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ForeverElvis
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Re: coronavirus

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U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 700,000 Despite Wide Availability of Vaccines.


https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/01/us/us-covid-deaths-700k.html?referringSource=articleShare


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Re: coronavirus

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Former WWE wrestler, now politician Glenn "Kane" Jacobs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kane_(wrestler) regarding mandates:


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Re: coronavirus

Post by YDKM »

Well Australia in N.S.W. is basically opening up come monday 11th October with case loads about 1/3rd of the peak and 70% vaccinated double dose .Change of premier but only slight changes.Have to see how it goes but i have been enjoying outdoor swimming for 2 weeks since 27th Sept now! Next week i can swim, have a pub lunch and a haircut if i want ( providing i show my vaccination certificates) so indeed worst seems to be over i guess until alarms about rising Covid?


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Re: coronavirus

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A good news story from the UK today, has Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra performing a concert to be streamed free to care homes across the country "as a thank you and gift to staff and residents for their hard work and resilience during the pandemic." Much preferable to a patronising round of applause led by the PM.

https://www.thestrad.com/news/care-homes-to-receive-free-lso-concert-livestream-tonight/13788.article


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Re: coronavirus

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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-08/merck-s-covid-pill-faces-risk-that-virus-could-outsmart-it

Merck’s Covid Pill Faces Risk That Virus Could Outsmart It
By Thomas Mulier and Riley Griffin
October 8, 2021, 12:00 AM EDT Updated on October 8, 2021, 10:00 AM EDT

Merck & Co.’s experimental pill for Covid-19 should be accompanied by other treatments as soon as they’re available to cut the risk of drug resistance that would limit its effectiveness, Wellcome foundation director Jeremy Farrar said.

While yet to be cleared by regulators, Merck’s molnupiravir has been hailed as a potential breakthrough, as it could be relatively cheap and easy to make, doesn’t require infusion and has shown it reduces the risk of hospitalization in a trial. Yet it may need to be combined with other drugs to head off resistance, Farrar said.

Resistance occurs when viruses and bacteria evolve to blunt or defeat drugs’ mechanism of attack. It’s a constant concern for antivirals and antibiotics and has already been seen with Covid treatments such as Eli Lilly & Co.’s antibody therapy. Farrar suggested Merck’s pill would be no exception, despite optimism that it may be a potent new weapon to fight the pandemic.

“The thought that you could have an oral drug readily available that you could take as soon as you have a suspicion of infection -- that’s a huge step forward globally,” Farrar said. But he emphasized the importance of combining it with other drugs as soon as possible to “delay the onset of resistance.”

Earlier Experiments
While this is always a concern for anti-infectives, the likelihood that it will become a severe problem for molnupiravir appears to be low, said Nick Kartsonis, senior vice-president of clinical research for infectious diseases and vaccines at Merck Research Labs. Earlier experiments with other viruses showed that the evolution of resistant mutations was rare, he said.

The course of treatment is short, meaning that viruses get few chances to evolve into resistant forms. Another reason lies in the drug’s mechanism of action. Pioneered by researchers at Emory University and other academic centers and later licensed by Merck’s partner Ridgeback Therapeutics LP, molnupiravir works by introducing errors into the coronavirus’s genetic material. The errors are then replicated until the virus is defunct.

Merck’s analysis has shown that the errors induced by the drug are spread more or less randomly throughout the viral genome. That means that the virus has fewer opportunities to develop mutant forms that will overcome those errors.

“That in and of itself makes resistance a tough thing,” Kartsonis said.

Still, although Merck isn’t pursuing combinations right now, molnupiravir may be more effective if used with other drugs that prove successful, Kartsonis said. That may also lower the potential for resistance even further, he said.

Merck shares fell as much as 1% as of 10 a.m. in New York.

Attacking Pathogens
Many drugs have been far more effective in combination than when used on their own. The first drugs developed for HIV, when used singly, quickly stopped working because resistant strains evolved that could defeat the drugs’ attack. By attacking pathogens from several angles, drug cocktails make the evolution of such variants less likely. Now, HIV combination treatments stay effective in individual patients for years.

Numerous other companies are working on pills to treat Covid through a variety of approaches. Pfizer Inc. began late-stage trials of an oral treatment this summer and expects data before the end of the year. Israel-based Redhill Biopharma Ltd.’s experimental therapy, opaganib, cut deaths in a group of patients with moderately severe Covid, according to data released earlier this month. Wellcome itself has pledged 8 million pounds ($11 million) for a project, called Covid Moonshot, to find a drug that would block a key protein the coronavirus uses to replicate.

An early study published last week showed molnupiravir has the potential to cut the rate of hospitalization and death by around 50% in mild to moderate Covid patients. A widely available Covid pill could be “massively important” in developing countries where hospital access is limited and vaccinations aren’t readily available, Farrar said.

Lining Up
Countries are already lining up to secure supplies of the Merck drug. The company has said it will file for U.S. authorization as soon as possible, and European Union drug authorities may begin a rolling review of the drug that could speed clearance there.

Still, preventing the disease through vaccines remains a better strategy than relying on treatment, U.S. presidential adviser Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.

The Wellcome foundation has been fighting for more equitable access to vaccines, tests and treatments for Covid-19 and is funded by a 29 billion-pound ($39 billion) investment portfolio. Farrar spoke in an interview ahead of a conference of Gesda, the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Accelerator, a group that tries to bring scientists and politicians closer together.


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Walter Hale 4
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Re: coronavirus

Post by Walter Hale 4 »

Great news from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia - the worlds most lockdown state - is that lockdown number six is over !!!
The bad news is their daily community cases numbers remains shockingly high - 2232 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, the state's second highest daily total of the pandemic but Victoria has passed the 70 per cent full-vaccination milestone. My State of South Australia is very complacent as we've seen very few cases but vaccine rate is 59 percent double-dosed. Speaking of which, i get my second pfizer jab this morning.

Melbourne lockdown ends 22nd October 2021


https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/oct/22/melbourne-covid-lockdown-...

You can have visitors in your home
In Victoria you can have 10 visitors including dependents in your home a day.

Haircuts
Hairdressers and personal care venues can have up to five fully vaccinated customers. There is no limit once 80% is reached.

Travel
The 15km travel limit in Melbourne ends when lockdown ends, however people in Melbourne cannot travel to regional Victoria and vice versa until the 80% target is reached.

Retail
Still closed except for outdoor service and click and collect. Retail is fully open once the 80% target is reached.

Pubs and restaurants open
In Melbourne, pubs and restaurants can accept 20 fully vaccinated people indoors, and 50 outdoors.
Entertainment venues cannot host people indoors in Melbourne, but can host up to 50 vaccinated people outdoors.


https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/face-masks#when-do-i-need-to-wear-a-face-mask

When do I need to wear a face mask?
Anyone 12 years and over must wear a fitted face mask whenever they leave their home, indoors or outdoors, unless lawful exception applies.


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Re: coronavirus

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The problem we have at the moment in the UK is that there are endless amounts of scientists and health experts on our TV screens and quoted in newspapers, and they all predict different things. Yes, we hit 50,000 cases a day last week, and there were calls for increased restrictions. But people forget that we also hit 50,000 cases just two days before we came out of lockdown. And the media are acting as if the current rise in infections is equivalent to rises we have had before. But cases have risen (up to Friday) by about 10-15% in a week. There have been times when they have nearly doubled in that time. And cases this weekend there has been around 4000 fewer than last weekend - but that doesn't make for such a sensational headline, of course.

Meanwhile, experts are saying that the public is ignoring their advice. But it's hardly surprising. Here's two headlines, both from the Daily Telegraph, posted 24 hours apart...

Screenshot 2021-10-24 230557.jpg
Screenshot 2021-10-24 230734.jpg

And so it's hardly surprising that anyone taking the paper on a daily basis is going to be somewhat confused. Are the cases rising enough to change rules in schools, or are they about to slump?

And just to add to the confusion, despite one paper saying there is going to be a slump, another (the Mirror) posted this headline a few hours later...

Screenshot 2021-10-24 233503.jpg

It's hardly surprising why people have just stopped trying to work out what the hell is going on.
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Re: coronavirus

Post by Beale »

It's been a devastating past 19 months. I was nervous about the vaccine but I recently got my second, and in the end, mainly did it to try and do my small part to help, and protect myself aswell.


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Walter Hale 4
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Re: coronavirus

Post by Walter Hale 4 »

Big news if you're living in the U.K.
This is also great news for people with diabetes and heart disease.

Britain approves Merck's COVID-19 pill in world first -

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/britain-approves-mercks-oral-covid-19-pill-2021-11-04/

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration has not yet approved the drug but the federal government announced last month it has ordered 300,000 courses.


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Re: coronavirus

Post by Walter Hale 4 »

Hot on the heels of the Merck, there's news of a Pfizer tablet version (albeit not formally approved at this stage).

I expect there will be more anti virus pills before too long. This is wonderful news to folks who are, for one reason or another, against vaccine treatment.

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-59178291



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Re: coronavirus

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https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-government-buy-14-mln-more-courses-mercks-covid-19-pill-2021-11-09/

U.S. government to buy $1 billion more worth of Merck's COVID-19 pill
By Manas Mishra

An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill called molnupiravir being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021. Merck & Co Inc/Handout via REUTERS

Nov 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. government will buy another $1 billion worth of the COVID-19 pill made by Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, the companies said on Tuesday.

The government in June agreed to buy 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir for $1.2 billion and is now exercising options to buy 1.4 million more.

That brings the total secured courses to 3.1 million and worth $2.2 billion. Merck said the government has the right to buy 2 million more courses as part of the contract.

The drug has been closely watched since data last month showed that when given early in the illness it could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized for those most at risk of developing severe COVID-19.

"Molnupiravir, if authorized, will be among the vaccines and medicines available to fight COVID-19 as part of our collective efforts to bring this pandemic to an end," said Frank Clyburn, president of Merck's human health business.

President Joe Biden said on Friday that the United States had also secured millions of doses of Pfizer Inc's (PFE.N) rival antiviral drug, which was shown to cut by 89% the chance of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of severe disease.

The Pfizer negotiations were for a deal similar to the one with Merck - 1.7 million courses of the treatment upfront with an additional option for 3.3 million, a senior U.S. health official said on Tuesday, confirming a New York Times report.

Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Alfred Bourla said on Friday that the company plans to sell its treatment for around the same price for high-income countries as Merck, at roughly $700 for a course of therapy.

Merck expects to produce 10 million courses of the treatment by the end of this year, with at least 20 million set to be manufactured in 2022.

Reporting by Manas Mishra and Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington; Editing by Anil D'Silva, Arun Koyyur and Sriraj Kalluvila



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Re: coronavirus

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https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-home-test-recall-ellume-false-positives/

FDA recalls 2.2 million Ellume COVID-19 home tests due to false positives
BY AIMEE PICCHI

UPDATED ON: NOVEMBER 11, 2021 / 5:16 PM / MONEYWATCH

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the recall of 2.2 million home COVID-19 tests made by Ellume, the first company to get FDA approval for over-the-counter COVID tests, due to "higher-than-acceptable false positive test results." The recall is an expansion of last month's recall of 200,000 kits for the same issue.


About 35 false positives through the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test were reported to the FDA, with no deaths reported, the agency said. But false positives could lead to negative outcomes such as getting unneeded COVID-19 treatment from a health care provider or a delayed diagnosis for the person's actual illness, the FDA added.

The FDA said that the reliability of negative test results aren't impacted by the issue. But people who have bought an Ellume home COVID-19 test should check the product by entering the lot number at this Ellume website, which will determine whether the consumer has one of the impacted tests. The lot number is found on a sticker on the side of the product carton.

If a consumer received a positive test within the last two weeks by using one of the affected lots, they should contact their health care provider, the agency said.

The "incidence of false positives is limited to specific lots," Ellume CEO Dr. Sean Parsons said in a statement. He also apologized to people who received false positives through the test kit "for any stress or difficulties they may have experienced."

In a statement sent to CBS MoneyWatch, Ellume said it has identified the root cause of the problem and implanted additional controls. "We are already producing and shipping new product to the U.S.," it added.

It added, "Importantly, not all of the positive results of the affected tests were false positives, and negative results were not affected by this issue."

The FDA said the Ellume case is a Class I recall, which it said is the most serious type. "Use of these tests may cause serious adverse health consequences or death," the agency said in the statement.

The recall comes at a time when it's not easy to find at-home COVID-19 tests. Many pharmacies are out of stock, and if they are available, the tests will cost about $24 a pair — an expensive outlay for many consumers who need frequent testing.

While many consumers would undoubtedly like to be able to test for COVID-19 at home, the shortages and costs mean that many check their health status only when traveling or attending a special event. But that may change in the next few months, with the Biden administration in September announcing it would invest $1 billion to expand the supply of at-home COVID-19 tests.

The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test is an antigen test that works by detecting proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. The over-the-counter test requires consumers to swab the inside of their noses.

The FDA said the recalled home tests were manufactured between February 24 to August 11, and distributed between April 13 to August 26.


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coronavirus

Post by ForeverElvis »

Very pleased with the current vaccination numbers in my province of BC.

91.3% (3,949,189) of all eligible adults in B.C. have received their first dose and 87.9% (3,800,763) have received their second dose.

Canada, overall, is just below those numbers.

Cases in BC - There are 3,132 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, of the active cases, 337 individuals are in hospital and 115 are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

There have been 10 deaths the last three days.

Past week, cases per 100,000 population after adjusting for age (Nov. 12-18)

Not vaccinated: 209.7
Partially vaccinated: 50.9
Fully vaccinated: 25.9

That’s 9% of total cases are fully vaccinated people and 73% unvaccinated. And yet there are still people who don’t want the shot.

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Re: coronavirus

Post by elvis4life »

After clicking this link: https://www.rt.com/uk/542389-pfizer-astrazeneca-undermine-documentary , see the first 2 paragraphs that promotes an upcoming UK TV documentary for Friday:

"US drugsmaker Pfizer is denying any wrongdoing after a British TV documentary showed that a presentation made on its behalf had criticized a rival Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca as being potentially unsafe.

Teasers for a Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ investigative program, shown on Monday, say a Pfizer presentation described AstraZeneca’s vaccine against Covid-19 as unsafe for patients with compromised immune systems and as having the potential to cause cancer. The speech was delivered in Canada sometime last year, but it was unclear whether it was a one-off event or the speaker had made the claim multiple times. The program, titled ‘Vaccine Wars: The Truth About Pfizer’, airs on Friday: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/vaccine-wars-truth-about-pfizer-dispatches


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Re: coronavirus

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Studies: Omicron less severe as it mostly avoids attacking lungs -

A series of recently published studies found the Omicron variant may be less severe than other coronavirus strains because of the way it attacks the lungs, according to Friday reports.

Studies on mice and hamsters found that Omicron produced less damaging infections to the lungs, and instead was limited largely to the nose, throat, and windpipe, The New York Times reported.

Previous variants would cause scarring in the lungs and serious breathing difficulty.

“It’s fair to say that the idea of a disease that manifests itself primarily in the upper respiratory system is emerging,” said Roland Eils, a computational biologist at the Berlin Institute of Health who has studied how coronaviruses infect the airway.

Ravindra Gupta, a leading variant researcher at Cambridge University and an author of one of the studies, told Insider that Omicron “is actually doing its own thing in many ways. The biology of the virus is not the same as it was before. It’s almost a new thing.”
Series of experiments on mice, hamsters all reach conclusion that new coronavirus strain mainly manifests in upper airway, causing fewer breathing problems.


By TOI staff and Agencies 31 December 2021, 10:55 pm

https://www.timesofisrael.com/studies-omicron-less-severe-as-it-mostly-avoids-attacking-lungs/


Studies Suggest Why Omicron Is Less Severe: It Spares the Lungs -


A spate of new studies on lab animals and human tissues are providing the first indication of why the Omicron variant causes milder disease than previous versions of the coronavirus.

In studies on mice and hamsters, Omicron produced less damaging infections, often limited largely to the upper airway: the nose, throat and windpipe. The variant did much less harm to the lungs, where previous variants would often cause scarring and serious breathing difficulty.

“It’s fair to say that the idea of a disease that manifests itself primarily in the upper respiratory system is emerging,” said Roland Eils, a computational biologist at the Berlin Institute of Health, who has studied how coronaviruses infect the airway.

In November, when the first report on the Omicron variant came out of South Africa, scientists could only guess at how it might behave differently from earlier forms of the virus. All they knew was that it had a distinctive and alarming combination of more than 50 genetic mutations.

Previous research had shown that some of these mutations enabled coronaviruses to grab onto cells more tightly. Others allowed the virus to evade antibodies, which serve as an early line of defense against infection. But how the new variant might behave inside of the body was a mystery.

“You can’t predict the behavior of virus from just the mutations,” said Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge.

Over the past month, more than a dozen research groups, including Dr. Gupta’s, have been observing the new pathogen in the lab, infecting cells in Petri dishes with Omicron and spraying the virus into the noses of animals.

As they worked, Omicron surged across the planet, readily infecting even people who were vaccinated or had recovered from infections.

But as cases skyrocketed, hospitalizations increased only modestly. Early studies of patients suggested that Omicron was less likely to cause severe illness than other variants, especially in vaccinated people. Still, those findings came with a lot of caveats.

For one thing, the bulk of early Omicron infections were in young people, who are less likely to get seriously ill with all versions of the virus. And many of those early cases were happening in people with some immunity from previous infections or vaccines. It was unclear whether Omicron would also prove less severe in an unvaccinated older person, for example.

Experiments on animals can help clear up these ambiguities, because scientists can test Omicron on identical animals living in identical conditions. More than half a dozen experiments made public in recent days all pointed to the same conclusion: Omicron is milder than Delta and other earlier versions of the virus.

On Wednesday, a large consortium of Japanese and American scientists released a report on hamsters and mice that had been infected with either Omicron or one of several earlier variants. Those infected with Omicron had less lung damage, lost less weight and were less likely to die, the study found.

Although the animals infected with Omicron on average experienced much milder symptoms, the scientists were particularly struck by the results in Syrian hamsters, a species known to get severely ill with all previous versions of the virus.

“This was surprising, since every other variant has robustly infected these hamsters,” said Dr. Michael Diamond, a virologist at Washington University and a co-author of the study.

Several other studies on mice and hamsters have reached the same conclusion. (Like most urgent Omicron research, these studies have been posted online but have not yet been published in scientific journals.)

The reason that Omicron is milder may be a matter of anatomy. Dr. Diamond and his colleagues found that the level of Omicron in the noses of the hamsters was the same as in animals infected with an earlier form of the coronavirus. But Omicron levels in the lungs were one-tenth or less of the level of other variants.

A similar finding came from researchers at the University of Hong Kong who studied bits of tissue taken from human airways during surgery. In 12 lung samples, the researchers found that Omicron grew more slowly than Delta and other variants did.

The researchers also infected tissue from the bronchi, the tubes in the upper chest that deliver air from the windpipe to the lungs. And inside of those bronchial cells, in the first two days after an infection, Omicron grew faster than Delta or the original coronavirus did.

These findings will have to be followed up with further studies, such as experiments with monkeys or examination of the airways of people infected with Omicron. If the results hold up to scrutiny, they might explain why people infected with Omicron seem less likely to be hospitalized than those with Delta.

Coronavirus infections start in the nose or possibly the mouth and spread down the throat. Mild infections don’t get much further than that. But when the coronavirus reaches the lungs, it can do serious damage.

Immune cells in the lungs can overreact, killing off not just infected cells but uninfected ones. They can produce runaway inflammation, scarring the lung’s delicate walls. What’s more, the viruses can escape from the damaged lungs into the bloodstream, triggering clots and ravaging other organs.

Dr. Gupta suspects that his team’s new data give a molecular explanation for why Omicron doesn’t fare so well in the lungs.

Many cells in the lung carry a protein called TMPRSS2 on their surface that can inadvertently help passing viruses gain entry to the cell. But Dr. Gupta’s team found that this protein doesn’t grab on to Omicron very well. As a result, Omicron does a worse job of infecting cells in this manner than Delta does. A team at the University of Glasgow independently came to the same conclusion.

Through an alternative route, coronaviruses can also slip into cells that don’t make TMPRSS2. Higher in the airway, cells tend not to carry the protein, which might explain the evidence that Omicron is found there more often than the lungs.

Dr. Gupta speculated that Omicron evolved into an upper-airway specialist, thriving in the throat and nose. If that’s true, the virus might have a better chance of getting expelled in tiny drops into the surrounding air and encountering new hosts.

“It’s all about what happens in the upper airway for it to transmit, right?” he said. “It’s not really what happens down below in the lungs, where the severe disease stuff happens. So you can understand why the virus has evolved in this way.”

While these studies clearly help explain why Omicron causes milder disease, they don’t yet answer why the variant is so good at spreading from one person to another. The United States logged more than 580,000 cases on Thursday alone, the majority of which are thought to be Omicron.

“These studies address the question about what may happen in the lungs but don’t really address the question of transmissibility,” said Sara Cherry, a virologist at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Diamond said he wanted to wait for more studies to be carried out, especially in people instead of animals, before endorsing the hypothesis that TMPRSS2 is the key to understanding Omicron. “I think it is still premature on this,” he said.

Scientists know that part of Omicron’s contagiousness comes from its ability to evade antibodies, allowing it to easily get into cells of vaccinated people far more easily than other variants. But they suspect that Omicron has some other biological advantages as well.

Last week, researchers reported that the variant carries a mutation that may weaken so-called innate immunity, a molecular alarm that rapidly activates our immune system at the first sign of an invasion in the nose. But it will take more experiments to see if this is indeed one of Omicron’s secrets to success.

“It could be as simple as, this is a lot more virus in people’s saliva and nasal passages,” Dr. Cherry said. But there could be other explanations for its efficient spread: It could be more stable in the air, or better infect new hosts. “I think it’s really an important question,” she said.


By Carl Zimmer and Azeen Ghorayshi
Dec. 31, 2021

Carl Zimmer writes the “Matter” column. He is the author of fourteen books, including “Life's Edge: The Search For What It Means To Be Alive.” @carlzimmer • Facebook
A version of this article appears in print on Jan. 1, 2022, Section A, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Data on Omicron Suggests Illness Spares the Lungs. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe



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Re: coronavirus

Post by elvis4life »

https://nypost.com/2022/01/13/these-invincibles-want-to-know-why-theyve-never-had-covid/

These ‘invincibles’ have never had COVID — and they want to know why
By Alyson Krueger
January 13, 2022 6:34am

“Every time I do something I’m like, ‘This is it, I am going to get COVID,’” said Rachel McMullin, a 36-year-old swing dance instructor and performer who lives in Crown Heights.

She’s had a lot of close calls. Two weeks before Christmas, when the highly contagious Omicron variant took out entire holiday parties in New York City, she went to a jazz jam in the East Village, performed at a gathering with a few hundred circulating guests, and attended a drag show in an unventilated basement, all unmasked.

Recently she shared a joint with a friend who tested positive for the virus days later. She practiced dancing with another who got positive results hours after their rehearsal.

“I freaked out after the first couple of exposures, but now I’m just like, ‘Maybe I am one of those people who can’t get it?’” said McMullin, who said she is fully vaccinated as are all her friends. “If none of this made COVID happen, I don’t know what will.”

As COVID cases explode across the US with 62.8 million total reported since 2020, and almost eight million since Jan. 1, 2022 — and even fully vaccinated people reporting breakthrough cases — it seems as if almost no one has been left untouched by the Sars-Cov-2 virus. But like McMullin, there are some who have failed to contract COVID during the entire pandemic, even as Omicron spreads like wildfire.

“If none of this made COVID happen, I don’t know what will,” said dancer Rachel McMullin, 36, who said she has attended events throughout NYC while unmasked and never contracted the virus.
Stephen Yang

Call them the “COVID Invincibles” — and they want to know why they’re immune. Could it be dumb luck? Genetics? Perhaps they’re superheroes designed to further the human race? Memes circulating on social media equate dodging COVID to beating advanced rounds of Super Mario Bros or being a hero in “The Matrix.” One shows Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City” asking, “Am I avoiding COVID or is COVID avoiding me?” Gary Janetti, the television writer and producer, received almost 60,000 likes for his Jan. 5 post on Instagram that said, “Now I feel like there’s something wrong that I HAVEN’T gotten Covid.”

Magdalena Tyrpien, 33, a biotech executive in Manhattan who has been vaccinated twice, said: “I shared a Pedialyte with someone who was coughing up a lung and didn’t get it. I feel like the karate queen.”

Scientists don’t have the answers yet, but they are hoping to study both vaccinated and unvaccinated people who have yet to get COVID. “A global group of researchers are looking for people who have been exposed to the virus but do not get infected,” said Pia MacDonald, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the nonprofit research institute RTI International. “The study is going to compare the DNA of the people who get infected with the DNA of people who get exposed but not infected to see if there are genetic variants that mean you can’t get infected.”

Rachel McMullin has had a lot of COVID close calls, including a jazz jam in the East Village, a gathering with a few hundred circulating guests, and a drag show in an unventilated basement, all unmasked.
Stephen Yang

Science might support the theory of dumb luck, MacDonald said. For example, studies show that where you sit in a restaurant and the direction of the air circulation matters from one person to another among tables. But science does not support the theory that having a particular blood type means you are entirely protected against COVID, she added.

And yet, some people’s bodies might be hard-wired to stop COVID in its tracks.

According to the UK’s Telegraph, a study of London-based healthcare workers at the beginning of the pandemic showed that 20 percent had a clear-cut COVID infection, while 65 percent had clearly not yet been infected. But 15 percent experienced low-level “abortive infections” that weren’t picked up on PCR tests. Essentially, their T-cells had killed off the virus before it had invaded the rest of their bodies.

“I feel like the karate queen,” said Magdalena Tyrpien, 33, a biotech executive, who said she has not once tested positive for COVID throughout the pandemic.
Stephen Yang

MacDonald thinks might be happening to The Invincibles now: They were infected by COVID and just didn’t know it. “There are so many different tests out there, and each test is more or less effective at identifying an infected person,” said MacDonald. “The disease also has so many different varying symptoms and severities, people might have no idea they were sick.”

Meanwhile, many of those who think they’re invincible are starting to behave like it.

“I was in New York CIty for Christmas when everyone had it,” said Caoimhe Creswell, 27, a business school student at Oxford University, who is fully vaccinated. “I went to Portugal for New Year’s Eve and four people in my Airbnb had it, including one guy who was sleeping in the same room as me. This morning I woke up to three people who I was with over the weekend telling me they had it.”

“Virtually everyone we know has gotten it,” said musician Ruth Fabes, 63, of her vaccinated friends. Everyone, except for her.
Stephen Yang

As a result, her strategy for dealing with exposures has completely changed.

“Maybe six weeks ago, if I was in close contact with someone who had COVID, I would isolate for a day, go get a PCR, wait for the results to come back,” she said. “Now I don’t care at all. I don’t even test. I know I probably won’t get it, and I can’t go get a PCR every day.” (She does, however, test twice a week for school.)

Also, as more of her friends get COVID and gain antibodies (at least in the short term), the safer she feels. “I was sitting in class today and realized two people to my left, two people to my right and one person in front of me had all had it,” she said. “I was in this safe little circle.”

Ruth Fabes, 63, a retired public school teacher who plays in a symphony and lives in Staten Island, has watched so many of her fully vaccinated friends get COVID and have few symptoms, she feels safe socializing and knowing she probably won’t get sick.

“Virtually everyone we know has gotten it,” said Fabes, who is fully vaccinated. “I am not nervous at all. What is it going to be, a cold, a flu? For all I know I’ve already gotten it.”

Among London healthcare workers tested early on in the pandemic, 15 percent experienced low-level “abortive infections” that weren’t picked up on PCR tests.
ZUMAPRESS.com

Many of the people who haven’t gotten the virus will tell you they’ve had a lot of exposures. Some are so sick of the worry and testing that comes with each one, they would almost rather get a positive result and not have to go through the process any more.

“It’s this constant, ‘Do I have it? Do I have it?’” said Neil Barlow, 33, who runs sales for a software company and lives in Miami and is vaccinated and boosted. “Every single time I cough I’m like, ‘Maybe I have it?’”

A nurse administers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital at the start of the largest ever immunization program in the UK’s history on December 8, 2020 in London.
Getty Images

In the last month he attended a LCD Soundsystem concert in New York City with seven friends, five of whom got Covid. At a networking event, he spent six hours with an unmasked colleague in a room who tested positive. A house guest also contracted the virus while with him.

After each exposure he did at-home rapid tests and lab PCR tests and got a negative, but those results weren’t reassuring. “When I get a negative test at the back of my mind it’s like, ‘Maybe the test is wrong, and I’m positive?’” he said. It’s not helpful that many of his friends have tested negative for days before turning up positive.

Zach Mack, 36, owner of Alphabet City Beer Co, a craft beer store and bar in the East Village who is fully vaccinated and boosted, said being one of the few “invincibles” among his vaccinated friends has gone from a challenge to a blessing.

“At this point, I have my friends who have had it, and I feel like it’s safer hanging out with them than anyone else,” he said. “There are so many of them it’s easy to plan your schedule around them.”

But Mack is still being careful and not taking risks. “There is a bit of me that is like if I just catch it, it will put my mind at ease, but then I think that I don’t want to wish it upon myself,” he said. “I don’t know how sick I’ll get, and it isn’t something I want to pass along to someone else.”

MacDonald seconds that emotion. “We don’t know who ends up being a long hauler with COVID or why, and you don’t want to be a long hauler,” she said.

“There is a bit of me that is like, if I just catch it, it will put my mind at ease,” said Zach Mack, 36, a “COVID Invincible” living in the East Village.
Stephen Yang

Meanwhile, there is another bizarre “COVID club”: People who have contracted the virus three times. Ann Ragan Kearns, 30, who owns a public communications consultancy and lives on the Upper East Side, is a member.

“I saw this meme that said if you get COVID three times you should win a car,” said Kearns, who is fully vaccinated and in the process of scheduling her booster shot. “I totally agree.”

She said she has contracted the virus every time a new variant has come out and doesn’t understand why anyone would want to get COVID.

Zach Mack says that despite never contracting COVID, he’s still being careful.
Stephen Yang

“I keep hearing people say they want the antibodies, but those clearly don’t help you with the next variant,” she said. “Also, you don’t know how your body can react, and trust me, it can get really scary.”

One feeling unites both groups: the desire to understand why their body is responding to the virus differently than most people around them.

“I want to know why I have gotten it so many times. Is there something wrong with me or do I have bad luck?” Kearns said. “Even if I’m just cursed, I really want to know.”


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Endemic Covid: Is the pandemic entering its endgame?

Who hasn't let out an exasperated "Is the pandemic finished yet?" or a "When can I just get on with my life?" over the past two years? I know I have.

The answer to those questions could be... very soon.

There is growing confidence that Omicron could be hurtling the UK into the pandemic endgame.

But what comes next? There will be no snap of the fingers to make the virus disappear. Instead, the new buzzword we'll have to get used to is "endemic" - which means that Covid is, without doubt, here to stay.

So, is a new Covid-era truly imminent and what will that actually mean for our lives?

"We're almost there, it is now the beginning of the end, at least in the UK," Prof Julian Hiscox, Chair in Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool, tells me.

"I think life in 2022 will be almost back to before the pandemic."

What's changing is our immunity. The new coronavirus first emerged two years ago in Wuhan, China, and we were vulnerable. It was a completely new virus that our immune systems had not experienced before and we had no drugs or vaccines to help.

The result was like taking a flamethrower into a fireworks factory. Covid spread explosively around the world - but that fire cannot burn at such high intensity forever.

There were two options - either we would extinguish Covid, as we did with Ebola in West Africa, or it would die down but be with us for the long term. It would join the swarm of endemic diseases - such as common colds, HIV, measles, malaria and tuberculosis - that are always there.
infographic showing pandemic, endemic and epidemic disease patterns


For many, this was the inevitable fate of a virus that spreads through the air before you even know you're sick. "Endemicity was written into this virus," says Dr Elisabetta Groppelli, a virologist at St George's, University of London.

"I am very optimistic," she says. "We'll soon be in a situation where the virus is circulating, we will take care of people at risk, but for anybody else we accept they will catch it - and your average person will be fine."

Epidemiologists, who study the spread of diseases, would consider a disease endemic when levels are consistent and predictable - unlike the "boom and bust" waves so far in the pandemic.

But Prof Azra Ghani, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, says other people are using it mean Covid is still around, but that we no longer need to restrict our lives.

She thinks we'll get there "rapidly". She added: "It seems like it's taken a long time, but only a year ago we started vaccinating and we're already an awful lot freer because of that."

The only major curve ball would be a new variant that can outcompete Omicron and cause significantly more severe disease.
How bad?

It is important to remember that endemic does not automatically mean mild. "We have some huge killer diseases that we consider endemic," says Prof Ghani. Smallpox was endemic for thousands of years and killed a third of people who were infected. Malaria is endemic and causes around 600,000 deaths a year.

But we are already seeing the signs that Covid is becoming less deadly as our bodies become more familiar with fighting it.


In the UK there has been a vaccination campaign, a booster campaign and waves of Covid involving four different variants of the virus.

"When Omicron has finished and moved through, immunity in the UK will be high, at least for a while," says Prof Eleanor Riley, an immunologist at the University of Edinburgh.

The high level of infections has come at a price, with more than 150,000 deaths in the UK. But it has left a protective legacy in our immune systems. That immunity will wane so we should expect to catch Covid in the future, but it should still reduce the chances of becoming seriously ill.

Prof Hiscox - who sits on the government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group - says that means most people won't be badly affected.


"Should a new variant or old variant come along, for most of us, like any other common cold coronavirus, we'll get the sniffles and a bit of a headache and then we're OK."
What will it mean for our lives?

There will be people - mostly the old and vulnerable - who will die from endemic Covid. So there is still a decision to be made about how we live alongside it.

"If you're willing to tolerate zero deaths from Covid, then we're facing a whole raft of restrictions and it's not game over," Prof Hiscox explains.

But, he says, "in a bad flu season, 200-300 die a day over winter and nobody wears a mask or socially distances, that's perhaps a right line to draw in the sand."

Lockdowns and restrictions on mass gatherings will not come back and mass testing for Covid will end this year, he expects.

The near certainty is there will be booster vaccines for the vulnerable come the autumn in order to top up their protection through winter.

"We need to accept the fact that our flu season is also going to be a coronavirus season, and that is going to be a challenge for us," says Dr Groppelli.

However, it is still uncertain how bad winters will be as the people who die from flu and Covid tend to be the same. As one scientist put it, "You can't die twice."

Prof Riley thinks we won't be compelled to wear face masks after Omicron, but they will become "a much more common sight" as they are in parts of Asia as people choose to wear them in crowded places.


What about the rest of the world?

While the UK is ahead of most of the world due to a combination of vaccines and a large number of infections, the planet is not remotely close to seeing the end of the pandemic.

Poorer countries are still waiting for vaccines to give to their most vulnerable people. Meanwhile countries that kept Covid at arms' length have had very few deaths, but also have less immunity in their populations.

The World Health Organization has been clear the world is a long way off describing Covid as endemic.

"For the world it is still a pandemic and an acute emergency," Dr Groppelli concludes.

written by James Gallagher
Health and science correspondent
@JamesTGallagher

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-59970281


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Just looked at the Covid infections 'Daily' worldwide and seems many countries the amount of infections is starting to rapidly fall (especially the UK).....so hopefully safer times for a while......


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https://www.dw.com/en/covid-do-multiple-boosters-exhaust-our-immune-response/a-60447735

COVID: Do multiple boosters 'exhaust' our immune response?
It’s too soon to understand the effectiveness of a fourth vaccine dose, according to the EU's top drug regulator. But some countries have already authorized the shot.

Vaccine boosters could be ineffective at slowing the pandemic

Fourth doses of the COVID-19 vaccine don’t appear to offer significant protection against catching omicron according to a preliminary study conducted in Israel, the first country to authorize a second booster for its general population. Researchers announced the resultsMonday, around three weeks after fourth shots became widely available across the country.

These findings appear to confirm doubts expressed by the European Union’s top drug regulator last week. Marco Cavaleri, the European Medicines Agency's head of vaccines strategy, said at a news briefingthere’s no data supporting the broad effectiveness of fourth boosters.

Some countries – like Denmark, Hungary and Chile – have already authorized second boosters despite concern from regulators. Near the end of December, the World Health OrganizationDirector-General said blanket booster policies are more likely to prolong the pandemic than end it.

Israel became the first country to administer second booster shots earlier this month

Along with citing a lack of data on the effectiveness of multiple booster doses, Cavaleri said that frequent boosting could potentially have a negative impact on immune response to COVID-19, causing "fatigue in the population" that's received multiple shots.

Researchers say that although it's true that there's no clinical data proving the effectiveness of multiple boosters, there's also no science to back up the idea that frequent boosters could cause "fatigue” in the population. That's because the research has never been attempted.

T cell exhaustion
Cavaleri was likely referencing a concern that seeing antigens (like those provided by vaccines) over and over again can lead to T cell anergy or "exhaustion”, said Sarah Fortune, a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, in an email to DW.

T cells play a key role in fighting COVID-19 once it's entered the body.

Fortune said that although there is a scientific foundation for Cavaleri's concern, it should be interpreted as a question that researchers will be watching out for, rather than something they know about COVID-19 vaccines that should inform policy.

In the case of COVID-19, the science on T cell exhaustion is more complicated than merely seeing antigens repeatedly, Fortune said.

"T cells become dysfunctional when they repeatedly see antigen in certain contexts — and the best studied of that biology are settings like HIV or cancer where the antigen is there all the time, not just repeated vaccination," she wrote.

Vaccinating every couple of months is a novel concept
When someone gets a vaccine, the antigen is there for maybe two weeks, then it goes away, said Reinhard Obst, a professor at Ludwig Maximilian University's Institute of Immunology who has facilitated research on T cell exhaustion in mice.

EMA's Head of Vaccines Strategy, Marco Cavaleri, said that frequent boosting could potentially have a negative impact on immune response to COVID-19.

While T cell exhaustion can be observed in cancer or HIV patients in response to some immune-based treatments, it's never been observed in humans in response to frequent COVID-19 vaccination.

Obst said that although there's little clinical data behind it, Cavaleri's concern makes sense.

"The idea of vaccinating every four months or even more than that is novel. It's something that you haven't seen with other types of viruses. And the idea of T cell exhaustion is the reason why you might pause," said Obst.

"If someone would ask me, ‘Hey, would you get vaccinated every four months' or let's even say every two months, four times in a row…yeah, I would raise my hand and say ‘Better careful…give them a rest,'" he said.

'Occasional boosts will be helpful'
Stanford professor of immunology research Holden Maecker said in an email to DW he also hasn’t come across any science behind the idea that multiple boosters overwhelm the immune system, but mentioned data from the UK showing that delaying a second dose or boost until around six months is effective.

Many other studies have shown that the immune system needs time to build memory, indicating that booster shots are not very useful at short intervals, he added.

With that said, "we get yearly flu shots without detriment, and all indications so far suggest that occasional boosts for COVID-19 vaccines will be helpful," he wrote.

Vaccines held to an impossible standard
Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has spoken critically against COVID-19 booster policies for the general population, calling the strategy misguided. Offit is also a member of the US Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisory committee.

Offit's concern isn't focused on the possibility of potential T-cell exhaustion, but rather the unsustainability of a health strategy centered around trying to prevent mild illness.

The COVID-19 vaccines have been held to an impossible standard, he said. When the phase three studies on the quality of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were presented in the US in December 2020, they showed a 95% efficacy against mild illness.

"There's no way that was going to last," said Offit, adding that neutralizing antibodies fade over time.

In response, some vaccinated people will develop mild cases of COVID-19.

"That's okay,” said Offit, adding that the vaccines are working like they're supposed to. "You just want it to keep you out of the hospital, out of the intensive care unit and out of the morgue, and it was doing that. But we labeled those cases breakthroughs, which was, I think, a communications error, and then held this vaccine to a standard that we hold no other mucosal vaccine to."

Typical flu and rotavirus vaccines often don't protect against mild illness, but they do protect against moderate to severe sickness, which is what Offit says is the point.

US health officials authorized booster doses in order to prevent mild illness, Offit said. But the focus should instead be on administering first and second vaccine doses to people who are unvaccinated, rather than continuing to boost people who have already gotten their first two shots, he told DW.

"It's a worldwide pandemic," said Offit. "We are all going to be suffering this virus until we have control of it in the world."

Better global vaccine access a priority
"As long as the virus is circulating around the world, you're going to need to have a highly immune population," said Offit. "The best way to do that is to make sure that those countries that have limited access to vaccines have access to vaccines in the same manner we do. I think that the third dose, fourth dose, fifth dose is largely a waste, or a detour, from what you really need, which is to make sure people have gotten their primary series because that is likely to protect them against severe disease for a long time, for years, even.”

The US approved boosters for all Americans in November, despite pushback from vaccine committee advisors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA, like Offit.

"It just doesn't make sense to me," Offit said. "I don't know how it came to be. I mean, when President Biden stood up on August 18 and said ‘we're going to have booster doses available for everybody over 16', I just don't know where that came from."

The CDC says that although two doses of the vaccine work to prevent severe illness in most people, boosters can help protect severe illness in people in risk groups, and against reinfection from new variants like omicron.

Recent trials in Israel and the US have also shown that boosters can help protect older people. Offit says they make sense for people who need them due to risk factors, but that protection from omicron alone isn't enough of a reason to boost everyone.

"The people who get hospitalized, people who have multiple comorbidities, who are older or immunosuppressed – boost them. I'm all for that," Offit said. "But I just don't understand the story of this war against mild disease in healthy young people."


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U.S. to distribute 400 million free N95 masks at CVS, Walgreens in COVID fight -

WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES, Jan 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. government will make 400 million non-surgical "N95" masks from its strategic national stockpile available for free to the public starting next week, a White House official said, as the Biden administration tries to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

Snug-fitting N95 face masks, so-called because they filter at least 95% of particulate matter from the air, will be shipped to pharmacies and community health centers this week, the official said, and available for pickup late next week.

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-make-400-million-n95-masks-available-free-fight-covid-19-pandemic-official-2022-01-19/


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A conflict of interest for the number one tennis player, if the following is of any indication. Certainly it explains why the Serbian doesn't want to get vaccinated or be associated with vaccines. The plot thickens :o

Djokovic has 80% stake in biotech firm developing Covid drug

Novak Djokovic is the controlling shareholder in a Danish biotech firm aiming to develop a treatment for Covid-19 that does not involve vaccination, it has emerged.

The world No 1, who was deported from Australia this week after the government cancelled his visa in a dispute over a medical exemption relating to his unvaccinated status, bought an 80% stake in QuantBioRes in 2020.

Ivan Loncarevic, the company’s chief executive, confirmed the investment to Reuters. He subsequently told the Financial Times that he had not spoken to Djokovic, who has won more than $150m in prize money, since November and that the tennis star was “not anti-vax”.

Djokovic flew out of Australia on Sunday after losing a legal challenge to overturn the cancellation of his visa by Alex Hawke, the country’s immigration minister, who said Djokovic’s presence in Australia might risk “civil unrest” as he was a “talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment”.

QuantBioRes has about 11 researchers working in Denmark, Australia and Slovenia, according to Loncarevic, who stressed the company was working on a treatment, not a vaccine. The company’s website says it started developing a “deactivation mechanism” for Covid-19 in July 2020.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/19/novak-djokovic-stake-biotech-firm-quantbiores-covid



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https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/how-order-free-covid-tests-home-use-white-house-website-n1287647

How to order free at-home Covid tests: White House website goes live
The highly transmissible omicron variant has made at-home Covid tests hard to find.

Jan. 18, 2022, 1:20 PM EST / Updated Jan. 18, 2022, 2:18 PM EST
By Teaganne Finn
WASHINGTON — The federal government's website for Americans to order at-home rapid Covid-19 testing kits launched on Tuesday.

The website https://www.covidtests.gov/ says "every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days."

"Order your tests now so you have them when you need them," said the website.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed in her press briefing that the site is currently in its "beta phase" ahead of the official launch Wednesday.

“Today, in alignment with website launch best practices, covidtests.gov is currently in its beta phase, which means that the website is operating at limited capacity ahead of its official launch," a White House official told NBC News. "This is standard practice to address troubleshooting and ensure as smooth of an official launch tomorrow as possible. We expect the website to officially launch midmorning tomorrow.”

Some users reported running into issues Tuesday afternoon relating to the address verification tool erroneously enforcing the four-per-household cap on apartment buildings and other multi-unit dwellings. A spokesperson for the Postal Service said in a statement that the error was “occurring in a small percentage of orders” and that user needing assistance could file a request at https://emailus.usps.com/s/the-postal-store-inquiry or contact a help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS.

In December, the federal government announced it would start mailing at-home Covid test kits for free to any U.S. household that requests one, as the omicron variant of the coronavirus contributes to a spike in new cases. The White House said at the time it was preparing to ship as many as 500 million kits.

Testing remains one of the biggest challenges for the administration, with long lines forming at testing centers and at-home rapid tests selling out quickly, public health officials have said.

Increased demand has wiped out store shelves and forced retailers to limit purchases of at-home tests. Meanwhile, increased demand for PCR testing at pharmacies, medical clinics and hospitals has led to a backlog, sometimes meaning it takes several days to get results.

President Joe Biden and his top health officials last month largely focused on urging people to get vaccinations and boosters, and on wearing a mask indoors while greenlighting holiday gatherings for those fully vaccinated.

The demand for testing has overwhelmed the nation's capacity in places that are hardest hit, and the administration was widely criticized recently for what appeared to be confusing recommendations for those infected.

In an effort to improve its messaging Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, said this month that she would begin holding regular news briefings with other CDC officials, apart from the weekly White House Covid briefings that typically last for 30 minutes and leave time for only a handful of questions.


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The "Old Normal" is never coming back. Regular Boosters and lockdowns here and there is our
"New Normal" . That's the reality we're living in no matter what country.


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Covid: Face mask rules and Covid passes to end in England

England's Plan B measures are to end from next Thursday, with mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports both dropped, Boris Johnson has announced.

The prime minister also said the government would immediately drop its advice for people to work from home.

The PM said England was reverting to "Plan A" due to boosters and how people had followed Plan B measures.

He told MPs scientists believed the Omicron wave had peaked nationally.

At a Downing Street press conference, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "This is a moment we can all be proud of. "It's a reminder of what this country can accomplish when we all work together."

But, he said, this should not be seen as the "finish line" because the virus and future variants cannot be eradicated - instead "we must learn to live with Covid in the same way we live with flu".

He urged people to continue taking steps to keep the virus at bay, including hand washing, ventilating rooms and self-isolating if positive - and pressed those who were unvaccinated to come forward to get their jabs.

Earlier, in a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, the prime minister said:
  • Mandatory Covid passports for entering nightclubs and large events would end, though organisations could choose to use the NHS Covid pass if they wished
  • People would no longer be advised to work from home and should discuss their return to offices with employers
  • Face masks will no longer be mandated, though people are still advised to wear coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces and when meeting strangers
  • From Thursday, secondary school pupils will no longer have to wear face masks in classrooms and government guidance on their use in communal areas would be removed "shortly"
Further announcements on the easing of travel rules and restrictions on care home visits in England are expected in the coming days, Boris Johnson added.

The prime minister also said the government intended to end the legal requirement for people who test positive for Covid to self-isolate - and replace it with advice and guidance.

The current regulations around self-isolation expire on 24 March. Mr Johnson said he expected not to renew them then - and suggested that date could be brought forward if the data allows.

Citing the latest infection study by the Office for National Statistics, Mr Johnson said its data showed that infections levels were falling in England. He also said hospital admissions had stabilised and scientists believed "it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally".

However, he said he did expect cases to continue rising in primary schools and pointed to significant pressures on the NHS in north-east and north-west England.

Looking ahead, Mr Johnson said the government would set out its long-term strategy for living with coronavirus.

He urged people to "remain cautious" during the last weeks of winter as there were still "significant pressures" on the NHS and the pandemic was "not over".

In response, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would back lifting Plan B measures "as long as the science says it is safe" and accused the prime minister of being "too distracted" to have a "robust plan to live well with Covid".

School leaders' unions said Covid remained a challenge for schools, with high numbers of staff and pupils absent.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the end of face coverings in classrooms, but warned the government risked giving the impression the crisis was over when there was still huge disruption in education.

And the Royal College of Nursing said dropping Plan B would do "nothing to ease the pressure on the NHS". "We can't rely on the vaccine alone when the situation is still so precariously balanced," its chief executive Pat Cullen said.

But for the hospitality sector, which suffered as people worked from home and were cautious over Omicron, there was relief. Industry group UKHospitality said businesses could now begin their revival and recovery.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-60047438

Boris is in trouble politically but I think it is the right call. COVID is now in the endemic stage. Maybe our leaders here in the USA will follow his lead.


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elvis4life
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Re: coronavirus

Post by elvis4life »

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hanka-horka-dies-covid-19-deliberately-catch/

Singer dies after deliberately catching COVID-19
BY CAITLIN O'KANE

JANUARY 20, 2022 / 2:00 PM / CBS NEWS

A popular Czech folk singer who deliberately caught COVID-19 has died, her son says. Hanka Horka, who was not vaccinated, caught the virus from her son and husband, who are vaccinated but still caught it over the holidays, according to BBC News.

The 57-year-old purposefully did not stay away from them and exposed herself the virus, which she caught. Horka posted on social media January 14 that she had recovered from the virus – but her son told BBC News she died two days later.

"She should have isolated for a week because we tested positive. But she was with us the whole time," Jan Rek said of his mother's deliberate exposure to the virus.

Hanka Horka, 57, was a popular Czech folk singer who deliberately caught COVID-19 has died, her son told BBC News. Horka was not vaccinated and caught the virus from her son and husband, who are vaccinated but still caught it over the holidays.
HANKA HORKA/FACEBOOK

In the Czech Republic, many public places like theaters and bars require either proof of vaccination – or proof of recovery from recent infection, according to BBC News.

Rek said his mother got infected on purpose when he and his father had the virus, so she could get a recovery pass to access certain venues.

After she thought she recovered, Horka wrote: "Now there will be theatre, sauna, a concert," according to BCC News.

But soon after, she was getting dressed for a walk and felt her back hurting. She went to lay down and in "about 10 minutes it was all over," her son said. "She choked to death."

Horka was a member of folk group Asonance. The band announced her death on their website. CBS News has reached out to the band for comment and is awaiting response.

Rek also posted about the anti-vaccine sentiments that appear to have lead to his mother's death. "You took away my mom, who based her arguments on your convictions," he wrote, according to the New York Times. "I despise you."

Horka did not believe in conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines, although she was not vaccinated herself, her son said. "Her philosophy was that she was more okay with the idea of catching COVID than getting vaccinated," Rek said. "Not that we would get microchipped or anything like that."

Rek said discussing the issue with her got too emotional. He hopes sharing the story helps others choose to get vaccinated, BBC News reports. "If you have living examples from real life, it's more powerful than just graphs and numbers. You can't really sympathize with numbers," Rek said.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people who are eligible get the vaccine as soon as possible. "Millions of people in the U.S. have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in US history," the CDC says.

The Czech Republic says people who test positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for five calendar days and people with symptoms will have to extend their five-day isolation and wait at least two days after the symptoms fade out. Masks are also required in most settings.

The Czech Republic, also referred to as Czechia, has recorded almost 2.7 million COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins. The country recorded 28,564 new daily cases on Wednesday and 245,696 this month, according to the university's Coronavirus Research Center. About 63% of the country's population – 6,744,187 – are vaccinated.