 New Deaths)
Science and Tech
As the Delta variant sweeps the globe, scientists are learning more about why new versions of the coronavirus spread faster, and what this could mean for vaccine efforts. The spike protein, which gives the virus its unmistakable shape, may hold the key.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
Six in 10 physicians say they often experience feelings of burnout, a 20% jump from pre-pandemic levels reported in 2018, according to The Physicians Foundation’s 2021 Survey of America’s Physicians released on Thursday.
The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were meant to be the perfect stage for Japanese and other tech firms to showcase their latest technologies to the world. A year late and without fans allowed in due to the pandemic, the show has lost much of that luster, but some undeterred companies are making a push to turn the experience of navigating the Covid challenge into a legacy for the games.
Therapeutic Anticoagulation with Heparin in Noncritically Ill Patients with Covid-19 – NEJM
Subcutaneous REGEN-COV Antibody Combination to Prevent Covid-19 List of authors. – NEJM
Impaired local intrinsic immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infection in severe COVID-19 – Cell
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
Joseph Mercola, who researchers say is a chief spreader of coronavirus misinformation online, said on Wednesday that he would delete posts on his site 48 hours after publishing them.
Coping with COVID
Finally! A legit science article for this section
Every day, there are acrobatic extravaganzas going on above our heads. Squirrels navigate remarkably complex and unpredictable environments as they leap from branch to branch, and mistakes can be fatal. These feats require a complex combination of evolved biomechanical adaptations and learned behaviors. Hunt et al. characterized the integration of these features in a series of experiments with free-living fox squirrels (see the Perspective by Adolph and Young). They found that the squirrels’ remarkable and consistent success was due to a combination of learned impulse generation when assessing the balance between distance and branch flexibility and the addition of innovative leaps and landings in the face of increasingly difficult challenges.
Semi-related video from a former NASA engineer