Coronavirus Special Coverage

A collection of news posted throughout the week for those that want signal, not noise.

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Key developments for Friday, January 1, 2021

The massive US cyber breach may have started long before last spring. Russia still denies involvement.

Wichita, Kansas had a little temblor. It was enough to knock some stuff off shelves, but not enough to damage structures. Although it’s a small earthquake, comparatively, it’s worth mentioning because in preparing a household for an earthquake, you’ll be prepped for 80% of most other prep-worthy disasters. And these disasters can happen anywhere:

Strange things are afoot in and around Iran:

Also, the President and First Lady skipped their own New Year’s Eve party, and some are hypothesizing that action in the Middle East may have something to do with it:

The world has over 83.7 million cases.  The world is adding ~4.3 million cases per week. There have been over 1.8 million deaths in total. The US has over 20.4 million cases. Over 353,000 Americans have died—nearly 3,100 in the last 24 hours. The US has gained over 210,000 new cases since yesterday. The US still leads the world in case growth and number of deaths.

A study by the Chinese CDC shows a seroprevalence indicative of widespread infection in Wuhan—perhaps 10x as much as was previously publicly noted. As many as 500,000 may have been infected in the city in which COVID first emerged.

Los Angeles hospitals are running out of beds, staff and oxygen. The demand for oxygen is more than either the current canister supply or even internal pipes can handle. Some hospitals have had to close to EMS arrivals for short periods of time because of the oxygen issue. The patient load is increasing in the face of decreased staffing as well. It’s a health care disaster. Many ambulances are having long offloading wait times:

The US vaccination rate is currently so slow that it will take ten years to reach herd immunity. It’s time to pick up the pace, but in the absence of a federal vaccination program the states are left to their own devices. It’s really a bit of a disaster. Somehow we’ve also managed to underfund state efforts. If distribution rate and uptake remain as low as they are, vaccines should simply be offered to any adult who wants one. Wouldn’t that be nice? I’m not the only one with this wish:

Cruise ship crew members confined to small cabins and forced to stay at sea during the pandemic committed suicide in concerning numbers. Tens of thousands of workers were forced to stay on board with indeterminate or ever-changing dates of return.

Ireland is in a nation-wide lockdown now:

I think it’s safe to assume that the new variant is all over the place:

The UK has approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The US probably won’t have it approved and available until April of 2021 or later.

China has also approved its Sinopharm vaccine.


  • 16 Comments

    • SeaBee

      Hope all is well, Stephanie. Love these updates and interested to see what’s next on your radar. 

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor SeaBee

        Hi SeaBee! I’m well, hope you and yours are, too. I’m serving as a Disaster Service Worker to help out with the COVID surge in my area, so Key Developments is halted, probably for the duration. Stay safe out there!

        Best wishes, 

        -S

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    • Margit Burmeister

      I am not usually vaccine hesitant – I have not been vaccinated against the childhood diseases (yeah, I am that old!) but have volunteered to be vaccinated against things most people haven’t heard of like yellow fever and typhus because of travel. But the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine has raised many questions for me so I am glad FDA is waiting.

      First, it showed 62% efficacy with the originally planned scheme, then some people got a different dosing scheme, with LESS vaccine in the first round, and those people were about 80% protected, leading to the media reporting 72% efficacy. I don’t even know if they are now using the lower dose that supposedly was better or the dose that had 62%… 

      Second, the trial was stopped twice because of a severe neurological reaction – both were considered unrelated. I looked them up. Transverse Myelitis is an inflammation of the spinal cord that can lead to problems walking or temporary paralysis. It is most commonly caused as a rare side effect of vaccinations. And AZ claims that one of the cases happened to get MS around the time of the vaccine…. possible, but together with another case of transverse myelitis has gotten me wonder. 

      Third, the vector that brings in the DNA is a monkey adenovirus. That virus by itself is not a bad virus but some people are immune to it because they had it. In addition, if you get more than one adenovirus vaccine, your body may learn to recognize adenovirus in addition to what it is supposed to recognize, so any future vaccine then will not work for you because immediately, your body will kill the adenovirus it recognizes. That’s why they use monkey not human. For areas with high HIV, the vaccine against HIV is adenovirus based and there is fear that this cross reaction may cause problems with HIV vaccinations later – as expressed in a Lancet article. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)32156-5/fulltext

      Forth, the link you gave to VOX also states that AZ was not open about their research. Exactly. 

      If this is the only vaccine available and given the severity of COVID-19, I would say fine, still better than getting COVID – and it may be the only option for developing countries without a solid cold chain, and may still bring down the virus enough for the population. But it wouldn’t be my first choice when we have more effective vaccines. For drugs to get approved, you need to show its better than what we already have – and I don’t see why in April the Oxford/AZ vaccine should be approved given we have BioNtech/Pfizer and Moderna

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Margit Burmeister

        I agree with your concerns, Margit. With the mRNA vaccines, ~1/100,000 will have a treatable allergic reaction. Really adverse events will be perhaps 1 in millions. With the adenovirus backbone vaccines, ~1/100,000 could suffer paralysis (sometimes treatable, sometimes not), only the efficacy profile is worse. Like you, I prefer the mRNA vaccines. But again, with a ~1/100 chance of dying from COVID, any vaccine a good choice. 

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      • Cia Margit Burmeister

        You didn’t get the DPT (since 1948) or polio (Salk 1955, Sabin 1961) vaccines? I got them and smallpox.

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      • I did get the sugar drops. I also got the scar for small pox! I am born long after 1948 but I guess it wasn’t commonly vaccinated against in Germany as I did have pertussis. But the typical childhood diseases that now are being vaccinated against that I meant are Measles, Mumps, Rubella – MMR. I could have been clearer and said MMR

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    • Cia

      I was worried about you, Stephanie, thought maybe you had Covid and couldn’t put up updates. I’m glad you’re all right. I’ve been doing the same calculus. I did get MS from a vaccine, both arms paralyzed temporarily starting the same day as a tetanus booster, later diagnosed with MS by MRI. But Covid is turning out to be a very great danger, causing autoimmunity and cytokine cascades etc on its own. My daughter has started a day program for the autistic, masks worn by all, but still a risk she’ll bring it home. So I’ve been reading a lot about the choices.

      AZ was negotiating with Russia to combine its vaccine with theirs. Sputnik V is reported to have 90% efficacy, and is vectored with a human adenovirus, which I think is safer. However, both are adjuvanted with aluminum, which is very dangerous for susceptible people. The mRNA vaccines have no adjuvants or preservatives. I have been impressed by their short-term safety. Few reactions, and most have completely recovered. I don’t think Bell’s palsy is a significant reaction: I had it during my first and second severe attacks of MS: it was painless and only lasted a few weeks. We’ll have to wait and see about possible long-term reactions.

      The Pfizer vaccine is reported to be 95% effective, the Moderna 90-95% effective, but the Moderna vaccine is much more reactive than the Pfizer vaccine. Meaning that when it becomes available, it would be my first choice.

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Cia

        Hi Cia! 

        I’m fine, thankfully. Somehow I have been able to avoid contracting this dang virus all this time, which I attribute to neurotic mask/hand hygiene. I’m satisfied that the work we’ve done here at The Prepared has informed me well enough to keep myself and my family safe–and I hope it’s done the same for our readers. I’m fully vaccinated (Pfizer) and thankful as I am working (deployed) on COVID units now. It’ll be a few more weeks before my immune response is completely developed, of course. 

        Thanks for thinking of me, and thanks for being a thoughtful reader and member of the community. 

        -S

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      • Margit Burmeister Cia

        “the Moderna vaccine is much more reactive than the Pfizer vaccine” – what’s the reference? I have not heard this. 

        At my place and what I heard from others, we weren’t given a choice. We were told to schedule shot 1 so that we can come either 3 weeks later (in case we get Pfizer) or 4 weeks later (in case we got Moderna). 

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      • Cia Cia

        I can’t remember which places I got the information originally, but I just found this: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.businessinsider.com/pfizer-moderna-covid-19-vaccines-comparison-how-the-shots-compare-2020-12%3famp

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      • Cia Cia

        I read today that at this time they weren’t giving a choice, but In the future they would allow a choice, once they get through the tiers and throw it open to the public. I won’t take it until I can take the Pfizer product. A hospital here said it would be offering only Pfizer since it had the refrigerant equipment necessary, and would let other providers have the Moderna product. I’ll see if I can go there, with my risk factors and the large number of health care providers refusing it, maybe they’ll let me. The article linked said the Moderna vaccine is more reactive but prevents serious cases better, while the Pfizer product with 95% efficacy is better for older adults. I’ll put up my original source when I find it: it used the words “much more reactive” to describe the Moderna product.

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      • Cia Cia

        I just found this, it focuses on the often more intense reactogenicity of the Moderna product: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/11/fever-aches-pfizer-moderna-jabs-aren-t-dangerous-may-be-intense-some

        Their saying that none of the reactions are dangerous or permanent should be disregarded: they cannot know that at this point.

        I understand your concern with MS. I developed MS from a reaction to a tetanus booster which paralyzed both my arms for several days, brachial plexus neuropathy, a kind of Guillain Barre. It wore off, but started a process which resulted in my being diagnosed with sometimes paralyzing MS. Well, the paralysis was only once, but my left arm and leg were completely paralyzed for a month. But I have fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and lack of balance on an ongoing basis. And permanent insomnia.

        the good thing is that the mRNA products have no preservatives, no adjuvants, no aluminum. The mRNA is believed to degrade and be destroyed within hours. The ethylene glycol (?) can provoke autoimmune reactions. I think the common reactions are normal reactions to a foreign pathogen, the spike protein, and at this time I don’t think there would be autoimmune cross-reactivity. Covid itself is highly provocative of long-lasting autoimmunity. I don’t want the Astra Zeneca vectored vaccine: it has adjuvants. The recombinant vaccines like Novavax are the same type as the hep-B vaccine which caused vaccine encephalitis and autism in my daughter. Also adjuvanted. As are the old-fashioned whole-cell, killed-virus Chinese vaccines.

        I think it might be worth your while to seek out only the Pfizer product. Probably it’s what big hospitals will offer, while pharmacies and doctor’s offices, and public health departments, will have the rougher Moderna product. By the summer probably AZ too. I’m listening to the almost daily videos by Dr. John Campbell, who favors his own country’s AZ Oxford vaccine.

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    • Trace

      I came here also to check on you Stephanie. We miss your updates, but also understand there’s only so much one person can do and you have to prioritize. I’m glad you got vaccinated, good luck with the Disaster Service. We look forward to your return. 

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    • SeaBee

      Not surprised you are crushing it, Stephanie. Best of luck to you and your team. Hope y’all stay safe

      Looks like the UK variant (B1117) is officially problematic, according to CDC study. A good time for folks to reassess protocols and contacts, regardless of vaccination status. I had felt comfortable shopping at (small city) grocery store with my homemade cotton mask (2ply!), but started putting back on the n95 yesterday just to be safe. 

      Stay sane, everyone!

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      • Gideon ParkerStaff SeaBee

        The UK variant made it’s way to Colorado back in December 30, 2020 and infected a man with no previous travel history. This means that he must have gotten it from someone else who has been traveling around and there are probably more cases than we are aware of. Scary how fast things travel today.

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