Written by Steven Hansen
The U.S. new cases 7-day rolling average is 27.7 % HIGHER than the 7-day rolling average one week ago. U.S. deaths due to coronavirus are now 45.7 % HIGHER than the rolling average one week ago. U.S. hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are now 8.2 % HIGHER than the rolling average one week ago. Today’s posts include:
- U.S. Coronavirus New Cases are at a near-record 215,860
- U.S. Coronavirus deaths are at a near-record 2,546
- U.S. Coronavirus hospitalizations are at a record 104,600
- The 7-day rolling average rate of growth of the pandemic shows new cases worsened, hospitalizations again marginally improved, and deaths improved [note that there was the usual under-reporting over holiday periods and over-reporting for days after the holiday ends which is the surge we are now seeing.]
- China’s coronavirus vaccine has 86% efficacy in UAE trial
- Studies suggest AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safe, effective
- Unvaccinated Kids Healthier Than The Vaccinated
- Very inconsistent – 2 allergic reactions in the UK to COVID-19 vaccine puzzle researchers
- The Trump administration is requiring states to submit personal data – including names, birth dates, and addresses – of Covid-19 vaccine recipients
- Mask Wearing Causing Increase In Bacterial Pneumonias
- Crimped U.S. dry ice supply complicates rural U.S. vaccine release
- A Danish study found that people with elevated levels of PFBA were more than twice as likely to have a severe form of Covid-19
- US to pay more than 9,000 nursing homes for controlling coronavirus infections
The recent worsening of the trendlines for new cases should be attributed to going back to college/university, cooler weather causing more indoor activities, possible mutation of the virus, fatigue from wearing masks / social distancing, holiday activities, political rallies / voting, and continued loosening of regulations designed to slow the coronavirus spread.
My continuing advice is to continue to wash your hands (especially after using the toilet as COVID first sheds in your stool), putting down the toilet seat (as flushing the toilet releases a plume), wear masks, avoid crowds, and maintain social distancing. No handwashing, mask, or social distancing will guarantee you do not get infected – but it sure as hell lowers the risk in all situations – and the evidence to-date shows a lower severity of COVID-19. In addition, certain activities are believed to carry higher risk – like being inside in air conditioning and removing your mask (such as restaurants, around your children/grandchildren, bars, and gyms). It is all about viral load – and outdoor activities are generally safe if you can maintain social distance.
Hospitalizations (grey line) and Mortality (green line)
The Impact of Thanksgiving
The 4 day Thanksgiving holiday period put a wobble in the trends. Over weekends and holidays, the number of new cases and deaths decline. Over weekends, this is not a problem for week-over-week rolling averages as weekends are compared against the previous weekend. But when a holiday falls within a working week, a non-working day is compared to a working day which causes havok in the trends. However, hospitalizations historically appear to be little affected by weekends or holidays – the daily counts do not vary significantly from day-to-day [although they are now in record territory and the raw numbers grow every day].
The hospitalization growth rate so far is little changed over the past week which is not good news as it means the number of beds needed is growing at 10% every week.
The above graph demonstrates in the last week hospitalization rate of growth has been steady. But what we do NOT know right now is the size of the impact of commingling and travel over the Thanksgiving holiday period. The CDC says it will have caused a significant growth in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Historically, hospitalization growth follows new case growth by one to two weeks. That means this week we will be able to measure the impact of Thanksgiving on the spread of COVID-19.
As an analyst, I use rate of growth to determine the trend. But, the size of the pandemic is growing in terms of real numbers – and if the rate of growth does not become negative – the pandemic will overwhelm all resources.
The graph below shows the rate of growth relative to the growth a week earlier updated through today [note that negative numbers mean the rolling averages are LOWER than the rolling averages one week ago]. As one can see, the rate of growth for new cases peaked over one month ago and the rate of growth has been decelerating.
This graph is currently demonstrating that the recent actions to contain the pandemic were beginning to bite – but have now been impacted by Thanksgiving. In the scheme of things, new cases decline first, followed by hospitalizations, and then deaths.
It is up to each of our readers to protect themselves and others by washing your hands, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, and maintaining social distancing.
Coronavirus News You May Have Missed
China’s coronavirus vaccine has 86% efficacy in UAE trial – Seeking Alpha
- Vaccine headlines continue to pour following V-Day in the U.K., brighter news on the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) jab and the possibility of mandatory vaccinations for New Yorkers.
- The latest? China’s state-backed coronavirus vaccine, developed by Sinopharm (OTCPK:SHTDF), was found to have protected 86% of people against COVID-19 in trials conducted on 31,000 volunteers in the UAE.
- The vaccine has already been administered to hundreds of thousands of people under emergency authorization in China, but it’s yet to receive public use approval from any drug regulators.
- Unlike shots developed from Pfizer and Moderna – which have over 94% efficacy – but rely on mRNA and deep freeze facilities, China’s vaccine is based on an inactivated virus and can be transported at normal refrigerated temperatures.
- That makes it an attractive option for nations without sophisticated cold-chain infrastructure and developing countries like Indonesia and Pakistan have already signed deals for the vaccine.
New results on a possible COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca suggest it is safe and about 70% effective, but questions remain about how well it may help protect those over 55 — a key concern for a vaccine that health officials hope to rely on around the world because of its low cost, availability and ease of use.
Still, experts say the vaccine seems likely to be approved, despite some confusion in the results and lower levels of protection than what some other vaccine candidates have shown.
“What we can see looks reasonable, but it’s a bit more complicated than what we’ve seen so far,” said Dr. Buddy Creech, a Vanderbilt University researcher helping to test two other vaccines. “If this had been the first report out, the field would have still been excited to have a vaccine.”
The medical journal Lancet on Tuesday published partial results from tests of the vaccine in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa — safety results on 23,745 participants and protection levels on 11,636.
They’re hard to interpret because a mistake led some participants to get a half dose followed by a full one rather than two full doses as intended.
Researchers claim the vaccine protected against disease in 62% of those given two full doses and in 90% of those initially given the half dose. However, independent experts have said the second group was too small — 2,741 people — to judge the possible value of that approach and that more testing is needed.
The half-dose group also didn’t include anyone over 55, and among others in the study, only about 12% were in that age group. Older people also were enrolled later, so there hasn’t been enough time to see whether they develop infections at a lower rate than those not given the vaccine.
It’s unclear if the results will be enough to lead regulators in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to approve its use right away.
“We have no safety concerns about the vaccine,” with no hospitalizations or severe disease among those who received it, and results from all study locations consistently showing benefit, said one study leader, Oxford’s Andrew Pollard.
Unvaccinated pediatric patients are healthier overall than the vaccinated – International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
We performed a retrospective analysis spanning ten years of pediatric practice focused on patients with variable vaccination born into a practice, presenting a unique opportunity to study the effects of variable vaccination on outcomes. The average total incidence of billed office visits per outcome related to the outcomes were compared across groups (Relative Incidence of Office Visit (RIOV)). RIOV is shown to be more powerful than odds ratio of diagnoses. Full cohort, cumulative incidence analyses, matched for days of care, and matched for family history analyses were conducted across quantiles of vaccine uptake. Increased office visits related to many diagnoses were robust to days-of-care-matched analyses, family history, gender block, age block, and false discovery risk. Many outcomes had high RIOV odds ratios after matching for days-of-care (e.g., anemia (6.334), asthma (3.496), allergic rhinitis (6.479), and sinusitis (3.529), all significant under the Z-test). Developmental disorders were determined to be difficult to study due to extremely low prevalence in the practice, potentially attributable to high rates of vaccine cessation upon adverse events and family history of autoimmunity. Remarkably, zero of the 561 unvaccinated patients in the study had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) compared to 0.063% of the (partially and fully) vaccinated. The implications of these results for the net public health effects of whole-population vaccination and with respect for informed consent on human health are compelling. Our results give agency to calls for research conducted by individuals who are independent of any funding sources related to the vaccine industry. While the low rates of developmental disorders prevented sufficiently powered hypothesis testing, it is notable that the overall rate of autism spectrum disorder (0.84%) in the cohort is half that of the US national rate (1.69%). The practice-wide rate of ADHD was roughly half of the national rate. The data indicate that unvaccinated children in the practice are not unhealthier than the vaccinated and indeed the overall results may indicate that the unvaccinated pediatric patients in this practice are healthier overall than the vaccinated[editor’s note: I am not an anti-vac person – but I believe information is important to making rational decisions. As far as I know, the CDC is responsible to conduct safety studies on children’s vaccinations every two years – and has failed to do so.]
Bacterial Pneumonias Are on the Rise from Mask Wearing – Global Research
Dr. James Meehan, MD warning that mask-wearing has “well-known risks that have been well-studied and they’re not being discussed in the risk analysis.
“I’m seeing patients that have facial rashes, fungal infections, bacterial infections. Reports coming from my colleagues, all over the world, are suggesting that the bacterial pneumonias are on the rise.
“Why might that be? Because untrained members of the public are wearing medical masks, repeatedly… in a non-sterile fashion… They’re becoming contaminated. They’re pulling them off of their car seat, off the rearview mirror, out of their pocket, from their countertop, and they’re reapplying a mask that should be worn fresh and sterile every single time.”
Two British people with severe allergies apparently had allergic reactions to Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, raising questions about whether it is safe for people with preexisting allergies.
In response, British regulators advised those with severe allergies to avoid the vaccine.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the allergic reactions. There are no preservatives or animal products in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which have been known to trigger reactions with other types of vaccines.
Allergic reactions were not a significant problem in the U.S. trial in which more than 20,000 people have received both two doses of the vaccine, but the U.S. trials probably kept out subjects who have had severe allergic reactions, said Moncef Slaoui, co-head of Operation Warp Speed – the government program tasked with developing, manufacturing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines.
… “If you start issuing recommendations that anyone with an EpiPen doesn’t get vaccinated, that could be a showstopper for Americans,” he [Dr. Peter Hotez, a pediatrician and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston] said. About 3 to 4 million Americans carry epinephrine with them at all times in case of allergic reactions, Hotez noted, and 50 million have less severe allergies.
Hotez was confused by the allergic reaction, which was not predicted by trials in tens of thousands of people.
As health officials from rural areas prepare to vaccinate people scattered over thousands of miles in what could be the most complex such campaign in U.S. history, they face the additional challenge of finding enough dry ice to keep a Pfizer vaccine that must be stored at sub Arctic temperatures from spoiling.
The vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE could be authorized for emergency use as soon as this week and must be transported and stored at -70 degrees Celsius (minus 94°F), requiring specialized ultra-cold freezers or dry ice.
More than a dozen U.S. states, including Washington, New Mexico, Mississippi, Louisiana and Indiana, told Reuters they are rushing to secure dry ice to replenish suitcase-sized shipping containers from Pfizer. Once opened, if being used as temporary storage by a vaccination center, the vaccines can last a total of 30 days with re-icing every five days, Pfizer said.
The company said it believes there is sufficient dry ice supplies to serve the needs of all 50 states without serious constraints.
… Pfizer sends its vaccine in pizza box-sized minimum lots of just under 1,000 doses, along with a dry ice refill to last a total of five days.
After the added time it takes getting vaccines to rural communities, “is that sufficient time for them to turn around and vaccinate folks?” asked Soumi Saha, vice president of advocacy at Premier Inc, which coordinates purchases for thousands of U.S. hospitals and health systems.
“Are they going to say, ‘Hey, you don’t even have enough people, you’re just gonna waste it’?” she added. “Does that mean that you have these vacuums throughout the country where people don’t even have access, because of that concern?”
On the afternoon of Sept. 8, AstraZeneca officials had a conference call with the Food and Drug Administration. The discussion covered important ground: What would AstraZeneca need to do to win the F.D.A.’s blessing for the coronavirus vaccine it was developing with the University of Oxford?
But the AstraZeneca representatives neglected to mention a crucial development: Two days earlier, the company had quietly halted trials of its vaccine around the world, including a late-stage study in the United States. It acted after a participant in Britain fell ill.
A few hours after the conference call, the story broke about the halted trials. That was how key F.D.A. officials heard the news, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
The F.D.A.’s commissioner, Dr. Stephen Hahn, was stunned by AstraZeneca’s failure to disclose the halt to regulators, one of the people said. The U.S. government had pledged more than $1 billion to AstraZeneca to finance the development and manufacturing of its vaccine and to supply the United States with 300 million doses if it proved effective. F.D.A. regulators expected to be kept in the loop.
… The result is that a vaccine that was expected to account for a substantial portion — by one metric, as much as 60 percent — of the total vaccine supply in the United States faces an uncertain future. Two other highly effective vaccines are nearing federal authorization. But with more than 2,000 Americans dying daily, a delay of even a few weeks in deploying another effective vaccine could have deadly repercussions.
Federal officials and public health experts viewed AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is less expensive and easier to store for long periods than some rival vaccines, as a leading candidate to help bring a swift end to the pandemic.
The Trump administration is requiring states to submit personal information of people vaccinated against Covid-19 — including names, birth dates, ethnicities and addresses, raising alarms among state officials who fear that a federal vaccine registry could be misused.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is instructing states to sign so-called data use agreements that commit them for the first time to sharing personal information in existing registries with the federal government. Some states, such as New York, are pushing back, either refusing to sign or signing while refusing to share the information.
… Administration officials say that the information will not be shared with other federal agencies and that it is “critically necessary” for several reasons: to ensure that people who move across state lines receive their follow-up doses; to track adverse reactions and address safety issues; and to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine among different demographic groups.
“There is no social security number being asked for; there is no driver’s license number,” said Deacon Maddox, who runs the operation’s data and analysis system. “The only number I would say that is asked is the date of birth.”
ELEVATED LEVELS OF a PFAS compound were associated with more severe forms of Covid-19, according to a Danish study now undergoing peer review. The research, which involved 323 patients infected with the coronavirus, found that those who had elevated levels of a chemical called PFBA were more than twice as likely to have a severe form of the disease.
PFBA is one of a class of industrial compounds, often called “forever chemicals,” that has come to contaminate soil, water, and food around the world. It has been presented as relatively safe because it stays in human blood for much less time than some of the other compounds in the class and is a shorter molecule. Both traits are thought to be indications of its innocuousness. PFBA, which was created by 3M, is based on a four-carbon chain and is gone from human blood in a matter of days. It is still in use, while PFOA, which is based on eight carbons and stays in the human blood for years, has been phased out since 2015.
Though PFBA exits the bloodstream relatively rapidly, it accumulates in the lungs, which likely explains the finding of the Danish study. “It’s probably what’s in the lungs that counts because that’s where the big Covid battle is fought,” said Philippe Grandjean, the principal author of the study. Grandjean’s study involved 323 patients with Covid-19, 215 of whom were hospitalized. The researchers analyzed the blood of these patients for the presence of five PFAS compounds and found that only perfluorobutanoic acid, or PFBA, was associated with the severity of the disease. More than half of those seriously ill with Covid-19 had elevated PFBA levels in their plasma, while less than 20 percent of those with mild illness had elevated levels of the chemical.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not include PFBA in its surveillance of the blood levels of various PFAS compounds. But it is clear that the chemical is both widespread and particularly elevated in certain areas. Research conducted by 3M in 2005 showed that 20 of 36 pooled blood samples from the general population contained PFBA. More recent research from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that levels of the compound are elevated in the East Metro area near a 3M plant in the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The chemical has also been found in other parts of the world, including Vietnam, Jordan, Thailand, and Japan. PFBA was also found in the Tennessee River near a 3M plant in Decatur, Alabama, and near a 3M plant in Cordova, Illinois. And it has been found in food, including radish, peas, tomatoes, and lettuce.
PFBA is used in electronics; clothing, including water-resistent outerwear; protective gear for medical staff and firefighters, such as surgical gowns; firefighting foam; carpets; floor polish; laboratory equipment; leather treatment; food packaging; cosmetics, including body lotion and foundation, concealer, eye shadow, powder; and bike lubricants, according to a recently published paper on the previously unknown uses of the chemicals.
The Trump administration will pay incentives to more than 9,000 nursing homes for reducing COVID-19 related infections and deaths in the fall.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will split $523 million between those nursing homes beginning Wednesday.
COVID-19 has ravaged nursing homes, with more than 100,000 people dying of the disease in nursing homes and long-term care facilities throughout the pandemic.
The incentives from HHS will be awarded to the 69 percent of nursing homes that reduced COVID-19 infections and deaths between September and October.
HHS estimates that nursing homes prevented 3,900 infections, relative to the rates in their communities.
The agency announced the first round of awardees in October. Medicare and Medicaid pay for stays at nursing homes, but typically do not offer incentives for keeping residents safe.
The following are foreign headlines with hyperlinks to the posts
Cabin fever: Singapore cruise passengers stuck in rooms after COVID-19 case [note that two further tests from the patient have come back negative for Covid-19 infection, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said. Another test will be conducted on Thursday to confirm his infection status.]
Mexico plans to begin coronavirus vaccinations the third week of December, starting with health workers.
India plans to immunize an initial 300 million people and says some vaccines are likely to receive licenses in the next few weeks. Health officials say three vaccine companies have applied for early approval for emergency use.
Morocco is rolling out an ambitious vaccination plan, aiming to vaccinate 80% of its adults starting this month. The country is battling a resurgence in virus infections and will start with 10 million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says U.S. sanctions are making it difficult for Iran to purchase medicine and health supplies from abroad, including COVID-19 vaccines needed to contain the worst outbreak in the Middle East.
Israel received its first shipment of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine and a distributor predicted the country would have enough to vaccinate about a quarter of its population by the year’s end
The following additional national and state headlines with hyperlinks to the posts
Final steps in US review of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration released a positive review of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a key step to verifying vaccine safety, effectiveness and side effects. On Thursday, independent experts will review the FDA’s findings and vote on whether to recommend use of the vaccine.
As of last week, 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine were ready to ship in the U.S., said Gen. Gustave Perna, co-leader of Operation Warp Speed in charge of logistics.
President-elect Joe Biden vowed Tuesday to get 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses distributed in his first 100 days in office.
Identical male twins developed COVID-19 at the same time. One became very sick; the other had mild illness.
Healthcare workers in the U.K. were 7 times more likely to have severe COVID-19 than non-essential workers.
USA Today surveyed health officials in all 50 states and found most are ready to distribute vaccines to healthcare workers and nursing home residents, but not necessarily to who’s next in line.
Delta Air Lines is asking more employees to agree to unpaid leaves next year to help cut costs as the carrier and its rivals struggle to cut costs.
Some Covid-19 patients may experience lingering symptoms for more than a year, according to a Mayo Clinic doctor studying what is known as “post-Covid syndrome.”
Delta Air Lines became the latest airline to scrap change-fees for most international tickets, joining American Airlines as the struggling industry tries to loosen its long-restrictive policies to entice travelers to book travel.
Roche and Moderna are partnering to include a Covid antibody test in the vaccine maker’s ongoing trials, Reuters reports. Roche’s antibody test will potentially show whether Moderna’s vaccine is effective.
Over half – 53% – of Americans have said that they would likely get a first-generation Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available, according to new poll results from Axios-Ipsos, released Wednesday.
Today’s Posts On Econintersect Showing Impact Of The Pandemic With Hyperlinks