News roundup for Tue, Jan 11, 2022

Bird flu is spreading around the world. Millions of poultry birds have been culled to prevent the spread of the disease, and millions more are at risk. Chickens in Maine could be at risk due to proximity to infected chickens in Canada. This avian flu can be passed to humans, but so far this has only happened rarely.

Russian-led troops are now in Kazakhstan quashing an antigovernment uprising in the bud. The former Soviet republic may find out that although it’s easy to invite these forces in, it may not be so easy to get them back out:

The White House says the recent December wildfires in Colorado are “a blinking code red” for what climate-related disasters can do to this country. There are still people missing and nearly 1,000 homes were destroyed in the fires.

90,000 households in Berlin were without heat or hot water in the dead of winter when the power station itself failed.

The Food Price Index shows that many staple foods around the globe have increased in price by almost a third. Economists are not optimistic about price stabilization in 2022.

The shipping container barge traffic jams continue on all coasts, unabated:

Here’s a compendium of good news stories from 2021, from cancer cases and mortality declining both in the US as well as Europe, to one of the major flu viruses going extinct, to opioid prescriptions in Canada falling to less than 20% following the legalization of cannabis.

The world has nearly 310.3 million COVID cases. The world has gained over 16.5 million cases in the last week. There have been over 5.5 million deaths in total. The US has had about 62.1 million cases cumulatively. The US gained about 5.9 million cases in the last seven days. Over 860,000 Americans have died during the pandemic—over 13,000 in the last week. The US gained over 536,000 new cases on Sunday and over 451,000 by later afternoon Monday. Cases are absolutely soaring:

The CEO of Moderna thinks 4th doses will be coming to a proverbial theater near you, soon. The UK and South Korea are already ordering more doses in anticipation of another set of boosters.

DeSantis allowed one million COVID tests to expire in a warehouse—while Floridians endured huge lines just to get access to one:

Children suffer a 2-3 times higher risk for a new diabetes diagnosis (type 1 or type 2) after having a COVID infection. Vaccinations in this group are all the more important, knowing this.

COVID-related supply chain breakdowns (and weather-related ones, too, in the US) are causing bare store shelves once again:

Schools all over the US are struggling to stay open as teachers (and students) contract COVID. Over 5,000 schools have reverted to virtual instruction.

The CDC recommendations that essentially force health care workers to work while still potentially infectious are, lo and behold, a terrible idea:

Omicron is causing huge waves of reinfections and breakthrough infections. This is happening so ubiquitously with Omicron that the CDC says vaccines can’t prevent transmission anymore.

The Omicron spike is causing grave disruption across all fields of services: schools, hospitals, fire departments, garbage services, subways, flights, pharmacies, etc. Hopefully the COVID case spike reaches its apex quickly, as it did in other countries (like the UK and South Africa). But, and maybe this is just me being pessimistic, the UK is better vaccinated than the US, and South Africa is a much younger country, demographically, than the US. In any case (and this is probably our unofficial mantra here) prepare for significant disruptions for at least a month or two but hope for the best. A best-case scenario would be disruptions waning in about two to three weeks.


  • 32 Comments

    • Eric

      One of the four major flu strains was completely wiped out in April 2020 by our COVID precautions! Not the virus I was hoping to wipe out in 2020, but I’ll settle for a small win! 😃

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2021-10-21/influenza-virus-yamagata-eradication-vaccine-covid-pandemic/100546836

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

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    • Momof6

      Anyone have any more details about this?

      https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/faa-orders-full-ground-stop-at-all-west-coast-airports/ar-AASEu1W?li=BBnbfcL
      Is this something to worry about?

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      • Karl Winterling Momof6

        Yikes!

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Momof6

        It looks like an overreaction to what was happening frequently only a few years ago. DPRK missile capabilities have improved over this time, and Kim was said to attend the launch this time which hasn’t been the case for a while. There might some info we just don’t know about. Hard to say. 

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      • Hardened Momof6

        I wouldn’t worry about it.  They were probably just keeping the skies clear in order to  to track an inbound missile if it came.

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    • Karl Winterling

      Things will probably calm down a bit after 6-8 weeks, best case is 2-3 weeks.

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      • Eric Karl Winterling

        You mean after Russia finishes invading Ukraine? 😅

        I do hope that COVID gives us a break for a while, after it runs out of people to infect. There are so many other crazy situations on the way behind it. And of course, COVID will still be back 3-6 months later for another wave.

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      • Cia Eric

        Not necessarily. Once a certain number have immunity, the disease goes away. Maybe at 90% immunes. Since everyone will be getting it, even the vaxxed will have the opportunity to get longer-lasting natural immunity. You’ve seen that O is replacing D, not just adding to it. I think the Covid ordeal is approaching its end. By the time O specific vaccines are introduced, maybe in March, I don’t think we’ll need them.

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      • Karl Winterling Eric

        Even if the spread declines quickly, the decline won’t be uniform in every area and many people will continue to get infected.

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      • Cia Karl Winterling

        That’s true, but It won’t take forever. I read that by the end of the Spanish flu epidemic, 100% of the world’s population had antibodies. Same as always, those who fear infection can get all vaccines available, which will probably protect them and allow them to get natural immunity through a mild case. I read this morning that Fauci didn’t recommend that young men get the third dose, as the low risk of severe myocarditis from the vaccine was higher than the risk of a severe case of natural Covid in this double-vaxxed group. It surprised me that he should say that.

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      • Karl Winterling Cia

        I think the specific issue is with 16-34-year-old males with no underlying conditions getting a third dose. That was why the FDA was reluctant to authorize boosters for all 16+ at first. At minimum, boosters should be available to anyone who wants one assuming supply isn’t limited.

        It’s good to have updated vaccines just in case they turn out to be useful.

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      • Cia Karl Winterling

        I thought that it was always recognized that young, healthy people were at minimal risk from Covid. I thought the reason for recommending the vaccine for them was to block the lines of transmission, reducing the number of cases and especially severe cases in the more vulnerable. Not primarily to protect the young men themselves. I think that was valid reasoning up until now. When myocarditis or endocarditis are caused by the vaccine, it’s nearly always fairly mild and the patient completely recovers. 

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      • Karl Winterling Cia

        Not exactly. A healthy young person getting two doses will still reduce his or her risk of hospitalization and death. The question is whether the added benefit from getting a booster is worth the increased risk of side effects when we’re not seeing a big impact of waning immunity on hospitalizations/deaths of young and healthy people with two doses.

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      • Cia Karl Winterling

        Even when a young unvaxxed person gets covid, he is at low risk of a serious case or death. I’ve read about many exceptions in which young unvaxxed people HAVE died of Covid. I recognize that it can go either way. All I can say is that at this point, when Delta has been replaced, I wouldn’t make a recommendation either way for young men. They should read all the information and decide for themselves.

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      • Supersonic Cia

        I read that the myocarditis risk was much higher with Moderna than pfizer. Do you happen to know where you saw that Fauci info this morning? I’d love to read up on it some more.

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      • Cia Supersonic

        My reply will probably go up later. I made a mistake: it was Paul Offit, not Fauci, and son, not nephew. I guess in my mind it was sane difference the article is at the Atlantic, Should teens get the booster? I put in the link, or you could Google it in the meantime. There are a number of reasons the answer could reasonably be no.

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      • Cia Supersonic

        I’m sorry, it took mea while to retrace my steps. It was this article in the Atlantic, but it wasn’t Fauci, it was Paul Offit, and his son, not his nephew. I made a mistake. However, the article still has a lot of interesting information making the decision whether or not a healthy young man should get the third dose (maybe any dose), more difficult.

        https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/01/should-teens-get-booster-omicron/621222/

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      • Karl Winterling Cia

        My personal stance is that everyone 12+ should get two doses. If you’re male and in the age group at higher risk for myocarditis, you should be allowed to get a booster if you want one (and there isn’t a supply shortage that requires prioritizing people at higher risk).

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      • Cia Karl Winterling

        That would be fine with me, additionally, I don’t think it should be mandated. I was in favor of mandates, but at this point I’d have to say no one should be mandated given these new circumstances, it should be personal choice for everyone now. I talked to my daughter last Fri about these new circumstances and she decided she didn’t want to get the third dose, and that’s also fine with me. I think we’ll both get O, but I hope her two doses and youth and my three doses will prevent severe cases.

        After reading July’s comment below, I realized that I should have added that for the time being, at least, health care workers MAY be mandated to get the vaccine. I don’t understand why HCW would not automatically want to take reasonable measures which stand a good chance of protecting vulnerable patients from Covid. The vaccinations are a reasonable measure in health care settings. Usually (not always) when people say correlation is not causation, there probably WAS causation. But it would be rare for it to be proven. 

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      • July LewisContributor Cia

        Just to for context, we have a vaccine mandate for health care workers in Rhode Island. 

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      • Cia July Lewis

        I support that for HCWs! Thanks! We probably don’t on a state-mandated basis in Missouri, but probably the hospitals etc. do. Thank Heavens I don’t think it will be for much longer!

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    • July LewisContributor

      Regarding the hospital that called infected workers in to work on an emergency basis – the headline implies that caused an outbreak, but correlation is not causation, and the article specifically provides some evidence that one didn’t cause the other (see quote below). Covid is absolutely everywhere in Rhode Island right now, despite our high vaccination rate, and the staffing crisis is severe. It’s certainly risky to bring in COVID positive staff, but there is also a very real risk of patients dying due to inadequate staffing and substandard care. At some point the risk of one outweighs the other. 

      “The infected staff worked with Covid-positive patients, with one exception, according to the state’s Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals.

      “In the one instance, an asymptomatic staff member did work with patients who did not have COVID, but there have been no COVID positive cases reported in the area where this work took place,” said spokesperson Randal Edgar.

      Edgar said the outbreak at the hospital is not connected to the asymptomatic staff members.”

      2 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor July Lewis

        Making HCWs work while infectious is by far one of the most distressing, demoralizing,  and malicious policy decisions I’ve seen during these past few pandemic years. There is no negative air pressure room for these workers to go, say, eat lunch. Negative air pressure staff break rooms don’t exist (generally). They WILL infect many others, patients and staff alike, if they comply with this. I don’t have a single clinician in my life (friends or colleagues) who will actually acquiesce to this. Not one. 

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      • Eric Stephanie Arnold

        “Making HCWs work while infectious is by far one of the most distressing, demoralizing,  and malicious policy decisions I’ve seen during these past few pandemic years.”

        That’s my impression as well. Sacrificing HCWs as a desperate move to increase hospital capacity, while not taking more reasonable steps to slow infection and reduce the need for so much hospital capacity, suggests a complete lack of concern for the HCWs being sacrificed.

        “There is no negative air pressure room for these workers to go, say, eat lunch. Negative air pressure staff break rooms don’t exist (generally).”

        Ridiculous to not have some kind of solution in place for safe eating two years ago, especially in hospitals but also any other work environment. Doesn’t even need to be negative pressure – combining air scrubbing and plexiglass dividers would make staff safer and less stressed.

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    • Karl Winterling

      SCOTUS blocked the vaccine mandate for private sector businesses with over 100 employees but upheld the mandate for healthcare workers. Notably, no justice seemed to say employees have special conscience rights that entitle them to an exemption. All nine justices got booster doses.

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      • Cia Karl Winterling

        I agree with this as long as physical compulsion is not permitted. Vaccines have risks and do kill or disable a certain number. But under certain circumstances, I think it’s fair to say you have to have a vax to continue in your job or enter certain places. It was fair up until Omicron. SCOTUS doesn’t seem to have any understanding of the situation, but I’d agree with the three parts you mentioned of this decision. I got the third dose, it’s fine that they all did, but it’s always risks vs benefits. Omicron didn’t yet exist when I got it. The Midwest is now down to less than 10% Delta, shrinking by the day. I think it’s now reasonable to either get or refuse the third dose (unless you’re a HCW.)

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Cia

        The other side of this coin: a family member of mine just died of COVID after refusing to get a 3rd dose. You can be certain I’ll continue to recommend all jabs possible. 

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      • Everyone on SCOTUS has a booster and no justice used this as an opportunity to say people shouldn’t get vaccinated. People not getting vaccinated is a bottom-up problem caused by social media bubbles and mistrust that ends up in a feedback loop with people who benefit from lying to an audience, getting hold of other people’s money by telling them what they want to hear. We can’t have meaningful debates about policy unless people minimally agree about what’s factually true (that people are still protected by getting a booster).

        It isn’t sustainable for everyone to go on with a “postmodernist” approach based on social media opinion bubbles during an emergency situation.

        Having some law or requirement is necessary at this point but it isn’t enough. You also need to find a way to wake people up to reality and deal with mistrust.

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      • Cia Karl Winterling

        Reality is that vaccines have dangers and many are seriously injured by them. Two-thirds of parents of 5-12s have not vaxxed them even two months after it was authorized for that age group, because everyone is aware that the danger exists. I don’t know what I would do if I had a child in that age group. While children as a group are in little danger from Covid, I have read several very sad accounts of children killed by it. Maddie De Gray was paralyzed by the vaccine. I think it’s good to be aware that there are dangers on both sides. Numerically a lot of children are being hospitalized now for Omicron (I learned in Jetelinas article today.) I’d probably get my child vaxxed, but I think it’s a hard decision. No one wants to harm their child,as Maddie De Gray was harmed. It also looks as though O were peaking and starting to fall in the first states where it appeared. As well as in Europe. Some parents might reasonably choose to stay home for a few weeks, possibly not get the vax for their children, and maybe avoid the dangers on both sides.

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      • Cia Stephanie Arnold

        I think everyone should recommend what she thinks best. But there are at least two sides of the coin. And I think most of the deaths now occurring are from Delta contracted in December. There seems to be little Delta left anywhere.

        Maddie De Garay, twelve at the time, was completely paralyzed by in Pfizer vaccine she was in a trial for. While I was looking for her name, I saw an entry for a Rachel Cecere, paralyzed in April by the vaccine. Benjamin Goodman, killed by JnJ less than a day after he took it. Thousands more have been reported.

        Katelyn Jetelina has a new article up today at her blog about the different perspectives of the numerator, individual cases, and the denominator, the population level, and the considerations of those reasoning from each. One dad said his family was debating whether to get the third dose now on offer, which has lost a lot of relevance and effectiveness, or wait for a newer, variant-specific, booster. If they get the current one, it’s less effective, and they might have to wait six months before getting the newer one. I’ve read about some people dying from the booster. I read that agencies in Europe are concerned about the I’ll effects of too many boosters. One commenter at Jetelinas blog said we should be tolerant of those making different decisions than we would regarding the third dose. Hindsight is best sight, but until we reach that point, I don’t think anyone’s decision whether to get or refuse it is prima facie wrong. Topol had a chart today showing that Omicron has peaked and making a downward U-turn in Ireland, Iceland, and the UK. I think and hope that the rest of the world will follow.

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