Happy New Year! I hope you had a restful holiday. Here is the latest on COVID-19, flu, and RSV in the U.S. Overall respiratory health It’s still looking rough out there. High numbers of influenza-like illnesses (ILI)—fever, cough and/or sore throat reported at doctors’ offices—are peppered across the U.S.
You end with "you know what to do": but with the lack of guidance from CDC and local health departments, it's easy to question basic mitigation practices. My county went CDC red a week ago--and absolutely no one is aware. It hasn't changed any behavior--including no masks in an optometrist office. So even though masking when indoors, ventilate, get your boosters, stay home when sick seems wise--and I read the CDC red county guidelines-they go further--when the public narrative is "it's over" and masks are for outliers/extremists, it's so easy to question basic mitigation behavior.
I'm a physician, with some immune dysfunction, and I found myself checking in with my doctor for reassurance.
So, please spell out "you know what to do"--increasingly, we don't.
I would love to know your thoughts on this opinion piece circulating from the Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/are-vaccines-fueling-new-covid-variants-xbb-northeast-antibodies-mutation-strain-immune-imprinting-11672483618
A family member sent me this and I am really confused by how they talk about the data. The state that the studies show that more vaccinations increases your risk of contracting COVID-19. This is contrary to all other research I have seen. Can you help me understand how the authors are coming to this conclusion? My family member now regrets getting boosted even though I have been advocating for months that they get the booster.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for the update. The issue has come up as to whether those who received a bivalent booster in September should get another booster for increased protection during the winter. There is no guidance on this that I am aware of. I don’t know if there is enough data available to make an informed decision. Any thoughts?
What does "this" refer to in the sentence, "For really the first time, reported case numbers have completely decoupled from wastewater, so we can’t rely on this anymore. Wastewater is clearly on the rise." I thought that earlier posts explained that we cannot rely on case numbers because of unreported home tests. The quoted sentence seems to be saying that we cannot rely on wastewater, either, but I doubt that is your message. (It's often hazardous to use "this" as a pronoun!)
Thanks for your updates. As a long hauler I am curious about repeat infections and the use of Paxlovid. Does Paxlovid lose its effectiveness if someone uses multiple times? Also, does Paxlovid dampen the antibody uptick with getting COVID so you are more susceptible to a new infection (from a different variant)? Reinfecting monthly from school is happening here so knowing more about how Paxlovid works when it’s used frequently would be very helpful to know about. Thanks.
Can you speak to the excess deaths issue. It does not seem to be getting any attention, and it would seem to be very important!
"People vaccinated with the fall booster have an 18.6 times lower risk of dying from COVID-19 than unvaccinated people right now. The risk of infection is also three times lower." --- Does this apply to the XBB's? The graph only seems to go to sometime in November.
A friend of mine sent me this link to an article he saw in the Wall Street Journal that referred to a journal article in Nature, in December: The WSJ article examined some studies that suggest that vaccines might be fueling new covid variants. I was wondering what you think of this? You did a blog on original sin a while back. I assume that this article is related.
Anecdotally, I'm in healthcare in a surgical sub-specialty where covid tests are required a few days before surgery. We've been seeing a lot of positive tests and calling people who are shocked and annoyed their surgery is being cancelled as they are asymptomatic. I wonder if this is why wastewater and cases have drifted apart?
I heard an interesting segment on NPR this morning regarding the pandemic and effects on gut bacteria. This would be an interesting topic to hear more about in the future or even a recap of what we know about gut bacteria in regards to epidemiology.
Thanks for the update. Not surprising, unless one subscribes to conspiracy narratives or social media-driven pseudoscience (especially, these days, on Twitter). Sadly, we have a fourth pandemic that has continued unabated since 2020: politically driven misinformation.
Can you comment on the study (preprint) out of the. Cleveland Clinic that found that each booster received increases the risk of an infection.
Huge thank you on this comprehensive summary of what is 'current'.
I've noticed that here in the PNW (Pacific NorthWest), many folks who appear to be older than 50 or 60, are near 90% masked (observed during the Seattle Symphony Orchestra Christmas event, as well as at the local supermarket).
"Forewarned is forearmed. "
Well, these two over 70 year olds fully vaccinated (bivalent last October), finally caught COVID. We don't know where we caught it. We took our daughter, and family, out for dinner on Dec 21, and ate outside. We are pretty good about limiting ourselves to doing outdoor activities, but admit to recently not being as firm about wearing our masks indoors. Our daughter had a cold, as had her kids (all tested negative, twice), so of course our first thought was we picked up her cold (hubby got symptoms first). His first mild symptoms showed on Christmas Eve. Some sniffles, a very slight cough. We hosted the family on Christmas Eve, but had our front door open the whole time. Then the family came over for Christmas morning. Same scenario. On Monday morning I had him test just to rule it out. He was positive. Informed the whole family and everyone tested. Still, no one else tested positive, except for me. I tested Tuesday morning (27), because it's the day I visit my 95 year old mother in her facility and I just wanted to be cautious (I had no symptoms). I was positive. The worst symptoms I developed was a mild fever of 100.4 with chills that resolved after about 4 hours. Other than that, we both felt like we had a cold. We both tested last Tuesday, both still positive with waning symptoms (and a thinner, fainter positive line). We are both past our quarantine time, so when we have to go inside we wear our KN95 masks. We'll test again Friday because there is no need to before then. We aren't going anywhere, so no point. We both feel just fine, and we never took Paxlovid. Neither of us have underlying conditions, but if we had we would have requested it. It's obviously still put there, as is so much else, so I'm back to wearing my mask inside, if only so I don't catch the other nasty stuff out there!
I do wonder, though, when will COVID be considered just something else you can catch, without the quarantine period? I've noticed (since I have four grandchildren in schools and I volunteer for my daughter, who is a teacher), that kids are attending schools again with obvious cold symptoms, just like before. I was an educator myself and I remember the days of coughs and sniffles, and helping kids blow their noses! That's probably why I have such a good immune system. I don't get sick very often.
A neighbor's partner was just diagnosed with Covid. She is vaxxed x2, boostered x2 and had the bivalent shot. I suspect it's XBB 1.5 to cut thru the defenses like that. A little scary considering our shot histories and hers are identical. The pandemic is far from over.
Should older adults get get a new booster 4 months after their last one? This is a question which has no direct answer, but a recent study showed that protection for nursing home residents fell four months after their last vaccine.. ( study led by Oliver Stirrup, University College London, London, UK)