COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates: Wednesday / Thursday, Nov. 10-11

Anybody paying attention already suspected something like this would happen — we knew mink, ferrets, many primates, and a bunch of wild felines, as well as cats & dogs, were susceptible. But white-tailed deer are an ubiquitous suburban pest presence, and if they’re a ‘reservoir species’ for the virus, even the vague hope of ‘eliminating the pandemic’ becomes that much less possible. (H/t commentor frosty):

…[V]eterinarians at The Pennsylvania State University have found active SARS-CoV-2 infections in at least 30% of deer tested across Iowa during 2020. The study, published online last week, suggests that white-tailed deer could become what’s known as a reservoir for SARS-CoV-2. That is, the animals could carry the virus indefinitely and spread it back to humans periodically.

If that’s the case, it would essentially dash any hopes of eliminating or eradicating the virus in the U.S. — and therefore in the world — says veterinary virologist Suresh Kuchipudi at Penn State, who co-led the study.

“If the virus has opportunities to find an alternate host besides humans, which we would call a reservoir, that will create a safe haven where the virus can continue to circulate even if the entire human population becomes immune,” he says. “And so it becomes more and more complicated to manage or even eradicate the virus.”

In the study, Kuchipudi and his colleagues looked for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the lymph nodes of nearly 300 white-tailed deer, including more than 100 wild deer. “So these deer were either roadkill or free-living deer that hunters had killed [to eat],” says veterinary microbiologist Vivek Kapur at Penn State, who also co-led the study…

Virologist Linda Saif at The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine says humans are likely infecting white-tailed deer across the country. The deer is native to North America, Central America and the northern edge of South America. In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated 30 million animals.

“We also have detected the virus in deer in Ohio,” she says. “And there are antibody studies that suggest the prevalence of COVID infections among deer are pretty high in the Midwest and East.”

Although the virus doesn’t seem to make the animals sick, Saif says, the new data from Iowa are “very concerning.”

“Now the question is: Can the virus spill back from deer to humans? Or can deer transmit the virus effectively to grazing livestock? We don’t know the answers to those questions yet, but if they are true, they’re obviously concerning,” she says…


Speaking of ‘eradiction’… from a virologist in Hong Kong:


A team at University College London said some people had a degree of Covid-immunity before the pandemic started.

This likely came from the body learning how to fight viruses that are related to the one which has swept the world.

Upgrading vaccines to copy this protection, could make the jabs even more effective, the team said.

The scientists were closely monitoring hospital staff during the first wave of the pandemic – including by taking regular blood samples.

Despite being in a high-risk environment, not everyone in the study came down with Covid. The results, published in the journal Nature, showed some people just managed to avoid the virus.

But around one-in-10 had signs of being exposed, but never had symptoms, never tested positive and never developed Covid-fighting antibodies in their blood.

Part of their immune system was able to get on top of the virus before it managed to take hold – what’s known as an “abortive infection”…


We passed a law, what more do you want?

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