Monday CoronaBuzz, January 17, 2022: 41 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

Please get a booster shot. Please wear a mask when you’re inside away from home. Much love.


Vox EU: Tracking business dynamism during the COVID-19 pandemic: New cross-country evidence and visualisation tool. “Business dynamism is key for creative destruction and to foster resource reallocation – both crucial elements of long-run economic growth. This column uses a new data visualisation tool to reveal large sector- and country-level heterogeneity in the impact on business dynamism of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 and in recovery. Initially, firm entry fell sharply in all countries, but the pace of recovery varied across countries. Bankruptcies fell and remained below pre-crisis levels well into 2021. The tool allows users to monitor the evolution of key indicators over the recovery period, keeping track of sector-specific patterns.”


New York Times: 12 Signs You Have a Fake N95, KN95, or KF94 Mask. “The highly contagious Omicron variant has sent us on a mad dash for more-protective masks, such as N95s, KN95s, and KF94s. And along with that comes the nagging concern over being duped by counterfeiters. At best, fake respirator masks are just a waste of money. At worst, they give those who need protection most a potentially dangerous false sense of security.”


Newswise: Pfizer CEO was referring to the omicron variant when he said that two doses of their vaccine offer “limited protection”. “An interview with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is being used as proof that the initial vaccinations were ‘a failure’ or that the vaccine does not protect against COVID-19. We find claims that represent this interview as proof of vaccine failure are false and misleading. Bourla’s comments were specific about the Omicron variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus. ”


University of Michigan: Ivermectin Rx for COVID-19: Insurance coverage doesn’t match evidence. “Even though clinical trials haven’t shown it works against COVID-19, doctors continue to prescribe ivermectin – and a new study suggests health insurers are heavily subsidizing the cost of those prescriptions. The study’s authors call for insurers to align their coverage of the drug with the level of medical evidence surrounding it — just like they do for other medications, tests and procedures.”


BBC: Wealth of world’s 10 richest men doubled in pandemic, Oxfam says. “Lower incomes for the world’s poorest contributed to the death of 21,000 people each day, its report claims. But the world’s 10 richest men have more than doubled their collective fortunes since March 2020, Oxfam said.”

Phys .org: How the COVID-19 pandemic impacted global trust in government. “In a week when the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted to breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules, a new study has found that impartial, transparent and truthful government communications are fundamental for achieving and maintaining government trust during public health emergencies.”


American College of Surgeons: Telemedicine expanded access to surgical care during COVID-19 pandemic, but disparities remain. “Digital literacy, access to technology, and the ability to effectively communicate with providers virtually have become critical indicators of social determinants of health. Now, to add to our understanding, Boston-area researchers have investigated demographic disparities in the use of virtual consultation compared with in-person surgical consultation after the initial COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Their findings appear in an article—among the first of its kind—published online by the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.”


The Reporter: Amid low COVID vaccine rates, more California children hospitalized in omicron surge. “This peak in hospitalizations of kids across the state has surpassed records set during last winter’s surge, said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly last week. The state reached a high of 90 pediatric admissions in one day on Jan. 4, according to the California Department of Public Health. The previous high of 41 pediatric admissions in one day occurred in January 2021, a record surpassed earlier during the omicron surge on Dec. 29 with 50 admissions.”


NPR: ERs are overwhelmed as omicron continues to flood them with patients. “Nationwide, daily COVID-19 hospitalizations are up about 33% this week from the week before and more than 155,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, well above the record set last winter. But these numbers can’t capture the pressure on emergency rooms. Before those patients land in hospital beds, many more of them funnel through emergency rooms seeking care.”

Fox 23: Oklahoma doctors fear hospitalizations will rise as new COVID-19 case numbers surge. “Last week alone, Oklahoma had five records broken in terms of COVID-19 numbers. Because of the large number of cases the state is seeing, the Oklahoma State Department of Health released a rare Saturday update to the statewide COVID-19 case count.”

Fox 11 (Wisconsin): ThedaCare postponing all non-urgent elective surgeries amid COVID-19 surge. “A record number of COVID-19 patients is putting non-urgent elective surgeries on hold at ThedaCare hospitals. The rapid spread of the omicron variant has overwhelmed ThedaCare’s seven hospitals and officials say they expect COVID-19 cases to rise for the next two to three weeks.”


WUSA: DC museums, National Zoo reduce operating hours due to staffing shortages. “After testing out a modified schedule for the first two weeks of January, the Smithsonian Institution has made the decision to further reduce the hours and days of operation of several of its museums until further notice.”


The Verge: Apple will now require employees to submit proof of COVID-19 booster shot. “Apple now requires store and corporate employees to get a COVID-19 booster shot, the company announced in an internal email seen by The Verge.”

BBC: Credit Suisse boss Horta-Osorio resigns over Covid breaches. “The chairman of global banking giant Credit Suisse, Antonio Horta-Osorio, has resigned with immediate effect after breaking Covid quarantine rules. Mr Horta-Osorio, who was with the bank for just nine months, left following an internal investigation. The former boss of Lloyds Banking Group joined Credit Suisse after a series of scandals at the Swiss bank.”

New York Times: Now Is the Winter of Broadway’s Discontent. “The reopening of Broadway last summer, following the longest shutdown in history, provided a jolt of energy to a city ready for a rebound: Bruce Springsteen and block parties, eager audiences and enthusiastic actors. But the Omicron variant that has barreled into the city, sending coronavirus case counts soaring, is now battering Broadway, leaving the industry facing an unexpected and enormous setback on its road back from the pandemic.”

New York Times: When It Comes to Living With Covid, Businesses Are on Their Own. “Companies looking for an official rule book on pandemic precautions will be disappointed. The Biden administration’s nationwide coronavirus vaccine mandate has been overturned. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is facing criticism for its shifting guidance on isolation times. And just as cases surge to record levels, tests are scarce — and may not always be effective. As the federal government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus hit their limits — as the administration itself admits — employers are largely on their own.”

Daily Independent: Weathering the storm: Valley restaurants close, pivot amid COVID surge. “Michael Rusconi was looking forward to a new beginning for his restaurant in 2022 after nearly two years of pandemic- related hardships. But less than a month in, the new year hasn’t been forgiving to Rusconi’s American Kitchen. The fine dining establishment at 10637 N. Tatum Blvd.­ in Phoenix is perpetually shortstaffed, particularly in the kitchen, and is only open five nights per week. With the omicron variant leaving his older guests scared to venture out to eat again, Rusconi said he is considering scaling back his hours and doing away with Saturday brunch to fill staffing gaps.”

Times of Israel: COVID-flu joint booster shot possible in late 2023, Moderna says. “Moderna aims to roll out a combined COVID-flu-RSV booster vaccine in late 2023, the US pharmaceutical firm says, hoping a joint shot will encourage people to get an annual vaccination.”


BBC: Covid: Self-isolation cut to five full days in England. “The minimum self-isolation period for people testing positive for Covid-19 in England has been cut to five full days. The quarantine period has been reduced after a review of the medical evidence, to help ease staff shortages across the economy. But people will need to produce negative lateral flow tests on days five and six of their isolation.”

Reuters: Canada approves Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment for adults. “Canada on Monday approved Pfizer Inc’s oral antiviral treatment to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in people aged 18 and older, according to a notice posted on Health Canada’s website.”

Associated Press: Mexico president returns after 2nd COVID-19 infection. “Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador returned to his morning news conference Monday following a week of isolation for his second coronavirus infection.”

Sky News: COVID-19: What parties are alleged to have taken place in Whitehall and Downing Street during lockdown . “An investigation has been launched into a number of the alleged events that took place in Whitehall and Downing Street while COVID-19 rules were in force. It was originally supposed to be led by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case. But he has since been forced to recuse himself from heading the investigation after it was revealed a Christmas event was held in his own private office in December 2020. The inquiry is now being led by senior civil servant Sue Gray, a former government ethics chief.”

Associated Press: Navajo increases ability to do COVID testing, vaccinations. “Health facilities on the Navajo Nation are increasing the ability to test for COVID-19 and vaccinate people as the omicron variant spreads, tribal leaders said. Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the facilities also are working to give out more home testing kits this month while cases are surging.”


Washington Post: Omicron waves appear to slow in New York City, other major metropolitan areas. “The explosion of omicron cases along the Interstate 95 corridor from the Mid-Atlantic to New England is showing signs of slowing down, according to health officials and epidemiologists, offering reason for cautious optimism that the turning point could be near and that the coronavirus variant’s U.S. trajectory is similar to that of other countries.”

Reuters: U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Milley tests positive for COVID-19: spokesman. “Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, a spokesman said.”

Associated Press: WVa governor resumes briefings, says COVID is ‘tough stuff’. “West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Monday resumed his weekly briefings on the coronavirus, six days after he tested positive for COVID-19. Justice’s return coincided with the state surpassing 20,000 confirmed cases of the virus over a one-week period for the first time.”

Associated Press: Some Michigan counties pause jury trials amid COVID surge. “Jury trials have been paused in some western Michigan counties due to a surge in coronavirus cases.”


University of Alabama at Birmingham: Dialing through the surges: COVID contact-tracers face burnout but stay motivated. “In January 2021, before vaccines were widely available, Bianca Ume, a student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Heersink School of Medicine and part of UAB’s dual-degree M.D./MBA program and her husband Kelvin, an intensive care unit nurse at a Birmingham hospital, both contracted COVID. She had a rough time for a week or so. He nearly died.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Mercy Hospital COVID patient at center of lawsuit moved to facility in Texas. “A man who was suffering from a severe case of COVID-19 and being kept alive by a ventilator has been moved from Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids to a care facility in Texas just days after a judge issued a restraining order prohibiting the hospital from turning his machine off. Scott Quiner, 55, of Buffalo, was flown from the Twin Cities to Texas over the weekend, an attorney representing the family said.”


CNN: China says tickets for Winter Olympics will not be sold to general public due to Covid-19. “Tickets for the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics will not be sold to the general public in response to Covid-19 but instead be distributed by authorities, the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee announced Monday.”


Wired: Inside the Student-Led Covid Walkouts. “WHEN AYLEEN SERRANO returned to school after the recent winter break, the 15-year-old came back to nearly empty hallways, absent classmates, and what she describes as a ‘lifeless’ atmosphere. As the days passed, fewer of her peers showed up at MetWest High School in Oakland, California; her teachers and classmates were testing positive for Covid-19, or had been exposed and were waiting for tests, or simply feared for their safety. Serrano and her friends decided that if the school wasn’t going to take steps to make them feel safer coming to school, like providing regular tests for all students, they would have to demand those measures themselves. ”


NBC News: For some who recently contracted Covid, an unexpected emotion: Relief. “As the pandemic enters its third year, some with recent Covid diagnoses are finding that contracting the illness they worked so hard to dodge for so long has brought them an unexpected reprieve from anxiety — instead of compounding it further. Their relief is hardly universal, given that the disease remains a grave threat to immunocompromised people, older people and many others.”

KRON: Can you get too much COVID vaccine?. “Although COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at minimizing severe symptoms caused by the virus, vaccine effectiveness decreases over time. That’s why boosters are being recommended. With a study out of Israel now touting the potential benefits of a 4th shot, some may be wondering whether the boosters are permanent. Others question whether there is a risk of harm from too much vaccine.”


UMass Chan Medical School: One in ten people may still be infectious for COVID after ten days, new research indicates. “One in 10 people may have clinically relevant levels of potentially infectious SARS-CoV-2 past the 10 day quarantine period, according to new research. The study, led by the University of Exeter and funded by Animal Free Research UK, used a newly adapted test which can detect whether the virus was potentially still active.”

Newswise: For some COVID vaccines, lack of side effects is no cause for concern. “Some recipients of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, like those made by Pfizer and Moderna, have experienced a wide variety of side effects, indicating their immune system is revving into gear. However, for those who have not had such reactions, this does not mean the vaccine failed to work as intended, according to a new collaborative study, ‘Adverse Effects and Antibody Titers in Response to the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine in a Prospective Study of Healthcare Workers,’ published Jan. 14 in Open Forum Infectious Diseases by researchers at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU).”

Mayo Clinic: E-cigarette users who test positive for COVID-19 are more likely to experience COVID-19 symptoms. “People who use electronic cigarettes and test positive for COVID-19 have a higher frequency of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, compared to people who don’t vape, according to new research from Mayo Clinic.”

Nature: Post-acute neurological consequences of COVID-19: an unequal burden. “Our world has witnessed over 275 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 5 million related deaths1. Marginalized communities everywhere continue to be disproportionately affected as the pandemic amplifies longstanding health and healthcare disparities. As an example, in the United States, members of the Black, Indigenous and Latino communities remain two to three times more likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and to die from this disease2. Dismantling structural racism is necessary to improve neurological health, as greater attention is focused on understanding and addressing the post-acute neurological consequences of COVID-19, or the neurological manifestations of what is sometimes called long COVID.”

Cardiovascular Business: Even mild COVID-19 cases can result in lingering heart issues. “Mild and moderate COVID-19 infections can cause lingering changes to a patient’s heart and cardiovascular system, according to a new analysis published in European Heart Journal.”

WXYZ: Fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine provides additional boost in antibodies, Israeli study says. “A fourth dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine could increase antibodies and provide more protection from the virus, according to a new study from Israel. Researchers released new preliminary data Monday suggesting that a fourth dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines enhanced or increased the number of antibodies to levels higher than what has been seen following a third dose.”


KOAT: New scam in New Mexico: illegitimate COVID-19 testing sites. “Attorney General Hector Balderas said as more people are seeking COVID-19 tests, scammers are now exploiting this demand, to steal a person’s personal, financial and medical information.”

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