Saturday CoronaBuzz, January 29, 2022: 39 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.


Rolling Stone: Neil Young Pulls Music from Spotify, Blasts It as the ‘Home of Life-Threatening’ Covid Lies. “Following Neil Young’s demands that his music be removed from Spotify in protest of dissemination of Covid-19 misinformation on Joe Rogan’s podcast, the streamer will take down his music, Young wrote in a letter on his website on Wednesday. Spotify also confirmed the news in their own statement.”

The Guardian: Anti-vaxxers making ‘at least $2.5m’ a year from publishing on Substack. “A group of vaccine-sceptic writers are generating revenues of at least $2.5m (£1.85m) a year from publishing newsletters for tens of thousands of followers on the online publishing platform Substack, according to new research.”

News@Northeastern: Vaccine Misinformation On Social Media Can Be A Life-or-Death Problem. “For the first time, researchers at the Covid States Project—a collaborative effort by Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers—sought to quantify the impact of misinformation by hearing directly from frontline health care workers who tend to the unvaccinated that come down with COVID-19.”

Rolling Stone: James Van Der Beek’s Influencer Wife Is Peddling Vaccine Conspiracy Theories on Instagram. “Kimberly Van Der Beek — wife of the Dawson’s Creek star and mother of his six children — uses her platform to post photos of her family, their Texas compound, and Covid-19 misinformation.”

BBC: Joni Mitchell wants songs off Spotify in Covid row. “In her message on Friday, Mitchell, whose hits include Big Yellow Taxi, said she stands in solidarity with the Canadian-American singer, Neil Young, and with the ‘global scientific and medical communities’. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have been friends for many years, and are both survivors of polio. They both contracted the disease in the early 1950s, not long before a vaccine became available.”

Washington Post: Pope Francis calls access to accurate information on coronavirus vaccines ‘a human right’. ” Pope Francis denounced on Friday the ‘distortion of reality based on fear’ that has ripped across the world during the coronavirus pandemic, but he also called for compassion, urging journalists to help those misled by coronavirus-related misinformation and fake news to better understand the scientific facts.”


Kansas Reflector: Kansas senator under investigation after prescribing ivermectin for COVID-19, seeks legal cover. “Sen. Mark Steffen revealed Wednesday he is under investigation for prescribing ivermectin to COVID-19 patients, accused the chief medical director of the University of Kansas Health System of spreading propaganda, and challenged him to a public debate.”


Washington Post: America’s split-screen pandemic: Many families resume their lives even as hospitals are overwhelmed. “The point at which a pandemic ends is not a discrete event marked by a celebration in the streets, like at the conclusion of a war. It’s more of a gradual process in which humans who have developed some immunity learn to live alongside a virus that has become less lethal. Some argue that time has come, citing evidence that the omicron variant is causing less severe disease than the delta variant in many people. Other people point to overwhelmed hospitals and a climbing death toll to implore people to continue taking precautions to get through this surge and then reassess.”


Reuters: Holocaust survivor decries ‘abuse’ of yellow star at COVID protests. “Centenarian Holocaust survivor Margot Friedlaender urged the young generation on Thursday to always remember the Nazi genocide and denounced the use by some anti-COVID vaccination protesters of the yellow star Jews were forced to wear.”


USA Today: Free COVID home tests for everyone? Here’s why Medicare, veterans’ insurance are excluded. “The Biden administration’s mandate that began Jan. 15 calls for those with private health insurance to get a monthly allotment of free tests. Yet health experts say the ambitious federal plan to quickly extend home testing will be challenging because of the nation’s fragmented health care system.”

New York Daily News: COVID hospitalizations drop in New York as state emerges from winter surge. “The number of New Yorkers hospitalized with COVID is falling fast, dropping by 25% from last week alone, Gov. Hochul announced on Tuesday. The governor provided a brief update on the state’s fight against coronavirus during an appearance at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, used as a testing and vaccination site throughout the pandemic.”

UCLA: Access to vital health services fell during COVID, particularly for poorer Americans. “Americans’ use of common outpatient health services dipped sharply at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, then rebounded to near-normal levels by the end of 2020, only to decline again during the second surge in January–February 2021, according to a new UCLA-led study. But the 2020 recovery in care wasn’t equal for all, researchers found. Some of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged patients — those with Medicaid or Medicare-Medicaid dual eligibility insurance — were far less likely than those with other insurance plans to return to using outpatient services at rates approaching normal, pre-pandemic levels.”


People: More Than 1 Million Kids Were Infected with COVID Last Week. “More than 1 million kids were infected with COVID-19 in the United States last week, the American Academy for Pediatrics reported Tuesday. In the week ending Jan. 20, just under 1,151,000 new pediatric cases were reported nationwide, a 17% increase from the week before, which had already been a record at more than 981,000.”


Route Fifty: Librarians Now Frontline Workers in Combating Covid-19. “As public libraries across the nation begin handing out Covid-19 testing kits and N95 masks, librarians have become the latest frontline workers. Melanie Huggins, president of the Public Library Association, said libraries and librarians are essential to combating the virus seeing as they are vital to their communities and have accessible hours of operation.”


Los Angeles Times: Workplaces are filling up with employees who have COVID. “Maria Bernal, an employee at a Jack in the Box in Folsom, Calif., couldn’t read the orders popping up on her screen. Her vision was blurry, her hands shook from chills and her head felt heavy. A pharmacist told her she probably had COVID-19. When she told her boss, the manager told Bernal to keep working. ‘Don’t worry, everyone has it, you can still work. Just wear a mask and don’t tell anyone,’ the manager said, according to a Jan. 14 complaint Bernal filed with Sacramento County’s public health department.”

CNET: Pfizer is testing a new COVID vaccine specifically for omicron. “Pfizer and partner BioNTech have started testing a COVID-19 vaccine that specifically targets the omicron variant, the companies said Tuesday. The move is part of a larger conversation about whether we’ll need variant-specific COVID-19 vaccines as time goes on.”


BBC: Winter Olympics 2022: China eases Covid testing rules amid rise in cases. “The new change makes it easier for participants arriving at the Games to be considered virus-free. Of more than 3,000 Olympic arrivals, 106 have tested positive for the virus since 4 January. Outside of the tournament’s closed-off premises, Beijing locals are facing harsher restrictions and new lockdowns.”

BBC: Covid passes and face mask rules end in England. “Face coverings and Covid passes are no longer legally required in England, after the relaxation of Plan B rules came into effect on Thursday. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the measures could be lifted due to the vaccine rollout’s success and a better understanding of Covid treatments.”


WLWT (Ohio): Butler County Sheriff issues COVID-19 concerns: ‘My attitude has changed immensely’. “In a recent Facebook live, Sheriff Richard Jones said as cases rise, people can’t let COVID-19 fatigue get the best of them. He said it’s important to wash your hands often, stay away from large crowds and do your part to stop the spread. ‘I know we all have fatigue, but we have to get through this and right now in Butler County, it’s off the hook. My attitude has changed immensely. I’ve had three employees in the sheriff’s office in the last few months die of COVID,’ Jones said.”


Associated Press: Virus outbreak spreading in Norway’s cross-country ski team. “A coronavirus outbreak is spreading inside the powerful Norwegian cross-country skiing team, with double Olympic champion Simen Hegstad Kruger becoming the third skier in two days to test positive ahead of the Beijing Games.”


LEDs Magazine: Munich schools wheel out 7500 mobile UV-C units to combat coronavirus. “In Munich, Signify is providing approximately 7500 of its Philips UVCA200 wheeled air disinfection units across the school system. The first 50 went to a school called Elementary school at Helmholtzstraße in September, which is spreading them around 12 rooms. Delivery of the others has been continuing and “will wrap up shortly,” the spokesperson told LEDs. Signify declined to state how much it charged Munich for the products.”

Poynter: The pandemic disrupted an entire generation’s education. The AP wants to help local newsrooms examine the long-term impacts.. “In 2020, the pandemic brought many schools to a grinding halt, marking the start of a tumultuous period of uncertainty that continues to this day. To evaluate the impact the pandemic has had on a generation of American schoolchildren, The Associated Press is launching a nationwide education reporting network. A full-time team at the AP will work with local newsrooms for the next two years to deepen their education coverage.”


New York Times: New Research Hints at 4 Factors That May Increase Chances of Long Covid. “It is one of many mysteries about long Covid: Who is more prone to developing it? Are some people more likely than others to experience physical, neurological or cognitive symptoms than can emerge, or linger for, months after their coronavirus infections have cleared? Now, a team of researchers who followed more than 200 patients for two to three months after their Covid diagnoses report that they have identified biological factors that might help predict if a person will develop long Covid.”

Bloomberg: Deaths Months After Covid Point to Pandemic’s Grim Aftermath. “Hospitalized patients who survived at least a week after being discharged were more than twice as likely to die or be admitted again within months, scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Oxford found. The Covid survivors also had an almost five times greater risk of dying in the following 10 months than a sample taken from the general population.”

PsyPost: Psychological distress may increase your risk of contracting COVID-19 and worsen symptom severity, study suggests. “A longitudinal study conducted during the pandemic has found evidence that people with greater psychological distress are not only more likely to get infected with COVID-19, but more likely to experience severe symptoms. The findings were published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.”


Yale School of Medicine: In search of answers about long COVID-19, scientists turn to social media. “At least 10% of COVID-19 survivors experience long-term consequences, a condition known as long COVID-19. The symptoms—including fatigue, insomnia, and brain fog—can be debilitating, preventing these individuals from returning to work or in some extreme cases even getting out of bed. As they struggle to find relief, many have turned to social media for support and answers. Survivor Corps, for example, is a Facebook group for COVID-19 survivors that has nearly 170,000 members. And now, scientists are turning to this type of group to connect directly with patients and organize new research.”


BBC: Two-thirds with Omicron say they have had Covid before. “Two-thirds of people recently infected with the Omicron variant say they had already had Covid previously. The findings come from a large, continuing study, React, swab-testing thousands of volunteers in England. More work is needed to know how many are true reinfections – but the results reveal the groups that appear to be more likely to catch Covid again.”

Phys .org: Screening study identifies inhibitor of key COVID virus enzyme. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, scientists across the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) national laboratory complex turned to the nation’s most powerful supercomputers and other tools to discover molecules that might treat the disease. A study published in the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling reports the discovery of a molecule with significant potential to disable the virus.”

BMC Women’s Health: The short-term effects of COVID-19 on HIV and AIDS control efforts among female sex workers in Indonesia. “The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns as to its impact on other health programs. One program that appears particularly vulnerable is HIV and AIDS. We undertook an assessment of COVID-19 impact on HIV control efforts in Indonesia for a sub-population that has received little attention in the global literature—female sex workers (FSW).”

Medical XPress: Researchers create test to quickly identify COVID-19 infection and disease severity. “George Washington University researchers have developed a blood test that quickly detects if someone has COVID-19 and predicts how severely the immune system will react to the infection, according to a new study coming out On Janurary 26 in PLOS One. The findings could one day lead to a powerful tool to help doctors determine the best treatment plan for people with COVID-19.”

Route Fifty: Life Expectancy Declined in Black Neighborhoods Due to the Pandemic. “The National Center for Health Statistics published data showing a 1.5-year decline in national life expectancy in 2020, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which took the lives of approximately 375,000 Americans that year. The Brookings report shows that white Americans’ life expectancy declined by 1.2 years during the early pandemic; for Black Americans that number was about 3 years.”

University of Central Florida: Face Masks Cut Distance Airborne Pathogens Could Travel in Half, New Study Finds. “In a study appearing today in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the researchers found that face masks reduce the distance airborne pathogens could travel, when speaking or coughing, by more than half compared to not wearing a mask. The findings are important as airborne viral pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2, can be encapsulated and transmitted through liquid droplets and aerosols formed during human respiratory functions such as speaking and coughing.”

Daily Collegian: Omicron Linked to Increase in COVID-19 Cases, Lower Disease Severity. “COVID-19 cases have increased with the emergence of the omicron variant, but disease severity seems not to have increased, according to research published in the Jan. 25 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.”

Newswise: SARS-CoV-2 can remain active for longer than recommended quarantine period, study shows. “In a 38-year-old man who manifested mild symptoms of COVID-19 for 20 days, the novel coronavirus continued to be detected in his organism and to undergo mutations for 232 days. If he had not been given continuous medical care, maintained social distancing and worn a mask, he could have spread the virus throughout these seven months.”

BBC: Long Covid: Hidden lung damage spotted on scans. “Some people with long Covid may have hidden damage to their lungs, a small pilot study in the UK suggests. Scientists used a novel xenon gas scan method to pick up lung abnormalities not identified by routine scans. They focused on 11 people who had not required hospital care when they first caught Covid but experienced long-lasting breathlessness after their initial infection.”

USC Viterbi: Researchers develop highly accurate modeling tool to predict Covid-19 risk. “Researchers at USC have combined location density with real-world mobility data to predict the risk of infection from Covid-19 at specific locations with unprecedented accuracy.”


WIVB: Fake vaccine cards used at Bills playoff game land felony charges for West Seneca couple. “A West Seneca couple that allegedly used fake vaccine cards to attend the Bills-Patriots playoff game at Highmark Stadium earlier is month is now facing felony charges for their actions. Michael and Amber Naab, 34 and 37, were arraigned Tuesday night in Orchard Park Town Court and charged with one count each of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a Class D felony.”

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