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  1. #21121
    Quote Originally Posted by Utley View Post
    Is the latest Omicron sub variant supposed to be more virulent than earlier variants? Way too small of a sample size but I had two colleagues who recently tested positive and both said it’s the sickest they have felt in like a decade. The first version seemed to resemble something more like a cold from the people I know who had it. Both are vaccinated and boostered to the extent that matters (and perhaps that mattering less for this sub-variant is the key here).
    I think that's anecdata rather than actual data. They're certainly more EVASIVE against existing immune responses, but I haven't seen clear evidence that they make people sicker than earlier variants.

    COVID is strange in that the variability of sickness is just so huge...some people don't even develop symptoms and others really get crushed even if vaccinated and boosted...

  2. #21122
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedog View Post
    ...some people don't even develop symptoms and others really get crushed even if vaccinated and boosted...
    That sounds about right - just like most things in life.

  3. #21123
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedog View Post
    I think that's anecdata rather than actual data. They're certainly more EVASIVE against existing immune responses, but I haven't seen clear evidence that they make people sicker than earlier variants.

    COVID is strange in that the variability of sickness is just so huge...some people don't even develop symptoms and others really get crushed even if vaccinated and boosted...
    Quoting myself to provide article I just read that supports this:
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna36894
    "There’s really no clear evidence that [BA.4 and BA.5] are more or less likely to make people sick and cause severe illness and death," [David Montefiori of Duke medical Center] said.

    One troubling quote to me:

    Francois Balloux, the director of the University College London Genetics Institute:
    "At this stage now, I think all these variants actually are roughly equally transmissible, so there’s not a huge difference," he said."It’s just some are slightly better at infecting people who have been vaccinated or infected by previous variants."

    It's troubling to me because it seems that given the fact the virus mutates like crazy, getting more of the population immunity against BA.5 almost seems futile because undoubtedly they'll be a BA.6 that can evade BA.5 immunity. That's basically what has happened with BA.1 not staying dominant (i.e. too many people have sufficient immune protection against it). I was actually kinda hoping that BA.5 WAS more contagious because that may give an alternate explanation of the path. Of course, I still think it's the right call to target the latest variants with new vaccines, but the whack a mole seems like it will persist.

  4. #21124
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Chesapeake, VA.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedog View Post
    Quoting myself to provide article I just read that supports this:
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna36894
    "There’s really no clear evidence that [BA.4 and BA.5] are more or less likely to make people sick and cause severe illness and death," [David Montefiori of Duke medical Center] said.

    One troubling quote to me:

    Francois Balloux, the director of the University College London Genetics Institute:
    "At this stage now, I think all these variants actually are roughly equally transmissible, so there’s not a huge difference," he said."It’s just some are slightly better at infecting people who have been vaccinated or infected by previous variants."

    It's troubling to me because it seems that given the fact the virus mutates like crazy, getting more of the population immunity against BA.5 almost seems futile because undoubtedly they'll be a BA.6 that can evade BA.5 immunity. That's basically what has happened with BA.1 not staying dominant (i.e. too many people have sufficient immune protection against it). I was actually kinda hoping that BA.5 WAS more contagious because that may give an alternate explanation of the path. Of course, I still think it's the right call to target the latest variants with new vaccines, but the whack a mole seems like it will persist.
    Undoubtedly, there will be more variants over time. Chasing them with new versions of vaccines is likely going to be very difficult, because they evolve faster than we can produce, test, distribute, and administer vaccines.

    There are a lot of people who are right now working on a "universal" Covid vaccine. The idea behind it would be to try to produce immunity to a highly conserved region of the genome; in other words, a part of the gene that doesn't change when new variants are being made. In theory, highly conserved regions are highly conserved for a reason; they are generally very important for the replication/survival of the virus. We know that with RNA viruses, mutations occur randomly, and therefore we know that mutations are also occurring in these highly conserved regions, but we don't find the mutations in the circulating strains. That suggests that when mutations in these regions arise, there is a fitness cost to the virus that makes it so it gets out-competed by non-mutated virions.

    This is all well and good, but I can tell you from decades of experience working with and studying RNA viruses that there are multiple problems with this approach. 1) The regions that mutate all the time are generally also the regions that are most involved in interactions with human cells, important interactions such as attachment, for example (which is the first step in viral replication). It is easier to prevent infection by blocking the regions that interact most with human cells during early replication. In other words, even a robust immune response to a conserved inner protein might not produce good protection. 2) Over time, RNA viruses will generally work their way around your vaccine protection, even if you successfully target a highly conserved region. 3) People have been working on a similar vaccine idea for influenza for a long, long time and have yet to come out with a universal influenza vaccination, which makes me think that making this type of vaccine and having it be successful will not be easy.

    As an example of point number two, above, when neuraminidase inhibitors (like Tamiflu) were first invented to treat influenza, it was thought that they would be effective forever, because they targeted a region of the influenza genome that was always conserved in circulating strains. After about 10-12 years of clinical use, however, resistance did, in fact, arise. I remember one season, in particular, when about 90% of the circulating strains were resistant to Tamiflu. And yes, those strains were still causing disease.


    Bottom line is that it is likely the virus will always be at least one step ahead of us, if not two, unless we can come up with a miraculous "pan-coronavirus" vaccine that actually works. I hope it will happen, but I am not holding my breath.
    "We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, an effort which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world." --M. Proust

  5. #21125
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, D.C.

    Manifests like meningitis?

    Quote Originally Posted by Utley View Post
    Is the latest Omicron sub variant supposed to be more virulent than earlier variants? Way too small of a sample size but I had two colleagues who recently tested positive and both said it’s the sickest they have felt in like a decade. The first version seemed to resemble something more like a cold from the people I know who had it. Both are vaccinated and boostered to the extent that matters (and perhaps that mattering less for this sub-variant is the key here).
    Anecdotal, but a UK physician who had a BA.5 infection recently said she thought she had viral meningitis (not a good feeling). No cold symptoms.

    https://floreshealth.com/health-news...as-meningitis/

  6. #21126
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    WA State
    June 30th was the final day for compliance with US Army vaccine mandates.
    Army Cuts Off More Than 60K Unvaccinated Guard and Reserve Soldiers from Pay and Benefits
    The Armed Forces are also behind on recruiting (for a variety of reasons.) Not a good confluence of events.

  7. #21127
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Southbury, CT
    Quote Originally Posted by MChambers View Post
    I just finished the new book by Michael Lewis, The Premonition, about the pandemic and our response. It's like almost every other Michael Lewis book: entertaining and quirky characters with interesting and sometimes hilarious stories. Not surprisingly, he paints the CDC in a terrible light.

    I'm glad I read it. If you like reading Michael Lewis, you'll like this book.
    Just finished this book (more than a year after it came out) and I agree--classic Michael Lewis character-driven expose.

    Posting here because I came across an unexpected Duke connection in the book. Lewis describes a group of pandemic experts originally connected through the G.W. Bush White House that would discuss up-and-coming biological threats via phone calls and e-mail chains to see if they could do something to influence situations and save lives. They were called "The Wolverines" based on a reference to the movie Red Dawn, and throughout the book they are trying to get the federal government and the CDC to do more and different things to protect the public. I don't think it is a spoiler to say the government generally doesn't listen...

    One of the original members of the group was James Lawler, who is a former Navy physician who now runs the Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska. One of James' e-mails from January 18th, 2020 is quoted in the book:
    "Saw unconfirmed reports today of 17 more cases in Wuhan, so I got to thinking...is it likely that this thing is much larger than what we are seeing?"
    James graduated with an Engineering degree from Duke and was in Navy ROTC a couple years ahead of me back in the early nineties. James was one of the top leaders in our battalion his senior year, which somewhat foreshadowed his already impressive career. Here's his LinkedIn profile.

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-lawler-723138a/

    P.S. This thread started on January 24th...pretty impressive that our experts here were on top of this stuff so early! Some of our posters should have been in Lewis' book!
    Good people drink good beer. -Hunter S. Thompson

  8. #21128
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Gooch's comment just made me go back and look at the first few pages of this thread. Humbling to say the least.

  9. #21129
    I continue to be surprised, and annoyed, that the cost of at-home COVID test kits remains so much higher in the USA than in the UK and elsewhere around Europe. At pharmacies here in Orlando, the FlowFlex rapid antigen tests carry a standard price of $10 per kit. In the UK, you can go into any Boots Pharmacy and buy the same kit for 2 GBP, or about $2.40. Can anyone offer a justifiable reason why we must pay four times the same amount for one test kit as people across the pond?

  10. #21130
    Quote Originally Posted by Stray Gator View Post
    I continue to be surprised, and annoyed, that the cost of at-home COVID test kits remains so much higher in the USA than in the UK and elsewhere around Europe. At pharmacies here in Orlando, the FlowFlex rapid antigen tests carry a standard price of $10 per kit. In the UK, you can go into any Boots Pharmacy and buy the same kit for 2 GBP, or about $2.40. Can anyone offer a justifiable reason why we must pay four times the same amount for one test kit as people across the pond?
    Insurance now should cover it largely, but you have to submit the receipt to get reimbursed and there's some limit ($15/test, 4x monthly or something like that). US is basically the only country where pricing for drugs and medical procedures aren't regulated by government entities.

  11. #21131
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Chesapeake, VA.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stray Gator View Post
    I continue to be surprised, and annoyed, that the cost of at-home COVID test kits remains so much higher in the USA than in the UK and elsewhere around Europe. At pharmacies here in Orlando, the FlowFlex rapid antigen tests carry a standard price of $10 per kit. In the UK, you can go into any Boots Pharmacy and buy the same kit for 2 GBP, or about $2.40. Can anyone offer a justifiable reason why we must pay four times the same amount for one test kit as people across the pond?
    We haven't paid a single penny for our tests. US Govt gave them away for free.

  12. #21132
    We have many places in town where we can just go pick up ones for free - library, ambulance corps, schools (during the year).

    Helps to not be in Florida.

  13. #21133
    Quote Originally Posted by rsvman View Post
    We haven't paid a single penny for our tests. US Govt gave them away for free.
    Yes, we've received some of those free test kits. But even after three rounds, I believe the number is limited to 16 per residential address; and a couple that has tested positive can go through those in short order by the time both test negative again. Then the next time you have occasion to plan a vacation together with other members of an extended family who reside outside your normal bubble -- particularly if they feel that each member of the group should be testing again every day or two -- the cost of test kits at $10 per pop can become substantial.

    The government program that provides a limited number of free test kits to each household is certainly a good thing. Insurance company reimbursement for retail purchases of test kits is a good thing, too. But I still don't understand why test kits at pharmacies in the US cost four times as much as the same test kits at pharmacies in the UK.

  14. #21134
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    North of Durham
    Quote Originally Posted by Stray Gator View Post
    Yes, we've received some of those free test kits. But even after three rounds, I believe the number is limited to 16 per residential address; and a couple that has tested positive can go through those in short order by the time both test negative again. Then the next time you have occasion to plan a vacation together with other members of an extended family who reside outside your normal bubble -- particularly if they feel that each member of the group should be testing again every day or two -- the cost of test kits at $10 per pop can become substantial.

    The government program that provides a limited number of free test kits to each household is certainly a good thing. Insurance company reimbursement for retail purchases of test kits is a good thing, too. But I still don't understand why test kits at pharmacies in the US cost four times as much as the same test kits at pharmacies in the UK.
    Here in NYC they give them out like candy. I have kids in two separate public schools and anytime there was a positive case anymore remotely near one of my kids they got sent home with a bunch of them. We had a meeting in May with my older child’s principal and he was joking that the boxes of tests were taking over his office. And the large bank I work for has them very readily available.

    I know that my geographic, parental and work situations combine to put me in a unique position but I don’t think it is too extreme.

  15. #21135
    Whelp. We finally got hit. My son first, then me. Son is feeling better tho he had some tough days… ran 102 fever for three days and was pretty run down, with a little cough. I’ve had a little cough and was rough yesterday, but overall just like a bad cold. My wife and daughter have somehow avoided it, although I have no idea how… we are all in the same house, and while I am sort of isolating, we were together for several days before we thought to test. On the first day we were even… intimate… because I thought it was just an itchy throat. Maybe her immune system is super strong?

  16. #21136
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Rougemont Nebulae
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Whelp. We finally got hit. My son first, then me. Son is feeling better tho he had some tough days… ran 102 fever for three days and was pretty run down, with a little cough. I’ve had a little cough and was rough yesterday, but overall just like a bad cold. My wife and daughter have somehow avoided it, although I have no idea how… we are all in the same house, and while I am sort of isolating, we were together for several days before we thought to test. On the first day we were even… intimate… because I thought it was just an itchy throat. Maybe her immune system is super strong?
    Whats your vax status. I presume vaxxed and boosted. When was your last booster? I'm vaxxed and boosted and trying to fight off a distinterest in getting double-boosted for no good reason other than I'm bored of the topic. Bad health care policy I realize.

  17. #21137
    Vaxxed and double boosted… so is she. Just got the second about a month ago… her doctor told her to get hers, so I got mine at the same time (although not sure if I was really eligible, but she made me an appointment so I went.). Kids (7 and 10) both vaxxed.

  18. #21138
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Whelp. We finally got hit. My son first, then me. Son is feeling better tho he had some tough days… ran 102 fever for three days and was pretty run down, with a little cough. I’ve had a little cough and was rough yesterday, but overall just like a bad cold. My wife and daughter have somehow avoided it, although I have no idea how… we are all in the same house, and while I am sort of isolating, we were together for several days before we thought to test. On the first day we were even… intimate… because I thought it was just an itchy throat. Maybe her immune system is super strong?
    Intra-family infections seems totally random at times. I know a family where the unvaxxed 3-year old got COVID and nobody else in the family did, then the vaxed 6 year old got it two months later, and gave it to the vaxed and boosted mom and dad. 10 days later? 3-year old got it again, probably as a delayed infection from the rest of her family. Not always a rhyme or reason...

    In any event, well wishes to your family! You're probably through the worst of it but need to be aware that the uninfected in your family isn't totally out of the woods yet although personally I preferred having total family infection rather than one by one with delays to not have an even longer quarantine period. Seems like COVID is unavoidable at this point unless you live like a hermit -- the best we can do is get vaccinated and take some precautions based on our risk factors/things that don't severely impact quality of life.

  19. #21139
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedog View Post
    Intra-family infections seems totally random at times. I know a family where the unvaxxed 3-year old got COVID and nobody else in the family did, then the vaxed 6 year old got it two months later, and gave it to the vaxed and boosted mom and dad. 10 days later? 3-year old got it again, probably as a delayed infection from the rest of her family. Not always a rhyme or reason...

    In any event, well wishes to your family! You're probably through the worst of it but need to be aware that the uninfected in your family isn't totally out of the woods yet although personally I preferred having total family infection rather than one by one with delays to not have an even longer quarantine period. Seems like COVID is unavoidable at this point unless you live like a hermit -- the best we can do is get vaccinated and take some precautions based on our risk factors/things that don't severely impact quality of life.
    Yeah, the wife and daughter both have sore throats and headaches right now, so it seems they are going down.

    So pissed off, honestly. We had scheduled both kids to go to camp this week and next, our first break from the kids in… I don’t know, basically forever (and we need it, because my daughter in particular is a disaster right now.) And now I’m stuck here with them, and I want to kill myself

  20. #21140
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Yeah, the wife and daughter both have sore throats and headaches right now, so it seems they are going down.

    So pissed off, honestly. We had scheduled both kids to go to camp this week and next, our first break from the kids in… I don’t know, basically forever (and we need it, because my daughter in particular is a disaster right now.) And now I’m stuck here with them, and I want to kill myself
    Sorry to hear that, it always seems to come at the worst time...I'm taking the last statement as a figure of speech and not literal. Good luck, try to find some activities that you can still do safely outside of the house assuming people feel okay (still staying away from others, of course, and being outside by yourselves) -- otherwise, staying in for too long will make everyone go stir crazy.

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