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  • I'm glad to see the numbers going down, but I'm not as optimistic as LARP. Even with 70% vaccination rates, that may or may not reach the threshold for herd immunity. Moreover, it's an arms race against the variants- hopefully the current vaccines are effective against them, but we don't know, and new ones will continue to pop up. Even when things get "better," people who selfishly refuse to vaccinate, wear masks, or social distance will cause this to become a more prolonged situation than it needs to be, resulting in illness, more unnecessary deaths, and harm to the economy. I predict a decline, followed by a leveling off with "mini-spikes" and dips continuing into 2022. A lot of people, once they catch a sniff of things improving, will empower themselves with a false sense of security, which could hurt all of us.

    I hope I'm wrong.

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    • I'm also not quite as optimistic as LARP, but LARP, I hope you're right. One of my fears is that 30% of the country may decide not to get vaccinated at all for political reasons. I hope that doesn't happen, but some polls suggest it could. Of course, if it does happen, maybe those people will die off before 2022. That will help herd immunity.

      (Just kidding about that last part. I have a horrible, dark sense of humor).

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      • Originally posted by MissTCShore View Post
        I'm also not quite as optimistic as LARP, but LARP, I hope you're right. One of my fears is that 30% of the country may decide not to get vaccinated at all for political reasons. I hope that doesn't happen, but some polls suggest it could. Of course, if it does happen, maybe those people will die off before 2022. That will help herd immunity.

        (Just kidding about that last part. I have a horrible, dark sense of humor).
        So you're hoping for a McGenocide?

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        • I haven’t put a lot of thought or reading into it, but this being a thing that sticks around for years and maybe even forever seems plausible. New variants are scary but hopefully we can spin up these mRNA vaccines very quickly and it seems like they’ll offer at least partial protection even in the worst case. Plus we’ll have the infrastructure to deliver boosters or new vaccines.

          As far as mini spikes going forward I guess we’ll see. I’d be surprised to see any happen later than, say, April. Warm weather, high infection rates over the winter, and ramped up vaccinations will all be working in our favor.

          If we can get confirmed cases down to 30-40k/day (~90-120k actual cases), and if protecting our most vulnerable halves the fatality rate to 0.2% then that would be 180-240 deaths per day. About 70,000-80,000 a year. At that point it really is starting to resemble a bad flu year in terms of danger.

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          • Oh, and agree with MissTC about resistance to vaccinations. The reason I’ve been using 70% as my metric is I think that’s around the time that we’ll start to have trouble finding arms for vaccines instead of the other way around. I definitely agree about true herd immunity being a lofty goal right now.

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            • I agree with you LARP. I think it will get to the point where it's like the seasonal flu, and we'll get annual (whatever interval) boosters incorporating new variants like we do with the flu vaccine now.

              Interestingly, there is so little flu this season due to the COVID measures and people getting their vaccines. So, silver lining?

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              • Originally posted by MissTCShore View Post
                WHO REPORT FROM WUHAN

                Beijing — With just days left in their month-long visit to Wuhan, the World Health Organization's team of COVID-19 experts co-hosted their first press conference on Tuesday to share some key findings from the hunt for the coronavirus' origin. The biggest takeaway from the nearly three-hour event was that the scientists believe it's "extremely unlikely" a lab-related accident was the source of the pandemic, and all current evidence "continues to point to a natural reservoir."

                The next step, said WHO lead investigator and food safety expert Peter Ben Embarek, would be to "look at the possible pathways of introduction of the virus into the human population," and for any evidence that it might have made that jump into humans earlier than currently known.

                After weeks in Wuhan, the team was still unable to answer the overarching question of where COVID-19 came from.

                "From the early days of December 2019, did we change dramatically the picture we had beforehand?" Ben Embarek, a Dutch food safety expert, asked rhetorically. "I don't think so. Did we improve our understanding? Did we add details to that story? Absolutely."

                Virologist Marion Koopmans, also of the Netherlands, and Liang Wannian of China's National Health Commission spoke on stage to discuss methodology and results at the briefing, which was broadcast on television and social media around the world.

                Speaking for the WHO's international team, Ben Embarek laid out four hypotheses about COVID-19's origin and said the "most likely pathway" in the scientists' view was that the virus spread to humans through an intermediary species that lives close to human populations. He said that theory, like the others, "will require more targeted research."

                Less likely but "still possible" is the notion that the coronavirus jumped directly from a primary source animal into humans. Many scientists believe COVID-19 originally came from certain species of bats, but they aren't easily found in Wuhan.

                A third hypothesis is "food chain" transmission, with the virus originating elsewhere and then riding into central China on the surfaces of cold-chain frozen food packaging.

                The least likely theory, according to the WHO team, is a lab-related incident, but the scientists said that was "not a hypothesis that would imply future study into the origin of the virus."

                "Accidents do happen," admitted Ben Embarek when challenged on why a laboratory — such as the often-mentioned Wuhan Virology Institute — had been ruled out as the source of the virus. He said there had been "no reports" of this coronavirus or one closely linked to it being worked on in any lab in the world.

                He stressed that "it was very unlikely anything could escape" from the maximum biosecurity facility in Wuhan, and lab accidents in general, he said, "are extremely rare events."

                During the course of the WHO's month-long stay in China the team has pushed for access to new evidence, and they did visit now well-known sites including the Huanan seafood market, once believed to be ground zero, along with the Wuhan Institute of Virology and hospitals that treated the first coronavirus patients.

                Whenever new information becomes available, said WHO expert Koopmans, "we can take this again and say, 'okay, with this new information does our assessment of these different entry pathways change?"

                "That could be anytime, because there are ongoing studies in different parts of the world," Koopmans noted.

                As the WHO's allotted time window in China — they got one-month visas — winds down, the scientists stressed that there could still be years of investigation left to do before the COVID-19 origin is determined, if it ever is.

                The WHO team's visit was delayed for months by Chinese officials, who never offered any real explanation.

                Only journalists physically in Wuhan at the event on Tuesday were allowed to ask questions of the WHO team. The press conference was only announced early on Tuesday morning. Face-to-face interviews — even socially distanced — with members of the international team were not permitted.
                Red China: It was bats.

                WHO: But there are no bats here in Wuhan.

                Red China: Bats

                WHO: But your "secret" Wuhan Virus Bioweapons Lab is right there. *points*

                Red China: Bats

                WHO: There are NO bats here.

                Red China: Must have come in on frozen food trucks...from somewhere with bats.

                WHO: But...the lab...it's right there! *points again*

                Red China: It was the Italians.

                WHO: What the fuck are you talking about?!?!

                Red China: Visa expired. Get out!

                WHO: We're pretty sure it was bats.

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                • Early data show that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have proven effective against new variants. Obviously it's too early since the emergence to have more complete, peer-reviewed studies, but that seems like a good sign.

                  I think COVID will be around forever (well, at least beyond our lifetimes) and the scientific community will continue tweaking vaccine chemistry to adjust for mutations, much like the flu vaccine. But I'm not breaking any new ground there.

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                  • Not to be the bearer of bad news but we are starting at an extremely high baseline. These variants are likely going to produce a surge beyond what we’ve seen. Even if you add up previous cases and vaccinated groups, it’s not enough to blunt what has already happened in Brazil, Ireland, Portugal etc. I’m afraid we are not out of any woods despite my wanting it badly.

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                    • Originally posted by MoonlightPhog View Post
                      Not to be the bearer of bad news but we are starting at an extremely high baseline. These variants are likely going to produce a surge beyond what we’ve seen. Even if you add up previous cases and vaccinated groups, it’s not enough to blunt what has already happened in Brazil, Ireland, Portugal etc. I’m afraid we are not out of any woods despite my wanting it badly.
                      Who dis?

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                      • There was a recent article that summarizes some of the details around variant B.1.1.7 of the coronavirus. Here are the main takeaway points:

                        - COVID-19 genome is a strand of nearly 30,000 RNA nucleotides. These force infected human cells to assemble up to 29 kinds of proteins.

                        - As viruses replicate, small mutations naturally arise in their genomes. A lineage of coronaviruses will typically accumulate one or two random mutations each month.

                        - Some mutations have no effect on the coronavirus proteins made by the infected cell. Other mutations might alter a protein’s shape by changing or deleting one of its amino acids.

                        - Through the process of natural selection, neutral or slightly beneficial mutations may be passed down from generation to generation.

                        - A coronavirus variant first reported in Britain has 17 recent mutations that change or delete amino acids in viral proteins.

                        - There are some notable mutations in B.1.1.7 that have been closely watched, including 8 spike mutations and an ORF8 q27 stop mutation

                        - Amongst spike mutations, the most notable is a N501Y ( the 501st amino acid in the spike protein switched from N (asparagine) to Y (tyrosine)).

                        - The N501Y mutation changes an amino acid near the top of each spike protein, where it makes contact with a special receptor on human cells. Because spike proteins form sets of three, the mutation appears in three places on the spike tip.

                        - In a typical coronavirus, the tip of the spike protein is like an ill-fitting puzzle piece. It can latch onto human cells, but the fit is so loose that the virus often falls away and fails to infect the cell. The N501Y mutation seems to refine the shape of the puzzle piece, allowing a tighter fit and increasing the chance of a successful infection.

                        - N501Y mutation has evolved independently in many different coronavirus lineages. In addition to the B.1.1.7 lineage, it has been identified in variants from Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa, Wales, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas.

                        - B.1.1.7 is estimated to be roughly 50 percent more transmissible than other variants. However, there is no evidence that it is more severe than other variants. But because it can cause so many more infections (more infected people), it may lead to many more deaths.

                        - Antibodies generated by a vaccine were able to lock on to coronavirus spikes that have the N501Y spike mutation, preventing the virus from infecting cells in the lab.

                        - According to the article, quoting researchers, it would likely take many years, and many more mutations, for the virus to evolve enough to avoid current vaccines.


                        Sorry, but I don't have a link to the article itself, although I think it has made its way into the mainstream media, so it may be published on some newspaper websites. While that last point is encouraging, they've been wrong before, so buyer beware.

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                        • This isn't the same as when the influenza virus proteins mutate, thank Jeebus.

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                          • Originally posted by MoonlightPhog View Post
                            Not to be the bearer of bad news but we are starting at an extremely high baseline. These variants are likely going to produce a surge beyond what we’ve seen. Even if you add up previous cases and vaccinated groups, it’s not enough to blunt what has already happened in Brazil, Ireland, Portugal etc. I’m afraid we are not out of any woods despite my wanting it badly.
                            Let the bodies hit the floor
                            Let the bodies hit the floor
                            Let the bodies hit the FLOOOOOR!!!

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                            • Originally posted by GardArmighty View Post
                              This isn't the same as when the influenza virus proteins mutate, thank Jeebus.
                              Correct. Flu virus has 8 genome segments that can rearrange and make the virus look completely different, where as coronaviruses only have 1 so any mutations are small and do not result in a crazy different fingerprint.

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                              • Originally posted by WolfShirtSophomore View Post

                                Correct. Flu virus has 8 genome segments that can rearrange and make the virus look completely different, where as coronaviruses only have 1 so any mutations are small and do not result in a crazy different fingerprint.
                                So you’re saying all these variants of this Asian Coronavirus all pretty much look the same?

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