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Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses - Jefferson, T - 2023 | Cochrane Library

The pooled results of RCTs did not show a clear reduction in respiratory viral infection with the use of medical/surgical masks. There were no clear differences between the use of medical/surgical masks compared with N95/P2 respirators in healthcare workers when used in routine care to reduce respiratory viral infection.

Opinion | The Mask Mandates Did Nothing. Will Any Lessons Be Learned? - The New York Times

But when it comes to the population-level benefits of masking, the verdict is in: Mask mandates were a bust. Those skeptics who were furiously mocked as cranks and occasionally censored as “misinformers” for opposing mandates were right. The mainstream experts and pundits who supported mandates were wrong. In a better world, it would behoove the latter group to acknowledge their error, along with its considerable physical, psychological, pedagogical and political costs.

Experts Keeping Close Eye on BA.2.86 Variant | MedPage Today

"This one does have a large number of mutations that are obviously a concern," Aubree Gordon, PhD, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health," told MedPage Today. "It may be better at evading prior immunity, both from vaccination and infection. And so that's really the big concern."

First Genetic Clue Why Some People Do Not Get Sick From Covid | Barron's

Out of that group, 136 saw no Covid symptoms two weeks before and after testing positive. One in five of that group carried at least one copy of an HLA variant called HLA-B*15:01. Those fortunate enough to have two copies of the gene -- one from their mother, one from their father -- were over eight times more likely to be asymptomatic from Covid than other people, the study said.

A break from Covid waves and a breakthrough for preventing Long Covid

But a new randomized, placebo-controlled trial of metformin has yielded exciting results—the first drug to be shown to help prevent Long Covid. Over a thousand people with mild-to-moderate Covid were randomly assigned to 2 weeks of metformin (500 mg pills, 1 on day 1, twice a day for 4 days, then 500 mg in AM and 1000 mg in PM for 9 days) or placebo. There was a 42% reduction of subsequent Long Covid as you can see by the event curve below, which corresponds to an absolute decrease of 4.3%, from 10.6% reduced to 6.3%. Of note, the participants in the trial were fairly representative of the people who most often go on to manifest Long Covid, outpatients with a median age of 45 years and 56% were female. The low risk subgroups of people age <30 years or with a normal BMI were excluded. There were no treatment by subgroup interactions—that is there were overlapping 95% confidence intervals for the direction of benefit for metformin for all subgroups; no clear evidence that metformin worked better or worse for each.

US Labor Shortage Rattles Harvard Economist as 2.6 Million Workers Sit Out - Bloomberg

Even as their tracker shows metrics like job listings, consumer spending and small business revenue surging back above January 2020 levels, the US is missing about a fifth of its pre-pandemic low-income workforce. At least some of those workers moved to higher-paying jobs, but, after adjusting for wage growth, researchers found employment for the poorest quarter of the workforce was still 13.5% below pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2021.

FDA vaccine advisers 'disappointed' and 'angry' that early data about new Covid-19 booster shot wasn't presented for review last year | CNN

It found that 1.9% of the study participants who received the original booster became infected. Among those who got the updated bivalent vaccine – the one that scientists hoped would work better – a higher percentage, 3.2%, became infected. Both versions of the shot were found to be safe. This infection data was far from complete. The number of study subjects who became infected was very small, and both the patients and the researchers were aware of who was getting the original shot and who was getting the new booster. Despite these imperfections, the data was included in a preprint study that was posted online in June, again in September in an FDA document and then later that month in a top medical journal – and advisers to the FDA and the CDC said the data should have been shared with them, too.

FDA vaccine advisers 'disappointed' and 'angry' that early data about new Covid-19 booster shot wasn't presented for review last year | CNN

“I was angry to find out that there was data that was relevant to our decision that we didn’t get to see,” said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, a group of external advisers that helps the FDA make vaccine decisions. “Decisions that are made for the public have to be made based on all available information – not just some information, but all information.”

Exercise post-vaccine bumps up antibodies, new study finds -- ScienceDaily

In the newly published study, participants who cycled on a stationary bike or took a brisk walk for an hour-and-a-half after getting a jab produced more antibodies in the following four weeks compared to participants who sat or continued with their daily routine post-immunization. The researchers found similar results when they ran an experiment with mice and treadmills. Antibodies are essentially the body's "search and destroy" line of defense against viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Vaccines help the immune system learn how to identify something foreign and respond by bolstering the body's defenses, including an increase in antibodies.

Note to the Federal Reserve: Don’t Panic About Inflation | The New Yorker

The details of the inflation report provide some evidence to back up these arguments, but also some evidence that is less supportive. The price of medical services rose by 0.6 per cent last month, the cost of domestic services (such as housecleaning) rose by 0.9 per cent, and the cost of haircuts and other personal-care services jumped by 1.2 per cent. These were significant rises. However, taking the services sector over all (less energy services), prices jumped by 0.4 per cent in January, compared with 0.3 per cent in December, and 0.4 per cent in October. That doesn’t look like a sudden takeoff.

Can I Still Work From Home? Goldman Sachs Sticks to Office Plans in Hybrid Era - Bloomberg

Firms or managers toying with a full-time return face an uncomfortable reality, experts say: Without significant pay incentives that only the richest firms can offer, staff are increasingly likely to look elsewhere. For everyone else, wholesale changes to workplace culture are needed to retain and attract the best.

New study suggests two paths toward 'super immunity' to COVID-19: Research compares routes to immunity involving vaccination -- ScienceDaily

"It makes no difference whether you get infected-and-then-vaccinated, or if you get vaccinated-and-then-a-breakthrough infection," said co-senior author Fikadu Tafesse, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine. "In either case, you will get a really, really robust immune response -- amazingly high."

Why Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky Thinks the Home Is the Future of Travel - The Atlantic

The most compelling statistic for me is the number of people who are using Airbnb for long-term stays. Twenty percent of our nights booked now are for 28 days or longer. Half of our stays are for a week or longer. These are big increases from before the pandemic, and I think it’s related to the fact that people don’t have to go back to the office. Another data point we’re seeing is an increase in people traveling with pets, as people are staying longer. Use of the Wi-Fi filter on Airbnb has increased by 55 percent since before the pandemic, so people obviously care more about their Wi-Fi connection, and they want to verify the speed of the internet if they’re doing Zooms. Another data point is that Mondays and Tuesday are the fastest-growing days of the week for travel. More people are treating ordinary weekends like long holiday weekends. This is also part of the flexibility afforded by remote work.

Prescribed blood thinners can help reduce hospitalizations related to COVID-19, study finds -- ScienceDaily

Published in Lancet's Open Access EClinical Medicine, the study found that: patients on blood thinners before having COVID-19 were admitted less often to the hospital, despite being older and having more chronic medical conditions than their peers; blood thinners -- regardless of if they are being used before being infected with COVID-19 or started when admitted to the hospital for treatment of COVID-19 -- reduce deaths by almost half; and, hospitalized COVID-19 patients benefit from blood thinners regardless of the type or dose of the medication used.

New findings on ambient UVB radiation, vitamin D, and protection against severe COVID-19 -- ScienceDaily

Researchers found that ambient UVB radiation at an individual's place of residence preceding COVID-19 infection was strongly and inversely associated with hospitalisation and death. This suggests that vitamin D may protect against severe COVID-19 disease and death.

A Misleading C.D.C. Number - The New York Times

That benchmark “seems to be a huge exaggeration,” as Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist at the University of St. Andrews, said. In truth, the share of transmission that has occurred outdoors seems to be below 1 percent and may be below 0.1 percent, multiple epidemiologists told me. The rare outdoor transmission that has happened almost all seems to have involved crowded places or close conversation. Saying that less than 10 percent of Covid transmission occurs outdoors is akin to saying that sharks attack fewer than 20,000 swimmers a year. (The actual worldwide number is around 150.) It’s both true and deceiving.

COVID-19 vaccine is associated with fewer asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections, study finds -- ScienceDaily

Overall, vaccination reduced the risk of asymptomatic and symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection by 79% in vaccinated employees compared with their unvaccinated colleagues. An analysis of asymptomatic infections alone found vaccination reduced the risk by 72%. Protection was even greater for employees who completed two doses. A week or more after receiving the second dose, vaccinated employees were 96% less likely than unvaccinated workers to become infected with SARS-CoV-2. When researchers looked just at asymptomatic infections, vaccination reduced the risk by 90%.

A new treatment that might keep COVID-19 patients off the ventilator: In mice, therapy based on natural molecules improves lung function -- ScienceDaily

The experimental treatment consists of molecules known as liponucleotides, which are essential for making surfactant in the lungs. Davis analyzed lung cells from flu-infected mice and determined that the pathway to surfactant production was disrupted, with one of the two necessary liponucleotides completely undetectable. "The thinking before was that the reason there was less surfactant in mice with flu-related ARDS was because cells are dying. This defect is in some ways better -- if cells are dying, there's not much you can do, but if there's a problem with the cell's metabolism, maybe you can fix it," Davis said.

Only one in four people experience mild systemic side effects from COVID-19 vaccines, study finds -- ScienceDaily

The data comes from 627,383 users of the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app who self-reported systemic and local effects within eight days of receiving one or two doses of the Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine between December 8 and March 10.

Associations between body-mass index and COVID-19 severity in 6·9 million people in England: a prospective, community-based, cohort study - The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology

At a BMI of more than 23 kg/m2, we found a linear increase in risk of severe COVID-19 leading to admission to hospital and death, and a linear increase in admission to an ICU across the whole BMI range, which is not attributable to excess risks of related diseases. The relative risk due to increasing BMI is particularly notable people younger than 40 years and of Black ethnicity.

Among COVID-19 survivors, an increased risk of death, serious illness: Major study details numerous long-term effects of COVID-19, pointing to massive health burden -- ScienceDaily

The investigators showed that, after surviving the initial infection (beyond the first 30 days of illness), COVID-19 survivors had an almost 60% increased risk of death over the following six months compared with the general population. At the six-month mark, excess deaths among all COVID-19 survivors were estimated at eight people per 1,000 patients. Among patients who were ill enough to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and who survived beyond the first 30 days of illness, there were 29 excess deaths per 1,000 patients over the following six months.

Those who had COVID-19 may only need one vaccine dose, study suggests: Second vaccine important for those who have not had COVID-19 to reach strong immunity -- ScienceDaily

These findings were also reflected in an analysis of antibodies against the D614G mutation and the B.1.351 South African variant of COVID-19. For those who did not have COVID-19, it took a second dose to get a robust enough immunity level against the mutation and variant, whereas those recovered from COVID-19 had a strong enough antibody response after one dose.

Without these lipid shells, there would be no mRNA vaccines for COVID-19

But details on how Moderna arrived at its optimal formulation in the first place are scant. The company did not grant an interview to talk about its nanoparticle development, and neither did Pfizer or BioNTech. For its COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna ultimately used an ionizable lipid that it calls SM-102, which it first described in a 2018 study on alternatives to MC3. Pfizer and BioNTech licensed an ionizable lipid called ALC-0315 from Acuitas.

Without these lipid shells, there would be no mRNA vaccines for COVID-19

LNPs that looked good in the lab often floundered in the clinic, however. The first versions of ionizable lipids were still toxic. And early formulations of the nanoparticles didn’t degrade fast enough, causing them to accumulate after repeated injections. Protiva found that one of its experimental LNP therapies caused a more severe immune reaction in humans than it had in the lab, and the company pinned pegylated lipids as a major factor.

Copper foam as a highly efficient, durable filter for reusable masks and air cleaners -- ScienceDaily

The researchers fabricated metal foams by harvesting electrodeposited copper nanowires and casting them into a free-standing 3D network, which was solidified with heat to form strong bonds. A second copper layer was added to further strengthen the material. In tests, the copper foam held its form when pressurized and at high air speeds, suggesting it's durable for reusable facemasks or air filters and could be cleaned with washing or compressed air. The team found the metal foams had excellent filtration efficiency for particles within the 0.1-1.6 µm size range, which is relevant for filtering out SARS-CoV-2. Their most effective material was a 2.5 mm-thick version, with copper taking up 15% of the volume. This foam had a large surface area and trapped 97% of 0.1-0.4 µm aerosolized salt particles, which are commonly used in facemask tests.

New evidence COVID-19 antibodies, vaccines less effective against variants: Worrisome new coronavirus variants can evade antibodies that neutralize original virus -- ScienceDaily

"We don't exactly know what the consequences of these new variants are going to be yet," said Diamond, also a professor of molecular microbiology and of pathology & immunology. "Antibodies are not the only measure of protection; other elements of the immune system may be able to compensate for increased resistance to antibodies. That's going to be determined over time, epidemiologically, as we see what happens as these variants spread. Will we see reinfections? Will we see vaccines lose efficacy and drug resistance emerge? I hope not. But it's clear that we will need to continually screen antibodies to make sure they're still working as new variants arise and spread and potentially adjust our vaccine and antibody-treatment strategies."