Author Topic: Coronavirus  (Read 15341 times)

Twoapenny

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #570 on: April 04, 2021, 08:40:47 AM »
I was reading an interesting article earlier; apparently the overall death rate here (deaths from all possible causes) is much lower than usual.  They think we've more or less missed flu season (as everyone's been inside and/or masked and keeping distance) and road traffic fatalaties have been a lot lower (again, because people have had to stay home).  There doesn't seem to have been an increase in cancer deaths despite a lot of people not being able to have treatment but they didn't seem to have an idea why that would be.  They do think that a lot of people who would have died by now from other causes died earlier because they caught Covid (5 - 15% of the total deaths, apparently).  I just think it's so sad that people couldn't die with their loved ones by their side and having spent time with their families before hand.  I know lots of doctors, nurses and care home staff have sat with people but it just isn't the same.  I think that's sad.

Johnson is apparently talking about vaccine passports for large events and public places; I have to say I'm confused about that.  I'm not sure if I've missed something but I thought the vaccines aren't known to prevent transmission?  So I'd assume anyone who's worried about catching it would have the jab and anyone who isn't worried is presumably healthy enough to cope with catching it?  So I don't quite get the need to have it enforced for access to public spaces.  But maybe I've missed some info along the way.  Anyway, overall things are looking better, not out of the woods yet but I think it's looking promising now.

Hopalong

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #571 on: April 04, 2021, 09:04:03 AM »
I'm glad it's looking better over there, Tupp!

We're looking at a 4th surge here, and the variants have just arrived. Fairly scary article about those in the Post today...more unknown than known, although they seem confident that vaccines are protective against some of them. The big danger with the political stupidities is that the virus will keep on mutating the longer people don't take the precautions (vaccinated or not). At some point, a mutation may be impervious to the present vaccines, which could throw us back to square one.

My understanding is that the reason even fully vaccinated people now are asked to continue social distancing and masks is that it's as yet unknown whether, even though you may be mostly safe from contracting it yourself once vaccinated, they don't yet know whether you still might be/become an asymptomatic carrier to someone else.

I'm avoiding all crowds for a lot longer. Look forward to eating at outdoor cafes though, as it warms up.

hugs
Hops
PS I agree about how sad Covid deaths apart from family must be.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #572 on: April 04, 2021, 11:15:18 AM »
Hol & I laugh about that day of the week problem. What I'm thinking about doing - since this is a permanent state of things for me is to use a 7 day calendar, following weather forecasts, and plan one task a day, each day. Otherwise I'll just drift between total low energy states and bursts of energy.

Yesterday, I finished planting the first seeds to go in the garden. I have two more weeks of comfortable weather to get my dirt back in shape to plant. Then I have some inside work to do too. I took care of some small mending issues; buttons etc.

It's time to get the second guest room switched out and relocate some stuff in the office - so we can actually share.

Hol's gardening friend said this year, the advice on fruit trees is to wait till fall - there is some kind of fungus or some such going around and decimating spring-planted trees. I already have pears that need pruning; will plant a couple apple & peach trees. It doesn't pay for me to devote too much space for these, since my county is full of orchards. And I want nut trees - hazelnuts, almonds.
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Twoapenny

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #573 on: April 04, 2021, 11:58:19 AM »
The planning according to the weather thing makes sense, Skep, and I guess in some ways it doesn't always matter what day the calendar says it is?  Just that you make the most of getting things done depending on whether it's dry or not, too cold, too hot and so on.  It feels more natural, I think?

CB, I'm really glad that you're getting your jab!  And how nice that you were finally able to see the little ones :)  So cute, I bet they loved that as well.  It's interesting that you guys are being told you don't transmit the virus if you've been vaccinated, over here they've said all along that it won't stop you catching it or passing it on, just that it will reduce your chances of being seriously ill from it.  It is all very confusing.  It doesn't affect us in a practical way; we don't go to big events anyway and we've both been jabbed so it won't matter to us what they decide to do, I just get puzzled sometimes over how some decisions are made.  Plus I wonder what sort of work would need to go into a scheme like that to actually make it work?  It's a lot of information to process.  I will wait and see what happens :)

I had read about a fourth wave and Hopsie, I do think people not doing the mask and keep apart thing is going to cause problems.  People have been flocking to outdoor spaces here; I think the problem is everyone thinks they'll be the only one there and they'll be careful, but then of course everyone else has the same idea and it's impossible to keep space when it's so busy.  Just using the toilet must be a potential problem.  We're still staying home and being very cautious, we're just lucky that we can xx

Hopalong

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #574 on: April 04, 2021, 03:15:13 PM »
I found this Washington Post article on variants really helpful yesterday. Sometimes people get upset about all the "may be" or "could possibly" or "seem to" kinds of caveats but I respect that language. We don't know what we know until we know it.... (My favorite is named the EEEEEK. Not kidding.) Masks forever? Hugs, Hops
---------------------

Viruses are always mutating and taking on new forms. The coronavirus has thousands of variants that have been identified. But several, including variants first found in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, are highly transmissible and have sparked concerns that vaccines may be less effective against them.

The same protective measures that have warded off the virus throughout the pandemic — maintaining social distance, wearing masks and washing our hands — are even more critical in the face of more transmissible variants.


The New York variant (B.1.526)
Where and when was it discovered?
This variant, which was found in samples obtained as early as November, probably emerged in the Washington Heights section of New York, Fauci told reporters in March. By the middle of that month, this variant made up nearly half of the city’s new infections.

Where is it now?
Officials have reported this variant in at least 14 other states, including Texas, Wyoming and Maryland, Bloomberg reported.

What makes it different?
Some scientists are concerned that this variant may be more transmissible than previous versions. Scott Gottlieb, former director of the Food and Drug Administration, expressed worry that a mutation on this variant could enable it to reinfect people who have already had the virus.

Will vaccines work?
This variant seems to have some resistance to existing vaccines, although not as much as the variant first detected in South Africa, Fauci said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” Gottlieb said he was also concerned that this variant could partly elude the effects of vaccination.

The South Africa variant (B.1.351)
Where and when was it discovered?
This mutation, also referred to as 501Y.V2, was found in South Africa in early October and announced in December, when the country’s health minister said the strain seemed to affect young people more than previous strains. This variant may have contributed to a surge of infections and hospitalizations across South Africa.

Where is it?
This mutation has been identified in at least four dozen countries. On Jan. 28, South Carolina officials announced that this variant had affected two people there with no travel history — the first instances of this strain identified in the United States. It has since been found in more than two dozen other states.

What makes it different?
This mutation shares some similarities to the variant first identified in the U.K. and, like that strain, appears to be more transmissible. There is no evidence that it is more lethal. Gottlieb has suggested that this variant might be more resistant to antibody therapies.

There is some evidence that this variant could allow for reinfection: A man in France was in critical condition in mid-February after being infected with this strain four months after he was previously infected with the virus.

Will vaccines work?
The vaccines may have a diminished impact against this variant, but they probably will still be effective, top infectious-diseases expert Anthony S. Fauci said in January. Moderna has said its vaccine protects against the variant first identified in South Africa, with an important caveat: The vaccine-elicited antibodies were also less effective at neutralizing this mutation in a laboratory dish.

Pfizer and BioNTech released their own study, not yet peer-reviewed, that suggests their vaccine effectively neutralizes this variant, though was slightly less effective.

On Jan. 29, Johnson & Johnson said its single-shot vaccine was robustly effective in a massive global trial, but that its protection against sickness was weaker in South Africa. Biotechnology company Novavax has also indicated that its vaccine was significantly less effective during a trial in South Africa.

In South Africa, the distribution of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been halted. The vaccine did not provide sufficient protection against mild and moderate cases caused by a new variant, health officials said.

U.K. variant (B.1.1.7)
Where and when was it discovered?
This variant was first found in the United Kingdom, specifically in London and the nearby county of Kent, in September. It is sometimes referred to as the “Kent” variant. It has been spreading rapidly in Britain, Denmark and Ireland since December.

Where is it?
Dozens of countries, including the United States, have seen infections from this variant of the virus. It is by far the most prevalent variant of concern in the United States, with thousands of cases across the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a model forecast in early January that indicated the variant could become the dominant strain in the United States by some point in March. A recent study showed this variant was spreading rapidly in the United States by early February.

What makes it different?
The variant first identified in the U.K. appears more transmissible than the more common strain. Preliminary data also suggests that this strain may be 30 to 70 percent more lethal than previous mutations.

Will vaccines work?
The scientific consensus is that the vaccines will remain effective against this mutation because those inoculations provoke an array of neutralizing antibodies and other immune-system responses. Biotechnology companies Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax have said their vaccines appear to work against this variant.

Ravindra Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, found in a study of older adults that the immune response triggered by the Pfizer vaccine was modestly less effective against the variant first identified in the U.K.

Related:
Virus variant first detected in the U.K. has been deadlier, study confirms

U.K. coronavirus variant spreading rapidly through United States, study finds

Denmark is sequencing all coronavirus samples and has an alarming view of the U.K. variant

CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant to become dominant in U.S.

 3:20
Some experts fear vaccines may be less effective against strains of the coronavirus that were first found in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.

The ‘Eeek’ mutation (E484K)
Where and when was it discovered?
This might best be described as a mutation within a mutation. It’s called E484K — or “Eeek,” as epidemiologists refer to it — and it’s appearing on some of the variants we describe below. It’s not brand new; it has appeared many times since the start of the pandemic, but experts have been concerned about it. It gained mainstream attention when it started to coincide with other variants that are more contagious.

Where is it?
Eeek has been seen in the variants first discovered in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil. It has also been detected in more than 200 samples of the virus sequenced in the United States since May.

What makes it different?
The Eeek mutation changes the virus’s spike protein, which is what vaccines target. By itself, this mutation does not change the virus significantly. The concern with this mutation is when it’s paired with the other variants, which could help the virus evade detection and make neutralization by the human immune system less efficient.

Will vaccines work?
Scientists are actively trying to answer this question. Clinical trial data have indicated that vaccines were less effective in preventing infections with variants in South Africa featuring the mutation. But the vaccines still dramatically lowered the chance of severe illness or death.

Semi-related to the vaccine question: One study found preliminary evidence that patients in South Africa who had survived an earlier bout with the more common coronavirus were becoming infected a second time — though not severely ill — after exposure to the variant with this mutation.

Related:
Worrisome E484K coronavirus mutation seen in U.K. variant and in some U.S. samples

Brazil variant (P. 1)
Where and when was it discovered?
Sequencing studies found the variant in Brazil, mainly in Rio de Janeiro, as early as July. Researchers in Japan discovered it in travelers from Brazil in January.

Where is it now?
It has been confirmed in more than two dozen countries, including Japan, Spain and New Zealand. On Jan. 25, Minnesota health officials confirmed the first U.S. case of this variant in a resident with recent travel history to Brazil. It has since been found in at least 18 states.

What makes it different?
The variant has more than a dozen alterations, several of which are found on the virus’s spike protein, which binds the virus to a cell. Because of that, researchers think the strain is probably more transmissible. There is also some early evidence that antibodies might not recognize the P.1 variant, which could lead to reinfection.

Will vaccines work?
There’s no strong evidence right now suggesting that vaccines won’t work against the variant first identified in Brazil. However, scientists have raised the possibility that this variant can evade antibodies, which would impact the current vaccines’ effectiveness.

A study of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine published in March determined that it was highly effective at neutralizing the variant found in Brazil. Moderna has announced that it would develop a new vaccine tailored to a similar variant in case an updated shot becomes necessary.

Related:
The Amazonian city that hatched the Brazil variant has been crushed by it

First U.S. case of highly transmissible Brazil coronavirus variant identified in Minnesota


The Denmark/California mutation (L452R)
Where and when was it discovered?
This mutation was detected in Denmark in March.

Where is it now?
A variant with this mutation was found in California this winter and became dominant there over five months, eventually making up more than half of infections in 44 of the state’s 58 counties. This mutation has also been confirmed in several other states.

What makes it different?
There is evidence that this mutation enhances the virus’s ability to bind to human receptor cells, making it more transmissible. Some scientists are urging public-health officials to declare the variant with this mutation circulating in California a “variant of concern,” which would make it the first homegrown variant with this label.

Will vaccines work?
Some scientists think this mutation might make the virus more resistant to vaccines because the mutation is in the spike protein, which enables the virus to attach to cells. But scientists also say that more study is needed before they can draw conclusions.

The original variant (D614G)
Where and when was it discovered?
This mutation, known to scientists simply as “G,” was discovered in China in January 2020. It soon spread through New York City and Europe.

Where is it?
The “G” mutation has become ubiquitous. By July, about 70 percent of the 50,000 genomes of the coronavirus uploaded by researchers worldwide to a shared database carried the variant.

What makes it different?
Some scientists think this mutation is significantly more transmissible than the original strain of the virus. That’s because this variant has four to five times more spikes on its surface. Those spikes enable the virus to latch onto and infect cells. But other scientists still contest the greater transmissibility.

Will vaccines work?
The G variant was the dominant strain when 2020 vaccine trials took place. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showed a 95 percent efficacy in trials.

Related:

Massive genetic study shows coronavirus mutating and potentially evolving amid rapid U.S. spread

British officials identify coronavirus mutations, but significance remains unclear


How can we protect ourselves from the variants?
The same protective measures that have warded off the virus throughout the pandemic — maintaining social distance, wearing masks and washing our hands — are even more critical in the face of more transmissible variants. Those guidelines will simultaneously keep you from becoming ill from one of those variants, while making it harder for the virus to mutate in the first place.

“Viruses don’t mutate unless they replicate,” Fauci said in January.

But it’s also important for scientists to learn as much as they can about these variants, in case there are specific ways we can slow their spread. Until the research exists, we can’t make assumptions about what new variants will do.

What do the variants mean for vaccines?
“We need to get as many people vaccinated with the current vaccine that we have as we possibly can … and prepare for the potential eventuality that we might have to update this vaccine sometime in the future.” — Fauci in January

As more significant variants are reported, the obvious (and arguably most important) question is whether the vaccines will work on them. Some of the mutations have sparked particular concern because they affect the spikes on the virus, which is what the vaccines target.

In short, the pharmaceutical companies are testing new variants against their vaccines and spinning up new trials. Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech can update their vaccines quickly because of their mRNA technology, which can be reprogrammed to target new variants.

Pfizer and Moderna have run tests on the variants and while the vaccines still triggered a response, they appeared to be less effective.

A growing number of scientists anticipate that we will eventually need something similar to the annual flu shot — companies will periodically update their vaccines to match the prevalent coronavirus variants, and we will need to get boosters to stay protected.

“With flu, we need to adapt the vaccines. We can see that already,” said Ravindra Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge. “The companies do realize there is a problem in the longer term, and they will deal with it just as we have done with flu every year.”

Related
New coronavirus variants accelerate race to make sure vaccines keep up

WASHINGTON POST
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Pseudo Mouse

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #575 on: April 07, 2021, 12:28:36 AM »
An older work friend of mine got her vaccine, other than that it's been sorta slow going. I wish all the sites were drive-thru style. It makes the most sense to me at least. Experts that have many unprotected people filing in and out all day long, well that doesn't seem too bright.

I'm not feeling too optimistic about Covid but that's kinda standard for me, seeing the maggots in the cupcakes.

sKePTiKal

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #576 on: April 08, 2021, 12:11:01 PM »
LOLOLOLOL....

that's a new expression to me, Mouse - "maggots in cupcakes" - must be original! I like it!
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Hopalong

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #577 on: April 08, 2021, 01:46:31 PM »
I liked it too.

A lot more colorful than "glass half empty."

:)
Hops
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Twoapenny

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #578 on: April 12, 2021, 08:03:18 AM »
I like the maggots in cupcakes as well :)

I've been reading on the 'Dear Pandemic' website, which I find very helpful (they're a group of all female scientists who are very good at explaining what it's all about in easy to read ways, but with links to all the science stuff so that boffins can read the difficult bits :) ).  They were talking about transmission and saying that the possible bump in the road is that, if people still keep catching it and passing it on to others, whether they're vaccinated or not, there's more chance of further mutations.  And apparently the more mutations there are, the greater the chances that the current vaccines won't work against them and then we're back to square one again.  It made more sense to me than some of the other stuff I've read; I think they just contextualise it in a way that I understand more.

Things are opening up again here; non essential shops and services reopened today so we went into town to go to the library.  It was busy but that's to be expected when everything's been shut for so long.  There were long queues outside the barber shops; I'm not the only one with enormous hair!  It was nice to go and get some new books; I picked up one that has ideas for short walks in the area and thought I'd use that as a guide for son and I to venture a bit further afield now.  But we're still going to be very careful; I still think not catching it is the best way to deal with the situation and I'm sticking to that aim for the time being.

Twoapenny

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #579 on: April 14, 2021, 09:10:51 AM »
I thought I'd cut and paste Hopsie's group discussion topic from her 'On A Break' thread and put it here as it was Pandemic related.  I've been pondering the questions over the last few days:

TOPIC: What Does it Mean to Me? Personal Lessons from the Pandemic

This is about glimpses of meaning that have arisen for us (individually) as a result of all this time alone and/or with changed lives, due to the pandemic.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

1) What have I learned from this experience that has surprised me?
2) What has been the "gift within the problem"? Discoveries, nuances large or small.
3) What has been the hardest part, and what will I ask for now in my life to help me heal from it?

My own thoughts at the moment are:

1)  I've learnt that I don't actually crave lots of friends, business, places to go and people to see.  I'd always thought I felt so very lonely because I didn't have enough in my life.  Now I think it was because I had too much, but not of the right kind of thing.  I've realised that one of the main things I struggle with is endless boredom.  I find my own life boring (because so much of it has to revolve around son)
and I rarely get time to do anything that I enjoy doing (and don't find boring).  So I don't often feel I have much to offer in a conversation, and I don't tend to find other people talking about their lives terribly interesting when that revolves around shopping, booking holidays and arguing with their husbands (and I'm not knocking that, I just don't find it all that interesting).

I've also been surprised by a lot of the people I know.  A lot of them are left wing/New Age/bohemian/hippy types (pick whichever suits best but you get the gist), and generally all very love, peace and equality kind of people.  I've been astonished how quickly the love, peace and unity went out of the window when keeping the elderly and disabled safe meant they couldn't go out and how many of them felt their needs should be prioritised over anyone who was at risk.  I've heard some truly awful comments from some of them (not everyone, of course, but some really shocked me), and I think I became a bit disillusioned by the whole thing.  That surprised me, I thought they'd all be reaching out to help and organising love ins on Facebook but the opposite's been true.

Son has surprised me with how quickly he adapted, how patient he's been with the whole situation and how well he got into the science of it all and wanted to learn more about viruses and vaccines in general.

2)  The gift, I think, has been realising that I want a lot less of what I had before, not a lot more.  Realising that son doesn't need dozens of groups to go to has been a help, as has seeing how much healthier and happier I feel when I'm not out all day and am not rushing about all the time.  Having time to think, read, watch entire films/shows/box sets without falling asleep has been nice.  I like that I've learnt more about science and feel like I understand my own health better now.

3)  The hardest part - hmm.  I think maybe realising how many years I've spent putting other people first instead of prioritising myself.  That's become apparent with all of this staying in (and none of the people I've run round after calling to ask how we are).  I think I've realised how many decisions I've made that haven't been about what I want or need, and I think I realised how little I value myself and what I do.  That's been hard to acknowledge - I guess all the time at home means the usual distractions aren't there and I can't hide behind things.  I guess the lesson to learn from that is to try really hard now to keep this sense of space and stillness and not get sucked back in to doing all the things I used to do.  I think I need to try really hard not to expect things from people or events - just try more to take it as it comes and not read too much into things or dwell too much (I find not dwelling really hard but it's not healthy so I'm really trying to refocus my mind on other things).  I'll add more if I can think of anything else! xx

Twoapenny

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Re: Coronavirus
« Reply #580 on: April 21, 2021, 11:24:58 AM »
Well restrictions are starting to ease here and case numbers are going up, as are the number of deaths.  It does worry me, even with vaccines being rolled out.  What I've read (and this is decent quality scientific stuff, as far as I know) is that (1) the vaccines were tested on fit and healthy people, for obvious reasons, so there won't be clear indications of how effective they are for people with pre existing conditions (like my son) for some time - which could mean they aren't as effective in some people as they are in others.  (2) as I understand it long Covid isn't linked to getting a severe bout (I read of a study in California where 35% of people with long Covid hadn't even known they'd had Covid) - so catching it at all could still mean ending up with longer term health problems, even if you don't get seriously ill with it initially.  And (3), apparently the more it transmits back and forth, particularly across different countries, the more chances there are for it to continue to mutate - which could mean we get to a point where the current vaccines are less effective, or even completely ineffective.  It does worry me, mostly because it just means that I don't feel the risk to myself and son personally has gone away.  It's less risky than it was, but still more risky than the usual day to day things that can happen.  I'd really love to see the numbers staying low.  Just hoping that they don't go through the roof again as the have on each of the previous occasions we've come out of lockdown.