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Watsisname
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

13 Sep 2021 23:07

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post Is either getting the virus or getting vaccination what will eventually slow the rate of mutation of the virus, Wat?

It's a little complicated. The probability of a mutation per-transmission is roughly constant, and the rate at which new variants (of any kind) appear is roughly proportional to the rate of new infections. So the more rapidly the virus spreads, the more mutations we expect to see. But another effect is that the amount of pressure for variants with certain properties, like being more transmissible, also depends on what we do. For example, social distancing slows the rate of spread, but can increase the rate at which the more transmissible variants outcompete the others. A mostly vaccinated and/or recovered society will likewise mean the rate of spread is very low and the impacts are largely mitigated, but there will exist a stronger selective pressure for variants that can evade prior immunity. 

Another factor to consider is that variants may diverge from one another more if they are transmitted in independent groups. That could be because they dominate in different geographic regions (like northern vs. southern hemisphere), or that one spreads more in children than adults (which we see a lot of now with most adults being vaccinated and kids being back in school). Basically, just think about and apply all the rules of evolution, and you'll have a good understanding of how and why a virus changes over time.

Looking forward, a real possibility is that we end up with variants that are sufficiently different from one another that each vaccine is quite effective against some variants but not so much against others. That is essentially what already happens with the flu. Each year, the vaccine manufacturers try to predict next season's flu behavior and tweak the vaccines accordingly. But they can get it wrong, or the flu variant that dominates in a region may be a different one than expected (there are usually two serious flu variants spreading in each season, named A and B). This is part of what limits flu vaccine efficacy every year. 
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

13 Sep 2021 23:50

A more optimistic outlook would involve a mutation which is highly transmissible but only giving mild or no symptoms whilst also giving immunity against other variants, in which case the population would self-vaccinate.  The problem with that, however, is that after several billion infections, the likelihood of a nasty variant evolving becomes high.  I've seen suggested that the virus could be engineered to have the above properties and then intentionally set loose.  Even if setting the moral issues aside that seems like a particular bad idea precisely because we can't know what it will mutate into.

Do we know better now why some people get seriously ill, even the healthy and young, whilst the vast majority have mild or no symptoms?
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

14 Sep 2021 14:37

Watsisname wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post Is either getting the virus or getting vaccination what will eventually slow the rate of mutation of the virus, Wat?

It's a little complicated. The probability of a mutation per-transmission is roughly constant, and the rate at which new variants (of any kind) appear is roughly proportional to the rate of new infections. So the more rapidly the virus spreads, the more mutations we expect to see. But another effect is that the amount of pressure for variants with certain properties, like being more transmissible, also depends on what we do. For example, social distancing slows the rate of spread, but can increase the rate at which the more transmissible variants outcompete the others. A mostly vaccinated and/or recovered society will likewise mean the rate of spread is very low and the impacts are largely mitigated, but there will exist a stronger selective pressure for variants that can evade prior immunity. 

Another factor to consider is that variants may diverge from one another more if they are transmitted in independent groups. That could be because they dominate in different geographic regions (like northern vs. southern hemisphere), or that one spreads more in children than adults (which we see a lot of now with most adults being vaccinated and kids being back in school). Basically, just think about and apply all the rules of evolution, and you'll have a good understanding of how and why a virus changes over time.

Looking forward, a real possibility is that we end up with variants that are sufficiently different from one another that each vaccine is quite effective against some variants but not so much against others. That is essentially what already happens with the flu. Each year, the vaccine manufacturers try to predict next season's flu behavior and tweak the vaccines accordingly. But they can get it wrong, or the flu variant that dominates in a region may be a different one than expected (there are usually two serious flu variants spreading in each season, named A and B). This is part of what limits flu vaccine efficacy every year. 

Thanks, this is fascinating, basically the human population has become a lab in its own right.  It also explains why certain years have spikes in the number of flu cases.....the variants that year must have been more transmissible.  If we use the same model for this virus then even after this pandemic is over we should expect to see spikes and epidemics.  And if we get a more effective mutation one year, it's entirely possible we could have a brand new pandemic that is resistant to known vaccines?
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

14 Sep 2021 14:39

midtskogen wrote:
A more optimistic outlook would involve a mutation which is highly transmissible but only giving mild or no symptoms whilst also giving immunity against other variants, in which case the population would self-vaccinate.  The problem with that, however, is that after several billion infections, the likelihood of a nasty variant evolving becomes high.  I've seen suggested that the virus could be engineered to have the above properties and then intentionally set loose.  Even if setting the moral issues aside that seems like a particular bad idea precisely because we can't know what it will mutate into.

Do we know better now why some people get seriously ill, even the healthy and young, whilst the vast majority have mild or no symptoms?

I don't think you're paranoid, biological warfare has been investigated in a few of the "super" power nations.
Trying to figure out why some people with no pre-existing conditions get seriously sick and even die (I just found out today of a 20 something year old doctor who died from COVID even though she was fully vaccinated; she suffered a blood clot after getting COVID) may have something to do with how concentrated the virus is in certain communities?
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

15 Sep 2021 04:26

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I just found out today of a 20 something year old doctor who died from COVID even though she was fully vaccinated; she suffered a blood clot after getting COVID

I thought that was a rare, ill effect of the AZ and J&J vaccines?
So my 13 year old daughter just got out of isolation with covid and she did not feel sick at any point, but I noticed some occasional, light coughing.  No taste or smell loss.  My 15 year old son just got a shot of Pfizer and it sent him shivering to bed, still not feeling good two days after.  Looks like the chances of having few or no symptoms from the disease increases with young age, but it's opposite with the vaccine.  I suspect that for the typical case, the effects of the vaccine are worse than the disease for the youngest, but with the vaccine they avoid the isolation and they get to choose the time.  Mild to moderate, but not serious, effects from the vaccine is more a sure thing, whilst the effects of the disease is more open ended, from nothing to potentially bad.  And of course there is no transmission with the vaccine, so one can say that the vaccine is more for the sake of others than for the children themselves, which kind of raises issues.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

15 Sep 2021 13:45

midtskogen wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I just found out today of a 20 something year old doctor who died from COVID even though she was fully vaccinated; she suffered a blood clot after getting COVID

I thought that was a rare, ill effect of the AZ and J&J vaccines?
So my 13 year old daughter just got out of isolation with covid and she did not feel sick at any point, but I noticed some occasional, light coughing.  No taste or smell loss.  My 15 year old son just got a shot of Pfizer and it sent him shivering to bed, still not feeling good two days after.  Looks like the chances of having few or no symptoms from the disease increases with young age, but it's opposite with the vaccine.  I suspect that for the typical case, the effects of the vaccine are worse than the disease for the youngest, but with the vaccine they avoid the isolation and they get to choose the time.  Mild to moderate, but not serious, effects from the vaccine is more a sure thing, whilst the effects of the disease is more open ended, from nothing to potentially bad.  And of course there is no transmission with the vaccine, so one can say that the vaccine is more for the sake of others than for the children themselves, which kind of raises issues.

I believe that they will change dosing for the younger age groups and it will be given according to body weight and age.  I had heard that when it does get approved for those under 12 it will be at half the dosage.
I thought blood clots were more a rare side effect of the conventional vaccines, but in this case the vaccinated person got a two dose mRNA vaccine and the blood clot was deemed to be a result of the virus.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

19 Sep 2021 23:08

 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

26 Sep 2021 00:24

Norway just removed all restrictions despite the new cases numbers currently being close to the highest during the entire pandemic (~200 per 100,000 nationwide last 14 days, ~500 in the capital).  The crowds are back.  The situation is still being monitored with public testing still being offered, but the new cases number is no longer considered important, rather focusing on the number of hospitalisations.  The assumption is that with a high percentage of the population vaccinated, covid is a lesser or no larger threat than the average flu and restrictions can no longer be justified.  Some quarantine rules for immigration remain, people testing positive still have to isolate and unvaccinated close contact should be cautious.  Fewer people have died during the pandemic than normal in Norway (the flu being absent), and the fear now is that the flu will strike back hard after an absence.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
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A-L-E-X
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

26 Sep 2021 20:39

midtskogen wrote:
Norway just removed all restrictions despite the new cases numbers currently being close to the highest during the entire pandemic (~200 per 100,000 nationwide last 14 days, ~500 in the capital).  The crowds are back.  The situation is still being monitored with public testing still being offered, but the new cases number is no longer considered important, rather focusing on the number of hospitalisations.  The assumption is that with a high percentage of the population vaccinated, covid is a lesser or no larger threat than the average flu and restrictions can no longer be justified.  Some quarantine rules for immigration remain, people testing positive still have to isolate and unvaccinated close contact should be cautious.  Fewer people have died during the pandemic than normal in Norway (the flu being absent), and the fear now is that the flu will strike back hard after an absence.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Yes, this winter will be quite interesting!  We have 80% vaccination rate here but some nether parts of the country still have under 40% vaccination
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

26 Sep 2021 20:55

Watsisname wrote:

Wat, I bet the true death toll in the US is already over 1 million
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

01 Oct 2021 04:41

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post Wat, I bet the true death toll in the US is already over 1 million

I'm not confident of that, but it is close. 

A CDC analysis of deaths above normal puts the toll between 700,000 and 900,000. The lower estimate is how many more deaths there were than the 2-sigma (95%) upper bound of a statistically normal number of deaths for that period. In other words, take the worst case out of the spread of deaths we normally have, and with the pandemic we have had 700,000 more deaths than that. So this is the most conservative possible estimate, and it happens to be close to the number of officially known COVID-19 deaths.

The higher number of 900,000 is how many more deaths there were than the average of a normal period. I think this is a more credible estimate. It could even be a little bit higher, since there have been fewer flu deaths than normal.

Image
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

01 Oct 2021 22:31

Thanks Wat, so between 70% to 90% of the way there most likely.  What do you think of this new Merck wonder drug that should be released by the end of the year?  I am wondering if this is a good option for those who are hesitant to get vaccinated (will it actually cause vaccination rates to slow down?),  Merck says it will be much less expensive than monoclonal antibodies and it cuts hospitalizations in half (by comparison the vaccines cut hospitalizations by 95%).  In their study, the control group had 8 covid deaths while no one died in the group that was taking this drug (50 pills over 5 days).  It works by entering the virus and attacking its RNA.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

02 Oct 2021 18:31

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post What do you think of this new Merck wonder drug that should be released by the end of the year?  I am wondering if this is a good option for those who are hesitant to get vaccinated (will it actually cause vaccination rates to slow down?)

The data I've seen look pretty compelling so far. Much less hospitalization and death than in the control group, and each group was 300-some people.

Is it a better option than getting vaccinated, I think not, but it appears better than most other options out there. Especially on a societal level if it helps reduce the hospital load. Now, will most people who are still skeptical of vaccines be willing to consider a new miracle drug out of big pharma? 
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

02 Oct 2021 20:26

I certainly hope so.  Anything we can do to lower the margins is all to the good.  I've heard more drugs are in the pipeline too.  We will never be at 100% vaccine rate (not even in the healthcare community, where we've had to make the vaccine mandatory and fire people who weren't vaccinated) so this is good to have another weapon in the arsenal.

Making vaccines mandatory in healthcare and education seems to have worked in NYC- the vaccine rate went up from 77% to 92% since the new law went into effect.  The ones who are still reluctant have until Monday and then they'll lose their jobs.  The mayor is convinced that they'll come back once they realize that not getting paid for a few weeks isn't worth it, but even if they don't, there are subs waiting to take their place who are fully vaccinated.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

03 Oct 2021 08:52

The distrust of the pharmaceutical industry which I find weird is I always thought it was about highly inflated prices and their profit model, which has always been suspect.  Which is why this country needs socialized medicine in the worst way (drug prices 500% that of other nations in the developed world, like Canada and the UK.)  The other mistrust that we see with vaccines is the direct result of racist policies in this country which can be traced back to the Tuskeegee Experiments and what occurred in Guatemala when 774 people were intentionally infected with syphilis through needles.  There has been good outreach in NYC where most of our healthcare authorities are minorities so it's easier to reach out to them and garner their trust.  

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