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Thread: COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus pandemic

  1. #1226
    Moderator raisedbywolves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by puzzld View Post
    I've seen that, but Tony Fauci says maybe not. lets hope he's right, cause I don't expect that most people will continue (hell start) being careful once they feel protected.

    And yeah Gnome thinks she's on track to run as well. I hope they all go down in flames. None of them should be trusted with any power whatsoever.
    I hope Fauci is right.

    I just saw this and it made me laugh. I'm sure our illustrious governor is super pissed off!

    Feds plan Florida, Penn. mass Covid vaccination centers as storms slow distribution

    The federal government is opening five new Covid-19 mass vaccination centers in Florida and Pennsylvania, adding to an increasing number of distribution points that aren't being left to state governments to operate.

  2. #1227
    Moderator puzzld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raisedbywolves View Post
    I hope Fauci is right.

    I just saw this and it made me laugh. I'm sure our illustrious governor is super pissed off!

    Feds plan Florida, Penn. mass Covid vaccination centers as storms slow distribution
    Yeah. I saw that and thought about what you said about how your idiot is trying to make points with his people using the vaccines.
    I wish we could shut these aholes down. Your gov, my gov, and all the others.
    Quote Originally Posted by bowieluva View Post
    lol at Nestle being some vicious smiter, she's the nicest person on this site besides probably puzzld. Or at least the last person to resort to smiting.
    Quote Originally Posted by nestlequikie View Post
    Why on earth would I smite you when I can ban you?

  3. #1228
    Senior Member JohnLanders's Avatar
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    The opening testimony Wednesday in support of a legislative effort to allow lawmakers to vote down public health orders went far enough off the rails for YouTube to remove footage of the speaker.

    Tom Renz, an attorney for Ohio Stands Up, filed a lawsuit in federal court in September seeking to overturn any and all health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A federal judge last week deemed the arguments nearly “incomprehensible” and ordered Renz to show cause for why he shouldn’t dismiss the suit for procedural errors.

    The Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom, an anti-vaccine activism group aligned with Renz, posted to YouTube footage of Renz’s 35-minute, oftentimes rambling testimony to the House State and Local Government Committee.

    The video was soon taken down for violating YouTube’s terms of service.

    “We have clear Community Guidelines that govern what videos may stay on YouTube, which we enforce consistently, regardless of speaker,” said Ivy Choi, a spokeswoman for Google, which owns YouTube.

    “We removed this video in accordance with our COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content that claims a certain age group cannot transmit the virus. We do allow material with sufficient educational, documentary, scientific or artistic (EDSA) value.”

    The policy states videos cannot spread medical misinformation that contradicts local health authorities’ or the World Health Organization’s medical information about COVID-19.

    In his testimony, Renz baselessly claimed no Ohioans under the age of 19 have died of COVID-19. Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows 10 children in the age group have died of the disease during the pandemic.

    Similarly, Renz said children can neither contract nor spread COVID-19. He even claimed the CDC says this as well, which is untrue. CDC guidance states children can contract and spread the coronavirus.

    While it’s unclear which specific COVID-19 misinformation from Renz sparked YouTube’s decision, there’s a lot to choose from.

    Renz’s testimony was a firehose of COVID-19 conspiracy theorizing: He said unspecified entities “provide funding for people to find a COVID-19 death;” the ODH “whitewashes” its coronavirus data; that PCR testing, which public health officials consider to be a premier diagnostic, is “garbage” or “absolutely useless.”

    He claimed the lockdown orders of the spring to be “the most drastic curtailment of rights ever taken in American history.” The statement was made without acknowledgement to the enslavement of Black Americans, the mass detention of Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II, the forced relocation of Native Americans, or any number of national atrocities through American history.

    While YouTube removed the footage, Ohio Republican lawmakers praised Renz for the testimony.

    Chairman Scott Wiggam, who has falsely proclaimed that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, praised Renz for bringing “the other side of the data” to the table.

    Rep. Diane Grendell, who without evidence accused ODH of publishing “corrupted” data to a panel of state senators in November, also praised Renz.

    Footage of the hearing is still publicly available on the Ohio Channel, and OAMF has since re-uploaded it to Rumble, which has looser content guidelines.

    Renz made the statement supporting House Bill 90, which would allow lawmakers to vote down public health orders related to the pandemic. A similar version of the proposal passed the Senate earlier this week.

    The lawsuit against ODH was Renz first filing in federal court after passing the bar on his fifth attempt, according to records from the Ohio Supreme Court.

    His “about me” page for his website claims lists no prior legal experience besides serving as a clerk on the Indian Supreme Court. However, in a prior interview, he said he did not remember when he served on the court and said he did not speak Hindi.

    Renz declined to answer questions about his testimony.”

    “This should not be right and left and we should not be fighting over facts,” Renz told lawmakers. “The question I would ask to the people who are saying that I’m incorrect or lying, is who are you working for and how much are you getting paid? Because inevitably, I’m finding they typically are working for someone or getting paid somewhere.”

  4. #1229
    Moderator raisedbywolves's Avatar
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    This is why I stopped shopping at Publix. They are so up in this crap. This is from a couple of weeks ago, and I suspect this is why Biden is bringing in fed gov vaccine clinics to Florida.

    After $100K donation, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis awards contract for supermarket vaccine distribution

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing criticism after deciding this month that he would revoke COVID-19 vaccine access at health centers in Palm Beach County and instead, funnel the states' vaccine supply through Publix, a regional grocery chain. His decision comes just a few weeks after Publix donated $100,000 to his PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis.

    After the county runs out of its current supply, which health officials say will happen early next month, officials confirmed this week that the state would no longer distribute vaccines through Palm Beach's health department and will be giving them directly to Publix. DeSantis says that the county will be a "test site" for the pilot program to funnel the state's vaccines through Publix.

    "I am absolutely disgusted that the governor of this state has 100 percent taken the ability to vaccinate our residents out of the hands of our public health officials and our medical officials and given that authority to a corporate entity," said the county commissioner at a meeting. Palm Beach County has a population of nearly 1.5 million people. Some of the county's residents live 40 miles away from a Publix.

    Florida's vaccine administration has thus far been rocky and, in some ways, discriminatory, some report, and many worry that the distribution of the vaccine through Publix will only cause further disparities. So far, the Miami Herald writes, vaccine administration has favored the wealthy in Florida — the highest vaccination rates are in wealthy counties and the lowest are in the poorer counties. The disparity is wide: in one wealthy oceanfront county, half of the residents have been vaccinated. But in one county where 40 percent of the residents experience poverty, only two percent have been vaccinated.

    There are also disparities along racial lines in vaccine administration in the state. According to data from the state, approximately 4.9 percent of the people who have been vaccinated so far are Black despite Black people making up 16.9 percent of the population. In Palm Beach, Black people make up 3 percent of the vaccinated population and 19.8 percent of the population overall. Nikki Fried, a state official, told NPR that, with regards to the vaccine distribution disparities, "We have seen numbers that should be morally shocking."

    Democratic member of the House of Representatives in Florida Omari Hardy, who represents part of Palm Beach County, expressed his concerns with the decision on Twitter: "There are entire communities that don't have a Publix, communities like the Glades, which is majority Black, rural, and economically depressed. Other Black communities with Publixes, like Riviera Beach in my district, don't have pharmacies at them. So no vaccines there either."

    "The decision to make Publix the sole vaccine distributor in Palm Beach County means that Black people will continue to struggle to gain access to this vaccine. He has to know this," Hardy continued. "This is more evidence DeSantis doesn't care one bit about Black people. Not one bit."

    Three mayors in the county recently wrote a letter to the governor expressing their concern over this decision. "In more affluent communities, none of those distances would be a barrier to getting the vaccine," the mayors wrote. "This is simply unacceptable, and, quite frankly, unconscionable. Placing such a barrier on an already vulnerable, highly underserved population cannot be allowed to happen."

    "When we first started there were people concerned about, really hesitant about taking the shots, skeptical about it," one mayor told HuffPost. "We've been out there knocking on doors letting people know, trying to encourage them to take the vaccine … now they're excited and willing to do this and now they're hearing that they have to go 35-40 miles away."

    DeSantis's office denies that there is any connection between the donation and his decision to exclusively distribute the vaccines to the public via one grocery chain in Palm Beach. However, many Florida residents have been left with unanswered questions about why he's chosen to do it. Some have pointed out that even opening availability to other pharmacy chains like Walgreens — which has donated less to DeSantis's campaign than Publix — would be helpful.

    Calculating by what Medicare pays per patient to providers of the COVID-19 vaccine, $45.33, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website, Publix stands to make more than $9 million.

    Quite a return on their $100,000 investment on DeSantis.

    This is, plain and simple, dirty pay-to-play politics — corruption made possible by having a manipulative governor who kept COVID-19 infection data secret and is now doing the same with vaccine distribution as people struggle to get appointments.
    Read Next
    Amid widespread infection, Florida Gov. DeSantis fails on COVID vaccine, too | Opinion
    January 13, 2021 6:00 AM

    The Publix donation should be investigated and sanctioned, and would be, if only law and order in Florida extended to elected officials. But we live in a state where the governor, elected by a very thin margin, thinks of himself as an emperor of sorts, not accountable to the public.

    There’s no transparency in a state once known for its open government.

    The governor doesn’t even allow his surgeon general to answer questions at press conferences that are motivated, not by public interest, but by DeSantis’ public-relations needs. He isn’t working for us, but on behalf of his reelection campaign.

    And this is exactly the type of politician Publix aids and abets by financing their careers.
    Last edited by raisedbywolves; 02-22-2021 at 10:00 AM.

  5. #1230

  6. #1231
    Senior Member JohnLanders's Avatar
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    . Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began and antivaxxers made common cause with COVID-19 cranks, deniers, and conspiracy theorists, I?ve been repeating a simple message: Everything old is new again. The pandemic has resulted in a lot of scientists and other people paying attention to the antivaccine movement in a way that they never have before. Many of these newbies have been amazed at some of the antivaccine misinformation and disinformation that have been spread about the new COVID-19 vaccines. False antivax claims about these vaccines include a veritable antivax ?greatest hits? of pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, and distortions, a veritable playbook of claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill, cause miscarriages and/or infertility, cause autoimmune disease, ?permanently alter your DNA?, are unnecessary because COVID-19 is not dangerous, that the number of cases are exaggerated, and that the vaccines are filled with ?toxins? (in the case of the mRNA vaccines, the lipid nanoparticles used to encapsulate the mRNA coding for COVID-19 spike protein). Now two more famous antivax claims from the past are popping up in my social media feeds, and they are related. I?m referring to the false claim that the COVID-19 vaccines cause prion disease and that they cause Alzheimer?s disease. We have ?immunologist? Dr. J. Bart Classen to thank for this disinformation and antivaxxers like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for spreading it.

    First, let?s show how his claim is yet another example of my adage regarding disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine that ?everything old is new again?.

    Vaccines and Alzheimer?s disease: A brief history
    One of the earliest antivaccine claims that I ever dealt with was a rather specific claim about the influenza vaccine. I first encountered it when Bill Maher parroted it in an interview with Larry King on Larry King Live, way back in December 2005. (Yes, you read that correctly, 2005.) I think it?s useful to recount what Maher said in this exchange:

    MAHER: I?m not into western medicine. That to me is a complete scare tactic. It just shows you, you can?

    KING: You mean you don?t get a ? you don?t get a flu shot?

    MAHER: A flu shot is the worst thing you can do.

    KING: Why?

    MAHER: Because it?s got ? it?s got mercury.

    KING: It prevents flu.

    MAHER: It doesn?t prevent. First of all, that?s?

    KING: I haven?t had the flu in 25 years since I?ve been taking a flu shot.

    MAHER: Well, I hate to tell you, Larry, but if you have a flu shot for more than five years in a row, there?s ten times the likelihood that you?ll get Alzheimer?s disease. I would stop getting your?

    KING: What did you say?

    MAHER: That went better in rehearsal but it was still good. Absolutely, no the defense against disease is to have a strong immune system. A flu shot just compromises your immune system.

    Where did the claim that getting a flu shot more than five years in a row increases your risk of someday developing Alzheimer?s disease originate? While I?m not sure where the claim that the flu shot predisposes to Alzheimer?s disease truly originated, but I?m pretty sure that the specific claim about five years? worth of flu shots increasing the risk of Alzheimer?s disease by ten-fold came from. At the time, a search on that hoary old crank and conspiracy theory website quickly revealed this gem from a conference held by the antivaccine group National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) in 1997:

  7. #1232
    Senior Member JohnLanders's Avatar
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    WASHINGTON (AP) — Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against severe COVID-19, according to an analysis released Wednesday by U.S. regulators that sets the stage for a final decision on a new and easier-to-use shot to help tame the pandemic.

    The long-anticipated shot could offer the nation a third vaccine option and help speed vaccinations by requiring just one dose instead of two. Food and Drug Administration scientists confirmed that overall the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, and about 85% effective against the most serious illness. The agency also said J&J’s shot is safe.

    The analysis is just one step in the FDA’s evaluation. On Friday, the agency’s independent advisers will debate if the evidence is strong enough to recommend the shot. With that advice, the FDA is expected to make a final decision within days.

    The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. topped 500,000 this week, and the vaccination drive has been slower than hoped, hampered by logistical and weather delays. So far, about 44.5 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine made by Pfizer or Moderna, and nearly 20 million of them have received the second dose required for full protection.

    Tests showed the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 95% effective at protection against symptomatic COVID-19.

    Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is part of the FDA advisory panel that will scrutinize the J&J data on Friday and cautions that none of the vaccines have been directly compared. Still, he was encouraged that one dose of the J&J vaccine appears as good at preventing serious illness as its two-dose competitors.

    “This is a vaccine to prevent you from going to the hospital and dying at a level that’s certainly comparable” to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, he said.

    J&J tested its single-dose option in 44,000 adults in the U.S., Latin America and South Africa. Different mutated versions of the virus are circulating in different countries, and the FDA analysis cautioned that it’s not clear how well the vaccine works against each variant. But J&J previously announced that the vaccine 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.

    – Ghana 1st nation to receive coronavirus vaccines from COVAX
    – 2 hard-hit cities, 2 diverging fates in vaccine rollout
    – FDA says single-dose shot from J&J prevents severe COVID
    Still, South Africa recently began giving the J&J vaccine to front-line health workers on a test basis after deciding that a vaccine from rival AstraZeneca had not shown strong enough study results.

    Across all countries, Wednesday’s analysis showed protection began to emerge about 14 days after vaccination. But by 28 days after vaccination, there were no hospitalizations or deaths in the vaccinated group compared with 16 hospitalizations and seven deaths in study recipients who received a dummy shot.

    The FDA said effectiveness and safety were consistent across racial groups, including Black and Latino participants.

    All of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines have been tested differently, making comparisons nearly impossible. It would not be surprising if one dose turned out to be a little weaker than two doses, and policymakers will decide if that’s an acceptable trade-off to get more people vaccinated faster.

    J&J has another large study underway to see if a second dose of its vaccine works better, raising the prospect that countries could eventually add a booster if one turned out to be warranted.

    Like other COVID-19 vaccines, the main side effects of the J&J shot are pain at the injection site and flu-like fever, fatigue and headache. No study participant experienced the severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, that is a rare risk of some other COVID-19 shots, although one experienced a less serious reaction.

    The FDA said there were no serious side effects linked to the vaccine so far, although it recommended further monitoring for blood clots. In the study, those were reported in about 15 vaccine recipients and 10 placebo recipients, not enough of a difference to tell if the vaccine played any role.

    J&J was on track to become the world’s first one-dose option until earlier this month. Mexico announced it would use a one-dose version from China’s CanSino, which is made with similar technology as J&J’s shot but initially was developed as a two-dose option until beginning a one-dose test in the fall.

    The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines now being used in the U.S. and numerous other countries must be kept frozen, while the J&J shot can last three months in a refrigerator, making it easier to handle. AstraZeneca’s vaccine — widely used in Europe, Britain and Israel — is made similarly and also requires refrigeration but takes two doses.

    Full Coverage: Coronavirus vaccine
    If the FDA clears the J&J shot for U.S. use, it will not boost vaccine supplies significantly right away. Only a few million doses are expected to be ready for shipping in the first week. But J&J told Congress this week that it expected to provide 20 million doses by the end of March and 100 million by summer.

    European regulators and the World Health Organization also are considering J&J’s vaccine. Worldwide, the company aims to produce around a billion doses by the end of the year.


    Associated Press video producer Kathy Young contributed to this report.


    The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

  8. #1233
    Moderator raisedbywolves's Avatar
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    The Florida official who set up a vaccine site for affluent ZIP codes and created a VIP list is under investigation, sheriff's office says

    A Florida sheriff's office is investigating whether a Manatee County official broke the law when she organized a Covid-19 vaccine drive limited to two of the county's most affluent ZIP codes.
    The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said it has launched the investigation after a citizen watchdog filed a complaint regarding County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who last week admitted she chose the ZIP codes herself and also selected some people for the vaccination list, so she and others could access the Covid-19 vaccine.

    In a complaint to the sheriff's office, Michael Barfield, a paralegal consultant and resident of neighboring Sarasota County, said Baugh, who chairs the commission, may have violated three statutory provisions, including misuse of her public position.

    "When Baugh inserted individuals and herself on a Covid-19 vaccine distribution list she acted contrary to the adopted Vaccine Standby Pool and used her official position to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for herself and others," which could constitute misuse of her government position, Barfield, who also is president of the executive committee of the Florida ACLU board, wrote in the complaint.

    The sheriff's office is examining the complaint line-by-line, Public Information Officer Randy Warren told CNN.

    CNN reached out Wednesday to Baugh's office regarding the investigation and has not heard back.

    Baugh said DeSantis requested the vaccine drive
    Baugh, chair of the Board of County Commissioners and a staunch supporter of Gov. Ron DeSantis, said the "pop-up" vaccine drive was initiated by the Republican governor after he spoke with Rex Jensen, a real estate developer and CEO of the parent company of Lakewood Ranch, the community where the vaccine drive was organized.

    The commissioner said in a meeting last week that it was "(her) idea" to choose the two ZIP codes in the county whose residents were permitted to get vaccinated at the vaccine drive, though she didn't explain her rationale.

    The governor has been criticized for the "pop-up" vaccination sites he has organized around the state. At a news conference Tuesday, he referred to the criticism as an "attack" on him for "vaccinating seniors."

    "When we visit these communities where we were able to do it, they're so, so thankful," DeSantis said.

    Baugh apologized last week for organizing the drive but then said she'd "do exactly what (she) did this time" if presented with the same opportunity.

    The so-called VIP list was mentioned in emails from Baugh obtained by CNN and the Bradenton Herald was the first to report. The few members who were on the list were qualified to receive the vaccine, but by joining the list, Baugh guaranteed they'd skip the line, CNN reported last week.

    Manatee County had previously been lauded by DeSantis for its effectiveness at vaccinating people and standing up one of the first drive-thru vaccination programs in the US. Last week, the governor threatened to withhold additional doses from the county after Baugh was criticized. He has not criticized Baugh or her methodology in organizing his vaccine drive.

    Outraged residents call her actions shameful
    Residents of Manatee County fumed at Baugh for her actions and some called for her resignation in emails to the official, obtained by CNN through a public records request.

    "My blood has been boiling over this elitist vaccine event," wrote one resident, in an email dated February 18. "We all appreciate the extra vaccines but to single out 2 zip codes to receive it smacks of politics, favoritism, elitism and racism. That is the issue."

    Baugh responded to at least one of the residents who emailed her.

    In one email dated February 17, a county resident wrote, "So, since I live in the wrong zip code I need to wait on a vaccine. SHAME ON YOU."

    "I'm not ashamed!" Baugh wrote back. "Quite the contrary, the Manatee registry was reduced by 3000 people and Manatee is busy calling to fill 5200 spaces for the vaccine... This is a win for Manatee thanks to Gov DeSantis..."

    One resident, who said they lived in one of the two zip codes Baugh selected for the drive, thanked Baugh in an email and said she "did her job."

    Amid calls for her resignation, Baugh provided a statement on Monday to CNN Sarasota affiliate WWSB.

    "I have apologized to my constituents and my colleagues for a lapse in judgment," she wrote, according to WWSB. "These petty partisan political calls are nothing more than the divisive politics our Nation needs to steer away from. I will continue working to bring more vaccine to Manatee County and lead us through this pandemic."

    The county commission, by a 4-3 vote on Tuesday, rejected a motion asking Baugh to resign as chairman.

  9. #1234
    Moderator raisedbywolves's Avatar
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    We can thank all the people not wearing masks and congregating for another variant.

    Researchers find worrying new coronavirus variant in New York City

    Two separate teams of researchers said this week they have found a worrying new coronavirus variant in New York City and elsewhere in the Northeast that carries mutations that help it evade the body's natural immune response -- as well as the effects of monoclonal antibody treatments.

    Genomics researchers have named the variant B.1.526. It appears in people affected in diverse neighborhoods of New York City, they said, and is "scattered in the Northeast."

    One of the mutations in this variant is the same concerning change found in the variant first seen in South Africa and known as B.1.351. It appears to evade, somewhat, the body's response to vaccines, as well. And it's becoming more common.

    "We observed a steady increase in the detection rate from late December to mid-February, with an alarming rise to 12.7% in the past two weeks," one team, at Columbia University Medical Center, write in a report that has yet to be published, although it is scheduled to appear in pre-print version this week.

    It's the latest of a growing number of viral variants that have arisen in the US, which has had more coronavirus cases -- 28 million -- than any other country and where spread is still intense.

    It's "home grown, presumably in New York," Dr. David Ho, Director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia, who led the study team, said by email.

    Viruses mutate all the time. The more people who are infected, and the longer they are infected, the more chance the viruses have to change. A patient's body will be loaded with billions of copies of a virus, and may will be slightly changed, or mutated. Most will come and go.

    But sometimes a mutation or pattern of mutations takes hold and gets passed along. If viruses with such patterns become more common, they're called variants. Again, it's not unusual for variants to arise but if they give the virus worrying properties, such as better transmissibility or the ability to evade treatments and vaccines, that's when doctors start to worry.

    The mutation in this variant that most concerns researchers is called E484K and it gives the virus the ability to slip past some of the body's immune response, as well as the authorized monoclonal antibody treatments. This mutation is popping up independently in many different cases but appears in one particular variant, as well -- the one called B.1.526.

    "It is this novel variant that is surging, alarmingly, in our patient population over the past few weeks," the Columbia team wrote in a copy of their report provided to CNN.

    "We find the rate of detection of this new variant is going up over the past few weeks. A concern is that it might be beginning to overtake other strains, just like the UK and South African variants," Ho told CNN.

    "However, we don't have enough data to firm up this point now."

    But the E484K mutation is seen in at least 59 different lineages of coronavirus, they said -- which means it is evolving independently across the nation and across the world in a phenomenon known as convergent evolution. It may give the virus an advantage.

    "Everything we know about this key mutation suggests that it appears to escape from antibody pressure," Ho said.

    Separately, a team at the California Institute of Technology said they developed a software tool that also spotted the rise of B.1.526 in New York. "It appears that the frequency of lineage B.1.526 has increased rapidly in New York," they wrote in a pre-print -- a report that has not been peer-reviewed but has been posted online.

    On Tuesday, two teams reported on another variant that appears to be on the rise in California.

    They fear that the variant might not only be more contagious, but may cause more severe disease, as well. As with the New York reports, their research is in its very early stages, has not been published or peer reviewed, and needs more work.

  10. #1235
    Senior Member JohnLanders's Avatar
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    California Variant of SARS-Cov-II reported

    A new coronavirus variant that was first identified in California is now taking hold in some parts of the state—but what do we currently know about it?

    The variant actually comes in two forms, known as B.1.427 and B.1.429, both of which carry a similar, albeit slightly differing, set of genetic mutations—including three that affect the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

    The spike protein enables the virus to bind on to and enter human cells. One of the mutation that B.1.427 and B.1.429 carry—dubbed L452R—is thought to increase the infectivity of the virus.

    For their study, the researchers examined 2,172 SARS-CoV-2 virus samples collected from patients in 44 California counties between September 1, 2020, and January 29, 2021, according to Science. The scientists found that the prevalence of the variant among the samples increased drastically from zero to more than 50 percent over this time period.

    The UCSF researchers also say that cases caused by the variant are now doubling every 18 days, the Times reported.

    The scientists say their data indicates that B.1.427/B.1.429 is more transmissible than the original virus while also being associated with more severe disease—although more research needs to be conducted before either of these conclusions can be confirmed.

    "This variant is concerning because our data shows that it is more contagious, more likely to be associated with severe illness, and at least partially resistant to neutralizing antibodies," senior author of the study Charles Chiu, an infectious diseases physician at UCSF, told Science.

    In fact, the authors wrote in the study that B.1.427/B.1.429 "should likely be designated a variant of concern warranting urgent follow-up investigation," based on the available evidence.

    Evidence to suggest that the variant is more contagious comes, in part, from the finding that people infected with it had about twice as much of the virus in their nose compared to others, which could make them more infectious, according to Science.

    Robert Schooley, an infectious disease expert at UC San Diego, who was not involved in the research, told Science: "The biology of having a higher level of virus... would certainly fit the thesis that people would not do as well."

    Other epidemiological data from nursing home and household settings collected by UCSF researchers supports the hypothesis of higher transmissibility, although B.1.427/B.1.429 may not be as infectious as other variants, such as B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the U.K. and has spread widely across the United States.

    "I'm increasingly convinced that this one is transmitting more than others locally," William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was not involved in the research, told the Times. "But there's not evidence to suggest that it's in the same ballpark as B.1.1.7."

    Data from the study regarding COVID-19 patients found an association between B.1.427/B.1.429 and more severe disease. Among more than 300 people with COVID-19 who were cared for at UCSF clinics or its medical center, those infected with the variant were 4.8 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU and 11 times more likely to die than patients with other variants, the study found, according to Science.
    But the authors admit it is not possible to conclude from these figures that the variant actually causes more severe disease.

    "If I were a reviewer, I would want to see more data from more infected people to substantiate this very provocative claim," David O'Connor, a virus expert from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who was also not involved in the research, told Science.

    Hanage told Science that, unlike the UCSF scientists, he does not believe B.1.427 and B.1.429 should be categorized as variants of concern based on their study alone.

    "The work is definitely worth reporting, but I don't buy that on its own this is sufficient to categorize these as variants of concern," Hanage told Science.

    He also told the Times that B.1.427/B.1.429 is "not as big a deal as the others." B.1.1.7, for example, has tended to explode rapidly in new countries where it appears, whereas this does not appear to be the case with B.1.427/B.1.429.

    Chiu told the Times that it's possible B.1.427/B.1.429 could surpass B.1.1.7 in California, but only time would tell.

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