A big thank-you to Nica for the extended quote from Dr. Drosten in #5 and the RKI report in #15. I hope many people will read or hear that information.
Thanks very much also to grinsessa for the new thread, and to Mattes for the statistics in #6. I'm sure that similar information is available somehow for vaccination rates vs. hospitalizations and deaths by state in the US as well, though I don't myself know of a single source. If you'd like me to check the NYT tracker page, I could try that, or maybe some of the other sites like the Washington Post tracker, or Johns Hopkins, the CDC, WorldinData, etc., are still accessible.
The Guardian had an interesting juxtaposition of headlines today: Covid spreading like wildfire among deer (! who knew), and a sharp rise in cases in Colorado (where there are also a lot of deer). So far no one seems to have found any evidence of deer-to-human transmission; but on the other hand, I'm not sure anyone has really been looking.
As Covid recedes in US a new worry emerges: wildlife passing on the virus
New study shows that deer can catch the virus from people and give it to other deer in overwhelming numbers ...
As America’s pandemic – for now – seems to be moving into a new phase with national rates in decline from the September peak and vaccines rolling out to children, a new worry has appeared on the horizon: wildlife passing on the virus.
A new study shows that deer can catch the coronavirus from people and give it to other deer in overwhelming numbers, the first evidence of animals transmitting the virus in the wild. Similar spillover and transmission could be occurring in certain animal populations around the world, with troubling implications for eradicating the virus and potentially even for the emergence of new variants.
One-third of Iowa deer sampled over nine months had active infections, with a peak of 80% testing positive between November and January, according to a preprint study that has not yet been peer-reviewed or published.
( https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.... )
Nearly everything about their study shocked the scientists. They knew deer could be infected with the coronavirus. But they were stunned by the numbers – four out of five deer tested positive at the highest peak – as well as high viral loads that were “truly gobsmacking”, Suresh Kuchipudi, clinical professor of virology at Penn State and coauthor of the study, told the Guardian. They were also surprised by the fairly clear links in the genetic analysis connecting human transmission to the animals and then the rapid transmission to other deer. ...
Deer, which are abundant in North America and a popular target for hunters, are highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and they may contract it by grazing on discarded food, drinking contaminated wastewater, or nosing through undergrowth where a person has [spat] or relieved [themself]. ...
Around the world, SARS-CoV-2 has been reported in cats, dogs, ferrets, minks, lions, tigers, pumas and gorillas. Hyenas at the Denver zoo recently tested positive, the first confirmed cases in those animals.
In August 2020, an outbreak at a mink farm in Utah led investigators to sample wild mink nearby – and they found antibodies and active infections in some of the wild animals. ...
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, coronaviruses were well known for infecting animals, and vaccinations against common coronaviruses were standard for pets in the US.
Another coronavirus, which now causes mild cold symptoms, may have driven the 1889 pandemic that claimed 1 million lives – and it probably spilled over from cattle. Notably, cattle have also passed coronaviruses to deer, prompting concerns that SARS-CoV-2 could similarly move between deer, cattle and people to possibly catastrophic effect.
A virus that can circulate among animals as well as people is much harder to eradicate.
“It’s much harder to get rid of a virus if it has a reservoir,” Stanley Perlman, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa, said. ...
This cross-species contagion can result in mutations – and it’s hard to know whether these variations will be milder or more severe. “So far, there’s just been no evidence” of spillback into humans from animals, Perlman said.
But “the more any virus circulates and moves around, the more opportunity it has to mutate,” Ellen Carlin, assistant research professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security, told the Guardian.
Colorado reactivates crisis hospital guidelines as Covid cases rise
A booster shot is being offered to those age 18 and older to combat the surge as hospitals are expecting a shortage of ICU beds ...
More than a third of hospitals reporting to the state said they expected a shortage of intensive care beds in the next week, and nearly two in five said they would be short-staffed, the Denver Post reported.
Roughly 1,431 Covid-19 patients are hospitalized, and state epidemiologist Dr Rachel Herlihy said Wednesday the state could hit 2,258 Covid-19 hospitalizations by 1 January, a record high for the pandemic. Of the more than 1,400 people hospitalized with a confirmed case of Covid-19, 80% were unvaccinated, according to the Post. ...
The crisis guidelines allow hospitals to redirect health care workers to help out in strained units, with an experienced worker overseeing them; consider having nurses work longer, ideally less-frequent shifts; if possible, have family members or volunteers help patients with hygiene to free up medical staff; and activate the Colorado National Guard for nonclinical jobs, such as Covid-19 testing or delivering supplies.
While trends are improving in Florida, Texas and other southern states that bore the worst of the summer surge, it’s clear that Delta isn’t done with the US. Covid-19 is moving north and west for the winter as people head indoors, close their windows and breathe stagnant air.
Study into gene that affects Covid severity should be treated with caution
Immune defences in lungs can vary with ethnicity – but doubts remain over data quality and socio-economic factors ...
The statistics are stark. In the second wave of the pandemic those with Pakistani backgrounds were more than twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than those from white European backgrounds. For those of Bangladeshi heritage the risk was three- to four-fold.
The disproportionate impacts of the pandemic have required policymakers to confront the question as to why some people have experienced far worse outcomes than others.
Now, it seems, part of the explanation could be genetic. A gene has been found that alters the way that cells in the lining of the lungs respond to the Covid-19 infection.
If you carry the low-risk genetic variant your cells will be quicker to batten down the hatches against the virus. With the high-risk gene this defence mechanism is more sluggish, doubling risk of respiratory failure and death.
The University of Oxford scientists behind the study estimate that the high-risk gene is carried by about 60% of those with south Asian heritage, compared with 15% of those with white European backgrounds and just 2% of those with black African or Caribbean heritage.
The findings offer a plausible explanation for the continued unexplained risk in south Asian populations in the UK. For those of black African heritage – a group particularly badly affected during the first wave – almost all the additional risk could be explained by factors such as occupation, underlying health problems and place of residence. And outcomes for this group were far better during the second wave.
This was not the case for those of south Asian heritage. According to ONS data, once socio-economic factors were accounted for, those of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds still had a 50% increase in risk, which scientists had struggled to explain.
While the genetic explanation for this continued disparity is plausible, it needs to be treated with caution. First, the finding needs to be confirmed, ideally using genetic data from Covid patients from different ethnic backgrounds. It also serves as a reminder that those from ethnic minority backgrounds are not fairly represented in the vast genetic databases which underpin many discoveries about the role of genes in health.
The claim that the LZTFL1 gene is present in 60% of those of south Asian backgrounds and 2% of those with an African background derives from a database of nearly 200,000 genomes, 85% of which come from those of European descent.
Unvaccinated Texans 40 times as likely to die of covid as those fully vaccinated in 2021, study says ...
A vast majority of Texans who have died of covid-19 since the beginning of the year were unvaccinated, according to a grim new Texas health department report released Monday.
The report from the Texas Department of State Health Services
( https://www.dshs.texas.gov/immunize/covid19/d... )
examined data from Jan. 15 to Oct. 1 and found that unvaccinated people were much more likely to get infected and die of the coronavirus than those who got their shots.
Of the nearly 29,000 covid-linked fatalities in Texas during that period, more than 85 percent were of unvaccinated individuals. Nearly 7 percent of the deaths were among partially vaccinated people, while nearly 8 percent were fully vaccinated.
The figures highlight just how much more at risk the unvaccinated population has been this year: In all age groups, the state’s unvaccinated were 40 times more likely to die than fully vaccinated people. The study also found that the unvaccinated in all age groups were 45 times more likely to have a coronavirus infection than fully vaccinated people. It also looked closely at data from September and underlined the impact of the highly contagious delta variant, which fueled a surge in Texas, as it did in much of the country. ...
While Texas is still averaging more than 3,200 new daily infections and almost 110 deaths a day, the state, like the nation overall, has seen case and death totals fall, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.
( https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/... )
Nearly 54 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, trailing the national vaccination rate of 58.4 percent. ...
Recent findings from the CDC similarly highlighted risks for the unvaccinated. A CDC study published in September
( https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7037... )
found that people who were not fully vaccinated in the spring and summer were more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die of covid-19 than people who were fully vaccinated.
The new report from Texas also breaks out findings from the weeks between Sept. 4 and Oct. 1, which the health department said researchers wanted to analyze to measure the vaccine’s effectiveness as the delta variant surged in the state.
In that time frame, unvaccinated people were 20 times more likely to experience a covid-associated death than fully vaccinated people, and were 13 times more likely to become infected with the virus than the fully vaccinated. ...
While the vaccination against the coronavirus had a strong protective effect for all people, the report notes, the findings varied by age on the protective impact for covid-related deaths. Unvaccinated people in their 40s were 55 times more likely to die of covid-19 in September than fully vaccinated people of the same age. For people age 75 and older, the unvaccinated were 12 times more likely to die than the vaccinated in that time frame.
The report also highlighted the severity of the impact of the delta variant overall. Regardless of vaccination status, the report says, Texans were four to five times more likely to become infected with the coronavirus or to suffer a covid-linked death in August, when the variant was prevalent in the state, than in April, before its presence was widespread.
Booster shots are most popular in poorly vaccinated states where coronavirus rages
Several northern, mostly rural states that are battling coronavirus surges with few mask mandates and low vaccine rates are now leading the nation on another preventive front: booster shots.
The rate at which fully vaccinated residents are getting the shots is highest in the states that also have high rates of new coronavirus cases, including Alaska, North Dakota and Montana, according to a review of state data by the Washington Post. In swaths of the country where health officials will not impose mask and vaccine mandates to curb the virus’s spread, or have had their powers stripped away by Republican state lawmakers or governors, boosters are one of the few shields left for those worried about contracting and spreading the virus. ...
Montana is among a dozen states leading the nation in both infections and booster rates: Vermont, Idaho, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Wyoming, Michigan, Colorado, Alaska, New Mexico and North Dakota. Most of those states also have had overall low vaccination rates. Vermont is an outlier with the nation’s highest vaccination rate and booster rate.
Several states that successfully vaccinated the vast majority of their population — including New York, California, New Jersey and the District — have since seen a lull in new cases and a smaller share of immunized residents getting a booster. Booster rates are also low in poorly vaccinated states where infections have calmed, such as Georgia, Texas, Mississippi and North Carolina. That has worried some public health authorities.
Home virus tests recalled over false positives reach 2 million kits.
Ellume’s test, a self-administered nasal swab is then inserted in a dropper of fluid. The fluid goes into a Bluetooth-connected analyzer and results are transmitted to a smartphone app in 15 minutes. ...
The Australian company Ellume has expanded a recall of its at-home coronavirus test because of concerns about a “higher-than-acceptable” rate of false positives, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday.
The recall now includes roughly two million of the 3.5 million test kits that Ellume had shipped to the United States by last month, a substantial increase from the company’s earlier estimate that about 427,000 of those kits were potentially faulty.
It is not clear how many false positives the affected tests have yielded. The issue, which the company had previously traced to a problem with one of the raw materials used in its test kits, does not affect the reliability of negative results.