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Forums - General Discussion - Coronavirus (COVID-19) Discussion Thread

It looks like the 5 shots my father in law had did help, he's starting to get better despite having everything against him, age, heart condition, diabetes, overweight. A great relief, last week we were fearing for the worst.

The virus is getting 'smarter' though

A new study from researchers in Sweden suggests the world could be in for a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases this winter due to new mutations creating variants that could avoid immunity from vaccines or previous infections.

The variant BA.2.75.2, one of the latest developments in the Omicron lineage of COVID-19, can evade the majority of neutralizing antibodies in the blood, the study found, and is also resistant to several monoclonal antibody antiviral treatments that were created to treat those ill with COVID-19.

The mutations that make this possible in BA.2.75.2 are popping up in other variants as the virus continues to expand and evolve, researchers say — and it's still unknown whether bivalent vaccines will provide more robust immunity against this particular variant.

BA.4 / BA.5 bivalent vaccines are available now, but the virus has moved on again already :/

"While antibody immunity is not completely gone, BA.2.75.2 exhibited far more dramatic resistance than variants we've previously studied, largely driven by two mutations in the receptor binding domain of the spike protein," Ben Murrell, corresponding author and assistant professor at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet, said in a press release.

Currently BA.5 is one of the most dominant variants in North America, the study said. According to the most recent data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, BA.5 and BA.4 are currently dominating in Canada. As well, the World Health Organization has been monitoring other variants, including BA.2.75. 

BA.2.75.2 is the latest mutation of BA.2.75. Previous research has shown that BA.2.75 is not as efficient as BA.5 at escaping antibodies, but BA.2.75.2 has additional mutations that made researchers sit up and take notice. Several specific mutations within the variant BA.2.75.2 had already been associated with a higher escape percentage in previous variants, the study said. But BA.2.75.2 combines mutations in a way that could.

Early days, there's still hope the new booster shots will help a bit

Researchers hope that the new bivalent vaccines, which were modified to include protection against early Omicron variants, may provide more robust antibodies to block these newer variants, but scientists don't have enough data yet.

"We expect them to be beneficial, but we don't yet know by how much," Murrell said.

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That article is a bit outdated already...

BA.2.75.2 is just BA.2.75 with R346T and F486S. The XBB recombinant encompasses all of BA.2.75.2's mutations plus L368I, V445P, and F490S. BQ.1.1 is BA.5 with R346T, K444T, and N460K. All of these are escape mutations, that is, intended to escape neutralizing antibodies, specifically the ones that are still conserved from the original Wuhan-type virus.

It's clear now that the next dominant strain will be one of these two and not one of the other BA.2.75 or BA.5 lineages:

The daily advantage of BA.5 over BA.2 was ~ 13% a day so looking like one can expect a similar sized wave plus seasonal effects.

But at least the Singaporean MOH just divulged that XBB has a 30% lower chance of hospitalization than BA.5.






Any ideas on how long getting the current coronavirus will provide immunity? It seems to mutate too fast, that in 3-6 months it is an entirely different strain.

Weekly update. So far the 'fall wave' isn't amounting to much, might already be over.
Of course reporting gets increasingly more spotty, but deaths aren't rising all that much either. Vaccines, immunity, treatments are working.

In total 3.02 million new cases were reported last week (down from 3.32 million)
Also another 11.267 more deaths were reported (up from 10,620)

USA reported 242K new cases (down from 291K) and 2,317 more deaths (down from 2,634)
Europe reported 1.74 million new cases (down from 1.92 million) and 5,917 more deaths (up from 4,897)
Europe's previous wave peaked at 3.0 million cases and 6,354 deaths in the 2nd week of August. Februari had up to 24K deaths a week. Much better now.

The continents

Slight uptick in South America, generally holding steady, Europe dropping

Corners of the world

One thing is for sure, it's not just going to go away.

My parents in law got back out of quarantine, feeling better. They hadn't seen their grand children in over 3 weeks while they normally come by multiple times a week. They were happy to see them again.

One more big wave could be coming when China ends zero covid policy.

^ I wouldn't have much hope since Li Qiang, the Xi ally party secretary of Shanghai who oversaw their, erm, questionable Covid approach, is now the second-ranked member in the Standing Committee and almost certain to be the next premier.

The BA.5 autumn wave in Europe seems to have crested, but the variant soup will come to dominate only at the end of this month, so who knows if this will be a double crest. Worth watching out for France where BQ.1.1 is >50% cases already. Singapore seems to have peaked with XBB and everyone should be rooting for it since it's very likely it's intrinsically milder than BA.5 derivatives like BQ.






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True, it can go up a bit more in Europe but last October Europe was already up to 20K deaths a week, peaking at 27K a week end of November.

Currently deaths are just under 6K for last week, combination of vaccines and better treatments I assume. Reported cases was actually less this time last year, but reporting and testing is an ever evolving process lol. And yeah, the virus is becoming milder as well. Still far from harmless and hospitals are still strained. But there is no more point in any lock downs.

China is a different story. Most of the population haven't encountered Covid-19 at all yet. If it got out now like it did in New Zealand and death rates would be similar, 700K Chinese could still die. Yet that was in March with the original Omicron. XBB would probably not cause that many deaths. Eventually China will have to stop with the lock downs. Of course the Chinese 'government' is nothing but stubbornn and dogmatic in their approach.

I got a private test done to check my spike protein antibody count, it's over 1500 despite the fact that I have received the vaccine (after getting covid19), and the last Pfizer dose was over 16 months ago and had no boosters since then and no covid19 infections as far as I am aware.

I don't think I am getting the booster if my antibody count stays this high (will recheck in few months). I will make the exception for vaccines addressing newer/different variants obviously, but this is a validated approach to many other vaccines, for example, I had to repeat my hepatitis B vaccine course, I received 6 doses in total to get my antibody count to an acceptable level). A bit odd this isn't being suggested or considered for covid19 vaccines.

We still have to study it better but I'd wager the BQ lineage prevalent in the west is more fusogenic than XBB, being a BA.5 with even better spike processing instead of a BA.2.

It's uncertain, though, how that correlates to intrinsic severity. The Wuhan-type virus is more fusogenic than the 2003 SARS-CoV but >20 times less lethal, and BA.4/5 weren't more severe than BA.2 despite increased fusogenicity.






Weekly update. Overall downward trend continues with slight upticks in USA, South America and Asia

In total 2.60 million new cases were reported last week (down from 3.02 million) to a total of 635 million reported cases
Also another 11,175 more deaths were reported (slightly down from 11,267) to a total of 6,592,627

USA reported 276K new cases (up from 242K) and 2,560 more deaths (up from 2,317)
Europe reported 1.24 million new cases (down from 1.74 million) and 5,551 more deaths (down from 5,971)

The continents

Corners of the world

Brazil, South Korea and Japan are seeing a slight increase, the rest stable or heading down.

China is rolling out a needle free vaccine alternative

The Chinese city of Shanghai started administering an inhalable COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday in what appears to be a world first.

The vaccine, a mist that is sucked in through the mouth, is being offered for free as a booster dose for previously vaccinated people, according to an announcement on an official city social media account.

Fallout from the lock downs

The COVID-19 pandemic spared no state or region as it caused historic learning setbacks for America’s children, erasing decades of academic progress and widening racial disparities, according to results of a national test that provide the sharpest look yet at the scale of the crisis.

Across the country, math scores saw their largest decreases ever. Reading scores dropped to 1992 levels. Nearly four in 10 eighth graders failed to grasp basic math concepts. Not a single state saw a notable improvement in their average test scores, with some simply treading water at best.

Those are the findings from the National Assessment of Educational Progress — known as the “nation’s report card” — which tested hundreds of thousands of fourth and eighth graders across the country this year. It was the first time the test had been given since 2019, and it’s seen as the first nationally representative study of the pandemic’s impact on learning.

I'm not surprised having seen first hand what an inconsistent mess online learning was. In our kid's online classes drop out rate was 90%... And now it's still a mess at school as everyone has had different 'learning' during the pandemic. In some subjects some kids are ahead in others far behind.

The impact of the new variants in the autumn wave seems less than expected. Except for BQ.1.1 and XBB, which are growing slowly, all others are in absolute decline already.