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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

11 Jan 2022 23:30

Wat, there are also reports of Deltacron now coming out of Europe..... a combination of Delta and Omicron.  I wonder if this will spread to the rest of the world?
Last I read, experts have raised some doubt that it is a real variant and not just a result of contamination. Even if it is real, I wouldn't be concerned about it yet. I think it's unlikely something with a combination of Delta and Omicron's properties would compete well when Delta and Omicron have already moved through.

The only tried and true way to really know how any variant will behave is to see how it behaves, unfortunately. Omicron was actually around for a very long time, but wasn't noticed and classified a variant of concern until rapidly growing clusters of outbreaks including in vaccinated and recovered people were sequenced.
Good news coming out of NY, we may have peaked, as cases are down about 17 pct from the peak.  We've been averaging over 50,000 cases for a few days but down from the peak of 70,000 cases from a few days ago.  Deaths are still over 100 per day but it looks like that lags a bit behind cases.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

11 Jan 2022 23:34

  I heard the new Novavax vaccine coming out next month is protein based?
Yes, and it will be interesting to see how it compares to mRNA vaccines.  And since many unvaccinated have considered mRNA vaccines too experimental, it might offer an alternative to those.

I have just come home after flying Oslo->Prague->Amsterdam->Oslo.  To sum up: unless you really need to travel abroad, don't bother, too much hassle and too unpredictable.  I (recently boosted) was travelling with my daughter (unvaccined, recovered), and we needed proof of a negative PCR to travel into Czechia, and a new test after 5 days which didn't apply since we left sooner, and we needed to take an antigen test within 24h after returning to Norway (but risking to queue up at the airport for that test before allowed to leave).  And we were also required to fill out passenger locator forms online before travel.  Sounds fairly easy.  But the PCR test has to be no older than 72 hours, and with the ongoing wave that's about how much time it takes before tests get analysed.  So in the evening before we were to fly out the next morning the results were still missing, and I had to shell out for express PCR tests at nearly $250 each to get proof right away.  Since I live in Oslo, it was at least practically possible to get this test (if there are vacant slots).  I was told it would take 30 minutes, but hours went by, no results, so I had to go back to the test station to check before it closed for the night (they had no phone number on their website).  A problem with their machine.  I got my proof in the end.  Maybe I didn't need it.  Boosted people were exempted from testing, but whether that was valid from the first day after the shot, a week, or two weeks was impossible to find out, and mine was only a few days old.  The information was ambiguous and unclear, so I couldn't risk it.  These results were actually checked by the airline before boarding and those who were still waiting for the results were denied boarding.  Nobody cared to check in the immigration, though.  The results from the first, wasted PCR test came during the flight for my daughter and in the evening for myself, way too late.  New problems when checking in for the return.  They wanted to see a new recent proof of a negative test, but that was wrong.  No such thing required for going to Norway.  Maybe it's a requirement for the Netherlands, but we were only going there in transit.  We were allowed to check in and fly eventually, but it seems to depend on how well informed the people in the counter are.  And we braced for a long wait in a packed area to be tested upon arrival.  Several flights were arriving at the same time, probably a thousand people in half an hour and the area reserved for people waiting to be tested appeared to be something like 50 m², perhaps capable of receiving a 1/4 full flight.  Sensibly, everybody were therefore just waved past instructed to do the test at home, and buy tests at a pharmacy if necessary (which are mostly sold out, anyway).  So in theory travel is possible if you do your homework, but the trouble is that whether that is good enough depends on things out of your control, like getting results in time, finding vacant slots for testing at the right time, whether people in the counter are correctly informed, and how to interpret the rules (like, the requirements and exceptions for entering Czechia differed slightly depending on whether you read the English or Czech text).  I also decided to shell out for parking at the airport as extra insurance, because if I either of us had been tested at the airport after returning and got a positive result, we would have been locked up in a hotel if we had to depend on public transport to get home.

One can wonder, why bother.  Yesterday, the number of new cases registered in Oslo equals more than 0.5% of the entire population.  In a single day.  And it's still estimated that the true number of new cases is about twice the confirmed cases.
Same situation in NY and they are considering lifting mandates even for healthcare workers now, because the infection rate is so high and since omicron seems to be less dangerous, that they are only testing people who show symptoms and asymptomatic positive healthcare workers are being allowed to return back to work.
Wow sounds way too unpredictable and a big hassle to travel, glad you're home now.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

12 Jan 2022 03:07

I have just come home after flying Oslo->Prague->Amsterdam->Oslo.  To sum up: unless you really need to travel abroad, don't bother, too much hassle and too unpredictable.
Wasn't planning on any sort of travel besides possibly by car for the foreseeable future, but noted! That sounds like an awful and stressful experience, I'm glad you didn't get stuck anywhere. I do think these travel restrictions and testing protocols are a lot of hassle for little benefit given how fast and widely Omicron is spreading.

On another note of some good news, the vaccines and boosters still seem to be having a powerful effect in reducing symptomatic cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Data from Seattle and New York City below, reported by the New York Times. I'm not exactly sure what age-adjusted means here though.
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12 Jan 2022 10:32

they are considering lifting mandates even for healthcare workers now, because the infection rate is so high and since omicron seems to be less dangerous, that they are only testing people who show symptoms and asymptomatic positive healthcare workers are being allowed to return back to work.
And over here health authorities are talking more about infection giving a longer lasting protection than the vaccines and, though not directly, that it might be what it takes to end the pandemic.  It's clearly what they wish to prepare the people for.  Since the primary strategy has to end the pandemic by vaccination alone, this is a slow admission.  And new hope is also put in the protein vaccine from Novavax being more lasting.  Such talk is a move in the direction of what many anti-vaxxers have been saying for a long time, who either have distrust in the mRNA approach or have the view that only natural immunity can deliver a definite blow to a pandemic.  In my view the debate has been too polarised and the middle road, which we're apparently finally heading towards, will be the way out.

I'm deeply concerned, though, what's going on in some EU countries making life hard for the unvaccinated.  Some places people are required to show proof of vaccination on the street or face fines.  This is only a small step away from making the unvaccinated wear a visible bio-hazard badge when leaving their home.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

13 Jan 2022 01:01

they are considering lifting mandates even for healthcare workers now, because the infection rate is so high and since omicron seems to be less dangerous, that they are only testing people who show symptoms and asymptomatic positive healthcare workers are being allowed to return back to work.
And over here health authorities are talking more about infection giving a longer lasting protection than the vaccines and, though not directly, that it might be what it takes to end the pandemic.  It's clearly what they wish to prepare the people for.  Since the primary strategy has to end the pandemic by vaccination alone, this is a slow admission.  And new hope is also put in the protein vaccine from Novavax being more lasting.  Such talk is a move in the direction of what many anti-vaxxers have been saying for a long time, who either have distrust in the mRNA approach or have the view that only natural immunity can deliver a definite blow to a pandemic.  In my view the debate has been too polarised and the middle road, which we're apparently finally heading towards, will be the way out.

I'm deeply concerned, though, what's going on in some EU countries making life hard for the unvaccinated.  Some places people are required to show proof of vaccination on the street or face fines.  This is only a small step away from making the unvaccinated wear a visible bio-hazard badge when leaving their home.
In the adjoining state of New Jersey which has an astonishing positivity rate of 40 pct or so they are considering banning the unvaccinated from all public buildings (with or without a mask).  I guess it means everyone will need to carry a vaccine card if they wish to be allowed inside anywhere, meanwhile we are in the middle of a deep arctic freeze, so I guess the unvaccinated homeless will be left outside to freeze.  They should hold off on this new mandate because it looks like the infection rate has already started to decline so this storm has been weathered.  Meanwhile new research has come out showing that the omicron variant is 91 pct less deadly than the delta variant and as far as being contagious is concerned, the virus loses 90 pct of its virility (I hope I am using the right word here?) after 20 minutes of being airborne.  They are also saying cloth masks are relatively ineffective and to wear two layers of cloth masks (for example surgical masks) or opt for the tougher N95 or KN95 or M94 masks.

Meanwhile Fauci has said expect 99 pct of all people to become infected at some point and taking the vaccine and booster shots is going to be the difference between life and death.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

13 Jan 2022 01:04

I have just come home after flying Oslo->Prague->Amsterdam->Oslo.  To sum up: unless you really need to travel abroad, don't bother, too much hassle and too unpredictable.
Wasn't planning on any sort of travel besides possibly by car for the foreseeable future, but noted! That sounds like an awful and stressful experience, I'm glad you didn't get stuck anywhere. I do think these travel restrictions and testing protocols are a lot of hassle for little benefit given how fast and widely Omicron is spreading.

On another note of some good news, the vaccines and boosters still seem to be having a powerful effect in reducing symptomatic cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Data from Seattle and New York City below, reported by the New York Times. I'm not exactly sure what age-adjusted means here though.
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We also have a rash of fake covid tests popping up, sadly, some will choose to profit even during a deadly pandemic.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

13 Jan 2022 02:09

As for faking, over here getting a valid covid pass is trivial.  In my family we've taken official tests 30 - 40 times, and never has anyone asked for an ID.  They usually just ask for a name and birthday, sometimes just the name.  Very rarely the full social security number, but if you don't remember, it doesn't matter.  Same thing for the vaccines.  All you need is to get a stand-in of the same gender and roughly the same age.

The positivity here is now around 30%, probably because many people already have tested positive with a self test or have symptoms before taking the official test.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

14 Jan 2022 13:13

97% of new cases are now Omicron in Norway, 6 seeks after the first case.  That was quick.  Delta is dead, long live Omicron.  Or not...
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14 Jan 2022 20:03

97% of new cases are now Omicron in Norway, 6 seeks after the first case.  That was quick.  Delta is dead, long live Omicron.  Or not...
This might be that good replacement we were talking about earlier.  So  a new mutation develops that is much more contagious but much less lethal.....so this would be a good thing, I would think?  Anyway we are a week off our peak and infection rates are going back down towards what they were before the fall rise.
 
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15 Jan 2022 01:12

97% of new cases are now Omicron in Norway, 6 seeks after the first case.  That was quick.  Delta is dead, long live Omicron.  Or not...
Yup, similar here in Washington

I wanted to check that not only was Delta decreasing as a proportion, but also as a raw number. If we multiply the percentage of sequenced cases by the number of new reported cases during the same timespan, the implied number of new Delta cases in the US declined dramatically from about 90,000 per day in October, to just around 10,000 per day in the first week of January, with most of that decline coincident with the rise of Omicron. So it does indeed seem to be getting outcompeted to extinction, which would be good, I think. Descendents of Omicron may be expected to continue to be milder (than Delta).

We're seeing clear signs that major cities in the east US have already peaked for Omicron, and as a nation we are probably pretty close (the peak is very smeared out geographically). In northwest Washington we're probably a week or two away, I guess. Right now our 7-day running average is around 200 new cases per day per 100,000 people, with an absurdly high positivity rate of over 50%. (I blame home test kits for some of that). My family and I are going nowhere besides quick grocery runs once a week, and getting together with no one. Meanwhile we personally know a rapidly growing number of friends and families catching it, despite either vaccination or recovery from prior variants. I have a neighbor whose entire family (mother, father, two sons and their wives and two grandchildren) all caught Delta last summer in Arizona, and now they are all sick again (COVID positive), presumably with Omicron. None of them are vaccinated. None of them are hospitalized so far, but some are quite severely ill. Moral of the story: do not believe being sick from COVID-19 once gives you very good protection in the future -- not even 6 months in the future.

Now the next question is: will the immunity provided by vaccines plus recovery from Omicron put an end to the pandemic, or will there continue to be more variants and SARS-CoV-2 remains endemic? It's exactly the kind of experiment for finding out if you could realistically combat a virus by spreading a milder but faster-spreading virus, and Omicron spreads about as fast as anything we could imagine. Like fighting fire with fire, except fire does not mutate...
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

15 Jan 2022 04:20

97% of new cases are now Omicron in Norway, 6 seeks after the first case.  That was quick.  Delta is dead, long live Omicron.  Or not...
Yup, similar here in Washington

I wanted to check that not only was Delta decreasing as a proportion, but also as a raw number. If we multiply the percentage of sequenced cases by the number of new reported cases during the same timespan, the implied number of new Delta cases in the US declined dramatically from about 90,000 per day in October, to just around 10,000 per day in the first week of January, with most of that decline coincident with the rise of Omicron. So it does indeed seem to be getting outcompeted to extinction, which would be good, I think. Descendents of Omicron may be expected to continue to be milder.

We're seeing clear signs that major cities in the east US have already peaked for Omicron, and as a nation we are probably pretty close (the peak is very smeared out geographically). In northwest Washington we're probably a week or two away, I guess. Right now our 7-day running average is around 200 new cases per day per 100,000 people, with an absurdly high positivity rate of over 50%. (I blame home test kits for some of that). My family and I are going nowhere besides quick grocery runs once a week, and getting together with no one. Meanwhile we personally know a rapidly growing number of friends and families catching it, despite either vaccination or recovery from prior variants. I have a neighbor whose entire family (mother, father, two sons and their wives and two grandchildren) all caught Delta last summer in Arizona, and now they are all sick again (COVID positive), presumably with Omicron. None of them are vaccinated. None of them are hospitalized so far, but some are quite severely ill. Moral of the story: do not believe being sick from COVID-19 once gives you very good protection in the future -- not even 6 months in the future.

Now the next question is: will the immunity provided by vaccines plus recovery from Omicron put an end to the pandemic, or will there continue to be more variants and SARS-CoV-2 remains endemic? It's exactly the kind of experiment for finding out if you could realistically combat a virus by spreading a milder but faster-spreading virus, and Omicron spreads about as fast as anything we could imagine. Like fighting fire with fire, except fire does not mutate...
So fascinating to see evolution in action in real time.  What's the infection rate of Omicron from the evidence we've gathered so far, Wats?  I've heard it compared to Measles?  Also, with reference to your last question, maybe the new Novavax vaccine could help with that?
Fire does not mutate but there are certain kinds of weather that cause it to spread more quickly, and then we have things like "firenados"- etc.  Basically fire creating its own weather to make itself spread more quickly.   Actually in some ways, we could consider both viruses and fire to be "living" in their own right.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

16 Jan 2022 13:16

Moral of the story: do not believe being sick from COVID-19 once gives you very good protection in the future -- not even 6 months in the future.
We just got news that a close contact of our children has tested positive again, four months after the last time.  From the South Africa data it's obvious that there is limited protection.
Now the next question is: will the immunity provided by vaccines plus recovery from Omicron put an end to the pandemic, or will there continue to be more variants and SARS-CoV-2 remains endemic?
The vaccines have for practical purposes zero direct impact on the pandemic.  Omicron makes that pretty clear.  The vaccines have an impact on the number of hospitalisations, which influences the politics, which in turn impacts the severity of the waves, for good or bad.  I think some lessons need to be learned from this pandemic: One can't expect vaccines rushed to the public to end a pandemic.  I think the public have been grossly misled.  Sure, having faith in vaccines is good, but I don't like how people have been misled.  I think there should have been more honesty about the experimental side of the vaccination.  I've accepted my shots with a reluctant enthusiasm because of this.  If there had been more openness about the experimental nature rather than this being hushed away, I would more gladly signed up.  I think the mRNA vaccines have been an interesting concept which I think deserved a try.  Now we know more about their strengths and weaknesses and that is good.  But it shouldn't have been sold as the way out of the pandemic.  The second lesson should be that covid passes don't work.  They have been abused to put pressure on people to get the vaccines.  This can easily backfire increasing the vaccine scepticism.  To me these policies have even been an eye opener for how fragile concepts of equality and even democracy are.  I don't buy the justifications.  Where equality and democracies have fallen, there have always been justifications.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

17 Jan 2022 05:35

Moral of the story: do not believe being sick from COVID-19 once gives you very good protection in the future -- not even 6 months in the future.
We just got news that a close contact of our children has tested positive again, four months after the last time.  From the South Africa data it's obvious that there is limited protection.
Now the next question is: will the immunity provided by vaccines plus recovery from Omicron put an end to the pandemic, or will there continue to be more variants and SARS-CoV-2 remains endemic?
The vaccines have for practical purposes zero direct impact on the pandemic.  Omicron makes that pretty clear.  The vaccines have an impact on the number of hospitalisations, which influences the politics, which in turn impacts the severity of the waves, for good or bad.  I think some lessons need to be learned from this pandemic: One can't expect vaccines rushed to the public to end a pandemic.  I think the public have been grossly misled.  Sure, having faith in vaccines is good, but I don't like how people have been misled.  I think there should have been more honesty about the experimental side of the vaccination.  I've accepted my shots with a reluctant enthusiasm because of this.  If there had been more openness about the experimental nature rather than this being hushed away, I would more gladly signed up.  I think the mRNA vaccines have been an interesting concept which I think deserved a try.  Now we know more about their strengths and weaknesses and that is good.  But it shouldn't have been sold as the way out of the pandemic.  The second lesson should be that covid passes don't work.  They have been abused to put pressure on people to get the vaccines.  This can easily backfire increasing the vaccine scepticism.  To me these policies have even been an eye opener for how fragile concepts of equality and even democracy are.  I don't buy the justifications.  Where equality and democracies have fallen, there have always been justifications.
I have a similar take even though I am also pro vaccination.  Here is the thing....they think humans are dumb therefore instead of telling them the whole story they tell them vaccines are a panacea without clearly listing both the good and the not so good.  And now they are saying cloth masks are next to useless and everyone should get N95.  In the beginning they said it wasn't airborne and no masks were needed, then they said cloth masks are fine but dont get N95 then they said okay the vaccines are here no need for masks, and then it was both vaccines and masks and now its vaccines, boosters and N95 masks lol.
Now, what makes me angry.  How do you feel about the Australian Open situation with Djokovich?  He's banned for 3 years.  I say the Australian Open itself should be banned for 3 years.  The nerve of them to tell him he has to do this bla bla bla.  He is ONE man, he can easily isolate when he's not on the tennis court and stay confined to his hotel room.  The Australian government is the most hypocritical government on the planet and I put them in the same category as North Korea.  They need to be isolated from the rest of the planet and be sanctioned into oblivion.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

17 Jan 2022 07:44

 How do you feel about the Australian Open situation with Djokovich?
I don't know the details, but it appears that somebody wants to state an example.  The trouble is, that they're stating an example of their own idiocy.
Latest numbers here in Norway show that Omicron has a 0.2% risk of hospitalisation.  Which probably means that there wont be shutdowns and current restrictions and quarantine rules will be softened despite transmission still being on the rise.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

17 Jan 2022 15:22

 How do you feel about the Australian Open situation with Djokovich?
I don't know the details, but it appears that somebody wants to state an example.  The trouble is, that they're stating an example of their own idiocy.
Latest numbers here in Norway show that Omicron has a 0.2% risk of hospitalisation.  Which probably means that there wont be shutdowns and current restrictions and quarantine rules will be softened despite transmission still being on the rise.
People aren't really buying it anymore and I see there are protests everywhere, even by healthcare workers who dont want the mandates anymore.
Looks like France may be following Australia's example though.  I guess they are doing a test of how much control they can have before people start rebelling....I dont think the rope is very long.

It's on a steep decrease here, infections was up near 90,000 per day at peak now it's down to around 40,000 a day.

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