CORONA Main Coronavirus thread

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Iowa tops 10,000 COVID deaths as many residents unvaccinated

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More than 10,000 people have died with COVID-19 infections in Iowa, state officials reported this week.

Iowa data updated Wednesday shows 10,051 deaths associated with the viral infection. The state averages eight deaths a day when measured as a seven-day moving average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Iowa has the 19th highest quarterly COVID-19 death rate in the nation with 135.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

More than 4,000 people in Iowa have died with a COVID-19 virus infection since April 2021, when vaccines became available for all adults. With widespread vaccine availability for most of the population, deaths are now considered largely preventable.

Nearly one-third of Iowa residents haven’t had a single dose of vaccine. Iowa ranks 33rd in the nation for percentage of total population with at least one dose of vaccine at 69.3%.

Gov. Kim Reynolds cut public reporting of COVID-19 data to basic information in February, saying the state no longer needed to treat the virus as a public health emergency.

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Should masks return in fall and winter to prevent a COVID surge?
Fri, September 23, 2022, 6:04 AM

As the United States heads into the fall and winter, questions are arising about whether the return of masks is needed to stem a potential COVID-19 surge.

Evidence has shown COVID cases and hospitalizations tend to rise during the colder months when people congregate indoors. Some health officials warn the virus could surge again in December and January.

Currently, cases and hospitalizations are on the decline in the U.S. after having peaked in late July, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those who are vaccinated and boosted are at much lower risk of falling severely ill and dying from COVID-19. CDC data shows unvaccinated Americans have a five times higher risk of dying compared to those who've received just a primary series and a seven times higher risk of dying compared to those who also received at least one booster dose.

Experts told ABC News that while vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19, some people may need to consider masking to protect themselves in case infections rise.

"My recommendation to people would be to mask when in indoor crowded spaces," Dr. Stuart Ray, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told ABC News. "I've spent a great deal of time with patients who have COVID and have not contracted the infection from what I can tell, both from antibody testing and from a lack of syndrome."

Dr. Shira Doron, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, told ABC News that masks have helped reduce COVID transmission in health care settings.

"I've worked in a respiratory infection clinic with COVID patients at the height of their contagiousness and they're breathing in my face, and I haven't gotten COVID from patients," she said. "I really do believe that PPE works, that masks work."

However, experts admitted it will be hard to convince Americans to wear masks again after so many cities and states have done away with mandates.

Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver remain the three biggest cities in the U.S. where masks are still required on public transit. In most cities, only health care environments still require mask mandates.

Ray said he believes a surge, similar to those caused by the delta and the omicron variants, would be the only thing drum up support of mandates.

"I think that people are really tired of this pandemic and there is, culturally, very little appetite for mandates, for masking," Ray said. "And so, it's a steep climb to tell people unless there's a particular context in which it's important, like a health care setting when there are many vulnerable people."

He added, "If we were to come into a highly disruptive surge, then the appetite for a mandate might change, because people realize that a bunch of essential services are being disrupted. If hospitals got stressed by the surge, then I think we might see mandates returned."

Doron said that although she supports masking, she doesn't believe that cities and counties should reinstate mask mandates because many people take them off indoors for prolonged periods of time anyway, increasing the risk of transmission.

"In the community, we had mask mandates where you wear masks unless you're eating or drinking and if you've ever traveled in an airport or on an airplane, where there when there was a mask mandate, you know that, you know, people are pretty much eating and drinking the entire time," Doron said. "And so, it just doesn't have the ability to do what it's meant to do."

In the absence of mask mandates, the experts said people may need to assess their individual risk level and decide if wearing a mask will help protect themselves and those around them.

"You to weigh your own susceptibility, your own tolerance for the risk of the long-term complications, which are still somewhat unknown and the risks that you might pose to people you care for either professionally or personally at home," Ray said. "Now, some people may decide -- and this is the judgment part -- that they just don't care that they don't think that this is a big deal, and that they'll just get infected and that they're likely not to be hospitalized."

Dr. Thomas Murray, an associate professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, said assessing the risk level also applies to kids in school, where many mask mandates have been lifted.

"Children who have higher risk, like asthma, might be an example of that," Murray said. "What we're really trying to balance is having kids enjoy a normal in-person school experience with the risks that go with congregating in classes when we have lots of respiratory viruses circulating."

He said if schools don't reimplement masking, other strategies "become critically important" for children, such as screening, testing and keeping them home if they have symptoms.

However, not all masks are created equally. For those who plan to keep wearing masks or choose to start wearing them again heading into the colder months, the experts recommend wearing a high-quality mask.

"I think that single-layer cloth masks really don't provide much protection," Ray said.

Doron said if you cannot get a N95 or KN95, or cannot wear one for long periods of time, a surgical mask will provide protection.

"The surgical mask does provide protection, especially if it fits you well," she said. "And then there are ways to make it fit better, ways to fold it or and tuck it and tie the strap for your ears."

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Moderna seeks FDA nod for Omicron-targeted COVID shot for adolescents, younger kids
by Mrinalika Roy
Fri, September 23, 2022, 4:12 PM

(Reuters) - Moderna Inc said on Friday it has requested U.S. authorization for use of its Omicron-targeting COVID vaccine in adolescents and children.

The company is seeking emergency use authorization of its updated vaccine in two age groups - adolescents aged 12 to 17 years and children aged six to 11.

The application for the bivalent vaccine for children between the ages of six months and under six years is expected to be completed later this year, the company said in a tweet.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it expects COVID-19 vaccine boosters targeting circulating variants of the virus to be available for children aged 5-11 years by mid-October.

Moderna's mRNA-1273.222, a bivalent booster shot, contains the dominant BA.4/BA.5 variants along with the original coronavirus strain.

The updated vaccine is already authorized for adults, while rival Pfizer's bivalent vaccine is authorized as a booster dose for children over 12 years of age.

The U.S. government has ordered more than 170 million updated vaccine booster shots for this fall, and said on Tuesday it had sent out over 25 million doses to be distributed.

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Hotel CEO describes how COVID altered guests' behavior
Dylan Croll
Fri, September 23, 2022, 11:58 AM

President Joe Biden declared recently that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, but it may have changed some people's behavior permanently.

One hospitality industry CEO says the virus completely altered consumer expectations. In a recent episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” Rosewood Hotel Group CEO Sonia Cheng said that her customers now care more about their health.

“The revelation is the sum of the consumers' behavior has changed. They're more focused on personalized experience,” Chen told Yahoo Finance. “They care about their own well-being. They care about lifestyle, they love to travel, they miss travel.”

For some people, a global pandemic might have reinforced the importance of staying healthy. For instance, 62% of 1,158 Americans surveyed last year by market research firm Ipsos believe their health is more important to them than before the pandemic.

This increased concern for health has been accompanied by a boost in the wellness industry. A 2021 report by the Global Wellness Institute projected that wellness tourism would see an average annual growth rate of 20.9% between 2020 and 2025. The same report predicts that the total global wellness economy — which includes activities like visiting spas and healthy eating — will increase by a strong annual rate of around 10% through 2025.

“At the big-picture, long-term level, the case for the wellness concept and wellness markets post-pandemic looks very bullish," Beth McGroarty, vice president of research for the Global Wellness Institute told CO, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce publication back in August 2020.

In addition to a more pronounced interest in health, Cheng says that her hotels are currently seeing the effects of pent-up travel demand. When COVID struck, international travel practically ceased, and skies founds themselves filled with empty planes. Full-year global passenger traffic results for 2020 showed that demand fell by around 66% compared to 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association.

But post-COVID, airlines have begun to recover. Accredited travel agency air ticket sales totaled $39.8 billion in 2021, a 69% increase from 2020, according to a report released by Airlines Reporting Corp. in January. According to the same report, the number of passenger trips in 2021 grew by 50% year over year, totaling 174 million compared to 116 million in 2020.

To accommodate the inflow of customers, Cheng says Rosewood Hotels has created several new products that target health and well-being — including Asaya, one of Rosewood’s new wellness concepts. Rosewood’s Asaya offers customers treatments ranging from fitness tests to naturopathic treatment sessions, including special treatments for pregnant guests. The hotel chain also recently released a private membership called Carlyle and Co., which offers tailoring and and a private barber, among other services.

“We’re pivoting our strategy of developing Rosewood to be beyond just a luxury hotel leader,” Cheng remarked. “But we want it to be a comprehensive lifestyle leader, where we are diversifying our portfolio.”

Rosewood Hotel Group, a privately owned subsidiary, manages five brands including ultra-luxury Rosewood Hotels & Resorts in North America, and Asaya, according to the company website. The company has 41 hotels in 19 countries and nearly 30 new properties under development.

“So we’re really extending our Rosewood ecosystem where we can impact people's lives and give them a curated personal experience wherever they are,” Cheng reflects.

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Less than 2% of eligible people have gotten updated Covid booster shots, 3 weeks into the rollout
The CDC recommends that everyone over 12 get an updated booster as long as at least two months have passed since their last Covid shot.

Sept. 23, 2022, 1:00 PM EDT
By Aria Bendix

At least 4.4 million people have received an updated Covid booster since the start of the month, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number represents around 1.5% of people currently eligible to receive the shots in the U.S.

The data does not include people who received updated Pfizer-BioNTech boosters in Idaho and Texas, the CDC said, so it is likely an underestimate. The White House estimates the number to be closer to 5 million doses of the new booster, The Associated Press reported.

The CDC signed off on updated versions of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s booster shots on Sept. 1, and pharmacies and other vaccination sites began administering the new shots around Labor Day weekend. The bivalent shots target both the original coronavirus strain and the currently circulating omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

Dr. Scott Roberts, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, said the relatively low booster uptake was “demoralizing.”

“I would expect a much higher proportion of Americans to have gotten the booster by this point,” he said.

Roberts said a lack of public awareness about the shots or the prevailing narrative that the pandemic is ending might have hindered the vaccine rollout.

“The fact that this booster came out days before Biden said the pandemic is over is a huge mixed message," he said. "Now it’s going to be that much harder to convince those at risk who are on the fence to get a booster."

Still, the U.S. has seen an uptick in overall demand for Covid shots since the booster rollout began: The U.S. is currently administering around 314,000 Covid vaccine doses per day, as a weekly average. That's nearly triple the number from the start of the month.

As of Tuesday, the U.S. had shipped more than 25 million bivalent booster doses to tens of thousands of sites. The vast majority of the population now lives within 5 miles of a site offering the updated vaccines.

The CDC recommends that everyone over 12 get an updated booster, as long as at least two months have passed since their last Covid shot. People who recently got Covid should wait at least until their acute illness is over, and the CDC says they can consider delaying their boosters until three months after their symptoms started or since they first tested positive.

People can mix and match vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, but Pfizer’s updated booster is available to people ages 12 and up while Moderna’s is limited to ages 18 and up.

Some pharmacies reported shortages of Moderna's updated booster earlier this week. But CVS said Thursday it has started to receive additional Moderna doses and expects more over the coming days and weeks. Walgreens said the availability of Moderna doses varies by location.

Nearly 80% of the U.S. population has received at least one shot of a primary Covid vaccine, and nearly 68% is considered fully vaccinated by the CDC, meaning they've gotten either one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two shots of Pfizer's, Moderna's or Novavax's, which was authorized in July.

Biden administration officials have pointed to the updated boosters, however, as a critical step to pushing the U.S. out of the pandemic.

"For the first time since December of 2020, these vaccines, our vaccines, have caught up with the virus," White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha said at a briefing earlier this month.

Jha said the shots should provide better protection against infection and transmission, as well as more lasting protection against severe illness, compared to earlier Covid vaccines.

But experts are still gathering real-world data, since the shots were distributed without results from human trials. Laboratory studies found that the boosters generated strong antibody responses against BA.4 and BA.5, and human trial data showed that a similar vaccine yielded a strong antibody response against the initial omicron strain, BA.1.

Authorization of the bivalent boosters for children ages 5 to 11 may be just weeks away, Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said at an event this week with the Covid-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project.

Public health officials expect to see another Covid wave around Thanksgiving, and flu season tends to pick up in October, so the CDC says the updated Covid boosters and flu shots can be given together.

If the pace of booster vaccinations doesn’t pick up, Roberts said, the U.S. could see an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

"Many people are certainly due for a booster and this comes at a critical time," he said. "We’re going into the winter season when we expect cases to go up. Many areas around the country right now are continuing to have high levels of circulating virus."

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Some Who Rushed to Covid-19 Vaccine Hold Off on Boosters
Health authorities hoped new shot targeting Omicron would lift sluggish booster rates, but some say they don’t need it

Updated Sept. 22, 2022 3:38 pm ET

Health authorities encouraging retooled Covid-19 boosters are facing resistance from an unlikely corner: people who had embraced vaccines earlier in the pandemic.

The authorities have expressed hope that sluggish booster rates would pick up as people seek the reformulated shots, which target the latest versions of Omicron.

Yet in a measure of fatigue with Covid-19 vaccinations, some people who had flocked to doses are holding off, saying they aren’t convinced another shot is worth it even to potentially improve protection against a changing virus.

“If I get sick, I get sick,” said Ted Hoffman, 51 years old, from Piedmont, S.C., who regularly gets a flu shot.

Mr. Hoffman, who works in sales, said he was eager to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in spring 2021 because his job puts him in frequent contact with people, his asthma and diabetes increase his risk of severe disease and he wanted to help stop the virus from spreading in his community.

Yet he hasn’t gotten a booster and isn’t planning on getting the new one, he said, because he doesn’t believe the boosters will provide enough protection. Some people who got boosters in previous months, he noted, still got Covid-19.

Health regulators rolled out the boosters, from Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE and from Moderna Inc., for people at least 12 years old to bolster their immune defenses against the latest forms of the evasive Omicron variant.

Studies have found that the original Covid-19 vaccines aren’t as effective against Omicron as they were against earlier strains of the virus. The new “bivalent” boosters target both the original strain and the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

Since the new boosters became available earlier this month at pharmacies, doctors’ offices and elsewhere, about 4.4 million people have received a new booster shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Health authorities have urged people to get vaccinated and then boosted to maintain the strongest level of immune protection against severe Covid-19, even if they had once gotten infected.

After some 77% of adults got the primary series, however, roughly 52% got the first booster and about 35% of eligible adults, those at least 50 years old, got the second booster, according to the CDC.

Recent surveys found many people held off on boosters because they are tired of getting shots, not required by employers, had bad side effects from previous shots, and comfortable with the immunity conferred by previous shots and infections.

Health authorities had looked to the new round of doses as an opportunity to improve boosting rates, saying people who were open to vaccinations but hadn’t gotten a booster may want a retooled shot.

“If we do a good job with getting information out, it might help people make a more realistic risk assessment,” said Jennifer Dillaha, the director of the Arkansas Department of Health.

Central to the campaign is persuading people who are open to the shots but hadn’t gotten boosted to get one of the new ones, because surveys find that most people who aren’t vaccinated said they wouldn’t get inoculated at all.

Yet 52% of people surveyed in July said they just don’t want to get a booster, and 57% said they were comfortable with protection from their initial vaccinations or previous infections, according to the most recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

About 20% of the people surveyed who received an initial series said they held off on getting a booster to wait for a revised, variant-specific shot.

Many state officials aren’t expecting the new shots to drive an immediate surge of booster uptake, said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

A likely obstacle to uptake, he said, is the lack of clinical-trial data demonstrating the vaccines are effective.

To make the shots available ahead of a fall or winter surge, U.S. health regulators authorized the doses on other sources of data, such as the performance of earlier iterations of boosters.

“The fact we can’t say, ‘We know with certainty this is much better,’ that’s going to make it a little bit more challenging,” Dr. Plescia said.

Debra Furr-Holden, dean of the NYU School of Global Public Health, said health officials could have taken a number of steps to encourage use and overcome hesitancy and misinformation, such as educating the public more about what a bivalent vaccine is before the shots were authorized and using Omicron in the name to distinguish the new boosters from the originals.

“Maybe call it Omicron Plus,” she said.

The U.S. government conducted news interviews prior to the bivalent vaccines’ authorization, and since then has promoted boosters on social media, sent letters to 50 million Medicare recipients and conducted campaigns in English and Spanish and in areas with low booster rates, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said.

After getting his primary vaccine series last year because his Defense Department job required it, Robert Wade said he doesn’t plan to get a booster, even the new one targeting Omicron substrains.

Mr. Wade, 59, of Del Rio, Texas, said he doesn’t believe he needs an extra dose because he is healthy. “I have every confidence that my body is capable of adjusting because I’ve let it be exposed,” he said.

Research has found that older people are at higher risk of severe Covid-19.

In a 1,323-person study published this month in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, subjects who received a booster had the least severe Covid-19 symptoms and they abated more quickly over time, compared with both people who only received an initial series or were unvaccinated.

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Pfizer Won’t Share COVID Vaccines With Independent Researchers.

by Natalie Winters
September 23, 2022

Pharmaceutical giants including Pfizer and Moderna are refusing to share data and technology from their COVID-19 vaccines with researchers studying alternative treatments for the virus.

The conflict for researchers who are not affiliated with major pharmaceutical companies that manufactured a COVID-19 vaccine is a result of Pfizer and Moderna owning the patents for the current vaccines. Researchers, therefore, have to receive the companies’ permissions to use the vaccines for research into products like nasal or pan-coronavirus vaccines.

Pfizer and Moderna are refusing to share the data, however. Though the decision to withhold COVID-19 vaccine data and information from researchers is legal, it complicates the ability for progress to be made.

Yale University virologist and immunologist Akiko Iwasaki designed a study of nasal vaccines against COVID-19, which she believes would confer better protection against infection and transmission than shots alone. The most accurate version of the study would have been conducted on subjects that have already received ay initial vaccine series, as this would reflect real-world scenarios.

Despite asking Pfizer about the possibility of obtaining some vaccine to use in her study of nasal treatments, she has not received any from the company.

“In order for us to develop a better vaccine, we need a comparator. For that reason, everyone who’s doing research in this area is in the same boat, we don’t have access to do a comparison,” Iwasaki said.
Iwasaki addressed the issue at the White House’s summit on the future of COVID-19 vaccines, and former National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins said at the time that he “would not have thought of that” posing a problem with her research.Separately, California Institute of Technology professor Pamela Bjorkman said her lab has had difficulties obtaining COVID-19 vaccines in order to research ae treatment candidate that could provide protection against a variety of Covid-19 variants.

“Whatever policy prevents using such vials does a great disservice to global efforts to develop new and improved vaccines,” Bjorkman said.

When asked if Pfizer has provided any vaccines for research purposes, spokesperson Sharon Castillo said, “We are not accepting or reviewing applications for possible clinical research that studies the Covid-19 vaccine.” Another Pfizer spokesperson said the company has its own “extensive studies” of the vaccine underway, and will continue to share information from those studies as it becomes available.

Moderna refused to respond to a press query.

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‘Disaster to disaster’: Underinvestment in public health systems obstructs response to Covid, monkeypox, Walensky says
By Isabella Cueto
Sept. 23, 2022

For the record, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would take the job again.

“I’m a clinician, a physician at heart,” she said Friday. “And when somebody calls you for help, you run.”

As one of the most visible faces in the world of American public health, and the frequent recipient of criticism for her agency’s response to the pandemic and other outbreaks, she now travels with armed security guards. But she isn’t shying away.

Now over a year and a half into her tenure as the head of the CDC, Walensky spoke to a group of reporters outside Boston about a review of the agency’s Covid response, the challenges that undergirded it, and what forces continue to restrict the CDC’s ability to be nimble in the face of public health emergencies, like monkeypox.

The latest mixed messaging Walensky is fielding came from the White House. On Sunday, President Biden surprised many when he told Scott Pelley on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that the pandemic was over — much to the chagrin of clinicians and non-clinicians alike who still feel the impacts of Covid everyday. Walensky did not say whether she agreed or disagreed with Biden’s assessment.

“I think that there are a lot of different ways to think about a pandemic being over,” she said. Two years ago, her children were staying home from school and her household wiped down groceries, she said. Now, there are 600 million vaccines in Americans’ arms, as many return to workplaces and classrooms.

“I will not let go of the 350 deaths that we are having every single day,” she said, but noted that “it’s still way less than 3,000” deaths that were occurring each day in January 2021. “And so, I think we are in a very different place,” she said. “And we can look at very different metrics as we think about how things will be. And then also, we don’t know what the fall will bring. We don’t know what the winter will bring.”

For immunocompromised people — those awaiting or who recently received transplants, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, people with chronic autoimmune conditions, people who cannot be vaccinated, and more — Covid is still a daily threat. Walensky acknowledged as much, and said perhaps one “silver lining” of the pandemic is how it made Americans more aware of the disproportionate risks and impacts that some groups face.

“Among the things that we’ve done is put a chief health equity officer in every response,” she said. “And yet this is challenging for a respiratory virus, especially for Covid. And we can talk about monkeypox, too, where we have immunocompromised people who are at risk for transmission, whatever the route.”

Just as the CDC began scaling down the number of staff devoted to Covid response, monkeypox emerged as a public health threat in the U.S. And the agency is still grappling with some of the same problems that slowed the response to Covid, Walensky said. A major issue is infrastructure — the money states and cities have not spent on beefing up their public health departments, data systems and other essential services.

“It has been waxing and waning, disaster to disaster,” she said. “I can tell you, states do not have any money dedicated to monkeypox. Period.”

Despite the giant infusions of cash that states and local jurisdictions got to stay afloat during the pandemic, that is money that cannot be used to address monkeypox. Some estimates say the nation needs 80,000 more public health workers to meet the country’s various health needs; even if states do get money to respond to health crises, they probably don’t have adequate staffing to run things properly.

Walensky defended the CDC’s efforts to collect and disseminate key data about Covid and monkeypox, both the scope of the outbreaks and progress of vaccination efforts. Even as the country’s top public health agency, the CDC still does not have the authority to force states to release data, she said. It took more than six weeks for the federal agency to get data use agreements — legal documents that authorize the CDC to collect and publicize states’ numbers — from all 50 states on monkeypox vaccination. That was “time lost,” Walensky said.

Over half a billion dollars have been allocated on the federal level to modernize the flawed patchwork of data systems used across the country, and yet that money hasn’t made a dent so far in smoothing information bottlenecks or filling data gaps.

“If we’re going to ask states to mandatorily report to us, we owe it to them to give back to them something that’s helpful to them: What’s going on around them?” she said. “What are other jurisdictions seeing? What’s happening on their border states? All sorts of things so that they are empowered with more information and more data. It’s got to be a bi-directional highway. That I totally get.”

Communication is an area that needs improvement, she acknowledged. It’s cited as a major area for improvement in a review Walensky requested earlier this year to determine what went wrong in the CDC’s Covid response and how the agency can do better. Many in public health have called for a commission with subpoena power, similar to the one launched after the Sept. 11 attacks, in order to document the failures and prepare for future emergencies. Walensky said she does not know if such a commission will be formed but is focused on implementing the critiques she has heard informally and through the internal review.

“I very much believe that we have to restore and regain the trust,” she said.

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‘I Believe So:’ Fauci Says School Closures Were Worth It
By Zachary Stieber
September 23, 2022

Dr. Anthony Fauci says shutting down schools during the COVID-19 pandemic was worthwhile.

“I believe so for a number of reasons,” Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a lockdown proponent, said on Sept. 22.

Fauci said that people who note that many children do not suffer severe cases of COVID-19 disregard that “we still lost 1,400 children.” As of Aug. 20, only 722 deaths among children were determined to have COVID-19 as the underlying cause, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database.

Fauci also put forth the theory that COVID-19 vaccines can prevent multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, and so-called long COVID, or lingering effects that are sometimes attributed to COVID-19.

“So although you have to be aware and not deny that there are deleterious consequences for prolonged periods of time for keeping children out of school—remember, the safety of the children is also important,” Fauci said. “So it’s not black and white, it isn’t completely right or completely wrong. The people who have concern(s) about closing schools are perfectly appropriate in that concern. That’s the reason why I have said very, very often: we need to do everything we can to make sure the schools are open and safe.”

Fauci was speaking during the Texas Tribune Festival.

Fauci’s comments come after he claimed that the harsh measures imposed by states and locales, backed by federal health officials like Fauci, were necessary because hospitals were being “overrun.”

“And sometimes when you do draconian things, it has collateral negative consequences. Just like when you shut things down, even temporarily, it does have deleterious consequences on the economy, on the schoolchildren. You know that,” Fauci said at The Atlantic Festival.

Fauci previously said he wasn’t sure whether shutting down schools was worth it. “Only time will tell,” he said in May.

Critics said Fauci’s insistence that the United States needed to shut down schools disregarded many studies that show that schools are not locations where COVID-19 spreads much.

“It takes staggering arrogance to say closures were worth it when Sweden never closed primary school, has population outcomes broadly comparable with other nations, and whose kids’ future (economic and physical and mental well-being) was not savagely destroyed,” Dr. Vinay Prasad, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote on Twitter, responding to a clip of Fauci’s most recent comments.

Keeping schools open in Sweden helped children there avoid learning loss, according to a recent study.

Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), a doctor, said that Fauci’s acknowledgment that harsh measures have consequences means he “knew your children would suffer. He ignored pleas to open schools.”

Republicans have vowed to probe Fauci if they flip the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm elections.

“We won’t fully understand the generational consequences of his actions for years,” Green said. “Accountability will come.”

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Lhasa Residents: ‘Isolated for Over 40 Days, With No Income, We Can’t Hold on Any Longer!’
COVID-19 Lockdown Causes Mass Suffering in Tibetan Capital

By Sophia Lam
September 23, 2022

Lhasa, the capital of western China’s Tibetan region, is drawing worldwide attention after a recent COVID-19 flare-up. The city—with population estimates ranging from 300,000 to around 900,000—has suffered chaotic pandemic management during a lockdown that has lasted over a month.

Local authorities closed off parts of the city and mass-tested residents under the zero-COVID policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) when the outbreak was first announced Aug. 8.

Even low-risk districts remain locked down, according to an official announcement on Sept. 20. On Sept. 22, the city reported five symptomatic and 58 asymptomatic cases, according to the CCP’s major mouthpiece China Daily on Sept. 22.

“We can’t subsist any longer. Help the people of Tibet! Save the land of Tibet!” read a post by a netizen using the name Renjian Xiaoxiaoxian, who is no longer found on China’s social media platforms.
Long Lines of Night Transfer Buses

Zhang Qing (pseudonym) is a resident of Chengguan District, the seat of Lhasa municipal government. She told the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times on Sept. 16 that she had been locked down in her company’s living quarters since Aug. 2.

She said that all the people in the same residential compound were sent to isolation sites even if only one or two people tested positive for COVID-19.

“The transfer buses came at 9.30 p.m. Our clients and many of my colleagues were taken away in these buses,” Zhang said, “the government staffers would call residents in the day, notifying them that someone tested positive for COVID, ordering them to pack, and telling them to wait for the buses at the compound gate.”

In the evening, buses transferred large numbers of residents to makeshift hospitals or central isolation sites, where there is a shortage of food, water, and medicine. Some of the makeshift hospitals are unfinished apartment buildings or large parking lots, which lack proper sanitary facilities, as revealed by online posts and videos before they were removed.

Online footage obtained by The Epoch Times shows long lines of buses taking busloads of people with luggage away from residential areas. The publication was not able to verify the authenticity of the footage.

“It is really horrible to see so many buses coming to take people away late at night,” Zhang said. “The buses would come every day, and in five or six days, the whole compound would be empty.”

“It is more torturous that people wait with panic at home, not knowing when it is their turn to be taken away and where they are heading, or how long they have to stay in those places,” Zhang said.

Zhang told the publication that since Sept. 15, the new isolation facilities are tents, as all the established isolation facilities, including construction sites and schools, have been used up.

Lhasa City is 3,656 m (almost 2.5 miles) above sea level. The average temperature at night in September is 8? (about 46?).

200,000 People Allegedly Locked Down

Authorities have isolated Lhasa residents who tested positive for COVID-19 alongside those who tested negative, causing the virus to spread quickly among those quarantined, residents told the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times.

“Now in Lhasa alone, 200,000 people have been infected [by COVID-19] and are locked down,” said Ms. Zhao (pseudonym), who is a resident of Chengguan District.

She told the publication on Sept. 16 that, with the increasing number of infections, there aren’t enough isolation facilities, so the government has requisitioned schools, construction sites, unfinished apartments, and even tents, as makeshift isolation sites.

Ms. Liang (pseudonym) told the publication in an interview on Sept. 17 that she was isolated in a makeshift hospital in Liuwu village on the southwestern outskirts of Lhasa.

“There are altogether four buildings used as isolation sites in our place, all tall buildings, over a dozen stories high, full of people,” Liang said. She was taken to the isolation site together with other residents in her apartment building, in which one positive case was reported.

A friend of Zhao’s came to Lhasa for sightseeing, but the whole tour group was locked down in a hostel.

“All they have got is a box of flu medicines, and they are told to drink a certain quantity of water, a lot of water. They have to rely on their own immunity to recover,” Zhao said. Her friend tested negative after seven days of isolation and was about to be released from the hostel when another tourist staying in the same room tested positive for COVID.

“Then when they all tested negative for COVID-19, they were told that their hostel was in a high-risk area. They couldn’t leave,” Zhao said, “The government’s policies are just disgusting.”

As of Sept. 19, state mouthpiece China News reported that 58,863 close contacts were released from centralized isolation and observation, while 66,675 were still under isolation.

‘Can’t Hold On Any Longer’

It has been over 40 days since the city was put in lockdown. Residents have no income, and many are running out of food. They receive few supplies from the government.

“I have been locked down at home for over a month and can’t go out,” Lhasa resident Ms. Liu (pseudonym) told the publication on Sept. 17.

“The whole city is in complete shutdown. Most of us low-income people are very sad. We have no income, no savings, and no money in our hands. Our life is very difficult. Some of us have to pay mortgages and car loans, but we have no money. We can barely survive,” Liu said.

Zhao said that, for the past month, she and her neighbors shared the little vegetables they had and that they only ate one meal a day. “The government said it had distributed vegetables to us. Well, we only received a bag of vegetables on Sept. 2, which had in it a dozen potatoes and a cucumber. This is for all the households on our floor!” Zhao said angrily.

“How is it possible to divide the vegetables among so many people? A potato for each one? Cutting the cucumber into pieces and giving one piece to each of us?” Zhao said she felt helpless.

To save food, residents sleep during the day and eat only one simple meal a day, Zhao said. She said that their stock can only last for a week, even with one meal a day.

Ms. Dong also lives in Chengguan District. She said that the government has not allowed any delivery of food since Sept. 12.

“The government officials have locked our company and locked us in, and then pasted a seal on our door. Who dares to tear down a seal pasted by the government?” Dong said, “I now just wish I can stay alive.”

“We have been locked down for over a month. We are worse alive than dead. There is no help from anywhere. There is no income, and we cannot pay our mortgages or loans. Prices of food are soaring,” one netizen wrote on Chinese social media.

Netizens are banned from posting about the lockdown online and are warned by local authorities not to spread “rumors,” according to Mr. Li (pseudonym), a Lhasa resident, when speaking with the publication on Sept. 17.

“Apparently it is the authorities that are spreading rumors, but they claim it’s us!” Li said, “The official news is all fake!”

The Epoch Times reached out to the pandemic prevention and control centers of the Chengguan District, Lhasa municipal authorities, and Tibetan regional authorities for comment.

Gu Xiaohua, Xiao Lyusheng, Zhao Fenghua, Hong Ning, and Lin Cenxin contributed to the article.

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Vice-Director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology Revealed to Be Chinese Communist Party Official in Charge of Biosafety
Hans Mahncke
September 23, 2022

News Analysis

A newly discovered email from 2013 discloses that the vice-director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Yuan Zhiming, is a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official who was formally in charge of international cooperation and biosafety at the Institute. The Institute is suspected to be the origin of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The email is part of a large number of documents unearthed by transparency group U.S. Right to Know through ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation to uncover pandemic-related information held by U.S. institutions. Although the initial batch of documents was released in June, the email pertaining to Yuan, which was obtained from the Galveston National Laboratory, was only discovered now by former Senate investigator Paul D. Thacker.

While it is not a secret that every Chinese institution ultimately answers to the CCP, the discovery of Yuan’s true role as the CCP’s praetorian and biosafety minder at the Wuhan lab is highly significant.

Yuan’s academic biography does not mention his role as “Secretary of the Party Committee” at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Institute’s website does not provide information on the identity of the Secretary of the Party Committee. Publicly available information confirms that as of July 2021, Yuan was still a director at the Institute. Yuan claims to have previously worked at the Pasteur Institute in France, the Royal Danish University of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, the Danish National Institute of Environmental Research, and the University of Illinois. It is not known whether those institutions were aware that Yuan is a CCP official.

Yuan is also associated with James Le Duc, the director of the Galveston National Laboratory in Texas. The Galveston lab was built by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and operates under the auspices of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Allergies and Health (NIAID).

The connections between the Wuhan lab and Le Duc go back to at least 1986 when Le Duc spent a year working at the Wuhan lab. Le Duc later trained Wuhan lab staff at his Galveston lab.

Le Duc also knew about Yuan’s true role at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, since the 2013 email that exposed it was in response to a request from Le Duc’s staff to the Institute. Le Duc wanted to set up a meeting with “the director of the biocontainment lab.” Notably, the reply, which was sent by a staff member at the Wuhan lab, explained that there were two directors, the nominal director and the “Secretary of the Party Committee.” Like almost all Chinese institutions, the lab had an ostensible director and a CCP praetorian. Le Duc likely knew that the real power was vested with Yuan, whom he subsequently befriended.

On Feb. 9, 2020, a month before the pandemic erupted in the United States, Le Duc emailed his “friend” Yuan to ask for an “Investigation into the possibility that the Covid outbreak was the result of a release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

That email was uncovered by a separate Freedom of Information Act request late last year. Le Duc attached a catalog of questions for Yuan, including asking when the Wuhan lab first started handling coronaviruses and where it had obtained its large collection of viruses.

Most significantly, Le Duc outright asked Yuan whether the Wuhan lab had conducted gain-of-function experiments that may have resulted in the creation of COVID-19.

Le Duc ended his email with an admonition to Yuan: “If there are weaknesses in your program, now is the time to admit them and get them corrected … I trust that you will take my suggestions in the spirit of one friend trying to help another during a very difficult time.”

Despite Le Duc’s decades-long affiliation with the Wuhan lab and his personal friendship with Yuan, he never heard back.

In April 2020, Le Duc contacted EcoHealth adviser David Franz to tell him about his outreach to Yuan, as well as the fact that Yuan had failed to respond.

EcoHealth is the organization through whom Fauci had funded gain-of-function experiments on coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab. It is unknown why Le Duc reached out to Franz, nor what Franz’s response was, if any. Franz was previously the commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. The Chinese authorities have accused Fort Detrick of being the true origin of the COVID-19 virus.

At the same time, another former military official, Philip Russell, the former commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command—also located at Fort Detrick—sent Le Duc a link to an EpochTV documentary that concluded that the pandemic likely started at the Wuhan lab. Le Duc replied that he thought the virus came out of the Wuhan Seafood Market but acknowledged that he could not “argue with the comments against the Chinese Communist Party.”

Le Duc went on to state, “It’s too bad that the global pandemic is being conflated with the challenges the world faces from the Chinese Communist Party. They are both important issues, but I’m not convinced that they are linked.”

As we now know—and as Le Duc knew at the time—the link between the Wuhan lab and the CCP was Le Duc’s friend Yuan.

In an apparent effort to deflect Russell’s attention from the evidence of a lab leak, Le Duc praised the lab’s director, Shi Zhengli, claiming that she was a “very talented scientist and a charming person.”

Russell did not fall for the decoy, responding: “I have no doubt that Zheng Li Shi is a brilliant scientist and very charming. That does not rule out the possibility that one of the many bat coronaviruses isolated in the Wuhan lab infected a technician who walked out the door. No need for engineering the virus. The flimsiness of the epidemiology pointing to the wet market, the absence of bats in the market, the failure to identify an intermediate animal host, the extraordinary measures taken by the Chinese government, including persecution and probable killing of two brave physicians, to cover up the outbreak, the steps taken to silence the laboratory personnel, the change in leadership of the lab, all point to the lab as the source of the outbreak.”

At that point, Le Duc replied that it was “certainly possible that a lab accident was the source of the epidemic.” Le Duc also revealed that he had reached out to Yuan about a lab leak but never heard back from him. Le Duc closed by betraying what appears to have been his real objective: “We need to strike a balance such that we are not in an adversarial situation.”

In other words, it appears Le Duc was motivated by a desire not to create a conflict with the CCP. Analogously, NIH head Francis Collins privately told Fauci and his group of scientists to suppress evidence of a lab origin in order to preserve “international harmony.”

There is little doubt that if it had been publicly known in March 2020 that the virus originated at a CCP-affiliated lab, the worldwide pressure on the CCP would have been immense.

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Covid infections increasing again
15 min 49 sec

Sep 23, 2022
Dr. John Campbell

Zoe Health study report, Live time data ZOE Health Study Incidence, = 152,071 (new symptomatic cases 0n 21st September) Current prevalence, 1,829,701 (people currently predicted to have symptomatic covid in the UK) R = 1.1 ONS W/E 5th September Professor Spector report ... Daily new cases of symptomatic COVID Report and the data files download Google Cloud Platform... Average over the two weeks up to 20 September 2022. Daily new cases of symptomatic COVID UK = 148,830 Based on the number of newly symptomatic app users per day, and the proportion of these who give positive swab tests. Check against NHS data England Summary | Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK Past 7 days Testing positive, up 12.7% Admitted to hospital, 4,015 (up 16.9%) Deaths, 289, (down 24.3%) (within 28 days of a positive test) Deaths, List of covid (mostly BA.5) symptoms Sore throat, 68% Headache, 55% Cough, no phlegm 52% Blocked nose, 51% Runny nose, 51% Cough with phlegm, 47% Sneezing, 44% Hoarse, 43% Muscle pains / aches 31% Fatigue, 24% Dizzy, 21% Swollen neck glands, 19% Altered smell, 18% Sore eyes, 16% Shortness of breath, 15% Chest pain / tightness, 15% Chills or shivers, 14% Loss of smell, 13% Earache, 13% Fever, 12%

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Ferritin - Could this be a marker for mortality in the pandemic?
10 min 59 sec

Streamed live on Sep 22, 2022
Vejon Health

Real life advice for the average person which helps to delineate potential risk. Similar to hypertension, this is silent but may still cause longer term damage in a small subset of individuals. In this video I can only share anecdotal observations and not clear research outcomes, because most of the medical/scientific fraternity is unaware of these insights. Ferritin is an accessible storage for iron in the body. It allows iron to be available without being toxic to the body. Most cells have some ferritin but primary storage locations are specific.

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Neurological issues after COVID - This insightful study is frustrating as well
21 min 15 sec

Streamed live on Sep 22, 2022
Drbeen Medical Lectures

This Insightful Study Also Frustrated Me
Considering the network connection issue, we will discuss this study without my usual drawings.
URL list from Thursday, Sep. 22 2022
Long-term neurologic outcomes of COVID-19 | Nature Medicine
COVID raises risk of long-term brain injury, large U.S. study finds
COVID-19 infections increase risk of long-term brain problems – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Long COVID after breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection | Nature Medicine

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How are kids and young adults doing 90 days after vaccine myocarditis? | A New Lancet Paper Explored
23 mim 52 sec

Sep 22, 2022
Vinay Prasad MD MPH

A new paper that looks at kids and young adults who had MRNA induced myocarditist follows them for 90 days after their illness to see how they are doing. They try to downplay it and try to reassure but he walks you through the results.

Closing thoughts on myocarditis and vaccines
5 min 39 sec

Sep 22, 2022
Vinay Prasad MD MPH

Starting in Feb 2021 they had myocarditis studies released worldiwde and the US didn't take it seriously and by summer they knew it was a safety signal. They should've taken safety in that risk category into consideration.

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COVID-19 associated with increase in new diagnoses of type 1 diabetes in youth, by as much as 72%
by Case Western Reserve University
September 23, 2022

Children who were infected with COVID-19 show a substantially higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes (T1D), according to a new study that analyzed electronic health records of more than 1 million patients ages 18 and younger.

In a study published today in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine report that children and adolescents who contracted COVID-19 were more prone to developing T1D in the six months following their COVID diagnosis.

The findings showed a 72% increase in new diagnoses of T1D in COVID-19 patients 18 years old and younger—although the research emphasized that it is unclear whether COVID-19 triggers new onset of T1D.

About 187,000 children and adolescents younger than 20 live with T1D nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease," said Pamela Davis, Distinguished University Professor and The Arline H. and Curtis F. Garvin Research Professor at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, a study corresponding author. "It occurs mostly because the body's immune defenses attack the cells that produce insulin, thereby stopping insulin production and causing the disease. COVID has been suggested to increase autoimmune responses, and our present finding reinforces that suggestion."

The team analyzed the de-identified electronic health records of nearly 1.1 million patients age 18 years and younger in the United States and 13 other countries diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 infection between March 2020 and December 2021 and also those diagnosed with a non-COVID-related respiratory infection during that same period.

The study population was further divided into two groups: patients up to age 9 years and those age 10–18 years. After careful statistical matching to account for age, demographics and family history of diabetes, there were 285,628 in each group for a total of 571,256 patients.

Study findings

The research team found that among the more than 571,000 pediatric patients:
  • Within six months of SARS-CoV2 infection, 123 patients (0.043%) had received a new diagnosis of T1D, compared to 72 patients (0.025%) who received a new diagnosis following a non-COVID respiratory infection, an increase of 72% in new diagnoses.
  • At one, three and six months following infection, the risk of diagnosis of T1D was substantially greater for those infected with SARS-CoV2 compared to those with non-COVID respiratory infections. Similar results were reported with patients in the infant-9-year-old and 10- to 18-year-old age groups.

"Families with high risk of type 1 diabetes in their children should be especially alert for symptoms of diabetes following COVID, and pediatricians should be alert for an influx of new cases of type 1 diabetes, especially since the Omicron variant of COVID spreads so rapidly among children," Davis said. "We may see a substantial increase in this disease in the coming months to years. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong challenge for those who have it, and increased incidence represents substantial numbers of children afflicted."

Rong Xu, also a corresponding author, professor of Biomedical Informatics at the School of Medicine and director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery, said further research is needed to examine if the increased risk of new onset T1D following SARS-CoV2 infection in pediatric patients will persist, who are vulnerable, and how to treat COVID-19 associated T1D in children.

"We are also investigating possible changes in development of type 2 diabetes in children following SARS-CoV2 infection," Xu said.

T1D is most common in children while type 2 diabetes (T2D) is known as "adult-onset diabetes" and develops over time, often as the patient becomes resistant to the effects of insulin and later, as the pancreas stops making enough insulin, according to the CDC.

The Case Western Reserve research team also included David Kaelber, professor of Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, and medical students Ellen Kendall and Veronica Olaker.

Previous COVID-related studies led by the CWRU team have found that the risk factor for Alzheimer's disease increases by 50–80% in older adults who caught COVID and that people with dementia are twice as likely to contract COVID.

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Pin-prick blood test identifies immunity to COVID-19

by Cardiff University
September 23, 2022

A finger-prick blood test can identify people most at risk of being reinfected with COVID-19. The simple test, developed by a small biotech firm based in Cardiff (ImmunoServ Ltd) in close collaboration with Cardiff University researchers, measures the presence of immune T cells that can recognize SARS-CoV-2.

More than 300 volunteers were recruited from across the U.K. in early 2022 to assess the novel test. Individuals with the largest T cell response to the virus were best protected from COVID-19 over the following three months, regardless of their levels of antibodies to the virus.

The finger-prick tests will help determine which individuals are most vulnerable, and who might need more focused interventions such as repeated booster vaccinations.

Writing in Nature Communications, the Cardiff team note the test brings the focus away from "just measured" antibody responses to take into account T cell mediated immunity.

Previous efforts to identify those least protected from reinfection have focused on quantifying antibodies recognizing the surface spike protein of SARS-CoV2.

Although measuring antibodies on a larger scale in a population is relatively easy, the levels do not give the full picture of protection from re-infection, especially as variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge.

Dr. Martin Scurr, lead author, said the study highlighted the potential for more accurate assessment of an individual's immunity to COVID-19.

"Many individuals worry about their risk of contracting COVID-19, whether they have been previously vaccinated or not. Our test identified that it is the level of T cell response induced by prior vaccination or infection that associated with the risk of that individual contracting COVID-19 in the months following the blood test."

Historically, large-scale testing for T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 has proven challenging until now. With funding support from the U.K.-Government's InnovateUK research council, a new T cell test was developed by Wales-based biotechnology ImmunoServ Ltd, collaborating with Cardiff University.

The test used a simple finger-prick blood sample collected at home and sent to a laboratory by post allowing anyone within the U.K. to be part of the study.

The Cardiff team say their work highlights the need to assess how long immune responses persist in the population, with uncertainty around whether repeated booster vaccinations will be required in future, and who will need them.

Andrew Godkin, Professor of Experimental Medicine and Immunology at Cardiff University and co-senior author of the work, added: "Long-term immunity screening using such a test would allow us to monitor longevity of responses that prevent COVID-19 and identify the most vulnerable members of our society who may need earlier booster vaccinations."

The SARS-CoV-2 T cell test used in this study is straightforward, and economical. The research that led to the discovery has been published in Nature Communications, a peer-reviewed publication that specializes in reporting novel biomedical and scientific discoveries.

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Traditional incentives don't offset COVID vaccine hesitancy
by Pamela Madrid, University of Southern California
September 23, 2022

Neither money nor other nudges are enough to persuade vaccine-hesitant people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, a new USC study shows.

The findings, published recently in the journal Vaccine, suggest the standard public health playbook may be ineffective, and mitigating future pandemics may require stronger policy levers such as employer rules or government mandates.

"There is literature and evidence from other vaccination campaigns like the flu, and even some childhood vaccinations, showing that financial incentives do move the needle. We were expecting similar results," said Mireille Jacobson, an economist and associate professor at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, co-director of the Aging and Cognition Program at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and the study's first co-author. "Apparently, people have much stronger beliefs and objections about COVID-19 vaccination."

COVID vaccine hesitancy: Vaccinations stalled after 2021 rollout

Despite rapid initial uptake, COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States stalled within a few months of widespread rollout in 2021. In response, many state and local governments, employers and health systems used public health messaging, financial incentives and creative scheduling tools to increase vaccine uptake.

In mid-2021, months after vaccines were widely available and COVID deaths continued to mount, researchers evaluated vaccination "intentions"—stated plans to get vaccinated—versus actual vaccine uptake. They recruited 2,701 unvaccinated members of a Medicaid managed care plan in California to fill out a survey and randomly assigned them to one or more of the following conditions—a video message to encourage vaccination; $10 or $50 financial incentives for vaccination; or access to a simple vaccination appointment scheduler.

The average age of survey respondents was 36.4 years; 74% were female, 36% self-identified as white, 31% as Black and 34% as Latino. About two-third of respondents received care through Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. The median self-reported household income was between $20,000 to $29,999 and 8% of respondents had less than a high school degree. As for political leanings, 55% supported Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election and 15% supported Donald Trump.

Interventions' impact on COVID vaccine hesitancy

The respondents were spread evenly across the study's different groups. The primary goal was to see whether participants received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine within 30 days of recruitment.

The result: Public health messaging increased the number of people who said they would seek vaccination—but none of the interventions increased vaccination rates.

What's more, vaccination rates declined by about 4 percentage points when money was offered among two groups: those 40 and over and those who supported Trump in the 2020 presidential election. These groups had the lowest rate of vaccination intentions in the sample.

"The main lesson I took away from this is that, in our increasingly tribal and politically polarized environment, some people have become so entrenched in their beliefs that a nudge is just not enough to get them to act on simple, widely accepted medical advice," said co-first author Tom Chang, an associate professor of finance and business economics at the USC Marshall School of Business. "In some cases, the narrative seems to be more important than life and death."

Other highlights from the study include:
  • More than 30% of vaccine eligible subjects remained unvaccinated despite living in county with highest state vaccination rate.
  • 1% of participants expressed intentions to get vaccination within 30 days.
  • Vaccination intentions increased by 8.6% in response to a health consequences video.
  • A 10% increase in vaccination intentions was associated with only a 1.5% increase in actual vaccinations.

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Detecting the earliest population changes of COVID-19 activity with wearable devices
by The Scripps Research Institute
September 23, 2022


COVID-19 incidence, symptoms, and vaccination. (A) Count of COVID-19 test results by date, with multiple tests per person not excluded. (B) The proportion of tests that were positive for COVID-19 by date, with multiple tests per person not excluded. (C) Count of self-reported symptom initiation by date. (D) COVID-19 vaccination counts by date. Credit: The Lancet Digital Health (2022). DOI: 10.1016/S2589-7500(22)00156-X

Today, viral illnesses like COVID-19 are tracked using multiple different methods, including lab data, health care visits and wastewater surveillance. According to new data conducted by scientists at the Scripps Research Translational Institute, this arsenal can be expanded to include wearable technologies like fitness devices and smartwatches—which are showing promise in identifying early population changes in COVID-19 activity.

This data comes from the DETECT study: a cross-collaborative effort launched at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that uses a mobile app to collect sensor and self-reported information from thousands of study participants across the nation. In addition to the sensor data gathered from a smartwatch, participants can provide details on their test results, vaccinations, symptoms and other demographic information.

In a study published on September 22 in The Lancet Digital Health, the scientists found that sensor data significantly improved the seven-day average predictions for COVID-19 infection. This information can provide an earlier signal than traditional surveillance, as it can identify alterations in a person's data—potentially even before the participant notices their symptoms. With this promising data in hand, this method of tracking could be expanded to monitor additional infectious disease threats well.

"Wearable technologies give us another valuable piece to the COVID-19 tracking puzzle," says co-senior author Eric Topol, MD, director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and executive vice president of Scripps Research. "In aggregating this information at the population level, sensor data provides a unique, real-time picture of how the virus is evolving across the nation."

Using data gathered from March 25, 2020, to January 14, 2022, the study evaluated factors such as average resting heart rate and step count data across the 39,931 people who participated in the US. Scientists identified a person's "anomalous" sensor days if they had a higher resting heart rate or lower step count when compared to their baseline data. They then compared these "anomalous" days against a model that predicted the CDC's seven-day moving averages for COVID-19 cases in real-time, as well as six and 12 days in the future.

In tracking how physiological and behavioral changes may precede symptom onset and eventual testing, the scientists found that this sensor data significantly improved the seven-day average predictions by 32.9% in California—as well as by 12.2% in the United States for predictions occurring 12 days in the future.

The researchers were surprised at how well changes in sensor data tracked with changes in COVID-19 incidence, especially during huge peaks like the Omicron wave.

"All data streams—wastewater, electronic health records, pharmacy information and now sensor data—should be combined if we are to accurately forecast not only COVID-19 transmission, but also viral threats of the future," says Jennifer Radin, Ph.D., MPH, an epidemiologist at the Scripps Research Translational Institute who is leading the study.

Radin notes that providing a real-time picture for what's happening in the population is especially relevant now, as more people now test at home rather than in the clinic. And while wastewater surveillance has been a great resource for accomplishing this, the technology can be costly and isn't available in most of the country.

"Nearly one in four people in the US have some sort of smartwatch, meaning that sensor data collection is an affordable, fast and convenient way to study viral onset in the broader population," Radin adds.

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Study indicates COVID-19 boosters among vaccinated individuals significantly reduce hospitalization rates
by Providence Health & Services
September 23, 2022


Odds of hospitalization for Covid-19 after 3 vs 2 doses of mRNA Covid-19 vaccine by time since booster dose. The shaded areas indicate the 95% CIs. The 30-day rolling average is depicted. Credit: JAMA (2022). DOI: 10.1001/jama.2022.17811

A Providence study released online today in the Journal of the American Medical Association sheds new light on the added benefit of a booster dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine among previously vaccinated individuals.

Researchers found that boosters add about 70% extra protection, which lasts for 4–5 months, and concluded that booster vaccination is associated with significantly decreased odds of hospitalization for COVID-19 among fully vaccinated individuals. Odds of decreased hospitalization varied based on time since booster administration.

While previous studies have established the association between boosters and decreased risk of developing severe COVID-19 when compared with unvaccinated individuals, this study is unique in its focus on individuals who are already fully vaccinated with the primary series of an mRNA vaccine. It adds to the growing body of research around the effect of booster doses in various populations.

This research shows us that even if you're fully vaccinated, there's a real value to getting a booster," said Ari Robicsek, M.D., Providence's chief medical analytics officer and senior author of the study. "Compared to people who only had their initial vaccinations, people with boosters were a lot less likely to have severe COVID for 4–5 months after the booster shot."

Providence, a not-for-profit health system serving the Western U.S., conducted the research at sites across six western states. It matched 3,052 cases hospitalized for COVID-19 within a Providence facility 4:1 with 12,248 controls admitted to a Providence facility non-electively for reasons other COVID-19. Cases were hospitalized between October 1, 2021, and July 26, 2022, and controls were admitted to a facility within three days in the same geographic location as their case and received a second vaccine within seven days of their case.

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Fourth SARS-CoV-2 vaccination also protects cancer patients

by Johannes Angerer, Medical University of Vienna
September 23, 2022


Receptor-Binding Domain and Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 Interaction Inhibition in Patients With Hematologic Malignant Neoplasm With or Without B Cell–Targeting Treatment Nominal P values without correction for multiple testing were calculated using Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Bars represent the IQR, whiskers represent the 25th/75th percentile ± 1.5x IQR, and horizontal lines indicate the median. Credit: JAMA Oncology (2022). DOI: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2022.4226

A research team led by Matthias Preusser from MedUni Vienna's Division of Oncology had already demonstrated that cancer patients benefit from a third vaccination to protect them against COVID. A recent study now also supports fourth vaccination for this vulnerable group. However, passive immunization by administering an antibody combination to cancer patients does not seem to provide adequate protection. The study has now been published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

Seventy-two patients with various types of cancer participated in the study. Fifty-four of them received a fourth vaccination with one of the currently approved vaccines (active immunization), and 18 underwent passive immunization with the antibody combination tixagevimab/cilgavimab. In order to assess immunity, the investigators compared antibody levels and their inhibitory effect against the SARS-CoV-2 subvariants omicron BA.1 and BA.4 after three and four vaccinations and following administration of the antibody combination tixagevimab/cilgavimab.

Significant increase in antibody levels following vaccination

Patients with solid tumors and those with hematological cancers not on anti-B cell therapy showed a significant increase in antibody levels after a fourth dose of one of the currently approved vaccines. Based on the obtained data, study leader Matthias Preusser from the Division of Oncology at MedUni Vienna's Department of Medicine I concludes that the administration of a fourth vaccination in cancer patients should be endorsed in patients with cancer, even in the absence of variant-specific vaccines.

However, this is not the case for passive immunization of patients: "Our results suggest that immunization with tixagevimab/cilgavimab does not effectively block the most recently dominant BA.4 variant," said first author of the study, Maximilian Mair from MedUni Vienna's Division of Oncology. Further studies are now required to confirm the results to back up the vaccination recommendations. Moreover, there is still a lack of reliable information allowing the definition of a valid threshold for sufficient antibody levels to provide adequate protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Society must protect vulnerable group

Cancer patients are often on immunosuppressive therapies. As a result, cancer patients are particularly at risk of developing severe clinical courses of COVID-19, underscoring the importance of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination.

"We recommend a prompt fourth vaccination for the particularly vulnerable group of patients with cancer. In addition to this, our patients continue to rely on the protection provided by a responsible society and control measures such as isolation of infected individuals and the wearing of facemasks in indoor settings. Furthermore, even mild cases of COVID-19 can lead to deferral of urgently needed cancer treatments, which can adversely affect the cancer prognosis," said study leader Matthias Preusser, as COVID restrictions are increasingly being lifted.

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International team discovers potential mechanism in the development of myocarditis after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination
by Thorsten Mohr, Universität des Saarlandes
September 23, 2022


Autoantibodies Targeting IL-1RA in Myocarditis after SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination. Blood plasma samples were obtained from 69 patients with suspected myocarditis after receipt of vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In 61 patients, endomyocardial biopsy (EMB) was performed, and myocarditis was confirmed on EMB in 40 patients (Panel A). Plasma samples that were obtained from 8 patients with no confirmatory investigation on EMB, from 21 patients in whom the diagnosis of myocarditis was ruled out, and from 40 patients in whom myocarditis was confirmed on EMB were analyzed for antibodies against endogenous interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) and progranulin by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Data are shown sorted according to the age of the study participants (Panel B). OD490 denotes optical density as measured at a wavelength of 490 nm. The frequency of anti–IL-1RA antibodies in plasma samples from patients with vaccine-associated myocarditis was confirmed or ruled out on EMB and was sorted according to age. Control participants were 214 healthy adults who had samples obtained 1 week after receipt of the second dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and 127 patients with myocarditis whose samples were obtained before 2020 (Panel C). Credit: New England Journal of Medicine (2022). DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2205667

A multidisciplinary, international team formed around Drs Lorenz Thurner and Jochen Pfeifer (both University Hospital Homburg/Saar, Germany) as well as Dr. Christoph Kessel (University Children's Hospital, Münster, Germany) and Prof. Karin Klingel (University Hospital Tübingen, Germany) provides new observations in the context of myocarditis after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, pinpointing a potential role of autoantibodies towards IL-1Ra in the pathophysiology.

Myocarditis as a very rare side effect of mRNA vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 particularly in male adolescents and young men was described just recently in an Israelian study. It usually occurs in a close temporal context after mRNA vaccination and often shows a milder course compared with classical viral and noninfectious myocarditis.

In the current study, blood samples from male and female patients (age 14 to 79 years) were analyzed, most of whom also had a myocardial biopsy. In particular, in male adolescents and young men with histologically confirmed myocarditis, autoantibodies against a key endogenous anti-inflammatory agent called interleukin-1 receptor antagonist were detected.

Interleukin-1 (IL-1) is an important signaling molecule involved in alerting and mobilizing the immune system during infections. However, in case of prolonged or high IL-1 release, inflammatory responses can get out of control.

"Especially with regard to inflammations of the pericardium, myocardium, and vessels, we already know about the central importance of IL-1. However, our immune system can normally cool down inflammatory responses by itself, and especially highly potent signaling molecules such as IL-1 have natural counterparts that can, if necessary, slow down excessive inflammatory reactions," explains the immunologist Christoph Kessel, Ph.D., who heads the Translational Inflammation Research Center of the Department of Pediatric Rheumatology and Immunology at Münster University Hospital (UKM).

The interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1-Ra) is one such natural antagonist that can block the docking site for IL-1 on the cell surface and thus shuts down the signaling pathway.

"However, in patients with myocarditis, we found an atypical form of IL-1-Ra, which carries a specific chemical modification in form of an additional phosphorylation. The immune system then interprets this as an unknown, potentially harmful structure and thus starts to produce antibodies against it. These then deplete and neutralize IL-1Ra as a major inhibitor of inflammation and can thus pave the way for unrestricted IL-1 signaling," says Dr. Lorenz Thurner, MD, head of a research group at the José Carreras Center of the Clinic for Internal Medicine I of Saarland University Hospital (UKS) in Homburg, which focuses on misdirected immune reactions in cancer or autoimmune diseases.

"Initial observations in the very rare cases of myocarditis following SARS-CoV-2 vaccination occured out of coincidence and in association with our previous studies identifying such autoantibodies in both MIS-C and severe and critical courses of COVID-19," Thurner continues.

"In any case, it must be stressed in this context that vaccinations against SARS-CoV-2 are save and have prevented countless severe courses of disease and saved millions of lives. We are firmly convinced that the benefit of mRNA vaccinations with the resulting protection against severe SARS-CoV-2 infections and serious complications far outweighs the risk of mild myocarditis, which can be caused by the overall very rare IL-1Ra autoantibodies we have described," says Karin Klingel, MD, Head of Cardiopathology and Infectious Diseases Pathology at the University Hospital Tübingen.

"Collectively, this research project could only be achieved through a highly interdisciplinary team effort, that made participation in the project both so exciting and successful," says Jochen Pfeifer, MD, of the Pediatric Cardiology Department at Saarland University Hospital (UKS).

Many other cardiologists and pediatric cardiologists, internists and pediatricians from Germany, Israel and Austria and other scientists (including from the UKS Virology Department) contributed to the work.

Taken together, the present study is of particular importance as it contributes to a better understanding of the potential underlying mechanisms in a very rare concomitant of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination. However, despite this substantial gain in knowledge, many questions remain yet unanswered and the team is currently working on addressing those.

The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Converging epidemics: COVID-19 lockdown may have accelerated HIV transmission in some at-risk populations
by University of British Columbia
September 23, 2022


Branching events and cluster change in diversification rate by risk factor composition. Bars represent the total number of A) total daily median branching events inferred to be associated with clusters of each risk factor, normalized by cluster size and number of newly sequenced individuals during a given time period or B) total cluster median change in individual diversification rate between the beginning and end dates of a given time period, adjusted for cluster size and number of newly sequenced individuals in that time period. Observations are colored by cluster risk composition, such that the reddest clusters have the highest proportion of MSM individuals and the bluest clusters have the highest proportion PWID individuals. Only non-zero values are shown. Binary classification of cluster risk factors was done by labeling clusters with a risk composition of -0.5 or less as MSM and those with a risk composition of 0.5 or more as PWID. Ambiguous clusters in between these thresholds, marked by open circles, were not included in the group totals. Closed circles represent clusters contributing to the risk group totals. Black horizontal lines represent the median of the closed circles associated with each risk group in each time period. In order to capture the branching events more likely to be associated with a certain risk factor, each event was assigned the risk factor composition of the cluster its descendants were members of, effectively linking each branching event to a cluster. Credit: The Lancet Regional Health - Americas (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.lana.2022.100369

A new study led by researchers at UBC and the BC Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) is shedding light on how COVID-19 pandemic restrictions impacted another long-standing public health threat—HIV.

The study, published in The Lancet Regional Health—Americas, examined HIV transmission during British Columbia's initial COVID-19 lockdown (March 22 to May 20, 2020) when stringent public health measures reduced social interactions and curtailed access to critical health services. The researchers looked at the impact of these restrictions on populations at risk of acquiring HIV, including people who use drugs (PWUD) and men who have sex with men (MSM).

While the overall number of new HIV diagnoses in British Columbia (B.C.) continues a decades-long decline, epidemic monitoring during lockdown enabled rapid detection of a sharp increase in transmission within some groups (clusters) associated with PWUD.

"We're seeing the significant impact of converging public health threats within an extremely vulnerable population," says senior author Dr. Jeffrey Joy, an assistant professor in UBC's department of medicine and senior scientist at BC-CfE. "HIV transmission amongst people who use drugs had been relatively stable, but there was a sudden spike in select groups during lockdown."

In contrast, HIV clusters associated with MSM experienced a decline in transmission to a low-level rarely seen in the previous three years. The researchers say reduced social contacts and increased time at home are factors that likely contributed to reduced transmission in the MSM community.

"While lockdown measures reduced risk factors for some populations, other communities experienced pressures that greatly increased their risk," adds Dr. Joy.

Access to HIV care 'essential'

To explain the sudden growth of some clusters associated with PWUD, the researchers point to a reduction in access and engagement with HIV care and prevention services during the lockdown period. Their analyses revealed significantly lower rates of patients starting antiretroviral therapy (ART), pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) prescription dispensations, viral load testing, HIV testing, and importantly, visits to overdose prevention services and safe consumption sites.

"These services are the frontline defense in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Many of them faced disruptions, closures, capacity limits and other challenges," says first author Rachel Miller, a research assistant at BC-CfE and recent graduate from UBC's Bioinformatics Graduate Program.

The researchers spoke with public health teams and healthcare providers who reported that some PWUD populations became more difficult to reach in the early days of the pandemic. A combination of factors, including housing instability and diminished trust, increased barriers for many individuals who normally receive HIV services.

As restrictions eased, engagement with HIV services rebounded but remained below pre-lockdown levels through the summer of 2020.

"Maintaining access and engagement with HIV services is absolutely essential to preventing regression in epidemic control and unnecessary harm," adds Miller. "We need to be increasingly attentive and consider innovative targeted solutions to ensure that measures we put in place to address one health crisis don't inadvertently exacerbate another."

Preventing long-term ripple effects

While the increase in HIV transmission was limited to a small number of clusters, the exponential nature of viral transmission means that even a limited period of variability can have serious downstream effects. After lockdown restrictions eased in B.C., some HIV clusters continued to experience elevated levels of growth for over a year.

"It is critical to detect and respond to even small changes in transmission because the downstream impacts can be significant and long lasting," says Dr. Joy. "As a global leader in HIV epidemic monitoring, BC-CfE is well-positioned to detect changes in near real-time so that we can respond rapidly and direct resources accordingly."

In 2020, B.C. marked a milestone when it surpassed the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target and recorded historically low levels of new HIV infections. The researchers say the new study highlights the need to remain vigilant.

"B.C.'s success remains strictly dependent on the programs and services we've put in place to support people at-risk and living with HIV/AIDS," says Dr. Julio Montaner, executive director and physician-in-chief at BC-CfE and UBC Killam Professor of Medicine. "This study reinforces that we can't take our foot off the gas, as the ripple effects can be devastating and risk undermining the progress we have made to date."

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A review of mobile sensing in the COVID-19 era
by Health Data Science
September 23, 2022


Mapping literature to a two-dimensional taxonomy. Credit: Health Data Science (2022). DOI: 10.34133/2022/9830476

Mobile sensing has shown its power in the pervasive and effective monitoring of COVID-19 in varying population scales and time duration, according to a study published in Health Data Science.

Behind this work are the researchers at the Sensing System for Health Lab led by Dr. Laura Barnes at the University of Virginia. They have been working on promoting health and well-being using mobile sensing and data analytics techniques.

Mobile sensing, a digital surveillance tool, leverages embedded sensors in mobile devices such as smartphones and wearables. As mobile sensing has become a promising way to monitor the trajectories of the pandemic by collecting the data on individual, community, and global scales, this paper investigated the study designs, expected health outcomes, and existing limitations of such mobile-based human-subject work to guide future practice. As such, this paper stands out among a panoply of articles on the use of mobile devices for COVID-19 response.

"We reviewed existing work's 1) aims and designs, 2) sensing duration and population coverage, 3) outcomes and limitations, to better taxonomize and understand this topic," says Zhiyuan Wang, Ph.D. student with Sensing Systems for Health Lab.

"Existing work has demonstrated the capacity of mobile sensing to not only 1) remotely detect infectious status, but to also 2) longitudinally track disease progression for personalized medicine, 3) to passively trace exposures and 4) broadly observe the influence of the pandemic on population health," shares Professor Laura Barnes, the lab director.

However, technical and societal limitations still exist, including data availability and system adoption challenges, clinical and application issues, and privacy and ethical concerns. These limitations have hindered further actions of computer scientists, clinicians, and epidemiologists in leveraging mobile sensing for human health.

Current or emerging technologies may provide a solution to these constraints. For example, advances in data analytics and machine learning methods may help improve data quality because of their ability to process sparse, heterogenous and multimodal mobile sensing data streams. Also, mobile sensing at even larger scales, particularly in clinical settings, could be carried out leveraging the next generation of sensors and sensing platforms.

Other stakeholders can also make an impact on how mobile sensing can yield clinical and social benefits. Such efforts can include mitigating potential threats to privacy, equity and health disparities; promoting technological and health literacy in all communities; and making trust-based and shared decisions that properly balance risks and benefits.

Barnes and her team wish to see more works where computer scientists, clinicians, and epidemiologists design and implement the study collaboratively with experts in social science and public policy to enable more effective, scalable, and socially equal mobile health systems for infectious disease.

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LongClaw85 @LClaw85
Sep 13

Is Covid vaccinated blood labeled as such? What if you need blood and you don’t want vaccinated blood?

American Red Cross @RedCross
Replying to @LClaw85
10:02 PM · Sep 13, 2022

We don't label blood products as containing vaccinated or unvaccinated blood as the COVID-19 vaccine does not enter the bloodstream & poses no safety risks to the recipient. If you have safety concerns about potential blood transfusions, please speak with your medical care team.


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See Post #65,296 above to read the WSJ article she's referring to.

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Yesterday's WSJ: "Some Who Rushed to Covid-19 Vaccine Hold Off on Boosters
Health authorities hoped new shot targeting Omicron would lift sluggish booster rates, but some say they don’t need it"

Meryl Nass
11 hr ago

SOME? What a farce.

The NY Times, updated yesterday, presents CDC’s numbers for Americans who have received at least one booster: 109.6. There are 333 million Americans.

Thus the needle remains at 32.9% of Americans who have received at least one booster.

That number (33%) has not risen in September despite the shiny new useless bivalent boosters that don’t even work in animals and cleverly avoided any testing in humans.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Since the new boosters became available earlier this month at pharmacies, doctors’ offices and elsewhere, about 4.4 million people have received a new booster shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.” The article also claims that “After some 77% of adults got the primary series, however, roughly 52% got the first booster according to CDC.

But that isn’t right. 4.4 million divided by 333 million Americans is 1.3%.

At the September 1 ACIP meeting, which I live-blogged, CDC told the committee that 49% of those eligible (who have completed a primary series) had gotten a booster. Well, here it is September 23, and guess how many of those eligible have gotten a booster (as of September 21)? 48.7% according to CDC’s website. Yet 49% (Those claimed to have gotten a booster on Sept 1) plus 1.3% (those claimed to have gotten a COVID bivalent booster since Sept. 1) equals 50.3%.

Is 48.7% the same as 50.3% or “roughly 52%”? I don’t think so, even with the New Math.

So the WSJ or the CDC or both are putting out false data.

I don’t think anybody wants to offer themself up to test a vaccine that FDA and the manufacturer wouldn’t give to a guinea pig or rabbit.

And just as I was typing this, I got a Robocall from Walgreens telling me it was time to schedule my flu shot and new COVID booster. Good luck upping those numbers in this household.

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No, the vaccines never worked all that well against severe Covid
Also, they nearly DOUBLED the risk of coronavirus hospitalizations after the first dose; the figures come from huge and (until now) unnoticed British study

Alex Berenson
12 hr ago

It is the final defense for the Covid vaccines.

Politicians and public health bureaucrats repeat it endlessly: the shots stop severe illness.

Sure, if you’re unlucky they may land you in bed for a day or two. And yes, you’ll still get Covid. But the jabs will keep you from
DYING of Covid. We pinky promise!

Vaccine advocates have repeated the mantra since last summer. In July 2021, for example, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN that 99.5 percent of coronavirus deaths happened in unvaccinated people. Five months later, President Biden infamously said unvaccinated people faced “a winter of severe illness and death” and would overwhelm hospitals.

(Dec. 16, 2021. A lie then, a lie now)


But a peer-reviewed British study covering 9.1 million people and almost 600,000 Covid infections in 2021 shows vaccine advocates badly overstated the effectiveness of the shots even last year, at the peak of their effectiveness.

By mid-2021, fully vaccinated people had a higher risk of being infected with Covid, the study shows. They had only about 65 percent protection against hospitalization and death - after accounting for age, sex, and other risk factors.

Sixty-five percent protection is still better than nothing, of course. But it is far below the claims Murthy and others made - and continue to make.

Further, the period the researchers examined represented the peak of vaccine protection, which declined over time and declined further with the Omicron variant, which evades vaccine-generated antibodies within months.

And the sixty-five percent figure likely substantially overstates the actual protection from the shots, because of an epidemiological phenomenon called “healthy vaccine user bias.”

Put simply, physicians often withhold shots from people who are extremely frail or near death. They fear that vaccine side effects might kill those patients and that the vaccines will be pointless in any case.

In addition, the British paper confirms concerns I raised last year about a post-first-dose rise in infections. It shows a stunning increase in infections and hospitalizations after the first shot.

Patients were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized for three weeks after the first dose, and more than twice as likely to be infected. In the second week, when infections peaked, they were almost four times as likely to contract the coronavirus.

(See that column of ORs - odds ratios - above 1? Above 1 is bad. Above 1 means vaccinated people are at HIGHER risk. Which is not how it’s supposed to work.)


A team of Oxford University researchers published the findings in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, a peer-reviewed journal, on June 30.

Their paper nominally focused on examining whether Covid vaccines were effective in overweight people and has received little attention. Many of its crucial details about vaccine efficacy are buried in an appendix.

The researchers matched a database that covers 1700 physician practices in England with national registries of Covid immunization, Sars-Cov-2 positive tests, hospitalizations, and death certificates. They were able to track more than 9 million patients from December 8, 2020, when vaccinations began, to November 17, 2021.

For vaccine advocates, the study’s only real positive is that it shows very low rates of hospitalization and death in people who received a third shot.

But even that finding comes with an asterisk. Because the study ended in mid-November, it covered only a couple of months of data at most anyone who received a booster - again covering the brief period in which the vaccines provide protection.

It should now be obvious the mRNA Covid jabs are not really vaccines at all. They are temporary generators of anti-spike protein antibodies whose protection even against the original or Delta strains wanes within months.

Their side effects, however, can last much longer.

(mRNA vaccine-induced myocarditis gets better in 90 days. Except when it doesn’t.)


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CDC now tracking rise of BF.7 and BA.2.75 COVID variants nationwide
Alexander Tin - CBS News
Fri, September 23, 2022, 11:35 AM

The BA.5 variant that dominated the summer wave of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations has now fallen to 83.1% of new cases, according to estimates released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Three rival strains – the BF.7, BA.2.75, and BA.4.6 variants – have now climbed to make up nearly 1 in 5 new infections nationwide, according to the federal estimates.

The growth of the new variants comes at a time when reported COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have largely slowed nationwide.

Data published by the CDC late Thursday tallied only 3% of Americans living in areas of "high" COVID-19, where the agency urges indoor masking and other measures to curb the virus.

But health officials have cautioned for weeks that the U.S. was not "out of the woods" yet.

Scientists and health authorities have been bracing for a widely-expected resurgence in the virus nationwide driven by a new variant, in line with the previous two winter seasons that saw deadly pandemic waves sweep the country.

Despite President Biden declaring this month that the pandemic had ended, authorities have also urged Americans to seek out updated boosters redesigned to guard against the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

More than 4 million Americans have received the updated shots to date. The pace of new vaccine doses administered has soared to the fastest pace since April, CDC data shows, but remains slower than at this time last year.


One potential candidate for a fall and winter wave now being tracked by virus experts is BA.2.75.2. Early lab data from Europe and China suggests the variant harbors mutations that add up to the most "extreme antibody escape than any variant we've seen so far."

"With the combination of the evolution of variants, as well as the seasonal aspects, that as we get into this coming late fall and winter, it is likely that we will see another variant emerge," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president's outgoing chief medical adviser, said this week at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

More than 150 cases of this subvariant have been detected in the U.S. to date across 25 states.

"There's already on the horizon one that looks suspicious that it might start to evolve as another variant, and that's the BA.2.75.2," added Fauci.

The CDC has yet to publish a specific estimate for this strain, since it remains below 1% nationwide, but said Friday it has been "gradually increasing over the last few weeks." The variant's umbrella lineage – BA.2.75 – has grown to 1.4% of cases nationwide.

BA.2.75's prevalence is highest right now in the New York and New Jersey region, where the CDC estimates it makes up 2.3% of new infections.

The CDC's airport surveillance has also detected the variant in flights from India, as of August.

BA.4.6 and BF.7

The two other variants – BA.4.6 and BF.7 – have raised concerns because they might evade the protection offered by a key antibody drug used to shield immunocompromised Americans who might not be able to get immunity from vaccination known as Evusheld.

"BF.7 has one additional genetic change in the gene coding for the Spike protein in comparison to parental BA.5 lineage viruses. Data indicates that this specific genetic change could reduce the efficacy of Evusheld," CDC spokesperson Jasmine Reed told CBS news in a statement.

Reed said that so far "there is no indication that vaccines or diagnostic tests" are affected by BF.7's mutations.

The CDC says 2.3% of cases nationwide are now from BF.7. That is up from 1.7% estimated last week, when the agency first began tracking the variant in its estimates. 11.9% are from BA.4.6, which the CDC began tracking several weeks ago.

BF.7's proportion is largest in New England, where the CDC says 3.9% of new infections are linked to the variant. The CDC has also detected the variant in passengers flying from France.

New England is also where recent federal hospitalization and nursing home data has tracked an uptick in the virus, at a time when most regions have recorded a steep decline.

After past variants threatened the protection offered by AstraZeneca's drug, the Food and Drug Administration moved to boost the dose of Evusheld to fend off the strains.

It is unclear if the FDA will make a similar move this fall, in response to the new strains.

"The FDA is working with sponsors of all currently authorized therapeutics to assess the activity against any global SARS-CoV-2 variant(s) of interest and is committed to communicating with the public as we learn more," Chanapa Tantibanchachai, a spokesperson for the FDA, said in a statement.

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NYC appeals ruling over vaccine mandate for police officers


NEW YORK (AP) — New York City officials are appealing a judge’s ruling that they lacked the legal authority to fire members of the city’s largest police union for violating a COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

State Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank in Manhattan ruled Friday that the city health department’s mandate couldn’t be used to fire or put on leave members of the Police Benevolent Association.

Frank said it was “undisputed” that city officials could issue vaccine mandates. But the judge said officials overstepped their authority by unilaterally creating a new condition of employment, as opposed to going through collective bargaining.

Frank ordered the reinstatement of union members who were “wrongfully” terminated or put on unpaid leave for refusing to get vaccinated. The city immediately filed a notice of appeal, freezing the judge’s decision until the appeal is heard.

“This decision confirms what we have said from the start: the vaccine mandate was an improper infringement on our members’ right to make personal medical decisions in consultation with their own health care professionals,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. “We will continue to fight to protect those rights.”

A spokesman for the city’s Law Department said the ruling “is at odds with every other court decision upholding the mandate as a condition of employment.”

Neither the city nor the union provided information about how many union members have been been placed on leave or fired over the mandate.

The decision comes days after Mayor Eric Adams announced the city was lifting its vaccine mandate for private sector on Nov. 1.

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Many Vaccinated Youth Who Suffered Heart Inflammation Had Abnormal MRI Results Months Later: CDC Study
By Zachary Stieber
September 24, 2022

A majority of young Americans who suffered heart inflammation after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine had abnormal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC researchers have been following youth who experienced myocarditis, a form of heart inflammation, after receipt of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, both of which utilize messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

Researchers reported in The Lancet on results from surveys filled out by the young Americans and their health care providers. They included results from 47 percent of the 836 patients aged 12 to 29 who experienced myocarditis after vaccination at least 90 days prior to the health care provider filling out the survey. The myocarditis for each patient was reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Patients who filled out a survey themselves were excluded.

Some 81 percent of the included patients were considered by health care providers to be fully recovered or “probably fully recovered” from myocarditis. However, nearly half of the patients continued to report symptoms, including chest pain. And among the 151 patients who had follow-up cardiac MRI results, 54 percent had an abnormal finding, such as swelling and scarring.

“The meaning of the cardiac MRI findings among the subset of patients who received cardiac imaging is unclear. Evidence of ongoing myocarditis on follow-up cardiac MRIs based on modified Lake Louise criteria was uncommon,” the CDC researchers wrote. “However, consistent with the few published case series of myocarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, we observed that nearly half of patients (71/151) with follow-up cardiac MRIs had residual late gadolinium enhancement, suggestive of myocardial scarring.”

In some of the patients, initial cardiac imaging was normal but the follow-up imaging after several months was abnormal, which may indicate that the condition worsens over time.

“The CDC is conducting additional follow-up on patients who were not considered recovered at least 12 months since symptom onset, to better understand their longer-term outcomes,” the researchers said.

Ian Kracalik, a CDC researcher and the lead author, did not respond to emailed questions.

Cardiologists Weigh In

Dr. Anish Koka, a cardiologist in Pennsylvania, said that the study “should dispel the ludicrous notion that clinical myocarditis—a disease entity that comes to light when you have chest pain because cells in your heart are dying—is mild.”

Koka, writing on Substack, said that many of the abnormalities detected on the MRIs are “very likely” related to myocarditis.

The CDC has said current evidence supports a causal link between the mRNA-based vaccines and two forms of heart inflammation, myocarditis and pericarditis.

“These are very likely to be real scars. The valid, open question is what these scars mean long term. And the best answer is that we don’t know,” Koka said.

Reports to VAERS indicate that young people, especially young men, are at higher-than-expected risk from heart inflammation after receiving the Pfizer or Moderna shots. The highest reported rate is 78.7 per million second doses administered, for males between 16 and 17 years old, the CDC said earlier in September. Some risk-benefit analyses have concluded that the risks to healthy young people from the shots outweigh the benefits.

The researchers in the new study wrote, “Despite the higher than expected occurrence of myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination, the benefits of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to outweigh the risk of myocarditis.” They cited a CDC paper from July 2021 and a CDC paper from April.

Dr. Peter McCullough, a cardiologist in Texas, said on Twitter that the side effect risk to young persons is a “strong reason” for them to decline getting vaccinated as he highlighted the results from the new paper. McCullough said that he’s seen youth at his practice with abnormal findings more than one year after vaccination.

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JUST IN: Quadruple Vaxxed Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla Tests Positive for COVID Again
By Jim Hoft
Published September 24, 2022 at 4:00pm

Quadruple vaxxed Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla announced he tested positive for Covid again on Saturday.

“I have tested positive for COVID,” said Bourla on his Twitter account.

“I’m feeling well & symptom-free. I’ve not had the new bivalent booster yet, as I was following CDC guidelines to wait 3 months since my previous COVID case which was back in mid-August.”

It can be recalled that the new bivalent boosters were not tested on humans – only on mice.

“While we’ve made great progress, the virus is still with us,” he concluded.

I have tested positive for COVID. I’m feeling well & symptom free. I’ve not had the new bivalent booster yet, as I was following CDC guidelines to wait 3 months since my previous COVID case which was back in mid-August. While we’ve made great progress, the virus is still with us.
— Albert Bourla (@AlbertBourla) September 24, 2022

One user responded to Bourla, he said, “You’ve had Covid more times than many unvaccinated people. Is it possible that maybe… *just maybe* the boosters are weakening your immune system? I am no doctor or anything – I’m just a lawyer with half a brain.”

Another user said, “Again? We already know it’s not safe and thanks for once again confirming it’s not effective.”

This is the second time in 40 days that the CEO of Pfizer has been tested for Covid-19.

Last month, Bourla announced he tested positive for Covid and said he started a course of Paxlovid.

“I would like to let you know that I have tested positive for #COVID19. I am thankful to have received four doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and I am feeling well while experiencing very mild symptoms. I am isolating and have started a course of Paxlovid.” Bourla said.

I would like to let you know that I have tested positive for #COVID19. I am thankful to have received four doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and I am feeling well while experiencing very mild symptoms. I am isolating and have started a course of Paxlovid.
— Albert Bourla (@AlbertBourla) August 15, 2022

Just one year ago Albert Bourla claimed his Pfizer vaccine was 100% effective in preventing Covid in cases in South Africa.

“Excited to share that updated analysis from our Phase 3 study with BioNTech also showed that our COVID-19 vaccine was 100% effective in preventing #COVID19 cases in South Africa. 100%!” the Pfizer CEO said in April 2021.

Excited to share that updated analysis from our Phase 3 study with BioNTech also showed that our COVID-19 vaccine was 100% effective in preventing #COVID19 cases in South Africa. 100%! Pfizer and BioNTech Confirm High Efficacy and No Serious Safety Concerns Through Up to Six Months Following Second Dose in Updated Topline Analysis of Landmark COVID-19 Vaccine Study | Pfizer
— Albert Bourla (@AlbertBourla) April 1, 2021

This is the same guy who said people who dare ‘spread misinformation’ about Covid vaccines are “criminals.”

Bourla said people who circulate misinformation about Covid jabs and dare speak ill of his product are “criminals.”

“Those people are criminals,” Bourla told Atlantic Council CEO Frederick Kempe on Tuesday. “They’re not bad people. They’re criminals because they have literally cost millions of lives.”

Heliobas Disciple

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Pfizer CEO tests positive for COVID for a second time
by Mrinmay Dey
Sat, September 24, 2022, 4:19 PM

(Reuters) -Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said on Saturday he had tested positive for COVID-19.

"I’m feeling well and symptom free," Bourla said in a statement.

Bourla, 60, back in August had contacted COVID and had started a course of the company's oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment, Paxlovid.

Paxlovid is an antiviral medication that is used to treat high-risk people, such as older patients.

Bourla has received four doses of the COVID vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

The chief executive said he has not yet taken the new bivalent booster.

Developed by Moderna and the team of Pfizer and BioNTech, the new so-called bivalent shots aim to tackle the BA.5 and BA.4 Omicron subvariants, which make up 84.8% and 1.8%, respectively, of all circulating variants in the United States, based on latest data.

"I’ve not had the new bivalent booster yet, as I was following CDC guidelines to wait three months since my previous COVID case which was back in mid-August," Bourla added.

In August, the FDA authorized Pfizer and Moderna's updated booster shots that target the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.

A federal health agency said this week that over 25 million doses of the so-called bivalent shots had been sent out. That consisted of mostly the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, as production of the Moderna vaccine ramps up.

Heliobas Disciple

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FDA to Vax Injured: We Got Nothin’
Mary Beth Pfeiffer
Sep. 22, 2022, 7:30 p.m.

Twenty people who were harmed by Covid-19 vaccines came to Washington D.C. this week—sick, bereaved, from a dozen states—seeking help from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This is what they got: One hour with the top vaccine official in the United States—in a Zoom call to their hotel conference room.

Two had lost sons, 16 and 34 years old, soon after their shots. Three were in wheelchairs, including a girl, 14. A surgeon, nurse practitioner, teacher, and most others can no longer work. Once healthy and fit, many had been eager to be vaccinated.

“They were hiding behind a monitor,” said Brianne Dressen, 41, a Utah mother of two who was incapacitated in a vaccine trial for which she enthusiastically volunteered in November 2020. “All of us, we came out here, and Peter Marks could not get out of his house and meet with us.”

The virtual meeting, which I sat in on, was punctuated by FDA language that the attendees told me they had heard in five such meetings before, specifically about the connection between their suffering and Covid vaccinations.

“The data is not sufficiently robust,” Dr. Peter Marks said repeatedly. “With these low rates, it’s very hard to know what you’re looking at.” The word “rare” was used, and, of course, the phrase “1 in a million.”

And then there was this: “That’s not to say we won’t continue to look.”

Beyond telling several wrenching stories, these debilitated Americans, part of a patient advocacy group called React19, urged the agency to alert doctors to a devastating condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, particularly in children. React 19’s website lists about 30 science articles on potential vaccine-related MIS, calling it “a poorly understood, underreported, hyperinflammation of multiple organ systems.” The Covid-associated syndrome may also occur after vaccination, the group argued, and, may go unrecognized.

The Covid Factor

The MIS debate has parallels to another vaccine injury, myocarditis, that claimed the life of Ernesto Ramirez Jr., 16, five days after his Pfizer mRNA shot. The boy’s father, Ernesto Sr., has campaigned to gain recognition for the condition, with an FDA official telling him at one point, “This is a situation we are all going through.” Maybe so.

But as myocarditis cases piled up, the government’s denial of vaccine-caused heart damage was intense. A major paper was withdrawn under pressure, and a Centers for Disease Control article disputed the vaccine role in the deaths of two boys. Today, the CDC acknowledges the vaccine-myocarditis link, even if asserting it is “rarely” reported. Doctors know now to look for it. Research has suggested it is more prevalent than first thought.

On multisystem inflammatory syndrome, the FDA Zoom meeting ultimately turned on a simple question: How many pediatric cases, of a condition that cripples multiple bodily systems, are too many?

But here’s the rub. If a disabled child with MIS had a hint of having had Covid—a common reality of a highly imperfect vaccine—the case is tossed to the “not-the-vaccine” pile.

According to Marks, 58 vaccinated children, 5 to 11 years old, have been diagnosed with the inflammatory syndrome, which, research shows, puts nearly 60 percent in intensive care units and involves heart, kidney, respiratory and blood damage. However, of those 58, Marks told the group, 54 had “laboratory evidence” of prior Covid. Two did not; two were “unclear.” The 54 were discounted.

“At the end of the day, given 7.3 million (vaccinated) children involved here,” Marks said, “it was impossible to make a clear association.”

He pointed to a recent Lancet article that found 21 cases among 12-to-20-years-olds, but concluded, as with myocarditis, the condition was “rare.”

“The (MIS) association is too weak…either in adults or in children,” Marks said.

Joel Wallskog, co-chair of React19, is a Milwaukee orthopedist who performed 850 surgeries a year before the unthinkable happened from a shot in the arm. At 52, he is retired because he cannot stand steady enough to wield a scalpel.

“It’s truly an unfortunate waste of time to meet with them,” he said of the meeting.

Asked Dressen in an email to Marks: “How many cases of MIS are needed before MIS is listed on the vaccine safety label?”

Fighting for Recognition

These vaccine-injured people are among some 20,000 people in quickly growing social media groups. For more than two years, they have been ostracized socially; refused medical help under the “safe-and-effective” dictum; plied with drugs to help them sleep, walk, think and talk; and told, some of them, that they were suffering pandemic-related anxiety or psychosis. Mona Hasegawa, 43, injured after her first shot, was called a “conspiracy theorist” by a hospital doctor.

A few of them are better. No one has recovered from a hastily tested vaccine given to hundreds of millions under emergency-use authorization that has yet to be withdrawn.

A single video, shared with me by a bereaved mother, captured a sliver of the group’s pain. A propped cell phone shows a couple dancing in a sunlit living room to Roy Orbison’s “Only The Lonely.” They gently twirl, laugh, embrace. At 2 a.m. that night, May 6, 2021, Victor Castillo Simoes, 34, suffered severe chest pain and jaw numbness; he collapsed as help arrived. It had been 16 days since his first Pfizer shot.

Studies showed Simoes died of aortic dissection, or tearing; his blood was littered with severe inflammatory markers that have been associated with the Covid and vaccine spike protein. Tragically, Simoes had discussed marriage with his girlfriend, Rayssa, that evening; his mother, Henrietta Simoes, said he had even named his future children.

A grief-stricken Mrs. Simoes, of New York state, reported her son’s “adverse event” to the CDC tracking system, among more than 14,000 domestic Covid vaccine deaths reported to date.

“I was profoundly shocked when no one from the CDC or FDA reached out to me to investigate my son’s death and possible safety problems with the vaccine,” she said in the virtual call with the FDA. “How can you help me?” she pleaded. “Please learn from the mistakes that have been made.”

FDA’s Marks paused and responded, “Thanks for sharing that. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

And so it went.

After suffering numbness, tingling and other severe neurological issues within 20 minutes of his first injection, New York City nurse practitioner Shaun Barcavage, 52, was advised by a neurologist to get a second shot. It might calm things, it was suggested, but it didn’t.

“That set me on fire,” he told Marks. Barcavage had tremors and tinnitus that left him “on the bathroom floor weeping, sobbing.”

“We all stepped up,” he told the FDA. “We cannot be collateral damage.”

“Thanks for sharing that,” said Marks.

A mother told of her 8-year-old daughter in inconsolable chronic pain, and plagued by recurring pneumonia and loss of below-the-waist sensation, memory and bladder control. “One day she woke up and was a completely different person,” Jennifer Jones told Marks. These “nightmarish symptoms piled on week after week.”

What did doctors do to this hip-hop loving, straight-A farm girl from Virginia? “They put my daughter in a psych unit for three weeks,” her mother said.

Doing the work that government has abdicated, React19 cobbled together a network of physicians to treat vaccine conditions about which many doctors are clueless. The girl got help, Dressen told Marks. “If it were up to the government, this 8-year-old child would still be in diapers in a wheelchair,” she said.

“The agencies have not disclosed these problems,” she said. “It starts with acknowledgment.”

To which Marks said, “Thank you so much for sharing”

“We don’t have any secrets here,” he continued. “Our goal is to make the public understand the benefits and risks of these vaccines.”

Just how FDA is doing that was left unclear. Dr. Wallskog suggested a simple solution: Require medical personnel to report post-vax adverse events, without having to judge whether they were vaccine-caused. Penalize those who don’t report. Then verify reported cases–as Henrietta Simoes expected—and act on potential trends.

What FDA calls “signals” of harm, Wallskog and others at the meeting told me, can only be found by looking for them.

Hope in Congress?

If the FDA discussion was “in one ear and out the other,” as React19’s co-chair Dressen put it, the group found elected representatives decidedly more receptive.

Last November, just two members of Congress agreed to meet. But over the course of three days, the group secured meetings in the offices of 16 senators and 16 representatives, even if mostly with Congressional aides. The legislators included 11 Democrats and 21 Republicans.

Beyond FDA affirmation of harm, React19 wants major reform of the two inadequate programs that exist, ostensibly, to serve people injured by vaccines. Under a U.S. law called the PREP Act— Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19 -- pharmaceutical manufacturers have nearly complete immunity. “They cannot be sued for money damages in court,” a Congressional report states, except for “willful misconduct.”

The government’s primary vaccine-harm program, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund, does not even cover Covid shots. A second program, Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program, is an anemic consumer-protection measure.

Since 2010, CICP has paid just $6 million on 30 claims; 400 were denied. For Covid alone, 9,888 claims have been filed, with none paid and, based on the program’s track record, slim chance that many will succeed. Once rejected, decisions are final, with no appeal or due process.

Operated under the aegis of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, the program is designed to fail the injured.

“HHS has actively supported mandating vaccines in numerous contexts and downplayed adverse effects in a purported effort to combat ‘vaccine hesitancy’,” React19 contends. “As such, HHS essentially serves as judge, jury, and interested party.”

“Such a system is inherently unjust to the vaccine injured,” React19 believes.

Rude Awakening

This small group of vaccine-injured people are representative of something much larger. More than 400 Covid-vaccine death claims alone have been filed, among thousands more injuries. Group members who believed in government say the experience has changed them.

“As a nurse, I never realized, if you are vaccine-injured in the U.S., not only is there no care for you, there is no organization fighting for you,” said Shaun Barcavage. “It is indisputable that the medical system is failing us. It’s the biggest shock of my medical career.”

“It’s like somebody just pats you on the back and walks away,” said Ramirez, who routinely wears a t-shirt that says, “Pfizer killed my baby boy.”

“My son wanted to join the Air Force. This is how he gets repaid.”

If the FDA wants a case study in cause-and-effect, it should look no further than Maddie de Garay, now 14. A participant in a Pfizer vaccine trial, she exhibited off-the-chart symptoms within 24 hours of her second Covid vaccine shot on January 20, 2021. Today, she cannot walk; has been fed through a nasogastric tube since March 2021; and was diagnosed last June with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. While described as a disorder with “nerve swelling and irritation (inflammation) that leads to a loss of strength or sensation,” that does not begin to describe Maddie’s struggles.

Nonetheless, trial investigators had little interest in Maddie’s condition -- in her liver, kidney, gastrointestinal issues and bloody urine, her mother, Stephanie de Garay, said. Emergency room doctors at the hospital where the trial was held initially “laughed at us,” she said. A pain specialist was recommended. The FDA did not reach out.

“She was in a trial,” de Garay told me. “They know very well what happened. They know very well what was happening. I just like to think the best of people,” she said after the FDA virtual meeting. “They’re just desensitized. …It’s almost like they’ve been brainwashed.”

Lastly, she said, “We thought it was safe.”

Heliobas Disciple

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Large CDC Study of 192K Patients Reveals Unvaccinated 10X More Likely to be Hospitalized than Vaccinated
TrialSite Staff
Sep. 18, 2022, 4:00 p.m.

A large team of investigators spanning academic medical centers, local, state, and federal health agencies, and the private sector recently tapped into COVID-NET for an observational population-wide study tracking hospitalizations among COVID-19 vaccinated and unvaccinated persons age 18 years and up. A population-based surveillance system, COVID-NET captures laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-associated hospitalizations across 99 counties in 14 states and represents about 10% of the U.S. population. The data repository includes those individuals in a “surveillance catchment area” that are deemed COVID-19 positive (via positive molecular or rapid antigen detection test) for SARS-CoV-2 during hospitalization or within 14 days prior to admission. Slicing and dicing data from January 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022, the research team looked at positive COVID-identified subjects aged 18 and up from over 250 hospitals in COVID-NET. Then linking state-level vaccination data, the investigators compared hospitalization rates in unvaccinated and vaccinated persons. Looking into various characteristics across the cohorts in this real-world study, the study team represented by corresponding author Fiona Havers, MD, MHS with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in the observational, cross-sectional analysis of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in American hospitals, unvaccinated adults were more likely to be hospitalized when compared to the vaccinated adults. While, boosted vaccinated adults were linked to the lowest levels of hospitalization. Those vaccinated that end up hospitalized tend to be older and be diagnosed with three or more underlying medical conditions, often residents of long-term care facilities (nursing homes)when analyzing against unvaccinated hospitalized persons. The study authors conclude that a big push (and associated federal funding) for vaccination with COVID-19-based products still is rational, given any unfolding risk-benefit analyses.

A major cross-sectional observation study published last month in JAMA Network was fully backed and spearheaded by the CDC’s Dr. Fiona Havers, a medical doctor who also earned her MPH; the investigation covered persons 18 and up while it was reviewed and approved by the CDC, conducted following that federal agency’s policies. Perhaps noteworthy, perhaps not, the study parameters and any review governance were completely controlled by the federal government via the CDC. And agency that has taken a brand hit during the pandemic. The team followed the Strengthening the Reporting of Observation Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) reporting guidelines.

Summary of Results

Using the COVID-NET repository, the investigators analyzed data from 192,509 hospitalizations and report monthly hospitalization rates associated with the novel coronavirus ranged from 3.5 times to 17.7 times higher in unvaccinated persons as compared to vaccinated persons, irrespective of booster dose status.

But what about the Omicron surge—did hospitalization rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated move toward convergence at all? Some notable trends occurred according to the study output when looking into data from January to April 2022. Dr. Havers and team report that during the Omicron surge, the unvaccinated were hospitalized 10.5 times more than the vaccinated however, hospitalization rates were 2.5 times higher among vaccinated persons with no booster dose compared to those who received a booster dose.

The investigators conducted sampling and found that vaccinated hospitalized patients, not surprisingly, were older than those who were unvaccinated (median [IQR] age, 70 [58-80] years v.s 58 [46-70] years, respectively; P?<?.001) plus they were more likely to have three or more underlying medical conditions (1926 [77.8%] vs. 4124 [51.6%], respectively, P?<?.001.

Study Limitations

Importantly this research comes with limitations. First and foremost, the data associated with COVID-NET may not be generalizable to the entire U.S. population. Furthermore, the data in COIVID-NET by no means represent all COVID-19-associated hospitalization entries. Additionally, hospitalization rate includes all patients regardless of reason for admission, as this isn’t known for all patients. So, someone could have been hospitalized for another condition—yet because they are tested positive for COVID-19, this is counted. This could serve to significantly skew the data in favor of a pro-vaccine stance. The study team was able to isolate the records of those that were admitted for other reasons among the sampled cases. The prospect of misclassification of vaccination status is possible, given any errors in the IIS data linkage.

What about vaccine Safety?

A concern with this study is the lack of any recognition that COVID-19 vaccines are associated with safety issues, from significant side effects to adverse reactions that can lead to serious injury and, at times, although rare, even death.

Of course, these are rare occurrences, but with over 220 million fully vaccinated individuals in the U.S. alone, a “rare” incident rate can add up. Yes, most people are not bothered by the vaccines and go about their lives however some are not.

TrialSite has covered many case series and studies evidencing at least some challenges, however. Most recently, a preeminent scientist, Dr. Peter Doshi, and colleagues had their study findings concerning this topic published in the journal Vaccine.

Their analysis led to the finding of a serious adverse event of special interest of 12.5 per 10,000 vaccinated (95 % CI 2.1 to 22.9), including a risk ratio of 1.43 (95 % CI 1.07 to 1.92). The specific Pfizer clinical trial produced a 36% higher risk of these events in the vaccine group with a risk difference of 18.0 per 10,000 vaccinated ( 95 % CI 1.2 to 34.9); risk ratio 1.36 (95 % CI 1.02 to 1.83 ). As TrialSite reported after the preprint, the authors posit that instead of thinking about risk-benefit analysis associated with these pandemic countermeasures rather, a formal harm-benefit analysis should be considered, especially of cohorts involving stratified risk associated with COVID-19 severe outcomes such as hospitalization or death. The last time we checked, not one mainstream media picked up on this important study.

As we will discuss below, while Havers and team have produced an important study showing the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines, a confluence of government, industry, and media continue to inhibit a more holistic assessment of the risks and benefits associated with the COVID-19 products under emergency use authorization (an unorthodox approval in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech primary series).

TrialSite Comment

This cross-sectional observational study covering adults in the United States during the first year of the mass COVID-19 vaccine program clearly demonstrates the risks associated with not accepting a COVID-19 vaccine: unvaccinated adults were ten times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated persons, however, limitations mentioned above should be noted. The findings here are clearly being used by the federal government to continue pressuring all involved to keep up the mass COVID-19 vaccination program. Yet the authors, led by Havers, acknowledge that a substantial percentage of Americans remain unvaccinated. But why are they so hesitant?

What the government isn’t doing is fully educating the masses about the risk-benefit associated with COVID-19 vaccines. They have used a top-down, centralizing, one-size-fits-all approach even though some risks are associated with the vaccines. The current administration doesn’t understand much of the ethos and ideology that drives probably 30% to 50% of Americans. An honest effort to start developing a holistic, accurate data-driven depiction of risk across different cohorts would go a long way, and this latest study actually can represent a start.

For example, young person’s face far less risk from COVID-19 than the elderly, yet there have been tremendous federal resources allocated to vaccinate all children from six months and up. Yet most parents will have nothing of it. The government plays dumb.

This is because trust levels have fallen due to a confluence of reasons. The federal government under the Biden administration has taken little accountability for any mishaps, including what appears to be an unprecedented “censorship enterprise” that’s now being disclosed in a lawsuit driven by both Attorney Generals of Missouri and Louisiana.

The CDC needs to repair its image by starting to delve deeper into all of this data with an open mind, articulating what the real risk-benefit numbers are across age and risk-stratified cohorts. This includes a full acknowledgment as to the pervasiveness of side effects, adverse events, and other risks known and/or unfolding associated with the COVID-19 vaccines.

Empower health consumers and their providers in America to make the most informed decision as to what’s the best decision.

It’s truly ironic that if the federal government started to acknowledge COVID-19 vaccine risks more candidly; if they embraced the COVID-19 vaccine injured and offered programmatic support; if they backed off of mass censorship activity, for example, trust levels in that same government would markedly increase leading more than likely, to more people that could benefit actually going to get vaccinated. This would include these agencies telling state licensing boards to back off of local doctors trying to make a difference with their patients.

But importantly, this would take away from the current evolving trend of top-down, centralizing, statist tendencies now unfolding across healthcare. Call us idealists.

Heliobas Disciple

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Europe has officially recorded more Excess Deaths in 2022 than in 2020 & 2021 at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic & it’s Children & Young Adults who are dying
By The Exposé
September 24, 2022

Official figures provided by 29 European countries confirm there have been more excess deaths in 2022 across Europe than in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as 2021 when a huge swathe of deaths occurred following the emergency use authorisation of the Covid-19 injections.

Unfortunately, analysis shows that the increase in 2022 is due to so many children and young adults now dying on a weekly basis.


EuroMOMO is a European mortality monitoring activity. The organisation states that its aim is to “detect and measure excess deaths related to seasonal influenza, pandemics and other public health threats”.

Official national mortality statistics are provided weekly from the 29 European countries or subnational regions in the EuroMOMO collaborative network, supported by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and hosted by Statens Serum Institut, Denmark.

The Expose analysed data provided by EuroMOMO at the end of August 2022, and discovered an 8x increase in excess deaths among children aged 0 to 14 since the European Medicines Agency approved the Covid-19 injection for children.


Three weeks on from our investigation we discovered that it has forced the European Union to launch a Europe-wide investigation of its won into why so many children have died since the middle of 2021 and why they are still dying.

However, upon officially announcing this investigation, the team here at The Expose noticed that EuroMOMO had altered all of its excess deaths data for the past five years. This has artificially lowered the number of excess deaths recorded in 2022 significantly.

We’re able to prove this thanks to the Internet Archive (WayBackMachine).

The following is a snapshot of the cumulative excess deaths among children aged 0 to 14 in 2020, 2021 and 2022. This was taken from the week 33 EuroMOMO report which can now only be viewed here.


But here are the official figures provided by EuroMOMO from week 36 onwards for the same age group after they officially announced a Europe-wide investigation was being launched into excess deaths among children –


This equates to 333 fewer excess deaths than EuroMOMO recorded three to four weeks earlier.

How have they done this? By altering the baseline against which the excess deaths are recorded.

By doing this they have been able to artificially lessen the severity of the situation The Expose exclusively uncovered in respect of excess deaths among children.

However, what EuroMOMO has not been able to do by curiously altering its figures after announcing an official investigation, is hide the fact that there have been more excess deaths across Europe in 2022 so far than were during the same time period in both 2020 and 2021.

The most recent data published by EuroMOMO covers up to week 37 of 2022.


As of week 37, 2022, Europe has recorded 243,617 excess deaths.

During the same time frame in 2020 (week 0 to week 37), there were 233,737 excess deaths recorded. These were mostly labelled as Covid-19 deaths.

During the same time frame in 2021, there were 231,956 excess deaths. A large amount of these will have been labelled as Covid-19 in the winter of 2021, but the Covid-19 injections should have put a stop to both alleged Covid-19 deaths and a huge increase in excess deaths.


Source Data

Unfortunately, it didn’t, and there is plenty of evidence out there to suggest it is the Covid-19 injections that are now contributing to the significant number of excess deaths still occurring week on week.

That’s because both children and young adults are now suffering a huge increase in excess deaths ever since the European Medicines Agency approved the Covid-19 injections for use in children as can be seen in the following chart (The light blue line is 2022)



Europe has now officially recorded 9,880 more excess deaths in 2022 than it recorded in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

It has also officially recorded 11,661 more excess deaths in 2022 than it recorded in 2021, despite the fact, there was an alleged huge Covid-19 wave of deaths at the beginning of 2021.

The question is why?

Only the authorities across Europe can truly answer that because they hold all of the data.

So, after successfully forcing them to launch a Europe-wide investigation into why so many children are dying, we are now calling on the European Union and EuroMOMO to launch a Europe-wide investigation into why there have been more excess deaths following the roll-out of the Covid-19 injections than there were prior to the roll-out and during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Heliobas Disciple

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Did a Famous Doctor’s COVID Shot Make His Cancer Worse?
A lifelong promoter of vaccines suspects he might be the rare, unfortunate exception.

By Roxanne Khamsi
September 24, 2022, 8 AM ET

On September 22 of last year, Michel Goldman, a Belgian immunologist and one of Europe’s best-known champions of medical research, walked into a clinic near his house, rolled up his sleeve, and had a booster shot delivered to his arm. He knew he’d need it more than most.

Just a few weeks earlier, Michel, 67, had been to see his younger brother, Serge, the head of nuclear medicine at the hospital of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where both men are professors. Michel was having night sweats, and he could feel swollen lymph nodes in his neck, so his brother brought him in for a full-body CT scan. When the images came through to Serge’s computer they revealed a smattering of inky spots, bunched near Michel’s left armpit and running up along his neck. It was cancer of the immune system—lymphoma.

Given his own area of expertise, Michel understood this meant he’d soon be immunocompromised by chemotherapy. With another winter on the way—and perhaps another wave of SARS-CoV-2 infections—that meant he had just a narrow window of opportunity in which his body would respond in full to COVID vaccination. Having received two doses of Pfizer the prior spring, Michel quickly went to get his third. If he was about to spend months absorbing poison as he tried to beat a deadly cancer, at least he’d have the most protection possible from the pandemic.

Within a few days, though, Michel was somehow feeling even worse. His night sweats got much more intense, and he found himself—quite out of character—taking afternoon naps. Most worryingly, his lymph nodes were even more swollen than before. He conferred with Serge again, and they set up another body scan for September 30, six days before Michel was scheduled to start his cancer treatment. Once again he sat in the radiology waiting room while his brother waited for the pictures to appear on his computer.

Serge’s bushy eyebrows furrowed when he spoke with Michel after having seen the scans. (“I will always remember his face, it was just incredible,” Michel told me.) The pictures showed a brand-new barrage of cancer lesions—so many spots that it looked like someone had set off fireworks inside Michel’s body. More than that, the lesions were now prominent on both sides of the body, with new clusters blooming in Michel’s right armpit in particular, and along the right side of his neck.

When Michel’s hematologist saw the scan, she told him to report directly to the nearest hospital pharmacy. He’d have to start on steroid pills right away, she told him. Such a swift progression for lymphoma in just three weeks was highly unusual, and he could not risk waiting a single day longer.

As he followed these instructions, Michel felt a gnawing worry that his COVID booster shot had somehow made him sicker. His brother was harboring a similar concern. The asymmetrical cluster of cancerous nodes around Michel’s left armpit on the initial scan had already seemed “a bit disturbing,” as his brother said; especially given that Michel’s first two doses of vaccine had been delivered on that side. Now he’d had a booster shot in the other arm, and the cancer’s asymmetry was flipped.

The brothers knew this might be just an eerie coincidence. But they couldn’t shake the feeling that Michel had experienced what would be a very rare yet life-threatening side effect of COVID vaccination. For a doctor who had spent four decades studying and advocating for new medicines, that feeling would unfold into many months of deliberation and self-doubt. Michel used to run an institute for vaccine-technology research, and he’s spoken out to reassure the public about the safety of the COVID vaccines, and of the mRNA vaccines in particular. In December 2020, he told an interviewer that “if there was a real problem with the technology, we’d have seen it before now for sure.” His “main concern,” he continued, was that people would use the mere possibility of side effects “as an argument not to be vaccinated.”

But now that possibility appeared to be splattered all across his medical charts. Michel Goldman, champion of the mRNA vaccines, suspected that he was their unlucky victim.

I happened to speak with Michel by phone in April 2021, months before his cancer diagnosis. I’d called him to discuss another potential side effect of COVID vaccination, one associated in particular with the shot made by AstraZeneca. By that point, 220 people who’d received that vaccine had developed an unusual—and very dangerous—blood-clotting syndrome, which was characterized by an atypical low platelet count. At least seven people in the U.K. alone had died of the complication. Michel patiently laid out the different mechanisms that might explain this strange condition. But he was quick to add that the mRNA COVID vaccines were built in a way that could mitigate the risk of this particular problem.

Michel currently leads the I3h institute, a university hub aimed at assisting in drug-design projects; in an earlier posting, he headed a $2 billion European endeavor to accelerate the research of new medicines. As such, he’s spent many years attending to the possible risks—even tiny ones—of novel medical treatments. He has raised awareness about the iron overload that used to afflict dialysis patients before the advent of a drug known as erythropoietin, for example; and looked for signs of “cytokine storms” in kidney-transplant recipients who received monoclonal-antibody treatments. So when a plethora of new vaccines for COVID emerged in the first year of the pandemic, he was watching very closely.

When we talked about the potential side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine last year, Michel made it clear that, in the big picture, any chance of serious complications from the shots would be orders of magnitude smaller than the chance of complications from the pandemic illness itself. If COVID vaccines caused clotting disorders or myocarditis in a tiny percentage of those who received them, he assured me, COVID would lead to stroke or heart inflammation in a much larger group.

The risks and benefits for each vaccine should be weighed against each other, he continued. If AstraZeneca were the only option, then its protection might be worth the very small risk of developing a rare blood disorder. But given the availability of Pfizer, Moderna, and other COVID vaccines, many people could opt for a safer alternative.

Now that risk-benefit calculation has been thrust upon him in a personal and terrifying way. By the time we spoke again, he’d become a cancer patient who suspected that his mRNA vaccine might have made things worse. Michel is reserved by nature, prone to making matter-of-fact remarks rather than emotive musings. In this case, I found him more guarded than ever, and I could tell he’d struggled over how he should describe his own experience—or, indeed, whether he should even be describing it at all. Perhaps his hypothesis was wrong, and the course of his cancer had had nothing to do with the shots. Or maybe the cancer and the mRNA vaccine were connected, but the risk of getting immunized was still just a tiny speck beside the benefits. Applying the same logic that he’d used before, he decided it made sense to go public with this theory. If other people with the same lymphoma felt the need to hedge their bets, they might consider holding off on the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Michel knew that by speaking out about another potential rare effect—especially without hard proof—he’d be introducing a different kind of risk. Recent years had already seen a rise in anti-vaccine disinformation, and protesters have thrown menstrual blood at state legislators and issued death threats to public-health officials. Fearmongers have made the problem worse by citing scary-sounding data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a U.S. government database of possible side effects from immunizations, with insufficient context. In Europe, French police used tear gas to disperse anti-vaccine protesters who were aiming fireworks at officers in July of 2021; a vaccination center was set ablaze in Poland a few weeks later. Michel was well aware of all this trend; in fact, he’d been sounding the alarm about the spread of vaccine misinformation online before the pandemic even started. If he shared his own experience of cancer, might that make the problem worse?

This was not a reason to remain silent, Michel eventually decided. It was a reason to speak carefully.

First things first: Before Michel could tackle the conundrum of going public with this theory, he’d need to get his cancer under control. On October 6, he sat in a hospital room in Brussels, feeling quite afraid while nurses hooked up an infusion line to the catheter that had been surgically embedded near his collarbone. After so many years spent working as a doctor, he was suddenly a patient. People with his kind of lymphoma have only about a 30 percent chance of surviving longer than five years, and the aggressiveness of his disease meant that the medications would have to be intense. The drug that Michel was getting for his first infusion, called brentuximab vedotin, would be the newest and potentially riskiest in his regimen. Side effects can include breathing difficulties, blistering skin, and even permanent nerve damage.

Michel didn’t end up having any of those symptoms, but he did feel very weak. He convalesced at home, and for several days felt unable to do much of anything. But as soon as a bit of his strength came back, he started going through the cancer-research literature. He had several weeks until the next infusion, which meant he had several weeks to figure out whether the vaccine really had quickened his lymphoma, and whether other cancer patients might be in danger from the shots. He was used to reading stacks of science papers for his work; now he did so at an even faster pace.

Michel’s cancer was the kind that attacks the body’s T cells, which coordinate the immune response to invading pathogens. T-cell lymphomas come in roughly 30 different subtypes; Michel’s, known as angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, affects what are called follicular helper T cells, which hang out in the tonsils and the lymph nodes, among other tissues. Follicular helper T cells serve a crucial role in the cascade of events to protect the body after dangerous invaders have arrived. That process begins with dendritic cells, which identify a virus or other pathogen and present examples of it to the rest of the immune system. The helper T cells do just as their name suggests: They help pass that message along to B cells, which end up making protective antibodies against the virus.

Michel had recently learned that mRNA vaccines, such as the Pfizer shots he had received, are especially effective at generating that message, and spurring its passage through the helper T cells. Some researchers argue that the COVID vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been more protective than others for exactly this reason: They rev up those cells with extra oomph. Now Michel began to wonder whether that oomph could, in ultrarare cases, turn out to be a liability. Perhaps the shots gave such a jolt to his helper T cells that they went berserk. If they were prone to forming tumors, or if they were already cancerous, then overstimulation could have made the problem even worse.

As the days went by, Michel found other clues suggesting that the link was real, and that the mRNA vaccines might be risky for a specific subset of the population. He learned that body scans of some of those who get vaccines, including cancer patients, have shown heightened activity in the lymph nodes near the armpit on the side where the shot was received. He also came across another, very important clue. In 2018, a team of researchers based at Columbia University’s Institute for Cancer Genetics had published an intriguing study using mice with a pair of gene mutations that, when they co-occur, predispose T cells to go rogue. (Michel’s tumor, which had been sequenced by this point, showed the same two mutations.) When these mice were injected with sheep red-blood cells—as an experimental stand-in for invading microbes—the animals developed the subtype of lymphoma that was diagnosed in Michel.

Now Michel had a theory to explain the bleak coincidence that had befallen him. Serge agreed that it made sense. The brothers had co-written research papers in the past, including ones on the use of stem cells for heart repair and dendritic-cell vaccines for cancer. It was time for them to write another.

On October 20 of last year, Hans-Georg Eichler, a clinical pharmacologist and former senior medical officer for the European Medicines Agency, opened up his email to find a message from Michel. The two have known each other for more than a decade. “I hope that you are well,” the message started, “which is not really my case ...” Michel had pasted in a link to a medical report, not yet published. “I am curious to hear your thoughts,” he wrote.

The paper, titled “Rapid Progression of Angioimmunoblastic T Cell Lymphoma Following BNT162b2 mRNA Vaccine Booster Shot” and credited to Serge Goldman, Michel Goldman, and six of their Belgian colleagues, would run in the journal Frontiers in Medicine a few weeks later. (Michel is that journal’s editor in chief; he recused himself from the process of editing and peer review.) It begins by describing “a 66-year-old man with no significant medical history” who had been diagnosed with lymphoma that worsened following a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The Goldmans’ unusual connection to the data—the fact that the 66-year-old man in question was Michel—comes across obliquely in the text. An ethics statement, printed at the end of the case report, includes the line: “Being one of the authors, the patient consented to the publication.”

[continued next post]

Heliobas Disciple

TB Fanatic
[continued from post above]

Eichler, who had closely followed the furor over vaccine-associated blood-clot disorders the previous spring, replied that evening: “I have read the paper and am very impressed … It is the most responsible and courageous thing you could do under the worst possible circumstances.”

“I would say that 95 percent of the reactions were extremely friendly,” Michel told me later. But as he’d feared, anti-vaccine activists picked up on the story. “The lymph nodes of those who have taken these shots are exploding, burgeoning, and bulging with this toxic bioweapon,” a right-wing influencer named Jane Ruby wrote on Telegram beneath a screenshot of Michel’s CT scans, which had appeared in his published paper (and are reproduced in this article). “LYMPHOMA - That’s right… Cancer of the lymphatic system … STOP THIS FROM GETTING INTO BABIES AND CHILDREN!!!!!” Ruby’s claims were amplified on Natural News, among other anti-vaccination sites where, again, the very images that Michel’s brother had used to diagnose his illness were presented as shocking evidence of vaccination’s dangers. “PHOTOS: LYMPHOMA CANCER EXPLODING IN THE BOOSTED,” one website said.

When I told Michel about these online posts, he shook his head in disappointment. “They’re looking for anything to support their crazy vision,” he said. “It makes me sad about the world in which we are living.” That’s not to say he was surprised. Michel knew, for instance, that medical experts have dispelled false rumors about vaccines infecting people with COVID-19. He told me that he’d obsessed over getting the tone of the manuscript exactly right, so as not to fuel vaccine skepticism. He was careful, for example, to describe the vaccine as possibly “inducing” the “progression” of his cancer—rather than “causing” it to surface. “I spent hours and hours,” he said. “I’ve never spent so much time on details in a paper.”

Extremely rare cases like Michel’s create a tricky terrain for science communication. Even a clinical trial with thousands of participants might never turn up a single case of someone's cancer worsening after vaccination. In that context, experts can't assign a statistical estimate of the risk across the wider population. Science journalists may be wary of reporting on the story for that reason. In fact, when Michel first told me about his cancer and about the paper he’d written with his brother, I said that I couldn’t write about it. I was worried that some readers would misinterpret my article, and mistakenly see it as a reason not to get vaccinated. As I write this, I’m still concerned that you might do exactly that.

But the scientific literature is sprinkled with odd cases like Michel’s that have puzzled doctors. The Goldmans’ paper follows earlier isolated reports suggesting a possible link between COVID-19 vaccination and lymphoma. Aaron Mangold, who heads the division of clinical dermatology at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, co-authored a paper published in May 2021 about a patient whose rare skin lymphoma recurred after his initial Pfizer shot. The tumorous ulcer appeared in the armpit of the same arm in which the man had received the injection, and then regressed spontaneously. A second shot of the vaccine, delivered three weeks later, produced no further lesions, Mangold told me, and the whole ordeal could have simply been a coincidence. He felt that he’d been “threading the needle” to go public with the case report given that uncertainty.

Ladan Zand, a nephrologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, faced the same conundrum when she co-authored a paper last year detailing five patients who had a relapse of kidney disease following mRNA COVID vaccination. Her team also documented eight patients who were newly diagnosed with the disease, known as glomerulonephritis, after receiving the shot. But Zand cautions that those patients might have had underlying kidney disease and not been aware of it. People infected with the novel coronavirus also show higher rates of kidney-function decline over time. “I spend half of my visits now asking patients to get vaccinated,” she said. “If you were to compare the risks and benefits, the benefits of the vaccine way outweigh the risk of rare entities that, for the most part, seem to be self-limiting.”

William Murphy, an immunologist at UC Davis, told me that Michel’s before-and-after CT scans were fascinating in the context of the mouse study from Columbia. The cancer’s behavior certainly appeared to be related to the vaccine, he said, “given the huge difference in the scans of the tumor progression in a very short period of time.” But one can’t be certain, however striking the data. It’s just a case report, he added—one patient.

The Goldmans’ paper, for its part, notes that it would be “premature” to extrapolate the findings from Michel to other patients with the same kind of cancer, and that the link, even if it were proved, should not discourage general uptake of “much-needed vaccines.” An unusual paragraph tacked onto the bottom of the article underscores the point. Marked “Patient Perspective,” and written in the third person, it notes that Michel himself “remains convinced that mRNA vaccines represent very efficient products with a favorable benefit-risk ratio,” and that he hopes the report will encourage further research.

In mid-February, Michel spiked a sudden fever. COVID had finally caught up with him.

Given that he was immunocompromised by six rounds of cancer chemotherapy, Michel knew that his doctors would need to act quickly. He soon received an infusion of the monoclonal-antibody drug sotrovimab, and managed to recover without incident; his lymph nodes stayed blessedly quiet, and there was no resurgence of his cancer. Now he’s eligible for a second booster shot, but he’s not sure whether he should take it. “I don't know what I will do,” he said.

Would another dose of the vaccine cause another round of cancer lesions? Michel and the scientists who have been in touch with him are still mulling the evidence about whether his original cancer flare was simply a fluke. Steven Horwitz, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering who focuses on the care of patients with lymphoma, has looked more closely at vaccine side effects since hearing about Michel’s case, and feels reassured by what he’s found. “Of our patients who received mRNA COVID vaccines, we have not seen any clearly related and documented relapses or progressions,” he told me via email. Meanwhile, lymphomas and the treatments given for them can weaken the immune system, putting affected patients at higher risk of severe COVID-19 if infected. “Vaccination remains the most effective way to mitigate that risk,” he said.

I reached out to the makers of the mRNA COVID vaccines to ask about Michel’s case. A representative for Pfizer noted that the company takes such reports “very seriously” but that, “to date, there has been no identified correlation between the vaccine and cancer.” Moderna’s chief medical officer, Paul Burton, told me that the company keeps careful track of safety data and has not found any relationship between vaccination and lymphoma. He also pointed to the case of a 61-year-old woman with cancer of the salivary gland whose tumor shrank to about one-quarter of its original size in the month after she received a second dose of the Moderna vaccine. “Now, did it really regress because the person got a messenger RNA vaccine?” he asked. “I don't know. I think biology is truly a remarkable thing."

While Michel remains unsure about his fourth shot, he has continued to be outspoken on the benefits of vaccination overall, and often speaks to Belgian media on the topic. At the same time, he has become a stronger advocate for broader tracking of adverse events from vaccines—an endeavor he and others in drug development call “pharmacovigilance.” “We need to make sure that some pharmacovigilance programs are powered to detect very, very rare side effects,” Michel told me. Eichler, who was involved in drug regulation for the European Medicines Agency, said that while some doctors may be “aficionados” of randomized controlled trials as the only valid source of medical evidence, other types of information are needed. Michel’s case shows why: You’ve got a patient “who is a professor of medicine, who experiences the side effects and says, ‘Okay, this must be a side effect,’” Eichler said. That “rings the bells. Could Michel have ever come up in an RCT? My answer is probably not.”

Just a few days before Michel got COVID, he had gone back to Serge’s office for yet another set of full-body CT images, to check the status of his cancer. He sat in his brother’s waiting room, as he had last September, while Serge examined the results. This time, though, Serge’s expression was relaxed. The scans were clear.

Michel still has to watch out for a recurrence. And as a longtime immunologist and medical innovator, he’s still considering the question of whether a vaccine that is saving tens of millions of lives each year might have put his own in jeopardy. He remains adamant that COVID-19 vaccines are necessary and useful for the vast majority of people. But he wants the discussion about vaccines to be transparent.

Around the time of his February follow-up, Michel received a message from a doctor who had read his self-referential case report. The doctor’s mother had been diagnosed with the same subtype of lymphoma that Michel has following a COVID booster shot. More recently, he got an email from a woman whose sister had been vaccinated and received that diagnosis the following month. Again, these could be coincidences. Or maybe they are the second and third data points in a growing set. The possible connection between Michel’s lymphoma flare and his COVID-19 vaccination occupies much of his thinking these days. “If it exists, it must be very rare,” he said. But he doesn’t regret going public with his case. “I’m still convinced it was the right thing to do.”

Heliobas Disciple

TB Fanatic
(fair use applies)

Explaining the Most Baffling Quirk of COVID: Common Gene Variant Linked to Mortality
By Rockefeller University
September 24, 2022

New research may explain why some people with COVID-19 only experience minor, flu-like symptoms and others have severe disease that can result in death.

It may be the most baffling quirk of COVID: While some infected individuals only have minor, flu-like symptoms, in others COVID-19 can spiral into severe disease, disability, and even death. A new research paper published on September 21 in the journal Nature may explain the genetic underpinnings of this dichotomy.

In their latest research, scientists showed that mice with gene variants previously linked to Alzheimer’s disease were at a greater risk of dying when infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition, a retrospective analysis indicates that patients with those same gene variants were more likely to have died of COVID throughout the pandemic. With 3% of the world population possessing these gene variants, the findings may have implications for hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide.

“It is clear that age, sex, and certain preconditions such as diabetes increase the risk of detrimental outcomes, but these factors don’t fully explain the spectrum of COVID outcomes,” says Sohail Tavazoie, M.D., Ph.D. He is the Leon Hess Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholar and Head of the Meyer Laboratory of Systems Cancer Biology at The Rockefeller University. “This is the first time that we’ve seen such a common genetic variant associated with COVID mortality.”

A closer look at APOE

In previous research, Tavazoie’s lab studied a gene called APOE that plays a role in cancer metastasis. After discovering that the gene suppresses the spread of melanoma and regulates anti-tumor immune responses, he and his team began looking at its different forms, or alleles, more closely. Although, most people have a form called APOE3, 40% of the population carries at least one copy of the APOE2 or APOE4 variant. People with APOE2 or APOE4 produce proteins that differ from APOE3 protein by one or two amino acids.

The APOE gene provides instructions for making a protein called apolipoprotein E. This protein combines with lipids (fats) in the body to form molecules called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins package cholesterol and other fats and carrying them through the bloodstream. There are at least three slightly different versions (alleles) of the APOE gene. Each person inherits two APOE alleles, one from each biological parent. The major alleles are called e2, e3, and e4. The most common allele is e3, which is found in more than half of the general population.

Just one or two amino acids make a difference. Notably, people with APOE4 are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s and atherosclerosis. Also, Tavazoie and Benjamin Ostendorf, a postdoctoral fellow in his lab, have demonstrated that APOE4 and APOE2 impact the immune response against melanoma. As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, Tavazoie and Ostendorf began to wonder whether APOE variants might impact COVID outcomes, as well. “We had looked only at non-infectious diseases,” he says. “But what if APOE variants also made people vulnerable to an infectious agent, like SARS-CoV-2? Could they cause different immune responses against a virus?”

To investigate, Tavazoie and colleagues first exposed more than 300 mice engineered to carry human APOE to a mouse-adapted version of SARS-CoV-2 produced by colleagues Hans-Heinrich Hoffmann and Charles M. Rice. They discovered that mice with APOE4 and APOE2 were more likely to die than those with the more common APOE3 allele. “The results were striking,” says Ostendorf, lead author on the study. “A difference in just one or two amino acids in the APOE gene was sufficient to cause major differences in the survival of mice exhibiting COVID.”

In addition, mice with APOE2 and APOE4 had more virus replicating in their lungs and more signs of inflammation and tissue damage. At the cellular level, the scientists discovered that APOE3 appeared to reduce the amount of virus entering the cell, while animals with the other variants had less potent immune responses to the virus. “Taken together, these results suggest that the APOE genotype impacts COVID outcomes in two ways,” Ostendorf says, “by modulating the immune response and by preventing SARS-CoV-2 from infecting cells.”

Toward clinical practice

The lab next turned to retrospective human studies. In an analysis of 13,000 patients in the UK Biobank, the research team uncovered that individuals with two copies of either APOE4 or APOE2 were more likely to have died of COVID than those with two copies of APOE3. (Approximately 3% of individuals have two copies of APOE2 or APOE4, representing an estimated 230 million people worldwide.)

Tavazoie emphasizes that there is no evidence that the 40% of individuals carrying only one of these alleles are at increased risk. Furthermore, he says those with two APOE2 or APOE4 alleles are likely at lower risk today than the data indicates. “Vaccination changes the picture,” he explains. “Data in UK Biobank spans the length of the pandemic, and many of the individuals who died early on would likely have been protected had they been vaccinated.”

Moving forward, Tavazoie hopes to see prospective studies on the link between APOE and distinct COVID outcomes. “We’ve taken the first step,” he says. “But to be clinically useful, these results will need to be assessed in prospective human trials that test individuals for their APOE genotypes and account for the availability of vaccination, something that wasn’t available early in the pandemic and would improve COVID outcomes across APOE genotypes.”

If future research confirms a link between APOE and COVID outcomes, clinicians might recommend that individuals with APOE4 or APOE2 be prioritized for vaccinations, boosters, and antiviral therapies. Screening for APOE is fairly routine and inexpensive, and many individuals already know their APOE variants because commercial genetic tests such as 23andMe use it to gauge Alzheimer’s risk. At the same time, Tavazoie cautions that screening for a gene variant linked to Alzheimer’s is not without ethical hurdles, because many people would rather not know whether they are predisposed to an incurable neurodegenerative disease.

For his part, Tavazoie plans to also take a closer look at how APOE interacts with various biological systems. The link between APOE4, Alzheimer’s, and COVID, for instance, raises the possibility that this gene may play a role in the neurocognitive complications that arise in some COVID patients. “We want to better understand the function of APOE by studying how it shapes the behavior of cells in these disparate contexts of cancer, dementia, and now viral infection,” Tavazoie says.

Reference: “Common germline genetic variants of APOE impact COVID-19 mortality” by Benjamin N. Ostendorf, Mira A. Patel, Jana Bilanovic, H.-Heinrich Hoffmann, Sebastian E. Carrasco, Charles M. Rice and Sohail F. Tavazoie, 21 September 2022, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05344-2

Heliobas Disciple

TB Fanatic
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Question and Answer.
Geert Vanden Bossche, DVM, PhD

Sep. 24, 2022, 11:00 a.m.

Q: Are other bat coronaviruses posing a threat to human health, even to the extent that new vaccines ought to be developed as recently suggested here?

A: This is yet another example of great scientists drawing the wrong conclusions. It is completely distracting us from the real issue, which is the increasing resistance of the ever-evolving circulating Omicron subvariants to all potentially neutralizing antibodies (Abs) in vaccinees no longer showing overt symptoms of C-19 disease. This unprecedented phenomenon will soon put tremendous pressure on the virulence-inhibiting activity of the infection-enhancing antibodies. Unless I am stupid, this is now rapidly paving the way for a global health disaster as always predicted.

What is the conclusion of these authors and why are they so wrong in advocating for new vaccines?

They conclude: ‘Critically, our findings highlight the urgent need to continue development of new, and broader-protecting sarbecovirus vaccines’ or: ‘Taken together, these results demonstrate that new recombinant sarbecoviruses may pose a threat to current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.’

Questions should never be addressed at whether findings pose a threat to a vaccine but rather whether they pose a threat to (global) health! It is not because a virus can enter human cells and is resistant to Abs elicited against a heterologous spike (S) protein (originating from C-19 vaccines!) that it poses a threat to human health! What about viral virulence and the capacity of those bat coronaviruses to subvert the human innate immune system? If that capacity is low, then the human innate immune system will take care of it, just like it does in the bat! And even if the innate immune system would not achieve full viral clearance, it is highly unlikely that the remaining virus-infected cells or viral particles would not be removed in due time by MHC-unrestricted cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTLs) or newly induced Abs, respectively (unless the virus is highly infectious and invariably causes symptomatic infection!). In that regard, it is interesting to cite the authors’ own words : ‘the Khosta bat sarbecoviruses are genetically distinct from human SARS-CoVs in that they lack genetic information encoding for some of the genes thought to antagonize the immune system and contribute to pathogenicity, such as Orf8’. Well, Orf8 is known to primarily affect the host’s innate immune defense.

It is so wrong when scientists jump to conclusions that are merely based on their insights into a single scientific discipline (in this case, virology). Furthermore, it is highly likely that even vaccinees would be protected against the Khosta coronaviruses as they are now increasingly contracting breakthrough infections caused by new Omicron variants. The very authors of this publication are reporting data showing enhanced neutralization capacity in sera from vaccinees experiencing a vaccine breakthrough infection caused by the first reported Omicron variant (B.1.1.529). However, vaccine breakthrough infections caused by less distant Omicron subvariants (e.g., BA.2-derived) have been shown to elicit much broader cross-neutralizing capacity directed at more conserved S protein-associated domains.

Hence, trained innate immunity in the unvaccinated and more frequent breakthrough infections by less distant Omicron subvariants (e.g., BA.2- or BA.4/5-derived) in vaccinees almost certainly obviate the need for any global health concern related to new coronaviruses that zealous researchers may (continue to) detect in bats. Potential public/ global health concerns should never be based on virological or epidemiological findings only! Based upon the immunological considerations explained above, there is indeed no reason to believe that productive spill-over of bat coronaviruses or other animal coronaviruses to the human species cannot be controlled by natural immunity and ultimately be tamed by herd immunity as happened with other coronaviruses (i.e., common human coronaviruses, including types 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1) that primarily cause asymptomatic or mild to moderate infections in the human population . The C-19 mass vaccination program has clearly illustrated that vaccination does not work in an environment where the virus rapidly spreads and merely promotes natural selection and expansion in prevalence of viral variants that escape potentially neutralizing vaccine-induced Abs. No vaccine technology is currently capable of competing with the type of protective immunity that a pandemic confers to the population. The resulting herd immunity is typically broadly protective and sterilizing and therefore dramatically reduces viral transmission. No single vaccine can provide protective population immunity when used during a pandemic. Mass vaccination campaigns result in a type of population immunity that has exactly the opposite effect in that they promote viral transmission by virtue of natural selection of more infectious immune escape variants. As trained innate immunity is a cornerstone of herd immunity, all efforts to protect the population should focus on enabling herd immunity in ways that keep hospitalization and morbidity rates as low as possible. Vaccines will ultimately have the opposite effect whereas strengthening the population’s innate immune system (via healthy lifestyle) while avoiding overcrowding combined with early outpatient treatment of those with a weakened innate immune system (e.g., the elderly and those with underlying disease) are the holy grail for effectively and rapidly driving the virus into endemicity and minimizing the toll on human lives.

Last, it is interesting how the peer-reviewed literature continues to deny the impact of the C-19 mass vaccination program on SARS-CoV-2 immune escape. The authors of this paper seem to have found an elegant way to escape censorship by phrase the threat of immune escape as follows: ‘As individuals receive additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine boosters and SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate, new viral variants emerge that can alter and broaden the immune response to sarbecoviruses’!