Written by Steven Hansen
The U.S. new cases 7-day rolling average are 51.6 % HIGHER than the 7-day rolling average one week ago and U.S. deaths due to coronavirus are now 24.0 % HIGHER than the rolling average one week ago.
Today’s posts include:
- U.S. Coronavirus New Cases are 135,811
- U.S. Coronavirus deaths are at 454
- More than 72,000 cases of Covid-19 reported in children and teens last week, pediatrician group says
- Unvaccinated and vaccinated have similar viral load in communities high in SARS-CoV-2 delta
- Lambda COVID Variant, Behind 1,000 Cases in U.S., Shows Vaccine Resistance
- Retracted COVID Paper Lives on in New Citations
- Delta variant challenges China’s zero Covid strategy — and raises questions over its vaccine efficacy
- China orders mass testing in Wuhan as COVID outbreak spreads
- Covid is surging in Florida. Doctors and nurses are back in crisis mode
- SARS-CoV-2 Delta and Delta AY.1 variant show similar Covaxin-induced neutralization
- Moderna Announces First Participant Dosed in Phase 1 Study of Its IL-2 mRNA Therapeutic
- CDC adds 16 destinations to ‘very high’ Covid-19 travel risk list
- Another shipping crisis strikes, threatening delays to Black Friday shopping
- Biden vaccine rule sets stage for onslaught of lawsuits
- Plus many more headlines …
Hospitalizations Are The Only Accurate Gauge
Hospitalizations historically appear to be little affected by weekends or holidays. The hospitalization growth rate trend continues to improve.
Historically, hospitalization growth follows new case growth by one to two weeks.
As an analyst, I use the 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 in early December 2020 for Thanksgiving, and early January 2021 for end-of-year holidays – and it now shows that the coronavirus effect is improving.
In the scheme of things, new cases decline first, followed by hospitalizations, and then deaths. The potential fourth wave did not materialize likely due to immunizations.
Coronavirus and Recovery News You May Have Missed
More than 72,000 cases of Covid-19 were reported on children and teens last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday.
The group counted 71,726 new cases from July 22 to 29. That is a “substantial” increase from the week before and five times as many kids who were sick at the end of June. The definition of a child varies by state, but generally includes those up to age 17 or 18.
After decreases in reported cases over the past couple of months, the July numbers started trending upward again.
More than 4.2 million kids have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. Children and teens represent 19% of the reported cases.
A US-based study has recently compared the viral load in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who have been infected with the delta variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
The findings reveal that vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals exhibit similar viral loads following delta infection and that vaccine breakthrough cases have the potential to transmit infection to others. The study is currently available on the medRxiv* preprint server.
… Taken together, the study findings indicate that the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is capable of inducing infection even in fully vaccinated individuals and that a significant proportion of vaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections are capable of transmitting the virus to others.
In Dane county, almost 68% of the population is fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, despite high vaccine coverage, a high percentage of vaccine breakthrough infections with high viral loads have been detected in this county. This finding further highlights the need for frequent testing and continuous adherence to non-pharmacological control measures to limit the community-level spread of SARS-CoV-2.[editor’s note: also read NIH director: CDC mask recommendations meant to keep vaccinated from getting sick and from infecting others]
Chinese authorities announced Tuesday mass coronavirus testing in Wuhan as an unusually wide series of COVID-19 outbreaks reached the city where the disease was first detected in late 2019.
Wuhan, a provincial capital of 11 million people in central China, is the latest city to undergo city-wide testing. Three cases were confirmed there on Monday, its first non-imported cases in more than a year.
China has largely curbed COVID-19 at home after the initial outbreak that devastated Wuhan and over time spread to the rest of China and globally. Since then, authorities have tamped down and controlled the disease whenever it pops up with quick lockdowns and mass testing to isolate infected people.
The current outbreaks, while still in the hundreds of cases in total, have spread much more widely than previous ones, reaching multiple provinces and cities including the capital, Beijing. Many of the cases have been identified as the highly contagious delta variant that is driving a resurgence in many countries.
The National Health Commission said Tuesday that 90 new cases had been confirmed the previous day, 61 locally spread ones and 29 among people who had recently arrived from abroad.
Most of the local cases are still in Jiangsu province, where an outbreak started at the airport in Nanjing, the provincial capital, and has spread to the city of Yangzhou, 105 kilometers (65 miles) away. Authorities reported 45 new cases, five in Nanjing and 40 in the city of Yangzhou, which was conducting a second round of mass testing,
Five other provinces and the cities of Beijing and Shanghai reported new local cases in the single digits. In Shanghai, the nation’s largest city, a driver working at one of its two main airports tested positive. Beijing has reported a total of five cases in recent days.
The Delta variant, which appears to cause more severe illness and spreads as easily as chickenpox according to an internal document from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has wreaked havoc across the world. Now, it is causing China’s worst outbreak in months.
China reported 328 local Covid-19 infections in July, close to the total from the previous five months, according to the National Health Commission. Although that’s only a fraction of the cases reported in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, it is perceived as a serious threat in China, where authorities attempt to keep local infections at zero.
The latest outbreak started two weeks ago in the eastern city of Nanjing, where nine airport cleaners were found to be infected during a routine test. Since then, the cluster has spread to at least 26 cities across China, including a tourist hot spot in the southern province of Hunan and the capital Beijing.
Chinese authorities responded swiftly with mass testing, targeted lockdowns, extensive contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts — a tried and tested formula that has helped it quickly tame local flare-ups since March 2020.
In Nanjing, a city of 9.3 million people, residents went through three rounds of coronavirus testing in two weeks. Residential compounds with confirmed cases were locked down, while cinemas, gyms, bars and libraries were shuttered.
In Zhangjiajie, where a theater performance attended by thousands of people has fueled concerns of a super-spreader event linked to the Nanjing cluster, all tourist destinations were shut down and residents are banned from leaving their compounds.
Restrictions have also been ramped up in Beijing, which reported its first local infection in nearly six months last week. Since then, five local cases with travel history to Zhangjiajie have been detected. The city has banned people from medium- or high-risk areas from entering, suspending flights, trains and buses from Covid-hit places.
Huang Yanzhong, senior fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Chinese authorities are responding to the threat of the Delta variant with the same playbook used in previous outbreaks, but in an even more stringent manner — several cities have been placed under effective lockdowns.
“It shows the problem of diminishing returns of the existing ‘zero-tolerance’ approach,” he said
Researchers around the world have continued breathing new life into a retracted study, which suggested that common antihypertensive medications were harmful in patients with COVID-19.
Published online on May 1, 2020 in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study relied on Surgisphere data to claim an association between renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitor therapy and worse outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients with cardiovascular disease.
The journal retracted the paper due to concerns about fraudulent data on June 4, 2020 in a widely publicized move, but the study has continued to rack up citations — totaling at least 652 as of May 31, 2021, reported Todd Lee, MD, MPH, of McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues.
Just 17.6% of verified citations acknowledged or noted that the paper was retracted, according to their research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
In May of this year alone — 11 months after the article was retracted — it was referenced 21 times.
“Our findings challenge authors, peer reviewers, journal editors, and academic institutions to do a better job of addressing the broader issues of ongoing citations of retracted scientific studies and protecting the integrity of the medical literature,” Lee’s group urged.
The hypothesis that angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) may be harmful in patients with COVID-19 has been floated since the early days of the pandemic, with the reasoning being that since the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters human cells through ACE2 receptors, upregulation of these receptors could put patients at risk.
Several groups have rebutted this, showing that ACE inhibitors and ARBs are safe and perhaps even beneficial in patients with COVID-19.
Moderna announced the first participant has been dosed in the Phase 1 study of mRNA-6231, the Company’s mRNA-encoded IL-2 modified for the expansion of regulatory T cells. mRNA-6231 is Moderna’s first autoimmune candidate to enter the clinic. It is also Moderna’s first subcutaneously administered therapeutic program.
“The initiation of the Phase 1 study of mRNA-6231 is an important milestone for Moderna, as we now look to bring the potential of mRNA therapeutics to people living with autoimmune diseases,” said Ruchira Glaser, MD, Sr. Vice President and Therapeutic Area Head, Rare Disease, Autoimmune & Cardiovascular. “This is our first mRNA autoimmune candidate, and the first to be subcutaneously administered. Today marks another important step in our mission to deliver on the promise of mRNA to help patients across diseases.”
Moderna now has active clinic programs in five different therapeutic areas: infectious disease, oncology, cardiovascular, rare disease and autoimmune disease.
mRNA‑6231 is a lipid nanoparticle (LNP)‑encapsulated mRNA-based therapeutic that encodes for mutein human interleukin 2, fused to human serum albumin (HSA‑IL2m), with the goal of achieving enhanced selectivity toward T regulatory cells. IL-2 through preferential expansion of Tregs is hypothesized to play a central role in restoring immune homeostasis.
The trial is a Phase 1, first‑in‑human, dose‑escalation study to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of mRNA‑6231 in healthy adult participants (between 18 and 50 years of age), following subcutaneous administration of a single dose of mRNA‑6231.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added 16 destinations to its “very high” Covid-19 risk level on Monday, including Greece, Ireland and the US Virgin Islands.
According to the CDC, a risk designation of “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High” means people should avoid travel to these locations. Those who must travel should be fully vaccinated first.
In its overarching guidance, the CDC recommends against all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.
“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some Covid-19 variants,” the agency says.
Destinations that fall into the “very high” risk category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC parameters.
Direct travel of noncitizens from Ireland and Greece to the United States has been suspended since January 25, 2021, under an executive order limiting travel from multiple countries. The White House recently said those restrictions would remain in place amid surging cases from the Delta variant
The following 16 destinations moved to the CDC’s “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High” category on August 2: Andorra, Curaçao, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Iran, Ireland, Isle of Man, Kazakhstan, Lesotho, Libya, Malta, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin and US Virgin Islands.
You can look up the CDC’s risk level of any destination on its travel recommendations page.
- Western Europe and China’s Henan province — a key transport hub and home to several major businesses — are grappling with the aftermath of devastating floods.
- The disasters have damaged railways used for the delivery of goods and raw materials in both regions.
- Supply chain software firm E2open said there will be probably be fewer and smaller discounts for the peak online shopping season.
… Florida, the third most populous state, has become the new national center for the virus, accounting for about a fifth of all new cases in the country. In hospitals across the state, doctors, nurses and staff members are confronting a fast-moving and escalating crisis with no end in sight.
Florida shattered Covid records over the weekend. On Saturday, the state recorded 21,683 new daily cases — the most since the start of the pandemic. On Sunday, the state broke a record for current hospitalizations with 10,207, the Florida Hospital Association confirmed. The previous record — 10,179 hospitalizations — was set July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started to become widespread.
In the last week, Florida averaged 1,525 new adult hospitalizations a day and 35 new daily pediatric hospitalizations, both of which are the highest per capita rates in the U.S., said Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida.
The weekly trends paint an especially bleak picture. Salemi pointed out that in the most recent weekly report from the state Health Department, for example, the state logged more cases in children younger than 12 than it had in its entire population just six weeks ago.
The alarming spike has come as the new and more transmissible delta variant spreads across Florida and while many residents and tourists have effectively returned to pre-pandemic social rituals.
“You have a lot of vulnerable people in Florida, and then you couple that with a general relaxation of mitigation strategies like mask-wearing and social distancing — and so, unfortunately, this ends up being the result,” Salemi said.
The influx of patients in their 20s and 30s has been particularly unsettling for caregivers.
Dr. Samer Fahmy, the chief medical officer at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, said: “We have had patients in their 20s gasping for air and getting intubated. We’ve had, unfortunately, young mothers who get very sick and lose their babies in the midst of a pregnancy.
A new study from India suggests that the Indian-made Covaxin whole-virus inactivated vaccine against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) retains significant efficacy against the newer delta variants of the virus. These preliminary findings come after both variants have shown some resistance to antibody-mediated neutralization elicited by first-generation Pfizer or AstraZeneca coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines.
A preprint version of the study is available on the bioRxiv* server, while the article undergoes peer review.
President Biden‘s vaccine rule for federal employees is expected to bolster efforts to require vaccines in the workplace, but experts say it’s also likely to spark court fights that could threaten the long-standing legal authority of employers to impose health measures at work.
As the largest employer in the country, the federal government could end up setting the standard for the private sector with Biden’s requirement that workers undergo regular testing, wear masks and socially distance if they choose not to get vaccinated.
A day after Biden announced the new approach, the Walt Disney Co. said all of its employees would need to be vaccinated within two months. Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, said it would require vaccinations for workers at its Arkansas headquarters.
But a number of public unions have pushed back on Biden’s plan — a sign that companies are likely to face similar resistance, even if their workers aren’t unionized.
Some legal experts worry that a landmark case from 1905 that has long protected vaccine mandates will come under attack amid increased scrutiny of public health laws requiring vaccines in settings like schools that have had rules in place for decades.
The Lambda variant of COVID-19 may be more resistant to vaccines and is highly infectious, researchers at Japan’s University of Tokyo have warned in a new scientific paper published on July 28. The study is yet to be peer reviewed.
Like the Delta variant, Lambda is highly transmissible but Japanese researchers believe that three mutations in the variant’s spike proteins make it more resistant to antibodies induced by vaccination.
Lambda, which is also known as the C.37 variant, is responsible for 1,037 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., according to data from the GISAID Initiative, which promotes the rapid sharing of information about influenza and coronaviruses.
The variant was first identified in Peru in August, 2020, where it has now become the dominant strain of the virus, and it has been reported in 29 countries including the U.S.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo published their paper at bioRxiv, a “preprint server for biology,” last Wednesday ahead of the paper’s peer review.
In lab experiments, they identified three mutations in the Lambda variant’s spike protein—called RSYLTPGD246-253N, 260 L452Q and F490S—that make it more resistant to neutralization by antibodies that are induced through vaccination. This makes the strain more resistant to vaccines than the original COVID-19 strain first identified in Wuhan, China.
The research team also identified two further mutations—T76I and L452Q—that make the Lambda variant highly infectious. They also warn that the World Health Organization’s classification of Lambda as a Variant of Interest (VOI) rather than a Variant of Concern (VOC) might lead some people to take the threat less seriously.
Covid-19 variants are likely to have evolved in the bodies of people who are immunosuppressed, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.
It’s not a new theory — the idea that people with immune suppression may be unable to fight off Covid-19 infection for weeks or months, giving the virus plenty of time to evolve and change.
“Variants, we all know, have emerged because of the pressure that the human immune system has put on the virus, very likely from people who are immunosuppressed wound up getting infected, and had virus in them for days and days and days before they cleared it and/or died, and then essentially led to the emergence of a variant,” Fauci said in a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“We feel that’s very likely what happened with the B.1.1.7 and what happened now with the current Delta variant.” The B.1.1.7 or Alpha variant emerged last year and became dominant across the US this spring. The Delta or B.1.617.2 variant emerged in late 2020 and is now the dominant lineage across the US.
Fauci said the development of viral variants will affect any future drugs developed to treat Covid-19.
“As soon as we start treating Covid-19 with new antivirals, we need to plan for and anticipate the emergence of drug resistance,” he said.
“It isn’t going to be where you have one pathogen and one drug that’s the knockout, home-run drug. You always have to be ready to continue to develop alternatives that could keep up with the variants.”[editor’s note: who is creating the variants – the immunosuppressed?, the unvaccinated?, the vaccinated? – wtf, just like the flu, COVID evolves – let’s just blame the virus and not groups of people]
The following are foreign headlines with hyperlinks to the posts
The White House announced on Tuesday that the U.S. had donated and shipped over 110 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 60 countries.
Germany’s health ministers unanimously recommended COVID booster shots for the elderly and at-risk citizens.
The head of Japan’s medical association called for a national state of emergency and its Prime Minister said only seriously ill COVID patents and those on the verge of becoming so would be hospitalized.
The following additional national and state headlines with hyperlinks to the posts
Louisiana and San Francisco reinstated indoor mask mandates. Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to wear masks indoors.
Seventy percent of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine dose.
After 18 months of changing messaging, Americans have grown skeptical of public health advice.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he had tested positive. If he had not been vaccinated, he said, his symptoms “would be far worse.”
As the new school year begins, here’s how to think about risk in the classroom.
Citing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, the Biden administration will keep a Trump-era rule to turn away migrants.
The State Department is offering potential refugee status to more Afghans who worked with the U.S.
A sub-study of a phase III trial found that baricitinib (Olumiant) reduced the risk of death among hospitalized COVID-19 patients on invasive mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, Lilly and Incyte announced.
Only about 100 lung transplants — considered risky and complex — have been performed on COVID patients in the U.S., but some results have been promising.
The CDC did not identify any new cases of monkeypox among the more than 200 people it monitored for potential exposure after they came into contact with an infected person in July.
The San Diego Zoo’s two snow leopards — an endangered species — both have COVID.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN’s John Berman on New Day Tuesday that while it might not be possible to get to herd immunity with the Delta variant, it is still possible to get to a place where the coronavirus becomes just a nuisance.
Today’s Posts On Econintersect Showing Impact Of The Pandemic and Recovery With Hyperlinks