March 7, 2021

Dr. Stuart Weiss: COVID-19 Update Monday 25-Jan-2021

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Rapid Test Center of New York
Dr. Stuart Weiss, FACEP, FAAP, CBCP

January 25, 2021

CoViD-19 News and Information you can trust.Welcome new readers from the Rapid Test Center.

Topics: Bad News about the B1.1.7 (U.K.) variant

Bad News about B.1.1.7

The B.1.1.7 variant has been spreading in the United Kingdom since September. From a study that I wrote about last , it looks like the same variant may have been in the US since November. It is now reportedly in 26 states in the US. As you may recall, this variant was reported to be 30% – 50% more contagious than the original type of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Many experts expect that this new, more contagious virus will become the dominant strain here in the US by March. Unfortunately, we do not do much viral surveillance here in the US so we really don’t know what is actually circulating. I am hopeful that we will augment this important capability quickly.

So here is the bad news about this new variant. Although it was initially reported that the lethality of the new viral strain was not worse, it apparently is worse. As reported in the Guardian Newspaper out of the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the B.1.1.7 variant is 30% more deadly than the original strain. Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he believes the UK scientists. I’ve been told that the studies on animal models in the U.K. also points to the same conclusion.

This is a double whammy to our already overtaxed healthcare system. First we have a virus that is 50% more contagious so it spreads much more readily. With more cases, there will be more hospitalizations even if the lethality remained the same. So ICU beds that are already in short supply and hospital staff that are overwhelmed will be even more taxed. Then on top of that, you add a worsening of the illness. As Dr. David Strain at Exeter Medical School in the U.K. said “The key fact here is that all of the good work that’s been done with [the drug] dexamethasone and is being done with better treatment strategies [like monoclonal antibodies] has reduced the mortality in the UK by about a third. That has now been lost and we are back to square one [if the new figures are correct].”

There is good news, at least for the moment. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines apparently work well against the B1.1.7 variant. That is not the case with the South African/Brazilian variant which is thought to reduce the vaccine effectiveness by a good amount. The UK health secretary was quoted saying that this variant made the vaccines 50% less effective.

We must get our population protected as soon as possible. Viruses mutate inside people. We have got to get to the point where less people are getting infected. We must get to herd immunity faster and I hope the new administration pushes this critical need very strongly.

In related news, Moderna is working on a variation of their vaccine that would cover the South African/Brazilian variant that they say could be offered as a booster shot in the future.

All this is happening while states and cities are running out of vaccine. Here in New York, many appointments, perhaps thousands, have been cancelled due to lack of vaccine. I and other health care workers have received several notes from the New York State Health Commissioner telling us that vaccine is in short supply.

The good news right now is that new case numbers are going down. This will give some healthcare workers a respite before the next onslaught. I keep telling my healthcare friends that they need to sleep now as there may be no rest for the weary come late February and March. I hope I’m wrong about this.

Take care of yourself and get yourself vaccinated, if your eligible, so we can get through this together.

Dr. Stu Weiss
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Coronavirus update for January 25, 2021

World Wide Updates

EU accuses AstraZeneca of “lack of clarity”
UK reports at least 592 new Covid-19 deaths
China reports 80 new Covid-19 cases
Mexico expects Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to be delivered soon
Weary Brits fear it will take much longer to beat the new Covid-19 variant
Further cases of UK variant found at German hospital under quarantine after outbreak
Hong Kong authorizes emergency use of Fosun-BioNTech Covid-19 shot
Japan reports rise in Covid-19 deaths at home
EU could approve AstraZeneca vaccine this week, says German health ministry spokesman
Austria makes medical-grade masks mandatory on public transport and in shops
Pfizer applies for vaccine approval in South Korea
Dutch Prime Minister condemns violence of lockdown protests
A year from lockdown, Wuhan returns to normal life, but still haunted by emotional scars
Israel imposes almost total ban on incoming flights for one week
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson considers hotel quarantines as pressure to reopen schools grows
Cat tests positive for Covid-19 in South Korea
France probably needs a new lockdown, government adviser says
Second batch of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine arrives in Turkey
Australia halts New Zealand travel bubble for 72 hours
New Zealand’s new Covid-19 case likely came from a returned traveler in hotel, health officials say
UK lawmakers call for plan to get students back to classrooms
In Japan, more than 18,000 Covid-19 patients are waiting for a hospital bed or isolation center place
A strict lockdown in northeast China has left residents short of food and medicine
Australia approves Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19
Mexico’s President tests positive for Covid-19
Spain sees record rise in cases over the weekend
Iceland to start issuing vaccination certificates
Total Cases Worldwide: 100,172,918
Total Deaths Worldwide: 2,146,589
Total Recovered: 72,115,102

US Updates

Despite dropping cases, January on track to be Covid-19’s deadliest month in US
US will be able to administer 1 million vaccine doses a day in about 3 weeks, Biden says
Michigan has at least 17 cases of the Covid-19 UK variant
About 200 National Guard members have tested positive for Covid-19 in Washington, DC
California continues to see drop in new Covid-19 cases after holiday surge
Double masking is likely more effective to stop spread of Covid-19, Fauci says
White House blames Trump administration for lack of current Covid-19 vaccine supply information
Biden will reinstate Covid-19-related travel restrictions today lifted by Trump
California lifts regional stay-at-home orders
New York City “urgently” needs more vaccine supply, mayor says
Moderna says its Covid-19 vaccine is expected to protect against new variants
Biden outlines steps to safely reopen US schools
Kittitas rural county in Washington state hasn’t wasted a single vaccine dose
CVS completes first round of vaccines in skilled nursing facilities
Merck halts development of its Covid-19 vaccine candidates
Google Maps will soon display Covid-19 vaccination sites in four US states
“Healthy, young” Americans will likely get Covid-19 vaccine in mid- to late summer, expert says
US reports more than 130,000 new Covid-19 cases
Fauci reveals Trump administration attempts to discredit him and threats on his life
California restaurant has gas turned off for breaking COVID protocols and still refuses to shut down outdoor dining
MTA launches subway memorial for 136 NYC transit workers killed by COVID
Louisiana coronavirus outbreak traced to statewide high school wrestling tournament
Queens club owner attacks sheriff’s deputies trying to shut down illegal basement party, authorities say
Covid-19 variant first found in the UK discovered in Nevada, state health official says
Total US cases: 25,820,169
Total US deaths: 430,947
Total Recovered: 15,560,147
Total Tested in US: 291,979,837
Total cases in CA: 3,189,106
Total deaths in CA: 37,369
Total cases in TX: 2,256,285
Total deaths in TX: 35,193
Total cases in FL: 1,658,169
Total deaths in FL: 25,446
Total cases in NY: 1,380,602
Total deaths in NY: 42,569
Total cases in IL: 1,104,763
Total deaths in IL: 20,744
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