Tulane Outbreak – December 28, 2021

Featured Headlines

Omicron and delta are coming to your party – Washington Post

“Omicron and delta are coming to your party,” the Democrat said at a news conference Monday. He urged people to “think twice” before attending social gatherings, adding that the situation is far from safe.

January will be ‘a really, really hard month’ as the Omicron variant fuels spike in infections – CNN Video

“January is going to be a really, really hard month. And people should just brace themselves for a month where lots of people are going to get infected,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

Are N95 Face Masks Needed Against The Omicron Covid-19 Coronavirus Variant? – Forbes

The Covid-19 coronavirus seems to have upped its game with the Omicron variant. Does that mean that you need to up your face mask game as well? Will wearing traditional face masks be enough? Or do you now need to upgrade to N95 ones?

With 1,200 more flight cancellations Monday, airlines struggle to regain footing – Washington Post

Airlines struggled to recover Monday from pockets of wintry weather and an omicron-driven surge in caseloads that triggered staffing shortages and another 1,200 flight cancellations.

‘Not in a good place’: Hospitals prepare for omicron surge after holidays – NBC News

Health care workers, already pushed to their limits, are bracing for an onslaught of Covid patients after the holiday season.

World Hits Record Daily Covid Cases as Omicron Mars Christmas – Bloomberg

The more than 1.44 million worldwide infections smashed the prior record after factoring out a day in December 2020 when Turkey backdated a significant number of cases. A more conservative gauge — the seven-day rolling average that smooths out one-time fluctuations and holiday reporting irregularities — is also at an all-time high, owing to a tidal wave of omicron infections.

These numbers show just how impactful the latest COVID-19 surge is – NPR

Even with a surge in cases and a scramble for more testing, a smaller percentage of infected people are winding up in the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms compared to earlier strains.

The omicron variant symptoms you could face based on your COVID vaccine status – Deseret News

Dr. Craig Spencer, an emergency room doctor in New York, recently shared some anecdotal information about what’s been seen in the emergency room when it comes to COVID-19. Here’s what he found:

  • Every patient who got a third booster COVID-19 vaccine shot had mild symptoms. This included sore throat, fatigue and muscle pain.
  • Patients who had two doses of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines had mild symptoms but more than those who had three doses. He said there was more fatigue, more coughing and more miserable symptoms overall.
  • Those who had one dose of Johnson & Johnson were worse, feeling horrible with a fever for a few days. Tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath and cough were also common COVID-19 symptoms for this group.
  • Every patient that needed to be admitted was unvaccinated. The unvaccinated had “profound shortness of breath” and their “oxygen dropped when they walked,” he said. The unvaccinated needed “oxygen to breathe regularly,” he added.

Washington DC: The nation’s capital is the worst place for COVID-19 infections right now – NPR

D.C. experienced an average of 1,192 new cases per day over the past seven days, and 169 cases per 100,000 people as of Monday, according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

COVID-19 variants will keep coming until everyone can access vaccines – National Geographic

The emergence of Omicron underscores the consequences of vaccine inequity. Experts say it will take more than donations to fix the problem.

New York City leads spike in child hospitalizations nationwide – Washington Post

The number of children with covid-19 recently hospitalized in New York City has increased by nearly five times this month, New York state officials said at a news conference Monday.

Australia: Sydney COVID-19 testing lab incorrectly tells more than 400 positive cases they were negative – Australia News

A Sydney laboratory has apologised after hundreds of people infected with COVID-19 were wrongly told they were in the clear.
The revelation came as authorities in both New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory made efforts to prioritise medically mandated testing at swamped testing centres.

Germany: Thousands protest new coronavirus measures across Germany – Washington Post

Thousands of Germans took to the streets Monday evening to protest new coronavirus rules and potential vaccine mandates, with clashes breaking out.

Vaccine Headlines

Omicron Hasn’t Swayed the Least Vaccinated U.S. Counties – NYT

To minimize disruptions as virus cases surge, the C.D.C. halved the recommended isolation period for infected Americans who show no symptoms, to five days. Dr. Anthony Fauci says a vaccination requirement should “seriously be considered” for air travel.

Where vaccination rates are low in the U.S., the reasons vary. – NYT

At the county level, vaccination rates range from about 83 percent in places like Montgomery County, Md., a populous area just outside Washington, D.C., to around 15 percent in rural places like McPherson County in northern South Dakota.

Clinical Considerations

Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Infects the Kidneys and Contributes to Tissue Scarring – SciTechDaily

The Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 infects the kidneys and contributes to tissue scarring, as shown by researchers from the RWTH Uniklinik Aachen, Germany, and Radboudumc, The Netherlands. The developed scar tissue in the infected kidneys may suggest a possible impact on kidney outcomes in the long term.

Texas is running out of the only antibody treatment effective against the omicron variant – Texas Tribune

Five of the department’s regional infusion centers have run out of sotrovimab, the only antibody treatment known to be effective against the new variant.

Official Reporting for December 28, 2021

World Health Organization

Weekly Epi Update December 21st (latest release)

New Cases: 455,944

Confirmed Cases: 280,119,931

Deaths: 5,403,662

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 281,992,357
Deaths: 5,411,147

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 52,280,337 (+164,644 New Cases)
Total deaths: 813,792 (+89 New Deaths)

Science and Tech

Can At-Home COVID Tests Detect the Omicron Variant? – NBC News

“It depends which antigen the test is trying to detect,” he said. “If it’s going after the nucleocapsid (an internal RNA-binding protein), it’s typically better because this viral protein is more conserved, meaning it mutates less than the spike protein.

Are We Testing for Omicron Wrong? – MedPageToday

If confirmed in follow-up research and if the diagnostics industry can pivot quickly enough, findings from a South African study could make COVID-19 testing a lot easier for patients and healthcare workers, as the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant becomes the dominant source of infection.

U.S. Pauses Distribution Of Monoclonal Antibody Treatments That Proved Ineffective Against Omicron – Forbes

The U.S. government has paused distribution of Covid-19 monoclonal antibody treatments made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly, saying those treatments are probably ineffective against the omicron variant.

Psychological and Sociological Impact

Surprise! The Pandemic Has Made People More Science Literate – Wired

Despite rampant misinformation, Covid-19 has pushed science into the zeitgeist, as people have absorbed new words and how scientific discovery actually works. WHEN A HEALTH crisis strikes, people tend to get better at learning how to stay healthy. “We do perhaps become overall more sophisticated about what’s a risk and what to avoid,” says Allan Brandt, who teaches the history of medicine and public health at Harvard and has studied the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the tobacco industry’s misinformation campaigns about the risks of smoking.

Headed back to the office? Not so fast – NYT

Air Filters and Outdoor Spaces: Office Costs Rise as Workers Return Building owners may have saved on maintenance when their offices were dark, but new pandemic-related costs are being added to the bill. More robust air filtration and newly installed outdoor spaces are among the items that will add to developers’ costs when more employees return. New cleaning practices may make those services more expensive, and landlords are offering new amenities to lure tenants back.

Published Research

SARS-CoV-2 infects the human kidney and drives fibrosis in kidney organoids – Cell

Association Between Immune Dysfunction and COVID-19 Breakthrough Infection After SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination in the US – JAMA

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories

Georgia warns of Covid test kit scams – Georgia Local News

As Omicron Covid cases rise there is a rush for at-home test kits and Georgia officials warn that is an opening for scammers. Attorney General Chris Carr says “We urge all Georgians to be on the lookout for fraudulent COVID-19-related practices, specifically as it pertains to testing.”

Coping with COVID

Dave Barry’s Year in Review for 2021 – Miami Herald

What was better about 2021? For one thing, people finally emerged from their isolated pandemic cocoons and started connecting with others. Granted, the vast majority of the people who connected with us this year wanted to discuss our car’s extended warranty. But still.

 

 

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