1,545 thoughts on “General Discussion – 2

  1. I recommend reading the entire article below at the link

    https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/weekly-rounds-with-infection-control-today-covid-19-s-much-worse-than-flu-long-covid-s-effect-on-kids-universal-masking

    Viewpoint: Here’s Why COVID-19 Is Much Worse Than Flu
    October 1, 2021
    Kevin Kavanagh, MD

    COVID-19 has a number of presentations and pulmonary is just one. More than anything else, the receptor used for attachment determines the behavior of any virus, along with what organs and even species it can infect.

    Human rhinoviruses, the most common cause of a cold, uses the ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1) receptor to enter cells. This receptor allows the virus to replicate in sinus tissues but not to a variety of other tissues. The influenza virus attaches to cells via sialic acid receptors, which are sugar-protein and sugar-fat complexes. There are a number of modifications of this receptor across species, which require differing viral mutations to enable cellular attachment and entry. The influenza virus primarily targets a patient’s lungs, but then the patient’s immune response can also produce a myriad of system symptoms from loss of appetite and myalgias. HIV uses the CD4 receptor residing on Lymphocytes. HIV is initially asymptomatic, and the initial stages of disease can easily be classified as “mild”, a disease which, if left untreated, almost uniformly turns aggressive and fatal over the course of 8 to 10 years.

    In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, the ACE2 receptor is used for viral entry into the cells. The ACE2 receptor is entirely different to that used by the rhinovirus and seasonal flu. It is composed of amino acids along with a zinc ligand. This receptor is present throughout the body, not just the lungs.

    Clinically, SARS-CoV-2 combines some of the properties of the seasonal flu plus HIV. Similar to the seasonal flu, SARS-CoV-2 can primarily attack the lungs. But ACE2 receptors are everywhere. Similar to HIV, the virus can also enter a stealth mode, silently spreading throughout the host’s body and attacking almost every organ, especially those with a high ACE2 receptor concentration. And similar to HIV, SARS-CoV-2 also frequently causes asymptomatic spread. In full stealth mode, SARS-CoV-2 can asymptomatically attack the vasculature and heart. Myocarditis can occur and the patient is totally unaware of the damage, until an arrhythmia or symptomatic myocarditis develops. In young asymptomatic patients, this is not an uncommon sequela.

    SARS-CoV-2 targeting the cardiovascular system of the body should be a given. It has been known for a long time that ACE receptors are involved in cardiovascular regulation. ACE inhibitors and ACE II blockers have long been used to treat high blood pressure. This is the same pathway the virus infects.

    Thus, there are multiple presentations of SARS-CoV-2 including pulmonary, cardiac, gastrointestinal (GI), and central nervous system (CNS).

  2. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10052689/Government-condemned-refusing-release-details-key-email-conversations-Covid-origins.html

    What are they hiding? At the start of Covid many scientists believed it likely leaked from Wuhan lab – until a conference call with Patrick Vallance changed their minds. We asked for his emails about the call. This is what we got . . .

    This newspaper used Freedom of Information rules to obtain a cache of 32 emails about a secretive teleconference between British and American health officials held early in the pandemic.

    But officials blacked out almost every word before releasing the crucial documents.

    Before this discussion, several of the world’s most influential experts believed the new virus most likely came from a laboratory – but days later, the scientists began dismissing such scenarios as ‘implausible’ and branding them conspiracy theories.

    The critical call is at the centre of concerns that the scientific establishment tried to stifle debate on the pandemic’s origins, as damning new evidence emerges of US ties to high-risk research on bat viruses in Wuhan, where the first cases emerged in late 2019.

  3. https://www.news18.com/news/india/punjab-sees-power-cut-for-2-3-hrs-due-to-coal-shortage-4303610.html

    After Rajasthan, Punjab Says it Will Cut Power for 2-3 Hrs Due to Nationwide Coal Shortage

    Severe coal shortage in the country has started impacting power generation in many states with Punjab effecting a power cut of three to four hours across the state on Saturday. A day ago, Rajasthan had also said that it will schedule one-hour power cuts.

    Officials of state owned Punjab State Power Corporation Lmited (PSPCL) said two units each at Talwandi Sabo power plant, Ropar plant and one unit at the Lehra Mohabbat plant have been shut.

    While the units at the Lehra Mohabbat plant and Talwandi Sabo plant have been forced to shut because of coal shortage, technical glitches have forced the shut down of two units at Ropar. This has led to a power shortage of 1,000 MW

    …Over half of India’s 135 coal-fired power plants, which in total supply around 70% of the country’s electricity, have fuel stocks of less than three days, data from the federal grid operator showed.

  4. https://news.sky.com/story/lebanon-total-power-outage-as-electricity-grid-shuts-down-after-running-out-of-fuel-reports-12429825

    Lebanon: Total power outage as electricity grid shuts down after running out of fuel – reports

    Lebanon’s electricity grid has shut down entirely after the country’s two main power stations ran out of fuel, according to reports.

    The al Zahrani and the Deir Ammar power stations stopped working after supplies of diesel were apparently exhausted, and energy production dropped to below 200 megawatts.

    The outage will continue for a few days, at least, Reuters news agency has said, quoting an official source.

  5. Keeping an eye on this sub variant of Delta which appears to be growing fast in the UK – AY.4.2

    https://twitter.com/HarrySpoelstra/status/1447477781193969674

  6. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/10/20/europe/russia-elderly-stay-home-order-record-deaths-intl/index.html

    Moscow orders unvaccinated over-60s to stay home for 4 months as Russia’s Covid-19 crisis deepens

    Moscow (CNN)Millions of Russians face strict new Covid-19 restrictions from this week after a slow vaccination drive, an overwhelmed health care system and widespread mistrust in government combined to plunge the country into its most deadly phase of the pandemic to date.
    On Tuesday Moscow’s mayor ordered all unvaccinated residents over 60, as well as unvaccinated people “suffering from chronic diseases,” to remain home for four months until late February as the city grapples with a growing crisis.
    The national government has also proposed introducing a non-working week at the start of November, and senior figures have started openly admitting that the situation is dire as Russians head towards a bleak winter.

    Russia has reported its highest numbers of daily cases and deaths multiple times in recent days, and it registered a record 1,028 official fatalities on Wednesday.

    Experts point towards a lagging vaccination program and a failure in government messaging as factors behind the surge, which is now threatening to deluge hospitals across the nation.
    “I think the country is now falling into disaster,” Vasily Vlassov, a Russian epidemiologist and former adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO), told CNN.

  7. https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20211020-putin-keeps-russian-workers-home-for-a-week-as-covid-deaths-surge

    Putin keeps Russian workers home for a week as Covid deaths surge

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday backed the Cabinet’s proposal to declare a non-working week and keep Russian workers away from their offices as coronavirus deaths surged to another daily record.

    The government task force on Wednesday reported 1,028 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. That brought Russia’s total death toll to 226,353 which is by far the highest in Europe.

    Putin said Wednesday he supports the Cabinet’s proposal to introduce a nonworking period starting Oct. 30 and extending through the following week, when four of seven days already are state holidays. He added in some regions where the situation is the most threatening, the non-working period could start as early as Saturday.

    In some regions, mounting infections forced authorities to suspend medical assistance to the population as health care facilities were forced to focus on treating coronavirus patients.

  8. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-19/china-s-curbs-on-fertilizer-exports-to-worsen-global-price-shock

    China’s Curbs on Fertilizer Exports to Worsen Global Price Shock

    Chinese authorities are imposing new hurdles for fertilizer exporters amid growing concerns over surging power prices and food production, a move that could worsen a global price shock and food inflation.

    Some Chinese fertilizer cargoes ready to be shipped are being held up by local authorities for additional checks or to obtain new export certificates, according to people familiar with the matter. The supplies will either end up being sold on the domestic market or face delays in being exported, said the people, who asked not to be named as they are not authorized to speak on the matter.

    The increased scrutiny comes as global fertilizers costs have soared to new records, spurred by energy crises in Europe and China as coal and natural gas are important feedstocks. The cost increase comes at a particularly worrying time, with global food prices hitting a 10-year high.

    China’s move to curb fertilizer exports will be felt around the world as it is a key supplier of urea, sulphate and phosphate, accounting for about 30% of global trade. The biggest buyers of China’s fertilizers include India, Pakistan and countries in Southeast Asia.

    There are already signs that a fertilizer shortage is emerging globally. Farmers in Brazil reported that some deliveries of fertilizer and glyphosate have been canceled. France, the largest European agriculture producer, may face difficulties sourcing fertilizer supplies, an official at FranceAgriMer warned last week.

  9. Way back at the start of this covid nightmare a few people posted links to “Swiss Propaganda Research” claiming that this was just an ordinary coronavirus and if it was allowed to run through a population it would be no worse than a usual year. And I said that was a pile of shite. Seems they agree with me that was a pile of shite now.

    https://swprs.org/on-the-origin-of-sars-coronavirus-2/

    On the Origin of SARS Coronavirus 2

    A comprehensive summary of facts about the origin of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

    Executive summary: The currently available evidence supports a lab-related origin of the novel coronavirus.

    The phylogenetic evidence links SARS-CoV-2 to a 2012 covid-like pneumonia incident in a Chinese mine near Mojiang. The virus samples of this incident were collected, stored and investigated by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). However, some US labs may also have had access to this data, as they were collaborating with the Wuhan lab in the field of coronavirus research. At the genetic level, the existence of a furin cleavage site involving a CGG-coded double arginine codon may indicate genetic engineering. The search for an intermediate animal host has so far remained unsuccessful, but a natural origin cannot yet be ruled out entirely.

  10. Meet the likely AY.4.2.something – seems to have already become the dominant “flavour” of AY.4.2 in Scotland and with a higher calculated transmission advantage than its parent. The transmission advantage is based on UK wide detection which is why that proportion is lower as it may have arisen in Scotland. So we seem to have the most transmissible variant of Delta, detected so far, well established and growing fast in Scotland just in time for lots of people to come to Glasgow for COP26.

    https://cov-spectrum.ethz.ch/explore/United%20Kingdom/AllSamples/AllTimes/variants?aaMutations=S%3AV1264L&pangoLineage=AY.4.2

  11. https://twitter.com/hjelle_brian/status/1453058225104822277

  12. https://www.timesofisrael.com/bennett-to-parents-there-is-no-reason-not-to-vaccinate-your-children/

    Holed up in nuke bunker for COVID drill, Bennett tells parents: Vaccinate kids


    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in an underground bunker during a COVID-19 drill, on November 11, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

    Holed up in a nuclear-safe bunker during an unprecedented COVID drill, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday called on parents of 5- to 11-year-olds to inoculate their children, as Israel expands its vaccine drive to its youngest population yet.

    “There is no reason to leave our children unprotected,” Bennett said, speaking from the underground bunker during a simulation testing nationwide preparations for a hypothetical outbreak of a new, lethal, COVID-19 variant.

    The day-long “Omega Drill,” named for a fictitious variant of the virus, is said to be the first of its kind held anywhere in the world.

    “There is no reason that your child should get infected and infect others when his whole life is ahead of him,” the premier said. “I call on parents – vaccinate your children. Safeguard them. Give them the same layer of protection that you have.”

    The Health Ministry approved expanding the country’s vaccine drive to children on Wednesday evening, following the lead of the United States Food and Drug Administration.

  13. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/12/partial-lockdown-in-netherlands-amid-record-covid-cases

    Netherlands imposes lockdown measures as Covid cases hit new high

    The Netherlands will become the first western European country to impose a partial lockdown since the summer, introducing strict new measures from Saturday in the face of record numbers of new Covid-19 infections.

    The restrictions, announced by the caretaker prime minister, Mark Rutte, on Friday, will last at least three weeks and include the closure of bars, restaurants and essential shops from 8pm, with non-essential retail and services such as hairdressers to close at 6pm.

    Gatherings at home would be limited to a maximum of four guests, all amateur and professional sporting events must be held behind closed doors, and home working was advised except in “absolutely unavoidable” circumstances, Rutte said.

    …“The virus is everywhere and needs to combated everywhere. I want every Dutch citizen to be asking, can I do more? Can I do better? We had hoped with the vaccines we wouldn’t have to do this, but we see the same situation all across Europe.”

  14. https://iafrica.com/hospitals-seeing-more-young-people-being-admitted-in-gauteng/

    Hospitals Seeing More Young People Being Admitted In Gauteng

    Gauteng is seeing a lot more young people being hospitalised with Covid-19.

    The province is currently leading the country’s coronavirus infections.

    “We see that the contribution, the fraction of people over 60 that get hospitalised is significantly lower and now most of the people that are hospitalised are younger than 40,” said Professor Bruce Mellado from the Gauteng Advisory Committee on Covid-19.

  15. Google translated

    First publication: Another cardiologist, about 70 years old, contracted from the verified cardiologist from Sheba Hospital, who is suspected of being a carrier of variant Omicron – both vaccinated with 3 doses. The first patient returned from a conference in England last Wednesday, and until he felt symptoms And visited two more conferences
    @kettydor

  16. And yet the BBC still says “symptoms have been mild so far” which is fucking dangerously misleading as all covid infections start as mild and most remain that way – no matter what the variant. What people actually hear though is “mild variant”.

    So mild in fact that admissions with covid almost quintupled in 2 weeks in Gauteng Province. (I previously said it had only quadrupled but additional cases have been added for week 47)

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59426353

    6 mins ago

    The Covid variant was first detected in South Africa, and the symptoms have been mild so far.

  17. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10267251/Christmas-party-leaves-50-60-people-infected-suspected-Omicron-Covid-Norway.html


    Christmas party leaves 50-60 people infected with suspected Omicron Covid in Norway – despite all 120 guests being vaccinated and testing negative beforehand

    A Christmas party in Norway has left between 50 and 60 people infected with suspected cases of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, despite all 120 guests being vaccinated and testing negative beforehand.

    The meal at Louise Restaurant & Bar in Aker Brygge on Oslo’s waterfront is believed to be the world’s biggest outbreak of the new strain so far.

    Doctors said 50 people tested positive with a PCR test and 10 with a lateral flow following the party on Friday. So far none are thought to be seriously ill.

    Oslo authorities today confirmed a positive Omicron case following a company Christmas party in the Norwegian capital and said more infections were ‘expected’.

    Norwegian epidemiologists had ruled out the possibility the infections are Delta variant cases and said there was a ‘high probability’ it was Omicron because at least one of the Scatec employees had recently returned from the renewable energy company’s South African office in Cape Town.

    But in another twist, Scatec insisted only vaccinated employees were allowed to attend the party and they needed a negative test result beforehand.

    The Christmas party was held in a closed room but the guests reportedly mingled with other people in the restaurant after 10:30pm, when it turned into a nightclub.

  18. Summary

    • Rapidly increasing number of new daily cases, percent positivity and testing rate

    • Younger age groups but moving into older age groups

    • Rapid increases in Gauteng— initially clusters in Tshwane but all districts now seeing increases

    • Increased case numbers and positivity in Limpopo, North West, and Mpumalanga over the past week with most provinces now also showing increases

    Rapid increase in hospitalisations in Gauteng; smaller increases in North West, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Eastern Cape

    Increased admissions in children, especially under 4 years

    • Importance of surge preparedness to include paediatric beds and staff

    • Need additional data on disease severity, transmissibility and immune escape of the Omicron variant

  19. https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/more-children-admitted-with-covid-19-symptoms-to-hospitals/

    ‘More children admitted with COVID-19 symptoms to hospitals’

    Health care workers are raising concern about the growing number of children being hospitalised with moderate to severe symptoms of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

    Head of Intensive Care at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital, Dr Rudo Mathivha says the situation is worrying because the hospital isn’t built to admit a high number of sick young children.

    She says a 15-year-old died after the child’s condition deteriorated rapidly following a COVID-19 infection, and a 17-year-old is in ICU with coronavirus-related pneumonia.

    Mathivha has urged parents to get their children vaccinated.

    South Africa is currently in the fourth wave of the pandemic, fuelled by the newly discovered Omicron variant of the virus. Mathivha has warned that they may soon not be able to accommodate any more children.

    This is not something that we had observed with the first, second and third wave. In the past, the children used to get COVID-19 infection. It wouldn’t really send them to hospital in big numbers to be admitted. Our hospitals were not built to house a lot of children. We will not be able to accommodate them, and I’m not saying this to make people panic,” says Mathivha.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bIOgcoFMck&t=359s

  20. Hospital Admissions continue more than doubling every week in Gauteng and deaths last week were more than double the week before for the first time in their 4th wave. If the deaths chart is following the admissions chart with a roughly 2 week delay then big trouble ahead so let’s hope it isn’t.

    Gauteng Admissions

    Gauteng Deaths

    Note the data gets backfilled and it is likely that both reported admissions and deaths for week 48 will still increase.

    Source: https://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/disease-index-covid-19/surveillance-reports/daily-hospital-surveillance-datcov-report/

    So if anybody tells you “There have been no reported deaths from Omicron” ask them why the covid deaths in Gauteng more than doubled last week from the week before.

  21. Just a very mild doubling to over 2000 excess deaths in South Africa in one week.

    https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/s-african-weekly-excess-deaths-almost-double-amid-omicron-wave

    Omicron Wave Sees South Africa’s Weekly Excess Deaths Almost Double

    (Bloomberg) — South African excess deaths, a measure of mortality above a historical average, almost doubled in the week ending Nov. 28 from the preceding seven-day period as a new coronavirus variant spread across the country. During the period 2,076 more people died than would normally be expected, the South African Medical Research Council said in a report on Wednesday. That compares with 1,091 the week earlier.

    …Excess deaths are seen as a more accurate measure of the impact of Covid-19 than official deaths. While South Africa’s official coronavirus death toll is just over 90,000 the number of excess deaths during the pandemic is 275,000. During the week to Nov. 28 just 174 deaths were officially attributed to the respiratory disease. Still, the weekly deaths are well below their peak of about 15,500 in mid-January, at the height of the second wave of infections.

  22. I think the Bloomberg story has the dates wrong and the latest week excess deaths are for the week beginning Sunday Nov 28 not ending November 28 as the actual report says data through to week 48 ending Saturday 4th December. Doubling then fits exactly with the approximate doubling (55 to 102) in national hospital deaths over the same week 47 to 48. Of course we need more than one week to see if this is the start of a concerning trend or noisy data (or both). But there looks to be at least some signal there to me.

    Actual report at https://www.samrc.ac.za/sites/default/files/files/2021-12-08/weekly4Dec2021.pdf

  23. Google translated

    https://rp-online.de/nrw/staedte/kleve/omikron-im-kreis-kleve-bestaetigt-covid-nach-suedafrika-reise_aid-64520525

    Covid after a trip to South Africa – two children seriously ill

    District of Kleve: The first omicron mutations in the district of Kleve have been confirmed for sure. There are now numerous corona cases that are related to the outbreak after trips to South Africa. These include two children who are seriously ill.

    The district of Kleve has the first clear evidence of the Omikron variant. The full sequence analysis of a laboratory has now confirmed the suspicion for two index cases. This is a South Africa traveler and a contact person. At the weekend, a laboratory for two other people who were in South Africa confirmed the suspicion of the omicron mutation, but not yet finally confirmed it.

    The Kleve district has now identified 19 index cases that are related to this outbreak. The contact persons also include children who have not yet been vaccinated. The adults are all fully immunized. Two children are seriously ill. An adult has a severe course of the disease. All other people who tested positive so far have had a comparatively mild course of the disease. Some are asymptomatic.

    And official statement confirming two children seriously ill at https://www.kreis-kleve.de/de/aktuelles/vollstaendiges-laborergebnis-bestaetigt-eindeutig-zwei-omikron-indexfaelle-im-kreis-kleve/

  24. Long thread here worth reading the whole thing. Bottom line is nothing in the South Africa data so far suggests Omicron is intrinsically “milder” than other variants but read the entire thread.

  25. Look we all want it to be milder. I’d certainly love it to be milder but there don’t seem to be any features of the genetic code of the Omicron variant that would suggest it could be milder as far as the experts can see. Now they could be missing something of course and I’ve not seen anything definitive as to whether part of the spike is still seen as super-antigenic and I’m not sure there was much consensus on how much of a role that played anyway.

    Still I’m going to continue to hope for good news on any front because with 34% of London samples Omicron on 8th December (that’s likely over 50% today) London and overall UK covid case counts are heading into orbit soon.

  26. Two weeks ago I wrote

    So mild in fact that admissions with covid almost quintupled in 2 weeks in Gauteng Province. (I previously said it had only quadrupled but additional cases have been added for week 47)

    A week later I wondered if the hospital deaths were following admissions with a 2 week delay. So how do deaths compare after that two week delay?

    Yep, just a very mild five times increase in hospital deaths over the last two weeks. And that’s based on still partial data for week 49 (Their Week 50 started yesterday). Deaths for week 49 still likely to increase considerably as data is back-filled.

    These figures are just for Gauteng Province and yet everyone seems to think nobody has died of omicron in South Africa.

    Source: https://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/disease-index-covid-19/surveillance-reports/daily-hospital-surveillance-datcov-report/

  27. So we must all be happy and rejoice that across South Africa only a few hundred people so far are mildly dead from Omicron on official figures. Based on previous waves many hundreds more will have died even more mildly (without even troubling a hospital!) unofficially of omicron.

    And jolly good show for the thousands more who will also mildly die in South Africa (and of course more elsewhere) in the coming weeks in support of the dream of herd immunity.

  28. And hospital admission in London now leading the way up

  29. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/232698/modelling-suggests-rapid-spread-omicron-england/

    Modelling suggests rapid spread of Omicron in England but same severity as Delta

    The new report from the Imperial College London COVID-19 response team estimates that the risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant is 5.4 times greater than that of the Delta variant. This implies that the protection against reinfection by Omicron afforded by past infection may be as low as 19%.

    …The study finds no evidence of Omicron having lower severity than Delta, judged by either the proportion of people testing positive who report symptoms, or by the proportion of cases seeking hospital care after infection. However, hospitalisation data remains very limited at this time.

    Full report https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/covid-19/report-49-omicron/

  30. COVID-19 hospital admissions in London continue to accelerate, with 7-day average now up 42% week-on-week.

  31. As we seem to be locked into one massive surge of Omicron I’m trying my best to cling on to anything that might reduce the final death toll. I like this pre-print and just hope it doesn’t turn out to be another false hope.

    https://www.citiid.cam.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/FIGURES-OMICRON-PAPER.pdf

    SARS-CoV-2 Omicron spike mediated immune escape, infectivity and cell-cell fusion

    Abstract
    The Omicron variant emerged in southern Africa in late 2021 and is characterised by
    multiple spike mutations across all spike domains. Here we show that the Omicron spike
    confers very significant evasion of vaccine elicited neutralising antibodies that is more
    pronounced for ChAdOx-1 adenovirus vectored vaccine versus BNT162b2 mRNA
    vaccine. Indeed neutralisation of Omicron was not detectable for the majority of
    individuals who had received two doses of ChAdOx-1. Third dose mRNA vaccination
    rescues neutralisation in the short term. Despite three mutations predicted to favour
    spike S1/S2 cleavage, observed cleavage efficiency is lower than for wild type Wuhan-1
    D614G and Delta. We demonstrate significantly lower infectivity of lung organoids and
    Calu-3 lung cells expressing endogenous levels of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 but similar
    infection as compared to Delta when using H1299 lung epithelial cells. Importantly,
    fusogenicity of the Omicron spike is significantly impaired, leading to marked reduction
    in syncitia formation. These observations highlight that Omicron has gained immune
    evasion properties whilst compromising on properties associated with replication and
    pathogenicity.

    However nobody seems to have a good answer yet as to why Omicron has such a high observed transmissibility compared to all other variants if it has “compromised” its replication ability and is not good at infecting some cells unless it has much, much better ability to enter other cells (and how does that fit in with “compromised” replication). Another study found much better ability to enter bronchial cells than previous variants but it seems there’s still too much unknown.

    Meanwhile in South Africa deaths continue to pile up, just not at the truly horrendous rates they reached previously. Based on the daily hospital data about 500 people a week are dying at the moment as backdated deaths fill in – Just 4 weeks ago there were only 55 recorded covid deaths in one week. So Delta was only managing to kill about 50 people a week then along came “mild” Omicron and increased that ten fold in a month.

    And remember almost everyone catching covid in South Africa has already caught it before. Most of their most vulnerable age groups are vaccinated and a high proportion are both previously infected AND vaccinated which is thought to give very good protection against serious illness.

    I want to believe South African deaths are lower because of some intrinsic property of this variant but there are also very seemingly convincing arguments that most or all of the decreased severity in South Africa is due to prior infection and vaccination compared to earlier waves. We now know that plenty of people are getting sick in the UK from Omicron and seemingly many are ending up in hospital. Possible even worse many seem to be catching it in hospital (both staff and patients) and critical services in London already with escalating staff shortages…

    I can only hope it is spectacularly less lethal in the UK than Delta currently, or news really will be grim by Christmas.

  32. Oh dear. The paper I quoted last comment well things may not be as they seemed and perhaps Omicron really did grow just as well.

  33. Oh Just great

    https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-1139035/v1

    SARS-CoV-2 infection and persistence throughout the human body and brain

    COVID-19 is known to cause multi-organ dysfunction in acute infection, with prolonged symptoms experienced by some patients, termed Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC). However, the burden of infection outside the respiratory tract and time to viral clearance is not well characterized, particularly in the brain. We performed complete autopsies on 44 patients with COVID-19 to map and quantify SARS-CoV-2 distribution, replication, and cell-type specificity across the human body, including brain, from acute infection through over seven months following symptom onset. We show that SARS-CoV-2 is widely distributed, even among patients who died with asymptomatic to mild COVID-19, and that virus replication is present in multiple extrapulmonary tissues early in infection. Further, we detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA in multiple anatomic sites, including regions throughout the brain, for up to 230 days following symptom onset. Despite extensive distribution of SARS-CoV-2 in the body, we observed a paucity of inflammation or direct viral cytopathology outside of the lungs. Our data prove that SARS-CoV-2 causes systemic infection and can persist in the body for months.

  34. Covid obviously affecting the brain as Scotland loses ability to do basic arithmetic

    https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-daily-data-for-scotland/

    2,434 new cases of COVID-19 reported*
    52,022 new tests for COVID-19 that reported results*
    13.0% of these were positive

    * Public Health Scotland (PHS) are aware that today’s reported positive case numbers are lower than expected. PHS are investigating this, and will provide updates in future reports.

    I remember when 13% of 52,022 used to be 6,763

  35. This is very interesting. While I’d expected the measures in England would have reduced R I didn’t think that would be below 1.

    Don’t want to get my hopes up just yet but it is certainly interesting. Let’s hope it isn’t a testing limit or backlog

  36. Oh well that hope didn’t last long as back up again today.

    If behaviour changes have brought R substantially below 1 for Delta but still left Omicron above 1 perhaps a fast drop off in Delta masked the slower, but still ongoing march of Delta, with some testing capacity issues as well?

  37. Preliminary analysis from Edinburgh University suggests you are 2/3 less likely to be admitted to hospital with Omicron. There are so many caveats in the report and based on such small numbers that it could be completely misleading but I want to believe it. However if they are correct that would seem to imply that today’s London hospital admissions would have been closer to 900 (if same as Delta) than the 300 announced and no model was predicting anything like that just yet based on case lag.

    Report at https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/en/publications/severity-of-omicron-variant-of-concern-and-vaccine-effectiveness-

    Anyway latest UK Omicron hospital report. In England so far 195 hospitalizations and 18 deaths so far – and that’s backdated. There have been almost 1000 covid admissions to London hospitals in 4 days to 20th December and the ever increasing majority of these will be Omicron. UK daily Omicron report at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-omicron-daily-overview

  38. And Imperial looking at England data suggest a 15-20% reduced chance of hospitalisation compared to current Delta wave and 40-45% reduction in hospital stays over 1 day. Given that a lot of current infections are re-infections that Delta couldn’t re-infect but does reduce severity they calculate that the the actual reduction between risk of hospitalisation for someone not previously infected and not vaccinated is between 0 and 30%.

    So if that Imperial report is correct if you are not vaccinated and not yet infected, Omicron is at least almost as likely to send you to hospital as Delta with the added bonus it is far more likely to infect you soon. Not enough data yet to say anything about death rates.

    http://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/232882/some-reduction-hospitalisation-omicron-delta-england/

    However, after adjusting estimates to account for only one in three reinfections being identified, the estimated difference in intrinsic hospitalisation risk (i.e. defined for primary infections in unvaccinated people) between Delta and Omicron is reduced (ie, 0-30% reduced risk of any hospitalisation) but the estimated reduction in risk of hospitalisation due to previous infection is increased (around 55-70% reduction

  39. As the news continues to bombard us with how mild Omicron is I find the common belief “but only 1 person has died WITH it in the UK not FROM it”

    Out of the first 668 identified Omicron hospital patients in England, 49 of them are already mildly dead.

  40. RIP Trowbridge H Ford

    https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/nhregister/name/trowbridge-ford-obituary?id=30482371

    Trowbridge Ford
    Died: July 26, 2021
    Trowbridge Harris Ford, professor and writer on British constitutional history as well as gadfly independent investigator, died peacefully at his home in New Haven, Connecticut on July 26, 2021. Trow was born in El Paso, TX, on November 9, 1929 to the late Brig. Gen. William Wallace Ford and Alice Trowbridge Harris Ford.

  41. Worth reading the entire quoted thread

  42. Meanwhile hospital covid deaths in South Africa continue to mildly pile up

    Total excess deaths in South Africa even worse at about 3,000 per week last 2 weeks.

  43. Bulgaria looks like it will be first country to pass the 1% of population dead mark in excess deaths. Currently at 0.87% and that’s before Omicron just starting there. Next is Russia at 0.74% then Novax Serbia at 0.71%. UK currently 0.22% USA 0.32%. Bulgaria’s Delta wave peaked at 2,000 excess deaths a week just a couple of months ago. That would be about equivalent to 20,000/week in UK by population ratio. Chart from https://www.nsi.bg/en/content/18121/basic-page/deaths-bulgaria-weeks

  44. But, but Sweden…

    https://www.thelocal.se/20220110/swedish-government-expected-to-announce-new-covid-restrictions/

    Sweden rolls out new Covid restrictions to curb ‘record high’ infection rate

    Joined by Health Minister Lena Hallengren and the directors-general of the Public Health Agency and National Board of Health and Welfare at a press conference at noon, Andersson announced a several new restrictions to curb Sweden’s “record high spread of infection”.

    “It is undoubtedly the case that the situation has deteriorated. The spread of infection in Sweden is at historically high levels,” she said.

    The new rules, which will come into force on January 12th, will force bars and restaurants to close at 11pm. They also have to limit groups to eight people, seated at least a metre apart and only have table service, but vaccine passes will not be rolled out for restaurants at this stage.

    …”I want to strongly emphasise that everyone who can work from home should do so,” said Andersson.

    Indoor public events with more than 20 attendees will only be allowed to go ahead if everyone is seated and limited to groups of eight people, seated at least a metre apart. Public events with more than 50 attendees must additionally require a valid Covid vaccine pass.

    https://www.thelocal.se/20220109/swedish-crown-princess-and-prince-catch-covid-19-for-the-second-time/

    Swedish Crown Princess and Prince catch Covid-19 for the second time

    Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel have both tested positive for Covid-19 for the second time, although the pair have very mild cold symptoms.

    Sweden’s Royal Court announced that Prince Daniel had tested positive in a press release issued on Sunday, while Crown Princess Victoria’s second infection was revealed in another release on Saturday.

    The royal couple, who are both fully vaccinated, first tested positive for the virus in March last year, and have only mild symptoms.

  45. Preliminary analysis from New York does suggest Omicron is more severe in young children than previous variants

    Report at https://health.ny.gov/press/releases/2022/docs/pediatric_covid-19_hospitalization_report.pdf

  46. And in the UK

  47. Nobody seems to have told Omicron it isn’t supposed to kill people.

    https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/

    Meanwhile South Africa excess deaths continue to run at about 3,000 per week for last 3 weeks. Now in normal times most countries running 30% excess deaths for 3 weeks would indicate a big problem but in the new normal – that’s mild apparently. Well I suppose if compared to their staggeringly bad previous waves…

    https://www.samrc.ac.za/reports/report-weekly-deaths-south-africa

  48. Maria Van Kerkhove, Infectious Disease Epidemiologist; COVID-19 Technical Lead @WHO, WHO Health Emergencies Programme says Omicron is not mild. Obviously she’s a fool because everyone else knows it is apparently.

  49. New data from South Africa finds Omicron likely has, for unvaccinated and previously uninfected adults, a 25% reduced risk of hospitalization or death within 14 days of admission compared to Delta but that it appears as intrinsically severe as their first “Wuhan” wave. That’s for adults – Data from South Africa and elsewhere continues to point to Omicron actually being more severe than Delta in under 12s.

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.12.22269148v1

    Outcomes of laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in the Omicron-driven fourth wave compared with previous waves in the Western Cape Province, South Africa

    Conclusions: In the Omicron-driven wave, severe COVID-19 outcomes were reduced mostly due to protection conferred by prior infection and/or vaccination, but intrinsically reduced virulence may account for an approximately 25% reduced risk of severe hospitalization or death compared to Delta.

    …Notwithstanding, the similarity in risk of admission suggests that in the absence of immunity, Omicron could be as severe as the ancestral strain.

    That fits with Imperial’s research.

    Omicron may not target the lungs as much (reduced ability to enhance entry with TMPRSS2 – relevant to lungs) but evidence appears to be growing that damage to heart, kidneys, post-infection diabetes, auto-immune disorders, long covid etc. is at least as bad as Delta and might even be worse due to enhanced fundamental ACE2 entry.

  50. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41590-021-01113-x?s=09

    Immunological dysfunction persists for 8 months following initial mild-to-moderate SARS-CoV-2 infection

    In summary, our data indicate an ongoing, sustained inflammatory response following even mild-to-moderate acute COVID-19, which is not found following prevalent coronavirus infection. The drivers of this activation require further investigation, but possibilities include persistence of antigen, autoimmunity driven by antigenic cross-reactivity or a reflection of damage repair. These observations describe an abnormal immune profile in patients with COVID-19 at extended time points after infection and provide clear support for the existence of a syndrome of LC (Long Covid). Our observations provide an important foundation for understanding the pathophysiology of this syndrome and potential therapeutic avenues for intervention.

Comments are closed.