Monday CoronaBuzz, February 21, 2022: 44 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.


Poynter: COVID-19 vaccines do not contain HIV. “PolitiFact and other fact-checkers have reported that COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain HIV. The vaccines bolster the immune system rather than weakening it, as HIV does. The full lists of ingredients for all three vaccines approved for use in the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have been shared by manufacturers.”

Daily Beast: Lin Wood Goes to War With Kooky Far-Right Conference Beset by ‘Anthrax’ Rumors. “Following the COVID-19 death of a radio host after a ReAwaken America Tour event last year, QAnon-friendly lawyer Lin Wood has now publicly cut ties with the right-wing roadshow, seemingly accusing its organizer of intentionally making attendees sick.”

Poynter: No, Sen. Rand Paul wasn’t talking about COVID when he said ‘misinformation works’. “It’s easy for misinformation to spread online. But misinformation about misinformation? That’s a whole different story. We came across a viral Reddit post of a headline that said, “Rand Paul Seen on Video Telling Students ‘Misinformation Works’ and ‘Is a Great Tactic.’” While the quote went viral in 2022, the video was from 2013 — years before misinformation became the big buzzword it is today. Here’s how we fact-checked it.”

Phys .org: Social media echo chambers spread vaccine misinformation: study. “WHO has named vaccine hesitancy one of the greatest threats to global health. Nonetheless, some people are hesitant or refuse to get vaccinated because they do not trust vaccines and health authorities. A new research result from DTU, published in the journal PLOS One, shows that misinformation on social media contributes to this distrust and creates a false image of benefits and disadvantages concerning vaccines.”


Grand Forks Herald: South Dakota House OKs bill saying parasite-killing drug can be prescribed to humans. “Supporters of ivermectin as a drug to treat COVID-19 won on a new frontier Monday, Feb. 14, in the South Dakota Legislature. Lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed a bill specifying that the drug could be legally prescribed in the state. The bill was despite the largely held opinion of the medical community that ivermectin is not an appropriate drug to treat COVID-19.”


BBC: Climate change: Covid shutdown linked to record rainfall in China. “Scientists say that a rapid drop in emissions because of Covid played a key role in record rainfall in China in 2020. The decline in greenhouse gases and small particles called aerosols caused atmospheric changes that intensified the downpours.”


BBC: Thousands of Australian nurses go on strike as Covid cases mount. “Thousands of nurses in Australia’s most populous state have gone on strike, protesting against stagnant pay and staffing shortages. It comes despite an order by the state’s industrial relations commission to call off the strike. It is the first industrial action taken by nurses in almost a decade. The Omicron variant has led to a recent surge of cases, putting the country’s testing and hospital systems under further strain.”


Route Fifty: Travel Nurses Saw a Pay Increase During the Pandemic. They Could Lose Those Benefits. “In the last few months, several groups, including the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living and 200 members of Congress, have called for an investigation into claims that agencies that place travel nurses around the country have been ‘price gouging’ hospitals in need of staff.”


BBC: Covid: Hong Kong’s hospitals overwhelmed amid spike in cases. “Hong Kong’s healthcare system has been overwhelmed by a huge surge in Covid-19 cases, with infected patients being treated outside crowded hospitals. The government has admitted it is struggling to contain the fifth wave of infections, fuelled by Omicron. But it has ruled out a city-wide lockdown.”


Variety: Coachella and Stagecoach Festivals Drop All COVID-Related Restrictions, Including Negative Tests and Masks. “After revealing last fall that vaccinations would not be required for entry, the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals have further revealed that there will no longer be any COVID-related barriers to entry at all, not even negative tests. Nor will a requirement to wear masks figure into the picture when millions of selfies go out from the desert this April.”


India Blooms: Covid has had a huge negative impact on museums: Vinod Daniel. “Vinod Daniel Member, Board, International Council of Museums (ICOM) and Chairman, AusHeritage, is busy these days with the upcoming 2-Day Global Summit on ‘Reimagining Museums in India’ which will start from February 15. IBNS-TWF correspondent Supriyo Hazra caught up with him to discuss his project and the challenges museums are facing amid the pandemic.”


New York Times: Microsoft tells workers to prepare to return to the office.. “Microsoft told employees that they will need to return to office next month, transitioning back to its corporate campus for the first time since the Omicron coronavirus variant tore through the nation.”

BBC: BioNTech Covid vaccine plan to ship container labs to Africa. “The German firm behind one of the first Covid vaccines has announced plans to start production in Africa. BioNTech, which produced the first MRNA jab, has developed a ‘laboratory in a container’, which could be shipped to several countries.”

New York Times: Office Lobbies Get Security Makeover, but Not One You Will See. “After Sept. 11, the lobbies in many U.S. office buildings permanently changed as landlords beefed up security, adding cameras, turnstiles, programmable elevators and other technological tools. All who entered were required to have identification, and guards recorded who came and went. Now, as pandemic restrictions ease and workers begin to trickle back into the office, the lobby is changing again, this time with an emphasis on health and safety. But the changes are subtle, and they are primarily meant to ease the flow at the turnstile.”

Politico: The White House throws cold water on a restaurant industry bailout. “With the virus receding in much of the country, administration officials are deeply skeptical of adding more money for restaurants to a government funding deal. The White House is concerned it’s unnecessary and would inflate the package’s price tag, two people familiar with the discussions said.”

BBC: US TV actor Rockmond Dunbar sues Disney over Covid ‘discrimination’. “US actor Rockmond Dunbar is suing the makers of TV drama 9-1-1, saying he was fired after claiming exemption from having a Covid-19 vaccination. Dunbar played Michael in seasons 1-5 of the police show.”


BBC: Covid deaths in UK continue to fall. “Death registrations involving Covid in the UK fell slightly in the week ending 4 February, according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures. There were 13,472 deaths registered in total in the UK during that week – 9% below the five-year average. A total of 1,390 of these involved Covid – a fall of 155 compared with the previous week.”

BBC: England to offer Covid jab to five to 11-year-olds. “Children aged between five and 11 in England will be offered a low-dose Covid vaccine, the government says. Official scientific advice concludes the move would help protect the ‘very small’ number of children who become seriously ill with Covid.”

BBC: Boris Johnson returns lockdown party questionnaire to police. “Boris Johnson has returned his questionnaire about allegations of Downing Street lockdown breaches to the police, the BBC has been told. The PM was one of more than 50 people to be sent the document by the Metropolitan Police, which is looking at potential Covid rule-breaking.”

BBC: Boris Johnson: Do not throw caution to the wind on Covid. “People should not throw caution to the wind over Covid, the prime minister has said, as England is expected to end all virus restrictions in the coming days. Boris Johnson told the BBC that while Covid remains dangerous for some, ‘now is the moment for everybody to get their confidence back’.”

Sky News: Queen tests positive for coronavirus. “The monarch, 95, is experiencing mild cold-like symptoms and expects to continue light duties at Windsor this week, the palace said. She is understood to be triple vaccinated.”


The Atlantic: Post-Omicron Life Can Be Downright Maddening. “At this point, many Americans are no longer letting the pandemic interfere with their lives. Some never bothered with safety measures; some are finally just beginning to loosen up as case numbers fall. Meanwhile, for other people—especially the immunocompromised and parents of young, unvaccinated children—post-Omicron life is downright maddening: It’s still tough to figure out how safe being indoors with others is, whether to let kids go maskless at school, or if whatever variant comes next will thwart your travel plans.”

Washington Post: U.S. ‘excess deaths’ during pandemic surpassed 1 million, with covid killing most but other diseases adding to the toll, CDC says. “The United States has recorded more than 1 million ‘excess deaths’ since the start of the pandemic, government mortality statistics show, a toll that exceeds the officially documented lethality of the coronavirus and captures the broad consequences of the health crisis that has entered its third year.”

NBC News: CDC expected to update mask guidance as early as next week. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to loosen its indoor masking guidelines to states soon, according to several people familiar with the matter. The agency’s update could come as early as next week.”

New York Times: The C.D.C. Isn’t Publishing Large Portions of the Covid Data It Collects. “For more than a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has collected data on hospitalizations for Covid-19 in the United States and broken it down by age, race and vaccination status. But it has not made most of the information public.”


Des Moines Register: COVID data suggests pandemic in decline in Iowa as state approaches 9,000 deaths. “Data from the Iowa Department of Public Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday suggested the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to recede across Iowa, with new reported cases and hospitalizations dropping for the fourth consecutive week. Wednesday marked the first weekly data update since Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ disaster declaration lapsed Tuesday night.”

Poynter: California is the first state to move to an ‘endemic’ plan. “While parts of the world — including Russia and Hong Kong — are still overwhelmed by new severe COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations and new cases are declining in the United States. The rate of infection is still considered to be severe in much of the U.S., but the figures are dropping. The question is whether that is good enough to begin to drop mask and vaccine requirements.”

The Guardian: Florida governor: school districts that defied no-mask mandate to lose $200m. “Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, is backing a controversial proposal to strip $200m in education funding from Democratic counties that defied his executive order last year banning mask mandates in schools. DeSantis, who is widely seen as a leading heir to Donald Trump in the Republican party, plans to send the money instead to mostly Republican counties that supported him.”


NBC Boston: Mayor Wu Says Boston Vaccine Mandate Could Be Lifted This Week. “The next phase of Boston’s vaccine requirements took effect Tuesday even as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline in the city.”


Washington Post: Chris Crouch was anti-vaccine. Now his pregnant wife had covid, and he faced a terrible choice.. “As the pandemic enters its third year, untold numbers of Americans have agonized over such treatment questions that could mean life or death for their loved ones. Confronting the possible loss of a spouse or life partner is invariably painful, but with covid-19, the severity and suddenness of the illness and the isolation from friends and family have compounded the torment.”


Reuters: School boards get death threats amid rage over race, gender, mask policies. “Local school officials across the United States are being inundated with threats of violence and other hostile messages from anonymous harassers nationwide, fueled by anger over culture-war issues. Reuters found 220 examples of such intimidation in a sampling of districts.”

KPBS: California school mask mandate remains for now, but could lift at month’s end. “California health officials announced on Monday there will be no changes to its statewide school masking requirement. The announcement has many parents frustrated as the state will end mask mandates on Wednesday for many public spaces.”


Hechinger Report: More students are dropping out of college during Covid — and it could get worse. “Of the 2.6 million students who started college in fall 2019, 26.1 percent, or roughly 679,000, didn’t come back the next year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. That was an increase of 2 percentage points over the previous year, and the highest share of students not returning for their sophomore year since 2012.”


ABC News: Who is dying of COVID amid omicron surge and widespread vaccine availability?. “With around 60% of Americans fully vaccinated during the most recent wave, daily deaths from omicron are still relatively high, which begs the question: Who is dying of COVID-19 when there is such strong vaccination coverage? Infectious disease doctors say it is still mainly unvaccinated people, most of whom are in their 30s and 40s with no underlying health issues, who are dying.”


PsyPost: TikTok videos that portray COVID-19 tests as disgusting or unpleasant get more views and likes, study finds. “TikTok videos portraying a COVID-19 tests as disgusting or unpleasant tend to receive more attention and positive feedback, according to new research published in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance.”


California State University Northridge: CSUN Prof Says L.A.’s COVID-19 Data Provides Template for Understanding How Pandemics Spread. “Using Los Angeles County as their subject, [Professor Steven] Graves and CSUN geography graduate student Petra Nichols constructed a series of statistical models that demonstrate that certain neighborhood housing characteristics — including income and ethnicity — made some communities more vulnerable to the virus than others. The information, Graves said, could provide policymakers and public health professionals with vital insight into managing future pandemics.”

Axios: CDC study: COVID vaccination during pregnancy protects infants. “Getting vaccinated against the coronavirus while pregnant can protect infants 6 months and younger from being hospitalized for COVID, according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

CNN: As BA.2 subvariant of Omicron rises, lab studies point to signs of severity. “The BA.2 virus — a subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant — isn’t just spreading faster than its distant cousin, it may also cause more severe disease and appears capable of thwarting some of the key weapons we have against Covid-19, new research suggests. New lab experiments from Japan show that BA.2 may have features that make it as capable of causing serious illness as older variants of Covid-19, including Delta.”

EurekAlert: Developing an optical methodology for rapid detection of COVID-19. “This new methodology, whose first results are published in the journal Scientific Reports, from the Nature Group, has obtained a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 87.5% in the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in nasopharyngeal exudate (the same samples used in a PCR test) from symptomatic people. ”

PsyPost: Too much sitting during the pandemic is tied to increased depressive symptoms, study finds. “A study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry has found new evidence that too much sitting can negatively impact mental health. The study found that while mental health tended to improve among US residents in the aftermath of the initial COVID-19 outbreak, those who spent more time sitting showed slower recovery from depressive symptoms.”

PsyPost: Mask wearing increases muscle activity around the eye during smiling, study finds. “New research has found that wearing a mask tends to increase eye involvement when smiling. The findings appear in the journal Scientific Reports.”

University of Maryland Baltimore: African Children Dying of COVID-19 at Higher Rates. “African children and adolescents hospitalized with COVID-19 experience much higher mortality rates than Europeans or North Americans of the same age, according to a recently published study conducted by researchers from the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN). Both organizations are members of the Global Virus Network (GVN).”

Ars Technica: Omicron subvariant BA.2 continues global rise as experts assess mixed data. “A sub-lineage of the omicron coronavirus variant, dubbed BA.2, continues to increase steadily around the globe as scientists and health officials are still working to understand the risk it poses to public health. So far, the overall data has been a mix.”


Associated Press: Marine reservist, nurse charged with fake vaccine card scam. ” A Marine Corps reservist who was charged in last year’s riot at the U.S. Capitol also schemed with a nurse to steal, forge and sell hundreds of fake coronavirus vaccination cards and destroy vaccine doses to fake inoculations, federal authorities said Thursday. Sgt. Jia Liu, 26, was released on $250,000 bond to home detention with an ankle monitor after a court appearance Thursday. Nurse Steven Rodriguez, 27, was released on $100,000 bond.”

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  1. Thanks as always and ever. Especially appreciated the Ars Technica piece on BA.2, tentatively reassuring as we try to decide how and when to dip our toes back into the social waters outside The Stepson’s house…

    Hope you are bearing up, despite It All.

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