COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates: Friday / Saturday, Jan 7-8

Pharmacist (and parent) Mousebumples forwarded a glass-half-full story I missed earlier:

My take? The ‘conservative’ SC(R)OTUS justices don’t mind the peons getting sick, but damned if they’ll risk having some unvaxxed health care worker breath germs all over them


A long article, but it’s the weekend, and it is well worth reading the whole thing:

The actions India did — and didn’t take — as delta emerged, ultimately saddled its people and the world with a ruthlessly virulent incarnation of the coronavirus, one that challenged vaccines and containment regimes like none before it. Delta upended even the most successful pandemic strategies, snaking into countries like Australia and China with stringent “Covid Zero” curbs in place and effectively closed borders. It’s been the most dominant form of Covid for much of this year, when more than 3.5 million people died of the virus — almost double the toll during the first year of the pandemic.

Multiple scientists interviewed by Bloomberg News said that the way India handled the early days of delta fueled its rise. The variant’s identification was delayed because the country’s laboratories were flying blind for much of 2020 and early 2021, partly because Modi’s government had restricted imports of vital genetic sequencing compounds under a nationalistic agenda to drive self sufficiency, they said. There were repeated efforts to warn the administration about the new strain in early February, the scientists said, yet India went public with details of the more transmissible variant only at the end of March.

“The charitable view is they didn’t want to sound the alarm without having more conclusive evidence,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, a research institute with offices in New Delhi and Washington that has helped conduct some of India’s largest Covid studies. “The more skeptical view is that everything about Covid has been politically managed and therefore it’s a question of whether they didn’t want to alarm people about something happening in India for fear of stigma — almost every country is trying to play this game.”

While the fallout from delta has been devastating, many of its lessons are yet to be addressed. South Africa’s vigilance makes it an outlier, with gaping virus surveillance holes across the world, particularly in countries that have already limited means to purchase and distribute vaccines, let alone the luxury of expensive sequencing programs.

More than 80% of the 6.5 million SARS-CoV-2 genomes that have been decoded and then uploaded to GISAID, the international database that tracks changes in the virus, have come from Europe and North America. Given the way southern Africa was treated when news of omicron emerged — with travel curbs levied from the U.S. to Japan — there may also be limited political appetite to remedy that disparity…

India isn’t the only nation where scientists have struggled to convince governments about the merits of decoding the structure of the virus. Even in the U.K., which has a world-leading Covid sequencing drive that has recorded 13% of all cases, there was early criticism that it was essentially an expensive academic exercise of limited real-world value.

The U.S. also reported omicron cases much later than other countries, even though officials said the new variant was likely already in the country, a sign of gaps in its sequencing systems…

For a second time in two days, the majority of passengers arriving in India on a flight from Italy have tested positive for Covid according to Indian officials.

On Friday, 173 out of 285 passengers aboard the flight from Rome to Amritsar tested positive on arrival.

It follows more than a hundred people testing positive after arriving in Amritsar from Milan on Wednesday.

On Thursday, cases in Italy reached a new record of nearly 220,000.

India reported more than 100,000 cases on Friday – experts believe Omicron is causing the sharp jump in infections the country has seen in the last week…

The passengers with Covid who arrived from Rome have been sent for institutional quarantine in their home districts, local health officials said.

The infected passengers from the Milan flight two days earlier were taken to hospital.

However, at least 13 people on the Milan flight managed to escape quarantine. Police say they will file complaints against them.

India has so far recorded more than 35 million Covid cases and around 483,000 deaths from the virus.

From the longer thread:



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