Tulane Outbreak – January 21, 2022

Featured Headlines

COVID-19: Active, possibly infectious virus persists after 10 days – MedNewsToday

A new study suggests that the recent trend of shortening isolation and quarantine periods for COVID-19 may be in error. The scientists measured the presence of active virus using RNA sequences rather than virus fragments, which polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing detects. They found that more than 1 in 10 people who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 retained active infections for more than 10 days. It is not clear whether the extended presence of active virus means that it remains infectious.

Alpha then delta and now omicron – 6 questions answered as COVID-19 cases once again surge across the globe – The Conversation

There are two key differences between omicron and previous variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that emerged in late 2019. Early data suggests that omicron cases are milder than infections caused by the delta variant. On the flip side, omicron is far more transmissible – meaning it spreads easier – than previous variants. It can be confusing to think about the overall effects of a milder virus that is also far more infectious.

Will Omicron Leave Most of Us Immune? – The Atlantic

The variant is spreading widely, but won’t necessarily give us strong protection from new infections. Even before Omicron hit the United States in full force, most of our bodies had already wised up to SARS-CoV-2’s insidious spike—through infection, injection, or both. By the end of October 2021, some 86.2 percent of American immune systems may have glimpsed the virus’s most infamous protein, according to one estimate; now, as Omicron adds roughly 800,000 known cases to the national roster each day, the cohort of spike-zero Americans, the truly immunologically naive, is shrinking fast.

Why most of us should be wearing N95 masks – Washington Post

N95 respirators have long been the best disposable face coverings for protection against airborne viruses, but until recently, they were scarce.
When worn properly, N95s can filter out at least 95 percent of particles in the air, including the virus that causes covid-19. Only pricey air-purifying respirators or hazmat suits offer better protection.

Omicron was probably in N.Y.C. well before the first U.S. case was detected, wastewater data suggest. – NYT

Omicron was probably present in New York City’s wastewater more than a week before the first case of the new variant was detected in the United States, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and researchers across the country.

Japan is ramping up COVID-19 restrictions as omicron cases surge – NPR

Restaurants and bars will close early in Tokyo and a dozen other areas across Japan beginning Friday as the country widens COVID-19 restrictions due to the omicron variant causing cases to surge to new highs in metropolitan areas.

The Omicron Shift in Europe: Pandemic or Endemic? – NYT

A number of governments have changed their approaches to the coronavirus, to one that is more like how we treat the flu. Public health experts say it’s too soon to make that call.

2 years after COVID first hit the US, hundreds of thousands of Americans are still falling ill – ABC News Video

At the beginning of 2020, as the nation celebrated the start of a new year, many Americans were still unaware of the “mysterious pneumonia” that had sickened dozens of workers at a live animal market in Wuhan, China.

Vaccine Headlines

COVID-19 Vaccines Not Linked to Trouble Conceiving – MedPageToday

But prior infection could affect male fertility, study suggests. Couples who were vaccinated against COVID-19 did not have a lower likelihood of getting pregnant, but previous infection with SARS-CoV-2 could affect male fertility, according to a prospective study.

Does Sinovac work against Omicron? – MedNewsToday

Globally, millions of people have taken the Chinese-manufactured Sinovac (CoronaVac) COVID-19 vaccine. A recent study, which appears in Nature Medicine Trusted Source, questions how well it performs against the Omicron variant. The scientists found that after two doses of the vaccine, “Neutralization of Omicron was undetectable.”

Are Some Vaccine Side Effects Just in Our Heads? – MedPage Today

While more adverse events (AEs) were reported among those who received the COVID-19 vaccine during clinical trials versus placebo, the number of AEs reported in the placebo group was disproportionately high, a systematic review and meta-analysis found.

Booster shots in U.S. have strongly protected against severe disease from omicron variant – Washington Post

Vaccine boosters provide robust protection against severe disease from the omicron variant in the United States, according to three reports released Friday that offer the first real-world data in this country showing the utility of the additional shots in keeping vaccinated people out of the hospital.

Clinical Considerations

‘Brain Fog’ Persists After Mild COVID-19 – MedPageToday

Testing shows young people have trouble concentrating months after acute infection. Young adults performed worse on memory and attention tests several months after an acute case of mild COVID-19, according to a small study that may support the “brain fog” reported by many.

Signs of Lingering Cardiac Dysfunction After Severe COVID – MedPageToday

Patients recovering from COVID-19 showed cardiac dysfunction on transthoracic echocardiography 3 to 4 months after hospital discharge, according to a Norwegian study.

Official Reporting for January 21, 2022

World Health Organization

Weekly Epi Update January 18th (latest release)

New Cases: 1,586,889

Confirmed Cases: 328,532,929

Deaths: 5,542,359

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 344,002,803
Deaths: 5,578,967

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 68,671,563 (+768,190 New Cases)
Total deaths: 856,288 (+2,542 New Deaths)

Science and Tech

Throat Swab on Rapid Testing Chokes in Omicron-Era Study – MedPageToday

Rapid antigen testing using a nasal swab with the BinaxNOW test was able to detect the Omicron variant at an urban community testing site, whereas other swabbing routes did not perform as well, researchers found.

Halting Progress and Happy Accidents: How mRNA Vaccines Were Made – NYT

The stunning Covid vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna drew upon long-buried discoveries made in the hopes of ending past epidemics.

These Are the Latest COVID Treatments – Scientific American

Two years into the COVID pandemic, as the highly contagious Omicron variant pushes infections to record highs, U.S. physicians have a growing arsenal of therapies to keep mild disease from worsening. At the same time, limited availability and challenging logistics are complicating decisions about which patients receive them. Here is a rundown of what is on hand for hospitalized patients, as well as for people who are primarily recovering at home.

Zoonotic

Pigs catch coronavirus but don’t get sick, scientists may know why – study – Jerusalem Post

When infected with the novel coronavirus, pig cells undergo a sort of strategic suicide called apoptosis, which kills the infected cells and stops them from spreading the virus.

Psychological and Sociological Impact

COVID-19 as culture war – The Lancet

When Dr Anthony Fauci challenged Senator Rand Paul last week during US congressional hearings, he exposed how politicians have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic for their own personal advantage. Fauci showed screenshots of Senator Paul’s website, which included the message “Fire Dr Fauci”. He pointed out that Paul was inviting people to send donations to firefauci.org. He explained how Paul’s exaggerations were creating the conditions for violent attacks on himself and his family. In December, 2021, a man was arrested on his way to Washington, DC, with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle in his car. When asked why he was travelling with this gun, he replied that he was going “to kill Dr Fauci”. Fauci provided compelling evidence that, in his words, “you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your personal gain”. As the pandemic enters its third year, the difficult truth is that the political debate about COVID-19 has evolved into a bitter culture war, where arguments have become struggles between different social groups holding different beliefs about how society should be constructed and governed. As one UK Government adviser said to me recently, his greatest worry was that the mistakes made by scientists over the risks posed by the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 might have emboldened the right wing of the Conservative Party to attack and undermine the government’s efforts to manage the country out of a pandemic.

Published Research

A prospective cohort study of COVID-19 vaccination, SARS-CoV-2 infection, and fertility – American Journal of Epidemiology

Cardiac Dysfunction and Arrhythmias 3 Months After Hospitalization for COVID‐19 – Journal of the American Heart Association

Neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 Delta and Omicron variants following heterologous CoronaVac plus BNT162b2 booster vaccination – Nature

The COVID-19 response in Hong Kong – The Lancet

Omicron neutralising antibodies after COVID-19 vaccination in haemodialysis patients –The Lancet

Attenuated replication and pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 Omicron – Nature

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories

Nurse Says Viagra Saved Her From Severe Covid-19 Coronavirus Infection – Forbes

This may get you to stand up and take notice. A nurse in the U.K. reportedly credits Viagra for saving her from severe, life-threatening Covid-19. Yes, that Viagra, the one typically used for erectile dysfunction. Such news has already helped the word “Viagra” trend on Twitter with tweets such as the following from Robert M. Wachter, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Video of this story here from the NYPost

Coping with COVID

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