March 1, 2021

Dr. Stuart Weiss: COVID-19 Update Monday 8-Feb-2021

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By Dr. Stuart Weiss, Intelligent Crowd Solutions – Rapid Test Center of NY

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

February 8, 2021

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

Topics: So where are we?

New Testing Centers coming soon: We are close to opening testing centers in Chelsea in Manhattan and Westchester County.

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So where are we with SARS-CoV-2 virus?

As with many stories, there is good news and bad news. Where to start is always the question. Today, lets start with the good news. The two week average of new cases is down 31% in the United States. The two week average of hospitalizations (remember hospitalizations lag behind new cases) is down 26%. Lastly, the trend in deaths (remember that deaths lag behind hospitalizations) is only down 8%. Yesterday’s new case count of 86,928 is the first time since the beginning of November that we had less than 100,000 new cases. This is all good news and many experts had predicted that our CoViD-19 cases would peak in January. All good news but now we have to think about the variants. They throw a monkey wrench into the entire process.

To fully understand what could occur, I would suggest that you read a great analysis by Tomas Pueyo. His post can be found here: Here
In his article, he does a good job laying out the course of the UK variant and how in a very short time, a matter of weeks, it completely took over as the dominant strain and caused a huge spike in cases. As you may remember, the new variant grows case numbers 50% faster than the original virus. It has mutations in its spike protein that allows it to get into human cells easier and faster. Because it spreads easier, the Ro (the number of people that get infected by one infected person) is higher and that raises the herd immunity threshold and makes it harder to get there. More new cases will invariably lead to more hospitalizations and deaths but on top of that, this new variant is also 30% more lethal.

The UK variant (B.1.1.7) is now in over 80 countries. As of yesterday, the CDC has 690 B.1.1.7 cases from 33 states. In a study published yesterday, HERE the growth rate of B.1.1.7 samples doubled in the US about every ten days. As this variant took over in the U.K. in early January, it quickly spilled over into Europe and generate devastating new case spikes across Europe. According to the study, it appears that the B.1.1.7 variant may have arrived in the US in late November with significant community spread in December. The variant is currently spreading at a rate of about 7% per day. Models suggest that the new variant could become the dominant strain in the US by March. That is long before we are anywhere close to having a sizable vaccinated population here in the US.

So who will win, the vaccine or the virus. That’s not clear yet. It could be a stalemate where neither side wins and we have a virus that circulates each year in the population, like influenza virus. In the short term, vaccination will help. We have a good example in Israel. It’s a small developed country with a robust health care system. By now, they have been able to give 60% of their population at least one shot (according to Tomas Pueyo analysis of available data). They started to see a drop in new cases once they reached 30%. We are less efficient here in the US. We can’t get vaccine into people’s arms fast enough and the vaccine makers can’t make vaccine fast enough. The US and the world has made mistakes along the way. One of the nagging questions in my mind that Tomas also brings up in his article is with the billions and billions of dollars the US and other countries have spent on pre-ordering but still unavailable vaccine, why didn’t we instead buy the formula and then have all pharmaceutical manufacturers who can make vaccines, make vaccines. Then instead of waiting for Pfizer or Moderna to ramp up production, we could have had many vaccine makers here in the US and around the world making vaccine. This perhaps would have given us a more robust supply chain and also allowed vaccine to spread around the world faster. We need to stop the growth of the SARS-CoV-2 virus everywhere to prevent ongoing mutations. As we have learned, it doesn’t matter where in the world a more efficient variant pops up, it will be everywhere quickly. People in developed countries and poorer countries must be protected or we all are at risk.

We just spoke about the B.1.1.7 variant. As you know, there are also worrisome variants from Brazil and South Africa. We most definitely have US variants circulating here. Once we have more robust viral sequencing, we will know more about what is going around in our own communities.

Ultimately, the vaccines will win or at least get us to the stalemate. Until then, we know that social distancing and face coverings help stop the spread. We have to keep things together until the end of the summer or early fall when we should have a good percentage of our population vaccinated.

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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COVID-19 HEADLINES FOR TODAY

Coronavirus update for February 8, 2021

World Wide Updates

EU chief calls on member states to donate Covid-19 vaccines to Ukraine
After weeks of drama and setbacks, the Australian Open kicks off
China reports no new local Covid-19 cases for first time since December
Italy starts vaccinating people over 80 
Australia’s New South Wales reports positive Covid-19 case in person released from 14-day quarantine
South Africa Covid-19 variant does not appear to be more transmissible, British health expert says
Scotland’s first minister urges confidence in Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
UK Prime Minister “very confident” in all the Covid-19 vaccines the country is using
France’s health minister gets vaccinated and says ‘I will be protected’
Iran reports more than new 7,300 Covid-19 cases as vaccination program set to begin
Spain received its first delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and will begin distributing it on Monday
South Africa to reassess impact of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on hospitalizations
Less than 3 percent of Germany’s population has been vaccinated so far, RKI data shows
Netherlands police issued nearly 7,000 curfew fines last week
Austria loosens coronavirus restrictions with haircuts now a possibility
Italian regions across the country impose new “red zones” as UK, Brazilian and South African Covid-19 variants are detected
Ukraine prepares to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations
Seoul announces plan to test pets for Covid-19
Crowds gather in Melbourne on first day of Australian Open
Peru just received its first 300,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine
South Africa contends with Oxford/AstraZeneca doses expiring as it shifts rollout strategy
There’s no evidence that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is ineffective in preventing severe illness or death, UK Junior Health Minister says
Heartbreak and anger as China discourages travel for Lunar New Year
Quarantine hotel worker tests positive for Covid-19 in Australia’s Melbourne
South Africa pauses AstraZeneca vaccine rollout after study shows it offers less protection against variant
Renewed calls for UK border curbs to stop new Covid variants
WHO warns countries not to dismiss Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
France death toll increase by almost 500
Mexico’s president returns after catching coronavirus
Total Cases Worldwide: 106,941,487
Total Deaths Worldwide: 2,334,131
Total Recovered: 78,851,969

US Updates

Much more coronavirus genome sequencing is needed to track variants, CDC director says
New Jersey has administered more than 1 million Covid-19 vaccines, governor says
Two Sumatran tigers at an Indiana zoo test positive for Covid-19
Analysis suggests vaccinations are helping decline of Covid-19 in nursing homes
New York City middle schools will return to in person learning Feb. 25, mayor says
Massachusetts governor calls on Congress to pass Covid-19 relief 
More than 42 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the US, according to CDC data
US committee releases details of their contribution to Covid-19 stimulus bill
About 2.9 million children in the US have tested positive for Covid-19 since pandemic started
Immunocompromised New Yorkers eligible to sign up for COVID vaccine starting Sunday
White House will invite Super Bowl champion Buccaneers “when it is Covid safe”
Indoor dining in New York City to open Friday at 25% capacity, governor says
Tampa mayor “proud” of compliance at Super Bowl celebrations amid fears of a superspreader event
White House expects markups to Covid-19 bill to “track closely” with what Biden proposed
Testing travelers for Covid-19 would be “another mitigation measure,” CDC director says
Two New York Democrats announce fund to reimburse families for Covid-19 funerals
GOP congressman, Ron Wright, dies following Covid-19 diagnosis and battle with lung cancer
New York City mayor says he’d like to get high schoolers back to in-person learning this school year
Democrats request documents related to Trump administration’s handling of coronavirus pandemic
Delta to block middle seats on flights through April
US reports nearly 87,000 new Covid-19 cases
New York City is nearing 1 million total vaccine doses administered
Illinois woman died after drinking hand sanitizer, according to federal lawsuit
Hospitals in Washington state send N95 masks for 3M for testing and discover many are knockoffs
Total US cases: 27,673,065
Total US deaths: 475,971
Total Recovered: 17,468,713
Total Tested in US: 320,378,941
Total cases in CA: 3,410,014
Total deaths in CA: 44,254
Total cases in TX: 2,505,789
Total deaths in TX: 39,734
Total cases in FL: 1,783,720
Total deaths in FL: 27,822
Total cases in NY: 1,524,688
Total deaths in NY: 45,106
Total cases in IL: 1,148,088
Total deaths in IL: 21,779

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