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Fragile Bird

Covid-19 #38: As the Worm Turns

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I think this is a mistake, but my reading of this is that the government thinks that we're basically down to a handful of rule-breaking muppets who won't care what level it is - the task now is finding the muppets. Level 3 is still lockdown, of course.

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My only worry is that level 3 brings out more muppets who weren't quite so muppety as to do flout the rules at level 4, but will think it's OK at level 3.

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Gain of Function being a phrase a lot of people have learned since this year, here is a bit of a read about gain of function from 2015 well before the pandemic sent everyone into a tail spin about virology esp as relates to research on Coronaviruses.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK285579/

Quote

The field of virology, and to some extent the broader field of microbiology, widely relies on studies that involve gain or loss of function. In order to understand the role of such studies in virology, Dr. Kanta Subbarao from the Laboratory of Infectious Disease at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gave an overview of the current scientific and technical approaches to the research on pandemic strains of influenza and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses (CoV). As discussed in greater detail later in this chapter, many participants argued that the word choice of “gain-of-function” to describe the limited type of experiments covered by the U.S. deliberative process, particularly when coupled with a pause on even a smaller number of research projects, had generated concern that the policy would affect much broader areas of virology research.

And this about the ethics of GoF research published 2016

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4996883/

Quote

Abstract

Gain-of-function (GOF) research involves experimentation that aims or is expected to (and/or, perhaps, actually does) increase the transmissibility and/or virulence of pathogens. Such research, when conducted by responsible scientists, usually aims to improve understanding of disease causing agents, their interaction with human hosts, and/or their potential to cause pandemics. The ultimate objective of such research is to better inform public health and preparedness efforts and/or development of medical countermeasures. Despite these important potential benefits, GOF research (GOFR) can pose risks regarding biosecurity and biosafety. In 2014 the administration of US President Barack Obama called for a “pause” on funding (and relevant research with existing US Government funding) of GOF experiments involving influenza, SARS, and MERS viruses in particular. With announcement of this pause, the US Government launched a “deliberative process” regarding risks and benefits of GOFR to inform future funding decisions—and the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) was tasked with making recommendations to the US Government on this matter. As part of this deliberative process the National Institutes of Health commissioned this Ethical Analysis White Paper, requesting that it provide (1) review and summary of ethical literature on GOFR, (2) identification and analysis of existing ethical and decision-making frameworks relevant to (i) the evaluation of risks and benefits of GOFR, (ii) decision-making about the conduct of GOF studies, and (iii) the development of US policy regarding GOFR (especially with respect to funding of GOFR), and (3) development of an ethical and decision-making framework that may be considered by NSABB when analyzing information provided by GOFR risk-benefit assessment, and when crafting its final recommendations (especially regarding policy decisions about funding of GOFR in particular). The ethical and decision-making framework ultimately developed is based on the idea that there are numerous ethically relevant dimensions upon which any given case of GOFR can fare better or worse (as opposed to there being necessary conditions that are either satisfied or not satisfied, where all must be satisfied in order for a given case of GOFR to be considered ethically acceptable): research imperative, proportionality, minimization of risks, manageability of risks, justice, good governance (i.e., democracy), evidence, and international outlook and engagement. Rather than drawing a sharp bright line between GOFR studies that are ethically acceptable and those that are ethically unacceptable, this framework is designed to indicate where any given study would fall on an ethical spectrum—where imaginable cases of GOFR might range from those that are most ethically acceptable (perhaps even ethically praiseworthy or ethically obligatory), at one end of the spectrum, to those that are most ethically problematic or unacceptable (and thus should not be funded, or conducted), at the other. The aim should be that any GOFR pursued (and/or funded) should be as far as possible towards the former end of the spectrum.

 

 

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BioNtech likely to invest in vaccine manafacturing on the African continent.

Although it's happening far slower than most of us would like. From what I've been reading and hearing on the BBC they will be setting up production facilities in 2-3 countries initially.

Here's one article on it, though BBC radio reporting went into more detail about possible sites than this print article.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-28/biontech-weighs-making-covid-shots-in-africa-to-expand-reach

Edited by DireWolfSpirit

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Pfizer shot for 5-11 group found safe and effective.

Quote

Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock and Dr. Peter Marks, director of FDA's Center for Biologics Research and Evaluation, said in a statement this month that the agency would review data for a vaccine for younger children "as quickly as possible, likely in a matter of weeks rather than months," once it was submitted for authorization.

So the target is around Halloween to have shots available for the 5-11 age group.  Further good news is there was no indication of myocarditis in the test group. 

Less good news is the information Pfizer has put out is focusing on antibodies, not overall effectiveness.  The antibody response was good (yay) but the fact that they aren't talking about overall effectiveness means it is probably lower than the ~92+% effectiveness found in the Pfizer vaccine previously.  Which isn't terribly surprising with Delta everywhere, but still a bit unfortunate.  I also wish they would just release the number, so we could know whether it is 85% or 75% or worse. 

But on the whole, I'm glad as hell that this data is coming out and we can finally get some protection for younger kids. 

Edited by Maithanet

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The US will lift it's travel ban on vaccinated travellers from the EU and UK from November.

I must admit I'm quite pleased from a selfish point of view given I'd booked a trip for 2022 to the US a few months ago when there was airline sale thinking it'd definitely be open by then but I've been getting increasingly concerned that wasn't going to be the case. In general though it probably does make sense given Delta has spread widely in both the US and Europe so travel bans are only really much use if there's a new variant to be concerned about.

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25 minutes ago, ljkeane said:

The US will lift it's travel ban on vaccinated travellers from the EU and UK from November.

I must admit I'm quite pleased from a selfish point of view given I'd booked a trip for 2022 to the US a few months ago when there was airline sale thinking it'd definitely be open by then but I've been getting increasingly concerned that wasn't going to be the case. In general though it probably does make sense given Delta has spread widely in both the US and Europe so travel bans are only really much use if there's a new variant to be concerned about.

I have a suspicion that after the submarine debacle with France, there’s so much anger against the US in the EU the administration finally decided to do this. The EU allowed US tourists in months ago and expected reciprocity, but it never came. Canada allowed US cross border traffic, the US hasn’t, probably to keep the border with Mexico closed. And US senators and congress members were making veiled threats against Canada if we didn’t open our borders, so we all expected the US to do the same. Nope.

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2 hours ago, ljkeane said:

The US will lift it's travel ban on vaccinated travellers from the EU and UK from November.

I must admit I'm quite pleased from a selfish point of view given I'd booked a trip for 2022 to the US a few months ago when there was airline sale thinking it'd definitely be open by then but I've been getting increasingly concerned that wasn't going to be the case. In general though it probably does make sense given Delta has spread widely in both the US and Europe so travel bans are only really much use if there's a new variant to be concerned about.

Yeah I'm heading to Florida in November so it makes my life easier!

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Well, NYC has been filled with European tourists all summer, and there appeared to be more than that this weekend!  A couple of them melted down at our local when asked to provide proof of vaccination -- which they didn't have. So how were they able to travel at all?

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12 minutes ago, Zorral said:

Well, NYC has been filled with European tourists all summer, and there appeared to be more than that this weekend!  A couple of them melted down at our local when asked to provide proof of vaccination -- which they didn't have. So how were they able to travel at all?

Not sure about the US requirements, but you can get an EU travel pass based on an antigene quick test……….. 

 

well well, my covid anxiety is soaring. I don’t know if it has to do with the general opinion’s complete lack of care about the pandemic, or the weird hormonal state I’m in, or the work stress or freakish weather or the non-covid germs going around, but I’m a mess. 

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1 hour ago, RhaenysBee said:

my covid anxiety is soaring.

So is mine, my dear, so is mine.  For some reason though, Partner's is not, which contributes to my own anxiety's altitude! :unsure:

So, just learned the US is averaging 2000 covid deaths per day now.

Jesus and his saints weep.

Edited by Zorral

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1 hour ago, Zorral said:

Well, NYC has been filled with European tourists all summer, and there appeared to be more than that this weekend!  A couple of them melted down at our local when asked to provide proof of vaccination -- which they didn't have. So how were they able to travel at all?

Why don’t you ask them? 

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This kind of wording feels increasingly harmful to our situation.

It wasn't the Delta strain per se that is causing an average of 2000 covid deaths here daily, it's because so many jerkwaddies are determined to refuse any safety behaviors at all, to refuse vaccination, and determination to gather together in huge numbers.  Not to mention politicians determined to refuse any sensible actions as part of playing politics to destroy democracy and Democrats.

Quote

In a matter of weeks, the Delta variant upended the relative peace of America’s early summer and ushered in a new set of calculations about risk, masking, and testing. 

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/09/six-ways-think-about-pandemic-now/620129/

If one ignores this, however, a bit at the beginning, the piece itself thoughtfully describes how a thoughtful person can and must shift with ever shifting of the covid infection - vaccination - vulnerability levels and dangers.

Quote

 

 # The people at greatest risk from the virus will keep changing

....Since the pandemic’s early days, vaccines have shifted the risk the virus poses to us, at a community level. Older people and health-care workers were among the first in line for the shots—a practical move to protect the people whose underlying conditions or jobs ranked them among the most vulnerable. But younger members of the community had to contend with a slower schedule, and vaccine makers are still figuring out the correct dosages for the youngest among us. That’s all shifted the virus’s burden down to uninoculated children. At the same time, the virus has been evolving into speedier and speedier forms; by the time Delta slammed the world this spring, many of its most viable hosts were at risk not because of their age or circumstances, but in spite of it.

Read: You might want to wait to get a booster shot

Kids still seem relatively resilient against SARS-CoV-2 compared with adults, as they always have been. But compared with the variants that came before it, Delta is a faster spreader, and therefore a larger threat to everyone who is unvaccinated—which means children are now at greater risk than they were before.

Relative risk will keep shifting, even if the virus somehow stops mutating and becomes a static threat. (It won’t.) ...

 

 

Edited by Zorral

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Someone killed a 20 year old gas station attendant in Germany with a head shot because he did not want to mask properly. He actually wore the mask incorrectly according to the article I read to provoke a reaction. 

Fucking hell...

Edited by Luzifer's right hand

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8 hours ago, Maithanet said:

Less good news is the information Pfizer has put out is focusing on antibodies, not overall effectiveness.  The antibody response was good (yay) but the fact that they aren't talking about overall effectiveness means it is probably lower than the ~92+% effectiveness found in the Pfizer vaccine previously.  Which isn't terribly surprising with Delta everywhere, but still a bit unfortunate.  I also wish they would just release the number, so we could know whether it is 85% or 75% or worse. 

It seems to have been designed that way.

Quote

 

Unlike the larger clinical trial that the drugmakers previously conducted in adults, the 2,268-participant pediatric trial was not primarily designed to measure the vaccine's efficacy by comparing the number of COVID-19 cases in vaccine recipients to those who received a placebo.

Instead, it compares the amount of neutralizing antibodies induced by the vaccine in the children to the response of older recipients in the adult trial.

A Pfizer spokesperson said the companies may later disclose vaccine efficacy from the trial but there have not been enough cases of COVID-19 yet among the participants to make that determination.

 

I'm sure this approach was cleared by the FDA (and other medical bodies).  The main concern (I imagine) with this vaccine was its side-effects on children.  Something like myocarditis as you mention.  But it has passed those tests.  Given it has an immune response similar to older recipients, its very difficult to imagine that it wouldn't be effective also.  Although, how effective is yet to be determined, as you say.

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/pfizerbiontech-say-data-show-covid-19-vaccine-safe-protective-kids-2021-09-20/

I imagine speed comes into play also.  They'd rather get it cleared asap.

Otherwise, even more on Moderna v Pfizer v J&J.  Consistent with previous reports.

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/coronavirus/moderna-vaccine-more-effective-than-pfizer-jj-especially-after-4-months-cdc/3278415/

4 hours ago, Zorral said:

Well, NYC has been filled with European tourists all summer, and there appeared to be more than that this weekend!  A couple of them melted down at our local when asked to provide proof of vaccination -- which they didn't have. So how were they able to travel at all?

Europeans are not allowed to travel directly to the US.  You can go to the Caribbean for 2 weeks and then fly to the US.  Seems a bit much but if you need to visit, its one way to go.

Of course, if Europeans already live in the US, then they can remain in the US.  In other years they may have gone home for the summer though.  This year, they may not have risked that.  So perhaps NYC was a popular alternative.  That is speculative though. :)

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4 minutes ago, Padraig said:

Europeans are not allowed to travel directly to the US.  You can go to the Caribbean for 2 weeks and then fly to the US.  Seems a bit much but if you need to visit, its one way to go.

Of course, if Europeans already live in the US, then they can remain in the US.  In other years they may have gone home for the summer though.  This year, they may not have risked that.  So perhaps NYC was a popular alternative.  That is speculative though.

Thanks you.

This is a guy who didn't need to through the Caribbean, and he sure as hell doesn't live here, though he'd love to be tRump's neighbor guy, you betcha!

Quote

New York pizzeria forces Trump-loving Brazilian president to eat outside after he refused to show proof of vaccination

He might think he's in Mar-a-Largo, since that's how he behaves.  Like we hear increasingly about these matters in the supermarkets, at the restaurants, etc.: Your rules don't apply to me because I don't live here.

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1 hour ago, Padraig said:

It seems to have been designed that way.

I'm sure this approach was cleared by the FDA (and other medical bodies).  The main concern (I imagine) with this vaccine was its side-effects on children.  Something like myocarditis as you mention.  But it has passed those tests.  Given it has an immune response similar to older recipients, its very difficult to imagine that it wouldn't be effective also.  Although, how effective is yet to be determined, as you say.

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/pfizerbiontech-say-data-show-covid-19-vaccine-safe-protective-kids-2021-09-20/

I imagine speed comes into play also.  They'd rather get it cleared asap.

Otherwise, even more on Moderna v Pfizer v J&J.  Consistent with previous reports.

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/coronavirus/moderna-vaccine-more-effective-than-pfizer-jj-especially-after-4-months-cdc/3278415/

Europeans are not allowed to travel directly to the US.  You can go to the Caribbean for 2 weeks and then fly to the US.  Seems a bit much but if you need to visit, its one way to go.

Of course, if Europeans already live in the US, then they can remain in the US.  In other years they may have gone home for the summer though.  This year, they may not have risked that.  So perhaps NYC was a popular alternative.  That is speculative though. :)

At this point effectiveness is not really much of a question, so checking for an antibody response will do the trick to confirm the immune system is recognising and responding, and I guess in the case of the mRNA vaccine the replicating function is working. As you say, most of the work for expanding the vaccine to different demographics (age, pregnancy, breast feeding, pre-existing diseases) is about safety. We already know that vaccination is effective in even under 5s given the age of first receiving the MMR vaccine is 12 months, so there isn't really a question of there being any inherent age factor that would limit effectiveness.

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COVID deaths in the US are set to surpass that from the 1918 pandemic, but it isnt that surprising since in 1920 the US population was only ~ 106 million. Weird thing about statistics, eh?

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