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2020 Corona Virus


Ambergris

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Another surge was coming. This time, Uildéia Galvão thought they were prepared.

Galvão, the lead physician in the coronavirus ward at a public hospital in the Brazilian city of Manaus, had been haunted by the wave that crashed last spring. In less than 10 days, it ruptured the city’s bewildered medical system. Sick patients were turned away. The dead were piled into mass graves.

So Galvão’s hospital organized contingency plans. Additional beds were reserved, and a detailed schedule for opening them was created.

But the new surge, when it came, was different. The virus had mutated, with a suite of alterations that probably made it more transmissible — and perhaps more lethal. Manaus was hit by what scientists call the P.1 variant. This time, it didn’t take 10 days to overwhelm Galvão’s hospital. It took 24 hours.

Even in a city as traumatized as Manaus, the horror has been unlike anything doctors have seen. The oxygen quickly ran out. Dozens of hospital patients have died of asphyxiation. Scores more, unable to get care, have died at home. Every half-hour, one doctor said, a funeral procession rumbled toward the cemetery.

“We had a plan,” Galvão said. “We increased the availability of beds. But even with that, there was strangulation.”

Family members of covid-19 patients wait in Manaus to refill oxygen tanks.
Family members of covid-19 patients wait in Manaus to refill oxygen tanks. (Edmar Barros/AP)

The humanitarian disaster unfolding in the Amazon’s largest city has shown what happens when government failures, scientific misfires and public indifference meet a new, possibly more dangerous variant of the virus that has ravaged the globe.

Believed to have been circulating in the Amazon since December, P.1 now appears to be the dominant coronavirus strain in Manaus. It’s been detected in São Paulo and as far away as Japan. A first case was identified in the United States on Monday.

Scientists are racing to understand the variant, one of several to have emerged in recent months. They are trying to determine whether it truly is more transmissible or has simply exploited lax behavior in a region where many people are either unable or unwilling to take precautions against the virus. The biggest unknown is whether the variant can infect people who have recovered from the more common coronavirus strain.

Doctors and front-line health workers are describing a dangerous new chapter in the struggle against the virus. The shift came suddenly: It wasn’t just the surge in patients but the severity of their cases. People started arriving at hospitals significantly sicker, lungs chewed up with disease.

“What has been said before, that this is a strain more transmissible but not more severe — that’s not what is happening in Manaus,” epidemiologist Noaldo Lucena said. “This isn’t a feeling. It’s a fact.”

The global implications could be significant. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Manaus, a city of 2 million swelling along the Amazon River, has been closely studied by scientists. Local officials shied away from lockdowns or restrictions that have been successful elsewhere. And what policies did exist, many people ignored. The virus, believed to have infected a large portion of the population, was left mostly free to spread naturally.

“Manaus represents a ‘sentinel’ population, giving us a data-based indication of what may happen if SARS-CoV-2 is allowed to spread largely unmitigated,” a team of researches wrote this month in Science.

For a time, after the wave of April and May subsided, scientists and government officials wondered whether the city had achieved herd immunity. Some scientists estimated three-fourths of the population had been infected. Many believed the worst was behind the city.

Daily reported cases in Manaus through July

first-wave-large.jpg?v=2

 

 

Mar. 13

First case of coronavirus is confirmed in the city of Manaus in a woman who had traveled to Britain.

April 21

Manaus city authorities announce the use of mass graves for coronavirus victims due to the rapid growth in fatalities.

May 29

Manaus reports more than 1,000 daily cases for the first time.

After the first wave of coronavirus in Manaus, some assumed the worst was behind the city.

“Why Manaus will be the first Brazilian city to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic,” wrote a group of researchers from the Federal University of Amazonas.

No one is saying that now.

In late December, as the holidays were set to begin, Amazonas state Gov. Wilson Lima debated what to do. The daily counts of cases, hospitalizations and deaths had begun to pick up. Scientists were issuing increasingly urgent letters, calling on officials to institute immediate restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

“We need to save lives and not deepen the health an humanitarian disaster,” epidemiologist Jesem Orellana pleaded in one such missive. “Lives matter!”

On Christmas Eve, Lima announced the closure of all nonessential businesses. Protesters swept the city, closing roads and setting fires. Business owners and lawmakers said the economy couldn’t survive a shutdown. A third of the city’s workers are informal — street vendors, delivery men, maids. They pushed the governor to repeal the decree. And within two days, he did.

Retailers and restaurants did brisk holiday business. Massive parties — some numbering more than 4,000 revelers — gushed onto the streets. And supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has made inaction the defining element of his pandemic presidency, rejoiced.

“All power emanates from the people,” tweeted Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s son.

“Regardless of the alarmist newscasts, Manaus has seen a large drop in deaths since June, showing collective (or herd) immunity,” tweeted Osmar Terra, a former Bolsonaro cabinet member.

But that belief — which seems to have seduced many in Manaus into a false sense of security — was quickly proved a fiction. Soon after the holidays, deaths and hospitalizations exploded. The hospital system buckled. The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths at home rose from a total of 35 from May through December to 178 so far this month, according to city health officials.

Daily reported cases in Manaus since October

second-wave-large.jpg?v=2

Oct.

After a few months of calm, Manaus wasn't prepared when a second wave struck.

Dec. 23

The governor of Amazonas state Wilson Lima backpedals on decree to shut down non-essential businesses.

Jan. 10

Japan notifies Brazil that four travelers who landed in Tokyo from Manaus were infected with the new coronavirus variant.

Jan. 25

First U.S. case of the Brazil coronavirus variant is detected in Minnesota.

That stunned Brazilian researchers who last month published a paper in Science proclaiming that 76 percent of Manaus’s population had already been infected with the virus.

“How can you have 76 percent of people infected and, at the same time, have an epidemic that’s bigger than the first?" asked author Ester Sabino. “This was a concern from the moment cases started to rise.”

To understand what was happening — and why the city wasn’t protected from a debilitating second wave — the team started sequencing fresh samples, to see if any changes in the virus could explain it.

On Jan. 10, Japan announced the discovery of a new variant, found to have infected four travelers from Brazil’s Amazon region. Then Sabino’s team published preliminary findings showing that the strain accounted for 42 percent of the coronavirus cases sampled in December.

As viruses course through a population, they inevitably mutate, although most such genetic changes are functionally insignificant. The coronavirus has spawned countless variants around the world. But P.1 — along with variants found in South Africa and Britain — is provoking particular concern.

Not only does it have a spike protein mutation that could lead to a higher infection rate, it possesses what’s called an “escape mutation.” Also found in the South Africa variant, the mutation, known as E484k, could help it evade coronavirus antibodies.

Sylvain Aldighieri, a senior official with the Pan American Health Organization who has been tracking the Manaus outbreak, said there is no evidence to suggest that reinfections are driving the health crisis. “We would have many more reports,” he said. “We have to use our common sense at this point. Herd immunity in Manaus was not achieved.”

Other scientists have expressed doubt that 76 percent of people in Manaus were infected.

Doctors said they haven’t seen many reinfections but cautioned that it’s nearly impossible to know. The city was swept by the disease at a time when shortages in supplies meant few could get tested. That early failure has seeded today’s: Without previous testing, it’s impossible to confirm a reinfection.

One case, however, has been confirmed by scientists. Dozens more are under analysis.

Mariana Leite, 31, an engineer in Manaus, said she tested positive for antibodies in June and felt a “sense of relief.” She didn’t think it would be possible to be reinfected, but she said she was. Her polymerase chain reaction test came back positive Jan. 8.

“It’s caused so much anxiety in everyone,” she said. “We feel like it’s never going to end.”

Meanwhile, the P.1 variant appears to have widened its reach: In January, according to a sample of 48 cases, it represented 85 percent of the infections.

The toll has been clear. By mid-January, the hospital system hadn’t just run out of beds, as it did during the first wave, but also oxygen. Wards had been transformed, in the words of one epidemiologist, into “chambers of asphyxiation.” Hundreds of patients were shipped out of the city, some to the other side of the country.

The federal government was warned of the looming disaster, according to an investigation requested by the supreme court, but didn’t do enough to avert it.

On Jan. 3, local health officials told federal officials the health system would probably fail within 10 days. Then the company White Martins, which supplies the public health system in Manaus with oxygen, warned state and federal health officials it couldn’t keep up with demand. On Jan. 14 and 15, dozens of people suffocated to death.

The Health Ministry has defended its response, arguing it sent doctors and helped the city open more beds for patients. Federal Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello, now under investigation by the attorney general over allegations of inaction, has stationed himself in the city indefinitely.

“We had a jump in contaminations since the beginning of January, tripling the number of people infected,” Pazuello said Tuesday. “This was a completely unknown situation for the whole world; it was very fast.”

Lima, the state governor, has now closed all nonessential businesses and imposed a curfew. He has warned that the weeks ahead could be still more difficult. Demand for oxygen will be 70 percent higher in February than in the worst days of this month, he told the newspaper O Globo.

It’s difficult for Lucena, the epidemiologist, to imagine how it could get much worse.

“You are watching deaths every day, deaths that could have been avoided,” he said. “You choose who lives and who dies, who gets oxygen and who doesn’t.”

“It’s like we’re in a horror film.”

Data on cases is from the Amazonas Health Surveillance Foundation. The foundation did not report data on Nov. 6 and 7, 2020.

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Where cases increased the most in the last week

For the week ending Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021

  CASES TO DATE ONE-WEEK TOTAL
State Total cases Per 100K New cases Per 100K 1-wk chg.
Louisiana 400,626
 
8,618 16,764 360.6
+12.6%
Washington 311,597
 
4,092 11,399 149.7
+11.1%
Pennsylvania 848,244
 
6,626 39,293 306.9
+8.5%
Washington, D.C. 36,872
 
5,225 1,571 222.6
+8.3%
Montana 93,949
 
8,790 2,297 214.9
+1.7%
Alabama 459,639
 
9,374 18,469 376.7
–0.6%
Texas 2,373,828
 
8,187 125,139 431.6
–1.0%
Virginia 504,779
 
5,914 32,332 378.8
–2.4%
California 3,320,944
 
8,405 182,569 462.1
–2.8%
New Jersey 696,829
 
7,845 34,021 383.0
–4.4%
Vermont 11,965
 
1,918 932 149.4
–4.5%
Florida 1,721,377
 
8,015 71,928 334.9
–8.0%
Mississippi 275,001
 
9,240 10,782 362.3
–8.2%
United States 26,248,218
 
7,997 1,100,311 335.2
–9.0%
Oklahoma 389,472
 
9,843 16,382 414.0
–9.5%
Maine 39,324
 
2,925 2,726 202.8
–10.3%
Michigan 610,138
 
6,109 13,392 134.1
–10.5%
New York 1,415,653
 
7,277 83,739 430.5
–10.6%
Rhode Island 114,438
 
10,803 4,703 443.9
–11.1%
West Virginia 121,001
 
6,752 5,694 317.7
–12.2%
North Carolina 757,526
 
7,223 38,714 369.1
–12.4%
Colorado 396,179
 
6,880 9,894 171.8
–12.5%
Georgia 911,073
 
8,581 44,348 417.7
–12.6%
New Mexico 174,064
 
8,301 4,859 231.7
–12.7%
Hawaii 25,853
 
1,826 699 49.4
–12.7%
Maryland 354,649
 
5,866 13,022 215.4
–13.2%
Arkansas 295,268
 
9,784 11,202 371.2
–13.2%
Oregon 142,416
 
3,377 4,248 100.7
–14.4%
North Dakota 97,630
 
12,811 813 106.7
–14.7%
Connecticut 250,023
 
7,013 12,208 342.4
–15.2%
Ohio 895,792
 
7,664 31,470 269.2
–16.2%
South Carolina 443,386
 
8,612 25,061 486.7
–16.9%
Kentucky 362,890
 
8,123 16,304 364.9
–18.1%
Tennessee 727,861
 
10,658 19,144 280.3
–18.2%
Delaware 78,071
 
8,017 3,496 359.0
–18.3%
Wisconsin 592,140
 
10,170 10,763 184.9
–18.5%
Utah 346,624
 
10,812 10,219 318.8
–18.7%
Idaho 162,683
 
9,103 3,177 177.8
–19.6%
Massachusetts 524,025
 
7,603 23,988 348.0
–19.8%
Nevada 278,308
 
9,036 7,401 240.3
–20.7%
Minnesota 461,807
 
8,189 6,818 120.9
–20.8%
Iowa 319,410
 
10,124 6,270 198.7
–21.5%
Kansas 274,685
 
9,429 8,032 275.7
–23.6%
Alaska 54,351
 
7,430 1,036 141.6
–24.8%
Indiana 627,058
 
9,314 15,643 232.4
–24.9%
Illinois 1,128,311
 
8,904 24,562 193.8
–25.7%
Arizona 758,404
 
10,420 35,830 492.3
–26.4%
Puerto Rico 162,129
 
5,077 5,294 165.8
–29.3%
Nebraska 190,713
 
9,859 3,566 184.3
–31.0%
South Dakota 108,250
 
12,236 1,102 124.6
–31.3%
Wyoming 51,912
 
8,970 1,014 175.2
–33.9%
New Hampshire 65,695
 
4,832 3,358 247.0
–38.6%

Where deaths increased the most in the last week

For the week ending Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021

  DEATHS TO DATE ONE-WEEK TOTAL
State Total deaths Per 100K New deaths Per 100K 1-wk chg.
Hawaii 410
 
29 68 4.8
+240.0%
Iowa 4,901
 
155 413 13.1
+150.3%
Delaware 1,090
 
112 49 5.0
+96.0%
Alabama 7,688
 
157 1,028 21.0
+90.4%
Kansas 3,779
 
130 181 6.2
+88.5%
Washington, D.C. 913
 
129 41 5.8
+86.4%
Tennessee 9,650
 
141 791 11.6
+69.0%
South Carolina 7,042
 
137 495 9.6
+59.7%
South Dakota 1,778
 
201 73 8.3
+49.0%
Maine 590
 
44 46 3.4
+39.4%
Montana 1,233
 
115 82 7.7
+39.0%
New Hampshire 1,057
 
78 70 5.1
+29.6%
California 40,926
 
104 4,181 10.6
+20.2%
Virginia 6,464
 
76 386 4.5
+10.6%
Kentucky 3,745
 
84 324 7.3
+10.2%
Mississippi 6,045
 
203 273 9.2
+8.8%
West Virginia 2,024
 
113 129 7.2
+8.4%
United States 441,718
 
135 22,751 6.9
+5.1%
Colorado 5,637
 
98 132 2.3
+4.8%
North Carolina 9,335
 
89 640 6.1
+4.6%
New Jersey 21,484
 
242 533 6.0
+4.1%
Florida 26,915
 
125 1,222 5.7
+3.7%
Connecticut 7,046
 
198 227 6.4
+0.9%
Georgia 14,198
 
134 948 8.9
–0.6%
Nevada 4,270
 
139 244 7.9
–1.2%
New York 43,358
 
223 1,299 6.7
–2.0%
Nebraska 1,920
 
99 41 2.1
–2.4%
Oregon 1,957
 
46 77 1.8
–3.7%
Texas 37,337
 
129 2,193 7.6
–6.8%
Massachusetts 14,577
 
212 444 6.4
–7.7%
Oklahoma 3,547
 
90 268 6.8
–8.2%
Rhode Island 2,154
 
203 71 6.7
–9.0%
Illinois 21,253
 
168 573 4.5
–9.0%
Ohio 11,175
 
96 464 4.0
–9.2%
Arizona 13,120
 
180 882 12.1
–9.3%
Idaho 1,725
 
97 56 3.1
–9.7%
Arkansas 4,868
 
161 262 8.7
–11.2%
Maryland 7,127
 
118 262 4.3
–12.1%
Wisconsin 6,434
 
111 244 4.2
–14.1%
Pennsylvania 21,715
 
170 1,106 8.6
–14.9%
Louisiana 8,859
 
191 294 6.3
–18.8%
Washington 4,285
 
56 171 2.2
–19.0%
Puerto Rico 1,829
 
57 56 1.8
–20.0%
Utah 1,665
 
52 70 2.2
–31.4%
Michigan 15,525
 
156 344 3.4
–32.8%
New Mexico 3,283
 
157 138 6.6
–35.2%
Indiana 9,974
 
148 258 3.8
–36.5%
Minnesota 6,200
 
110 105 1.9
–37.5%
Vermont 174
 
28 4 0.6
–42.9%
Wyoming 596
 
103 25 4.3
–49.0%
North Dakota 1,422
 
187 11 1.4
–59.3%
Alaska 262
 
36 3 0.4
–90.0%

 

95,013 hospitalized on Jan 31.  Looks like height of curve was 130,391 in mid-January.

Where the number of people in hospitals increased the most in the last week

For the week ending Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021

  CURRENTLY HOSPITALIZED
State Avg. this week Per 100K 1-wk chg.
Vermont 59
 
10
+25.5%
New York 8,480
 
44
–5.3%
Washington, D.C. 248
 
35
–5.3%
Kentucky 1,501
 
34
–6.2%
Maine 177
 
13
–6.8%
Connecticut 1,015
 
29
–6.8%
New Jersey 3,127
 
35
–7.4%
Florida 6,507
 
30
–7.6%
Kansas 623
 
21
–8.0%
Utah 531
 
17
–8.8%
Rhode Island 333
 
31
–9.0%
Virginia 2,736
 
32
–9.6%
Texas 12,212
 
42
–9.8%
Maryland 1,606
 
27
–10.4%
New Hampshire 217
 
16
–10.7%
South Carolina 2,051
 
40
–11.0%
Colorado 694
 
12
–11.4%
New Mexico 529
 
25
–11.5%
Arizona 4,036
 
55
–11.8%
Oregon 333
 
8
–12.1%
Puerto Rico 295
 
9
–12.2%
Wisconsin 715
 
12
–12.4%
Hawaii 77
 
5
–12.5%
Louisiana 1,572
 
34
–12.6%
United States 103,460
 
32
–12.8%
Massachusetts 1,845
 
27
–13.2%
Georgia 4,892
 
46
–13.4%
Illinois 2,785
 
22
–13.5%
North Carolina 3,130
 
30
–13.7%
Iowa 388
 
12
–14.3%
Arkansas 997
 
33
–14.7%
Mississippi 1,011
 
34
–14.8%
California 17,062
 
43
–15.2%
Minnesota 478
 
9
–15.7%
Washington 836
 
11
–16.0%
West Virginia 532
 
30
–16.2%
Nebraska 351
 
18
–16.8%
Pennsylvania 3,663
 
29
–17.0%
Nevada 1,343
 
44
–17.0%
Alabama 2,060
 
42
–17.3%
Missouri 1,936
 
32
–17.4%
Alaska 47
 
6
–17.5%
Ohio 2,775
 
24
–18.2%
South Dakota 151
 
17
–18.4%
Indiana 1,828
 
27
–18.6%
Delaware 342
 
35
–20.3%
Michigan 1,553
 
16
–20.7%
Idaho 228
 
13
–21.4%
Wyoming 62
 
11
–21.5%
North Dakota 49
 
6
–22.2%
Oklahoma 1,319
 
33
–22.5%
Tennessee 2,000
 
29
–23.3%
Montana 113
 
11
–24.2%
 

Where the positive test rate is highest

For the week ending Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021

  TESTS TO DATE ONE-WEEK TOTAL
State Total tests Per 100K New tests Per 100K Positive rate
Alabama 2,140,705
 
43,660 54,150 1,104.4
34.1%
Iowa 1,253,688
 
39,736 18,629 590.4
33.7%
Kansas 1,168,723
 
40,117 31,312 1,074.8
25.7%
Idaho 603,115
 
33,749 13,486 754.6
23.6%
Mississippi 1,569,489
 
52,736 49,155 1,651.6
21.9%
Missouri 4,156,792
 
67,729 105,404 1,717.4
21.4%
South Dakota 402,613
 
45,511 5,374 607.5
20.5%
Kentucky 3,590,222
 
80,360 87,158 1,950.9
18.7%
Georgia 6,452,746
 
60,775 243,886 2,297.0
18.2%
Texas 17,399,120
 
60,006 837,980 2,890.0
14.9%
Virginia 5,234,155
 
61,322 227,105 2,660.7
14.2%
Oklahoma 3,184,813
 
80,486 121,009 3,058.1
13.5%
Arkansas 2,431,538
 
80,573 84,150 2,788.5
13.3%
Utah 2,607,358
 
81,329 77,562 2,419.3
13.2%
Tennessee 6,437,840
 
94,270 148,389 2,172.9
12.9%
Arizona 6,698,752
 
92,032 313,533 4,307.5
11.4%
Pennsylvania 9,228,711
 
72,088 358,877 2,803.3
10.9%
Nevada 2,488,049
 
80,777 69,014 2,240.6
10.7%
Ohio 9,074,070
 
77,629 296,199 2,534.0
10.6%
South Carolina 4,227,525
 
82,108 242,413 4,708.2
10.3%
New Jersey 9,407,974
 
105,920 349,487 3,934.7
9.7%
Florida 19,157,510
 
89,197 759,686 3,537.1
9.5%
North Carolina 8,943,621
 
85,274 419,074 3,995.7
9.2%
California 42,279,018
 
107,002 1,993,303 5,044.8
9.2%
Louisiana 5,007,448
 
107,715 191,878 4,127.5
8.7%
United States 312,446,708
 
95,189 12,877,767 3,923.3
8.5%
West Virginia 1,945,579
 
108,561 85,242 4,756.4
6.7%
Delaware 1,230,883
 
126,405 54,042 5,549.8
6.5%
Washington 4,548,239
 
59,728 174,593 2,292.8
6.5%
New Hampshire 1,262,157
 
92,825 57,136 4,202.1
5.9%
Wisconsin 6,177,575
 
106,100 187,105 3,213.5
5.8%
Indiana 7,014,523
 
104,193 276,182 4,102.4
5.7%
New York 32,161,751
 
165,326 1,618,739 8,321.0
5.2%
Montana 956,488
 
89,494 44,802 4,191.9
5.1%
New Mexico 2,343,455
 
111,762 98,347 4,690.3
4.9%
Connecticut 5,708,292
 
160,108 254,678 7,143.3
4.8%
Colorado 5,452,050
 
94,674 205,139 3,562.2
4.8%
Michigan 9,366,357
 
93,787 280,248 2,806.2
4.8%
Nebraska 2,100,123
 
108,567 78,707 4,068.8
4.5%
Maryland 7,013,154
 
116,003 289,652 4,791.1
4.5%
Maine 1,376,597
 
102,409 67,583 5,027.7
4.0%
North Dakota 1,345,999
 
176,626 20,108 2,638.6
4.0%
Illinois 16,039,292
 
126,575 629,460 4,967.4
3.9%
Minnesota 6,236,640
 
110,586 184,417 3,270.0
3.7%
Rhode Island 2,538,794
 
239,653 128,769 12,155.3
3.7%
Oregon 3,162,750
 
74,987 118,958 2,820.4
3.6%
Massachusetts 13,632,898
 
197,793 664,974 9,647.8
3.6%
Washington, D.C. 1,100,466
 
155,929 51,515 7,299.3
3.0%
Alaska 1,500,325
 
205,090 46,855 6,404.9
2.2%
Vermont 897,351
 
143,809 49,368 7,911.7
1.9%
Wyoming 634,985
 
109,715 61,117 10,560.0
1.7%
Hawaii 987,475
 
69,743 45,172 3,190.4
1.5%
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We knew the mutations, which are actualizing as the British, the South African, the Californian, and now the Brazilian variants, would come.  We hoped they would be less deadly because the normal pattern is that a virus is less deadly in the second wave (Spanish Flu was the exception).  So here we are, facing the second big wave, and our immunity from having survived the Italian variant is not going to protect us from the deadlier variants.  Some of the vaccines provide some protection from some of the variants, which is some comfort. 

 <_<

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Primary variants:

  • B.1.1.7: In the United Kingdom (UK), a variant of SARS-CoV-2 known as B.1.1.7 emerged. This variant carries a large number of mutations and has since been detected around the world, including in the United States (US). This variant was first detected in the US at the end of December 2020. In January 2021, scientists from the UK reported early evidence that suggests the B.1.1.7 variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants.
  • B.1.351: In South Africa, another variant of SARS-CoV-2 known as B.1.351 emerged independently of B.1.1.7. This variant shares some mutations with B.1.1.7. Cases attributed to B.1.351 have been detected outside of South Africa, and this variant was first detected in the US at the end of January 2021. Preliminary evidence suggests that the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine currently used in the US may be less effective against this variant.
  • P.1: In Brazil, a variant of SARS-CoV-2 known as P.1 emerged; it was first identified in January 2021 in travelers from Brazil who arrived in Japan. This variant was detected in the US at the end of January 2021. The P.1 variant has 17 unique mutations, including three in the receptor binding domain of the spike protein (K417T, E484K, and N501Y). There is evidence to suggest that some of the mutations in the P.1 variant may affect the ability of antibodies (from natural infection or vaccination) to recognize and neutralize the virus.

One specific mutation, called D614G, is shared by these three variants. It gives the variants the ability to spread more quickly than the predominant viruses. There also is evidence that variants with this specific mutation spread more quickly than viruses without the mutation. This mutation was one of the first documented in the US in the initial stages of the pandemic, after having initially circulated in Europe.

Selected Characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern
Name
(Pangolin) 
Name
(Nextstrain) 
First Detected  Cases in
the US
Countries
Reporting
Cases
Key Mutations Transmissibility
Rate
B.1.1.7  20I/501Y.V1 United Kingdom Y 70
  • 69/70 deletion
  • 144Y deletion
  • N501Y
  • A570D
  • D614G
  • P681H
~50% increase 
P.1  20J/501Y.V3 Japan/
Brazil
Y  >4
  • E484K
  • K417N/T
  • N501Y
  • D614G
Not determined
B.1.351  20H/501.V2 South Africa Y >30
  • K417N
  • E484K
  • N501Y
  • D614G
Not determined
Edited by Ambergris
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The California CAL20C group of variants is being treated as small potatoes in the world medical community.  

Edited by Ambergris
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What 6 Of The 7 Countries With The Most COVID-19 Cases Have In Common

July 31, 20208:05 AM ET
Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday JASON BEAUBIEN

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage around the world, some of the largest outbreaks are in countries that fall into one particular economic category. They're not rich. They're not poor. They're middle income.

In fact, of the countries reporting the most cases globally, 6 of 7 are middle-income nations.

And they're not just any middle-income countries. They're some of the most influential players in the global south. Brazil, India, Mexico, Peru, Russia and South Africa are not only major emerging market economies, they're regional political powers.

Middle-income countries are defined by the World Bank as having annual per capita income between $1,000 and $12,000. The U.S., by comparison (the one high-income country in the top 7), has an average annual income of $66,000.

In mid-July, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called the pandemic the "gravest crisis in the history of our democracy" as he reimposed strict lockdown measures.

South Africa has now reported nearly a half-million cases of the coronavirus. Health officials project cases to continue to rise at least into September. And the impact of the pandemic goes far beyond the number of sick or dead. South Africa's borders remain closed. Nonessential workplaces remain shut. The country's official unemployment rate, which had been in the mid-20% range, was pushed above 30% by the pandemic.

Indeed, the strain on countries in the middle-income category is tremendous. And the number of people affected is huge. According to the World Bank, 75% of the world's population live in middle-income countries.

Collectively over the past decade, these countries have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty.

Amanda Glassman, the executive vice president of the Center for Global Development, says these countries have a lot to lose in this pandemic.

"Most of their populations in this group would fall back into poverty given a shock like this one," she says.

For instance, Brazil's economy is expected to shrink by as much as 6.5% this year because of the coronavirus crisis. Brazil has the second-highest number of cases after the U.S. Nearly 100,000 people have died. The president and several of his top ministers have been infected. And as the pandemic continues to spread, more and more Brazilians are losing work.

"Even a country like Brazil that was so wealthy, 90% of the country earned less than $10 a day," Glassman says.

"I'm worried that we're setting back the process of economic and social development that has gone so quickly over the past decade," she says. "And it will take us many years to catch back up."

 

The entrepreneurial spirit that made countries like India, Brazil and South Africa dynamic emerging markets also put them at greater risk of having large outbreaks. These are places with a lot of "hustle," as Glassman puts it. Their economies were global. Business travelers and tourists jetted in and out. They have decent domestic transportation networks offering the coronavirus or other pathogens easy avenues to spread. They have health systems capable of detecting the disease.

"In India, for example, they're doing a lot of testing," says Jonathon Keymer, an intelligence analyst at the global risk management firm WorldAware. "In Russia, they're doing a lot of testing. The more people you test, the more confirmed cases you're going to have."

Keymer specializes in Russia and the former Soviet bloc countries for WorldAware and has also been modeling the impact of COVID-19 in these nations.

He says some middle-income countries globally look worse than others in this pandemic simply because they are open, dynamic societies and their case numbers are being reported. But that's not true everywhere.

He points out that both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, two middle-income former Soviet states, have reintroduced nationwide lockdowns in the past couple of weeks despite reported case numbers remaining relatively low.

"And then in Turkmenistan, which is a much more difficult place to get information about, they've closed the borders and I don't think they've officially got a single case of COVID," Keymer says. "But you can bet your bottom dollar that they've got COVID."

The World Health Organization has raised alarms about Turkmenistan despite its continued insistence that it has no cases.

But on paper at least Turkmenistan looks like it has far less of a COVID-19 problem than Peru, which has tested aggressively and openly reported results. Peru has a testing rate of roughly 70,000 tests per 1 million people — a rate more than five times the global average.

Tanzania is another middle-income country reporting remarkably few infections. The east African nation actually hasn't officially reported any cases to WHO since April, when the president declared that the virus had been driven out of his country by prayer.

Even with the marked differences in middle income countries — everything from governance to public sentiment to economic structure — there are certain commonalities. It is clear that middle-income countries face similar risks as wealthier nations for coronavirus outbreaks but have far fewer resources to deal with them.

Interestingly, the relative wealth of a middle-income country appears to have little to do with how many infections it has.

Deborah Barros Leal Farias, a lecturer at the University of New South Wales, says the experience of middle-income countries shows that a nation's economic status doesn't determine its success in battling this pandemic. "If you take the U.S., the U.K. and Sweden, they are also having horrible numbers," Farias says. "And then you can take a country like Vietnam or Thailand and they're having phenomenal numbers."

She says the real issue in keeping case counts down — even more than resources — appears to be leadership.

Of the four countries with the most cases globally — the U.S. and three middle-income nations: Brazil, India and Russia — all have conservative or right-wing leaders who espouse populist or anti-science views.

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro downplayed the seriousness of the disease as tens of thousands of Brazilians died from COVID. Even when he tested positive for it himself, Bolsonaro continued to tout the anti-malarial drug hydrochloroquine as a cure despite studies showing it wasn't effective against the virus.

Ester Sabino, a virologist at the University of Sao Paulo, says Brazil never had a cohesive national plan for how to address the outbreak and she says Bolsonaro has been a distraction.

"In April and May, the main discussion [in Brazil] was whether we should or should not use chloroquine instead of saying how do we stop this," Sabino says. "There was not a good plan. That's my opinion. A lot of time was spent on things that were not the key things for the control of the disease."

Research by Sabino and her colleagues shows there were more than 100 different introductions of the virus into Brazil in the early days of the pandemic, mostly from travelers who had been in Europe. Then the virus spread to every corner of the vast country.

Lockdowns managed to slow the initial explosive spread, but Sabino says there needs to be more focus to contain the ongoing outbreak.

"There is no magic. There is no free lunch. If you want to control epidemic, it's hard," she says. "And you have to work a lot. We can't think about politics."

And that appears to hold true regardless of whether a country is rich, poor or somewhere in the middle.

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1 USA total reported cases per million population 81, 626 deaths per million 1,387 total population 332,150,930

2 India                                                                         7,774                                     111                           1,338,012,251

3 Brazil                                                                       43,754                                1,066                            213,452,652

4 Russia                                                                     26,726                                   512                             145,971,594 

5 UK                                                                           56,857                                 1,606                              68,097,051

6 France                                                                    49,743                                  1,187                              65,359,134

7 Spain                                                                       62,298                                 1,291                              46,765,524

8 Italy                                                                         42,772                                  1,487                             60,409,016

9 Turkey                                                                     29,468                                     311                             84,874,408

10 Germany                                                                26,834                                    717                              83,942,671

11 Colombia                                                                41,298                                   1,066                             51,202,832

12 Argentina                                                               42,771                                   1,066                             45,440,649

13 Mexico                                                                   14,446                                   1,230                              29,731,950

14 Poland                                                                    40,374                                   1,002                              37,821,994

15 South Africa                                                           24,486                                     759                              59,749,292

 

These are the current numbers as of today, supposedly.  I'd guess more likely yesterday at best.

 

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I've been reading where a lot of the vaccine doses are spoiled. I've seen it in Maine, Michigan and Florida. Today I heard that a number of nursing homes around me have discovered that the vaccines they have given were no good. They said there is no danger from the spoiled vaccine but they just aren't effective. So now they don't have enough doses for the second shot which will really become the first shot. What a mess.

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And now another vaccine coming along which might not be as effective but will supposedly be better at preventing death and the spread of the virus.  No mention about it being effective for every strain though.   It, however, probably won't be ready before June if it is approved.    

 

The mutations and their interesting spread and the numbers of cases and deaths are beginning to feel more like a scene out of an apocalyptic story than real life.

 

(Has anyone read Jack London's The Scarlet Plague?)  :behindsofa:  

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"...AstraZeneca appears to provide strong protection three months after just one dose while also curbing spread of infections, researchers said Wednesday.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the study supports a strategy of delaying the second shot so more first doses can be delivered to more people. Researchers also found a 67% reduction in positive "swabs" among those vaccinated – crucial news because if no virus is present, the virus can't spread.

AstraZeneca has not yet applied for emergency use authorization for its vaccine in the U.S."

Sounds good.  Actually, suspiciously good.

 

The UK variant has arrived in my county, with two known victims currently.

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17 hours ago, Jeepers said:

I've been reading where a lot of the vaccine doses are spoiled. I've seen it in Maine, Michigan and Florida. Today I heard that a number of nursing homes around me have discovered that the vaccines they have given were no good. They said there is no danger from the spoiled vaccine but they just aren't effective. So now they don't have enough doses for the second shot which will really become the first shot. What a mess.

One doctor has admitted he deliberately spoiled a huge batch of doses, and many batches have been spoiled through accident or otherwise.

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1 hour ago, Mother said:

And now another vaccine coming along which might not be as effective but will supposedly be better at preventing death and the spread of the virus.  No mention about it being effective for every strain though.   It, however, probably won't be ready before June if it is approved.    

 

The mutations and their interesting spread and the numbers of cases and deaths are beginning to feel more like a scene out of an apocalyptic story than real life.

 

(Has anyone read Jack London's The Scarlet Plague?)  :behindsofa:  

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/21970/21970-h/21970-h.htm

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:scratchhead:    WHY would anyone deliberately spoil the vaccine.  :scratchhead:  

 

I'm not planning on taking it.  But if anyone else wants to, it's their CHOICE.  :shrug: 

 

MtRider   .....it just gets WEIRDER AND WEIRDER OUT THERE   :behindsofa: 

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2 hours ago, Jeepers said:

I remember a Wisconsin pharmacist who, tried or did, spoil batches of the vaccine. 

Yes, I said doctor but you're right.  He was a pharmacist.

Here's the less-effective vaccine Mother mentioned:

 

On Thursday, Johnson & Johnson submitted it’s COVID-19 vaccine for Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If greenlit by the Food and Drug Administration, it could be the nation’s third COVID vaccine producer, joining Pfizer and Moderna. Johnson & Johnson said last week that its one-dose vaccine has an overall 66% efficacy rate, not as high as Pfizer or Moderna’s two-dose vaccines with nearly 95% efficacy.  The advantage is that it requires only a single dose.

+++(different article)

Johnson & Johnson asked U.S. regulators Thursday to clear the world’s first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, an easier-to-use option that could boost scarce supplies.

J&J’s vaccine was safe and offered strong protection against moderate to severe COVID-19, according to preliminary results from a massive international study.

It didn’t appear quite as strong as two-dose competitors made by Pfizer and Moderna -- a finding that may be more perception than reality, given differences in how each was tested.

But the Food and Drug Administration is asking its independent advisers to publicly debate all the data behind the single-dose shot -- just like its competitors were put under the microscope -- before it decides whether to green light a third vaccine option in the U.S.

Dr. Peter Marks, FDA’s vaccine chief, has cautioned against making comparisons before the evidence is all in.

“With so much need to get this pandemic under control, I think we can’t ignore any tool in the tool chest,” he told the American Medical Association last week. “We will have to do our best to try to make sure that we find the populations that benefit the most from each of these vaccines and deploy them in a very thoughtful manner.”

WHAT THE NUMBERS SHOW

Overall, the single-dose vaccine was 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, according to early findings from a study of 44,000 people in the U.S., Latin America and South Africa.

But it was 85% protective against the most serious symptoms — and starting 28 days after their shot, researchers found no one who got the vaccine needed hospitalization or died.

WEAKER BUT STILL FIGHTS MUTATING VIRUS

The one-dose option worked better in the U.S. — 72% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19 — compared with 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa, where a more contagious mutant virus is spreading.

Scientists have been looking for real-world evidence about how vaccines work as the world races to stay ahead of the rapidly mutating virus, and welcomed the news that the J&J option — while weaker — did still offer protection.

OTHER OPTIONS

In large U.S. studies, two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines proved 95% protective against any symptomatic COVID-19.

But those studies were finished before the record virus surges of recent months and the appearance of the worrisome mutants, meaning such testing might not turn out the same if repeated today.

J&J also is studying a two-dose version of its vaccine, but results won’t be available for several more months.

THE SUPPLY

J&J said it would have some vaccine ready to ship if the FDA allows emergency use of the shot, but it didn’t reveal how much. The pharmaceutical giant said it expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. by the end of June.

It expects to file a similar application with European regulators soon.

Edited by Ambergris
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EDUARDO VERDUGO
Thu, February 4, 2021, 4:15 PM
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Desperation mounted in Mexico Thursday as the country runs out of coronavirus vaccines, a government registration website crashed for a third straight day and restaurant workers protested virus restrictions they say are driving them into poverty.

Hundreds of cooks, waiters and other restaurant employees gathered at Mexico City's Revolution Monument in their uniforms Thursday, banging cooking pots and chanting “Either we open, or we die!”

The city — where hospitals are over 80% full — allows only take-out service, with open air-dining allowed at some restaurants that have outside space. But employees say that business isn't enough to keep them going.

The country posted a near-record daily death toll of 1,682 Thursday, bringing the total to 162,922. Authorities also announced that about five cases of the U.K. variant had been found in Mexico, some apparently through local transmission.

Mexico is scrambling to line up shipments of the Pfizer and Russian Sputnik vaccines, but no new doses are expected to arrive until mid-month.

For the third straight day, millions of Mexicans who tried to register for vaccines when they do arrive were met with a non-functional website. Authorities have said the number of people seeking to register overloaded the government web page and its servers.

The official advice since the site was launched Tuesday has been to keep trying.

But even to find out the site wasn’t working, Mexicans still had to pass a Captcha “I am not a robot” test in English, asking them to pick out photos of objects like curbside fire hydrants that don’t exist in Mexico, or objects like chimneys that look very different in Mexico.

While the site at least now loads — on Wednesday it simply returned a server error message — the holdup now appears in the link to another government agency that has to check official ID numbers. That agency spends hours “checking” registration requests, only to return a message of “no response.”

“They had months to prepare for the demand that would happen, but as always, they didn't do it,” columnist Hectór de Mauleón wrote in the newspaper El Universal, describing his 20-hour ordeal of trying to get the page to work.

Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero, who is filling in for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador while he recovers from COVID-19, acknowledged Thursday that “the service has experienced an overload, due of course to the great hopes of getting registered for a vaccine.”

“This overload of course will not affect the vaccination, but its is important that we continue with the registration,” she said.

Late Thursday, the site began to work haltingly. Authorities said so far about a half-million people were able to register.

But observers noted wryly that López Obrador's administration recently toyed with the idea of setting up alternative social media after Twitter suspended the account of former U.S. president Donald Trump, with whom the Mexican leader was close. They say Twitter appears safe, however: the Mexican government can barely set up a working webpage.

Authorities have said they are still working on getting enough server capacity to handle the number of people attempting to register.

Mexico has received only about 760,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and has only about 89,000 of those left, many of which are earmarked for second shots.

It expects to get more Pfizer doses by mid-month, and as many as 400,000 Sputnik shots by the end of February, but they won't be enough to vaccinate even the country's 750,000 frontline health workers and represent a drop in the bucket for Mexico's population of 126 million.

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Amid reports of vaccine shortages occurring around the world, a new study (pdf) suggests that people who have already had COVID-19 should get only one shot of the mRNA vaccine to avoid possible unnecessary adverse reactions and free up supplies for those who need it more.

 

https://www.theepochtimes.com/people-who-recovered-from-covid-19-should-receive-only-1-dose-of-vaccine-study_3685032.html?utm_source=news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-2021-02-05-2

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Our pharmacist's wife had covid earlier this Fall. She went ahead and got the vaccine. She was very sick and in bed for days. Even swollen and tender lymph nodes. She's not interested in getting the second one yet.   :rolleyes:

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The first dose is half the strength of the second dose.  Taking the first dose only is taking one-third of the full dose.  That reduces your chance what, thirty to forty percent as opposed to 94 to 97 percent (depending on where you live and who you are)?

 

I have seen one argument for waiting at least 90 days past recovery from the virus before taking the shots to reduce reactions.  I'd wait a lot longer, but I'm not in line for an early dose anyway.

Edited by Ambergris
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5 hours ago, Jeepers said:

They are asking people around here, again, to donate their plasma if they have recovered from Covid.

 

I'd see that as a safer alternative.....provided they don't carry another disease in the plasma.

 

MtRider  :behindsofa:    ...just staying clear altogether, hopefully.

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Rural community in shock after Georgia health officials raid clinic vaccinating teachers
Fri, February 5, 2021, 4:52 PM
ELBERTON, Ga. — This small city was still in shock Friday, days after state health workers raided the busiest medical clinic in the county and seized its Covid-19 vaccine supply because staffers had given doses to teachers.

Some 470 shots of the Pfizer vaccine were confiscated from the Medical Center of Elberton, a private clinic that had been the largest provider of vaccinations in Elbert County, leaving behind just enough medicine to guarantee second doses to people who have already been inoculated.

"Everything that we had tried to do up until now to vaccinate our county was just laid to waste," Dr. Jonathan Poon, who works at the clinic, told NBC News.
In addition, the Georgia Department of Public Health said it would not be providing any more vaccines to the medical center for the next six months until July 27.  "DPH took the action after learning the provider had been vaccinating individuals in the Elbert County School District who were outside of the current Phase 1A+ eligible population," the agency said in a statement. "There is no other reason for the suspension than what we have previously stated."

But in a Jan. 29 letter to the center, the department gave no warning it was going to seize the remaining shots Tuesday.  "Moving outside the phases disrupts the allocation process and creates the potential for many elderly citizens to not receive a vaccination in a timely manner," the department stated. "Upon enrollment in Georgia’s COVID Vaccine Program, you signed a COVID Vaccination Provider Agreement which stated you and your practice would not violate any state or federal rules related to the program."

In an interview, Dr. Chris Rustin of the Department of Public Health, said the clinic's actions left them no choice.  "Going outside of the phase in almost a deliberate manner was something that we could not ignore, and we needed to make sure that others that are vaccinating understand that we have such limitations on our vaccine supply that we have to follow a plan that's been clearly communicated."

Still, as recently as Dec. 7, educators were considered by the state to be in that "essential group," Poon said, adding that they were able to vaccinate about 177 school workers before the public health department shut them down.  "We felt, you know, with the state’s guidance, that teachers were a part of that group," he said. "So as soon as we were able to move to vaccinate the essential workers, that’s what we did."

The first inkling that they might have run afoul of the state was Jan. 26 when the department called "asking whether or not we had vaccinated teachers," the doctor said.

"And at the time we, of course, believed that that was part of the proper procedure, so we said yes," Poon said. "And in less than 48 hours, the state handed down a ruling that our vaccine status was suspended and that we would no longer be able to vaccinate individuals."

The community’s reaction? "Shock," he said.

Terrie Glaude, a teacher in Elbert County, managed to squeeze in her second shot just days before the department descended on the clinic. "I was very lucky not to have to worry about that," she said.  She said she was taken aback by news of the raid and doesn’t agree "with the state mandate that teachers shouldn’t have been in the first wave of vaccinations.  Everyone wants their kids in school, and the way to keep them in school is to let our teachers be vaccinated along with the elderly population and then move down, you know, as it’s appropriate."

Marlene Lord, who is 68 and got her second dose at the clinic Thursday, said she would have gladly given her vaccination to a teacher.  "Being retired, I have the ability to stay away from it more than they do," she said. "I want the kids in school. And I think the more protection there is, the better it is."  Lord also said the public health department did a disservice to the community by taking the vaccines from the clinic.  "If something was done wrong, you know, it should have been just corrected," she said. "People here are not out to do something wrong. They have the best interest of the community in heart. You know?"

Because of the vaccine shortage, public health agencies and providers often have to make tough choices, Jennifer Kates, a public policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told NBC News.  "There’s almost like a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ having to choose between some who’s senior who we know, if they get infected with coronavirus, has a much higher likelihood of getting sick and even dying, or someone who’s a frontline worker that we need in society," she said.

DPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said they gave the clinic 30 minutes notice Tuesday that they were coming to collect the vaccines.

The weekly Elberton Star newspaper was heading to the presses that afternoon when publisher Gary Jones first learned of the raid.  "When I arrived, five unidentified people were in and around the room where TMCE stores its precious Pfizer vaccines," Jones wrote on the newspaper’s website. "When I entered the area, with my press badge clearly visible, I walked up to two men that were part of the party of five and asked them their names. They refused to answer." 

Jones watched as two of the people removed the vaccines from the clinic’s freezer and reported that a woman whose ID badge bore the name Leah Hoffacker confirmed that they were there "by the authority of the DPH."  Hoffacker, according to her LinkedIn profile, is a medical countermeasures program manager at the public health department and her job is to dispense vaccines and medicines during public health emergencies. All the state health workers involved in the raid are members of the department's vaccination distribution team, Nydam said.  As the department investigators secured the vaccines, Jones wrote, the medical center’s office manager, Brooke McDowell, videotaped what was going on.

"Shortly after I arrived, Hoffacker asked McDowell to sign a document stating that TMCE was ‘voluntarily’ allowing this party to remove the vaccines from the ultra-cold freezer," Jones wrote. "McDowell refused to sign the document."

Jones said he asked the public health department workers if they had a warrant or court order and that clinic staffers were "crying" and "pleading" with them not to take the vaccines.  The department workers at that point appeared to reconsider removing the vaccines, Jones wrote. But after he returned to the newspaper to supervise the publication of the new edition, Jones said he was informed that the department workers had removed the vaccines from the premises.  Jones told NBC News he is filing an open records request with the state to identify the other department workers who "ran roughshod in the clinic."
The Medical Center of Elberton has filed an appeal to overturn the suspension, claiming it did not knowingly break any rules or regulations and blamed the error on "a lack of clarification from the state," the NBC affiliate reported.  The confiscated vaccines were redistributed to five other providers in rural Elbert County on the South Carolina border, along with an additional 2,100 doses, the public health department said.  One of them is Madden’s Pharmacy in the town of Elberton, where owner Don Piela told the local NBC News affiliate that they were currently vaccinating about 50 people per day and that confiscating doses from the clinic did not make sense.  "To me, that’s kind of an issue," he said. "It’s sort of like, why would you take the fire trucks away from the fire station and put the firetrucks someplace else?"

The other recipients of the confiscated vaccines are the Elbert County Health Department, Elbert Memorial Hospital, MedLink and a local Ingles grocery store.  The department said, via Nydam, that it stands by its decision to suspend The Medical Center of Elberton and is confident Elbert County residents have and will continue to have more than sufficient local access to vaccine.

Under Georgia’s guidelines, teachers aren’t eligible for the vaccine unless they’re also health care workers, first responders or 65 and older.  But the Medical Center of Elberton began vaccinating school employees last month after administering doses to the high priority workers "but before completing the vaccination of seniors," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in January.  "We’re not going to leave it on the shelf for it to ruin," McDowell told the newspaper last month. "The governor’s asked us to put shots in arms and that’s what we’re doing."  County schools have been open because many of the 3,000 or so children enrolled in the district don’t have internet service, which would allow for virtual learning, and also rely on the schools for food, clinic Dr. J. Daniel McAvoy told the newspaper.  "So we saw it as very important to get our school teachers vaccinated, and stepped out and did that," McAvoy said. "And then we saw the guidance later."

Rep. Andrew Clyde, the newly-elected Republican who represents the county, declined to comment on the vaccine confiscation, his spokesman, Russel Read, said.

Covid-19 vaccinations are already being provided to teachers from kindergarten through high school in 25 states and Washington, D.C., although in some of those states it’s limited to select counties, according to a New York Times survey of vaccination eligibility rules.

In a separate NBC News survey, teachers are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination in 22 different states.  Georgia, however, is not one of those states on either list.

Sitting in a building near the clinic that staffers had turned into a vaccination center, Poon surveyed an empty waiting room that in the days prior to the raid had a steady, but socially distanced, stream of patients showing up for their appointments.  "It’s heartbreaking," the doctor said. "We poured everything in the past few months to try and make this a success."  Early on, Poon said, they invested $7,000 out of their own pockets on an expensive freezer capable of storing the vaccines because they wanted to be part of pandemic solution.

"We were humble," he said. "We did not expect a pat on the back. We thought that this was part of the plan."

Gosk reported from Elberton, Georgia, Strickler from Washington D.C., Cavazuti from New York City and Siemaszko from Montclair, New Jersey.

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AstraZeneca Covid jab 'less effective against South African strain'

Britain has raced ahead of European neighbours with its vaccination drive, including using the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab
Sun, February 7, 2021, 6:27 AM
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine fails to prevent mild and moderate cases of the South African coronavirus strain, according to research reported in the Financial Times.  But in its study, due to be published Monday, the pharma group said it could still have an effect on severe disease -- although there is not yet enough data to make a definitive judgement.  None of the 2,000 participants in the trial developed serious symptoms, the FT said, but AstraZeneca said the sample size was too small to make a full determination.

"We may not be reducing the total number of cases but there is still protection against deaths, hospitalisations and severe disease," said Sarah Gilbert, who led the development of the vaccine with the Oxford Vaccine Group.  It could also be "some time" before they determine its effectiveness for older people in fighting the strain, which is a growing presence in Britain, she told BBC television.  "We might have to put it together from a number of studies."

Researchers are currently working to update the vaccine, and "have a version with the South African spike sequence in the works" that they would "very much like" to be ready for the autumn, said Gilbert.

UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government's strategy to combat the spread of the strain was to continue with its mass vaccination programme "as rapidly as possible" as well as "hyper-local surge testing" in areas where it is detected.

Britain is in the midst of a massive vaccination drive, which it sees as its way out of one of the worst outbreaks in the world that has seen more than 112,000 fatalities among those testing positive for the virus.

It has so far vaccinated over 11 million people using either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/Astrazeneca shots.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been the source of an ugly row with the European Union, which is angry that the Anglo-Swedish firm was unable to meet the delivery target agreed with Brussels.

France, Germany and Switzerland recommend the jab not be used in the elderly due to a lack of data.

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Trump Team Suppressed COVID Tests, Weakened CDC Guidance to Protect President: Report
Barbie Latza Nadeau
Mon, February 8, 2021, 11:13 AM
Tami Chappell via Reuters
Startling documents released Monday point to heavy-handed interference by top Trump administration officials last summer to downplay the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, through suppressed testing results and altered guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reopening businesses and schools.  The documents are the result of a House Oversight investigation launched in September into reports of efforts by Trump political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services to interfere with guidance issued by CDC in order to keep businesses open, even though evidence proved it could cost American lives.

The select subcommittee in charge of the investigation said Monday that it found that HHS officials sought to suppress accurate scientific information they felt could be “use[d] against the president,” according to the documents. They also found that Trump appointees with limited scientific experience “attempted to alter or block at least 13 CDC reports related to the virus.”  Those altered reports are said to have produced a false sense of security pushed by the CDC that allowed businesses and some schools to open, made people feel secure in public places, and downplayed the importance of wearing a mask.

According to one of the documents released, the Trump administration changed the guidance for the “explicit purpose of reducing testing and allowing the virus to spread while quickly reopening the economy.”

On Sept. 11, 2020, for example, top Trump HHS adviser Paul Alexander emailed senior COVID Task Force adviser Scott Atlas about a forthcoming CDC report on deaths in young people, which Alexander claimed that, despite being true, was “very duplicitous to damage the administration.” He tried to engage Atlas to help “craft an op-ed .. disputing the reporting for on face value, it is meant to mislead,” according to the documents.  In the email, which is part of the cache of documents released Monday, Alexander warned, “The timing of this is meant to interfere with school re-opening and we need to get something out fast to preempt this in the next day or so and I can work with you on it.”

Alexander became the focus of public outrage in December when internal emails emerged showing he was pushing top Trump health officials to adopt a “herd immunity” strategy for the U.S. “There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD,” his letter to Trump HHS public-affairs adviser Marc Caputo read. “Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk…. so we use them to develop herd… we want them infected….”[EMPHASIS by Ambergris]

Alexander left HHS in mid-September after reports emerged about his attempts to alter the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.

The new internal emails referred to Monday, according to Oversight Chairman James Clyburn (D-SC), show how the Trump administration took steps to end testing of “asymptomatic infections in low-risk people” because these tests were causing infected people to quarantine, which HHS’ Alexander complained was “preventing the workforce from working” and would not allow schools and colleges to “optimally reopen.”

 

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We want them infected.  As if the young people who don't USUALLY get the fatal symptoms don't pass them on to older people who do.  No wonder the virus spread.  And with more people having been sick, more people have died.

Edited by Ambergris
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Today I was able to go to the head of the line to get the vaccine since I'm in the new 65 years or older catagory. 

 

They are already saying that there isn't enough vaccine to give the second shot to the educators. Yet they want to start vaccinating the healthy-ish elderly. 

 

I'm talking about Ohio. I don't know about the rest of the country. 

 

I'm giving up my place in line so a school teacher can get their second shot. ;)

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