SocraticGadfly: Coronavirus week 43: Double-masking, latest on variant strains (and wear a mask on the bus)

February 02, 2021

Coronavirus week 43: Double-masking, latest on variant strains (and wear a mask on the bus)

• First, Pfizer says that the British and South African variants have only small effects on its vaccine. Note that this study it cites doesn't include the Brazilian variant. Also, "small sample size" and other issues apply to the study.

• More here on all the variants in the U.S. Pfizer and Moderna both say in that story that they're planning booster vaccines.

• Will an annual vaccination be needed? And, how much will it need to be tweaked, assuming I'm right that a universal vaccine against all coronaviruses just isn't feasible, at least not anywhere in the near future? Answers on that are here, and seem to be "probably" for the first and "moderately" for the second. That said, per the likes of Skeptical Raptor, mRNA vaccines are fairly easy to tweak. On the other hand, they remain two dose vaccines. And, on the third hand, I wonder if he's not tilting fairly hard to the optimistic side of the equation.

• On the third, fourth, and further hands? Moderna's booster won't be ready until the coming winter. I assume the same is true for Pfizer. Moderna also said its vaccine is moderately less effective against the South African strain; per the first link, despite spin from it, Pfizer's vaccine appears to have a few more problems with it than with the UK variant.

• Dr. Scott Gottlieb, an increasingly trustable voice, says the South African variant also appears to challenge prior immunity more. That, then, ties back to the third paragraph about annual vaccination. NPR confirms the level of worry.

• The Washington Post also weighs in, and says the UK variant, though it may not challenge the existing vaccines the way the South African variant does and the Brazilian variant likely does, may be up to 30 percent more lethal than the original strain.

That same story also notes an interesting and concerning issue — the low rate of first responders to get vaccinated.

• Wired, in a long read, says that blown pandemic responses have given the virus working space, and working time, for its evolution. It also notes that the Brazilian variant has at least one of the more worrisome evolutions that the South African strain does. It also notes that delayed vaccination speed could give the new strains the same working space, which leads to ...

• Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel, in fact, says that COVID-19 could become endemic. And, perhaps just enough for continuing low-grade disruptions of Western economies, above all the consumer-centric US one. Update: Nature magazine, in a survey of those who should know, had 90 percent of scientists agreeing it will go endemic. Much less certain is the long-term virulence.
• One thing you can do to help yourself is, per the New York Times, be like me and double-mask!!! I took an airplane vacation over the holidays. Double-masked in airport terminals and on planes. I double mask if I'm going to take more than 3 minutes grocery shopping. More on double-masking here.

• Let's say its annual death toll drops by 2/3. Assuming we hit 540K by the end of February, and assuming that we missed some numbers a full year ago, we're still talking 180K a year, three times the deaths of a bad-case flu year. Oops.

• The part of the header in parentheses? The Biden Administration is requiring that.

• That said, how, and how well, will Biden's order be enforced? In Michigan, local cops are abetting scofflaw restaurants on defying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's orders.
• Steven Brandenburg, the Wisconsin pharmacist who destroyed vaccine last year? Also a flat-earther. And a microchipper believer. And a prepper. Probably a 5G guy, too.


Winco is now on my boycott list. 

No comments: