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A more dangerous and infectious Covid strain found in Lebanon.

PCR tests administered in Lebanon in the past few days have shown a change in the genetic makeup of coronavirus (COVID-19), an official has revealed.

“50% of the tests during the past days showed the presence of a new type of virus, the danger of which is that it spreads faster,” MP Ali Al-Miqdad, a member of the Parliamentary Health Committee, told the National News Agency on Friday.

PCR tests conducted in two major laboratories in Lebanon showed a genetic change in the virus, Al-Miqdad said, adding that it is not yet known whether Lebanon is facing “a new type of virus or coronavirus has developed itself.”

The MP noted an increase in the infection rate among the youth, stressing that the public health situation in Lebanon “has reached the danger level that we have always warned of, as we now don’t find places for patients, even in hospital emergency rooms.”

https://www.the961.com/lebanon-dangerous-infectious-coronavirus/

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New coronavirus variant identified in German hospital.

The article says it's different from the UK, South African and Brazilian variants, and that it's too early to say if it's more contagious. But with 35 out of 73 patients and staff in the hospital infected with it, it certainly seems to be more contagious.

"A new variant of the coronavirus has been identified in a hospital in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a Bavarian ski town, local media reported Monday.

Last Tuesday, the hospital discovered an "abnormality" for the first time in a coronavirus test device that indicated it was not one of the variants from the U.K., South Africa, or Brazil, said Clemens Stockklausner, deputy medical director at the hospital, during a press conference.

Samples of the virus have been sent to the Charité hospital in Berlin, he said, adding that it's too early to say whether this variant is more contagious or aggressive than the original coronavirus.

According to Stockklausner, there are currently 73 infected individuals in the hospital, including members of staff. Thirty-five of those 73 are infected with the unknown variant of the virus. Pandemic precautions at the facility have been tightened.

The news came as the German government — worried by recent case data from the U.K. and Ireland — is preparing another meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 state leaders to discuss a tightening of measures and an extension of the lockdown, currently scheduled to end on January 31.

Bavarian Premier Markus Söder, a potential successor to Merkel, was among those calling on Monday for an extension of the current lockdown until at least mid-February.

"After all, so far the current lockdown has been slowing down the more dangerous virus variant," Söder told local media."

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Really worrying these different variants. Pity they started appearing before vaccine has had a chance to be rolled out. Wonder if vaccines can be tweaked and how long this would take? 

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The 1889-90 Russian flu pandemic may have been caused by a novel coronavirus.

The 1889–1890 flu pandemic, also known as the "Asiatic flu" or "Russian flu", was a pandemic that killed about 1 million people worldwide, out of a population of about 1.5 billion. It was the last great pandemic of the 19th century, and is among the deadliest pandemics in history.

It is not known for certain what agent was responsible for the pandemic. Since the 1950s it has been conjectured to be Influenza A virus subtype H2N2. A 1999 seroarcheological study found the strain to be Influenza A virus subtype H3N8.

A 2005 genomic virological study says that "it is tempting to speculate" that the virus might not have been an influenza virus, but human coronavirus OC43. Danish researchers reached a similar conclusion in 2020, in a study which had not been published in a peer-reviewed academic journal as of November 2020. They described the symptoms as very like those of COVID-19.

After the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak, virologists started sequencing and comparing human and animal coronaviruses, and comparison of two virus strains in the Betacoronavirus 1 species, bovine coronavirus and human coronavirus OC43, indicated that they had a most recent common ancestor in the late 19th century, with several methods yielding most probable dates around 1890. Authors speculated that an introduction of the former strain to the human population might have caused the epidemic. In 2020, Danish researchers Lone Simonsen and Anders Gorm Pedersen similarly calculated that the human coronavirus OC43 had split from bovine coronavirus about 130 years before, approximately coinciding with the pandemic in 1889–1890.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1889–1890_pandemic

 

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Bit disappointing that the positivity rate in Scotland yesterday was 6.9% but back up today to over 9%. It seems that for the pandemic to be manageable that positivity has to be no more than 5%

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From the LA Times

"California scientists have discovered a homegrown coronavirus strain that appears to be propagating faster than any other variant on the loose in the Golden State.

Two independent research groups said they stumbled upon the new strain while looking for signs that a highly transmissible variant from the United Kingdom had established itself here.

Instead, they found a new branch of the virus’ family tree — one whose sudden rise and distinctive mutations have made it a prime suspect in California’s vicious holiday surge. As they pored over genetic sequencing data in late December and early January, the two teams saw evidence of the new strain’s prolific spread leap off their spreadsheets. Though focused on different regions of the state, they uncovered trends that were both remarkably similar and deeply worrying.

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that although the strain had been barely detectable in early October, it accounted for 24% of roughly 4,500 viral samples gathered throughout California in the last weeks of 2020. 

In a separate analysis of 332 virus samples culled mostly from Northern California during late November and December, 25% were of the same type.

”There was a homegrown variant under our noses,” said Dr. Charles Chiu, a laboratory medicine specialist at UC San Francisco who examined the samples from the northern part of the state with collaborators from the California Department of Public Health. Were they not on the hunt for the U.K. strain and other viral variants, he said, “we could have missed this at every level.”

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Doctors in Japan warn of long lasting Covid symptoms in young people.

Doctors are warning that many people who contract the coronavirus, especially younger patients, are suffering after effects for a lengthy period of time despite subsequently testing negative for the virus.

“Most of them are in their 40s or younger. The government needs to take the issue seriously and implement countermeasures,” one of the doctors said.

The after effects include malaise and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, patients became bedridden even though they had been diagnosed with a mild case of COVID-19 caused by the virus.

No treatment has been established for long-lasting COVID-19 effects, said Hiroshi Odaguchi, director general of the Kitasato University Oriental Medicine Research Center. “I believe doctors are struggling to respond.”

Hirahata Clinic, which has examined about 700 such patients across the country, said 95% complained of malaise, while over 80% experienced a depressed mood and reduced thinking ability.

About 30% of the patients were in their 40s while nearly 50% were in their teens to 30s, the clinic said. The number of women among all patients was 1.4 times that of men.

Koichi Hirahata, head of the clinic, suspects that a “cytokine storm,” a severe autoimmune response in which a patient’s immune system attacks healthy organs, might be one of the causes of the long-term aftereffects.

He also suspects that women are more likely to suffer the aftereffects than men as they report autoimmune diseases more often.

It is important for people who have recovered from COVID-19 to refrain from exercising for a while, Hirahata said, warning that just taking a walk can cause their condition to deteriorate.

“In one case, a patient became bedridden after exercising forcibly and was dismissed from the workplace,” he said. “I want the government to earnestly tackle the problem by taking measures such as letting the public know of the issue so that patients who suffer from the aftereffects will not face disadvantages.”

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/07/national/covid-aftereffects-long-lasting/

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Really important for people to know. not to exercise. The ongoing breathlessness is something I have heard from a few people I know who have had Covid. Some other symptoms seem to be similar to chronic lyme disease, including, chronic fatigue, brain fog, aches and pains and skin issues. There is no treatment for chronic lyme through NHS. Perhaps research into long Covid will be helpful for people experiencing other illnesses such as chronic lyme, m.e. And perhaps some of the successful complementary treatments that have helped chronic lyme sufferers can be useful for those with long covid?

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I've just had my 'blue envelope' vaccination appointment through the letter box. It's a 16 mile round trip to East Kilbride. Luckily, the centre is on the bus route. The government appears to have been pretty efficient with the roll out, but how hard can it be to have local health centres in small towns administer it?

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A H5N8 strain of bird flu has been detected in humans for the first time, among seven workers who were infected at a Russian poultry plant in December.

There is no evidence of the strain being transmitted between humans, but Russia has reported the transmission to the World Health Organization.

The workers now feel well, and “the situation did not develop further”, according to Dr Anna Popova, head of consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor. She said the workers had been infected during an outbreak of the strain at the plant.

Outbreaks of the strain have been reported in Russia, Europe, China, the Middle East and north Africa in recent months, but only in poultry.

Other strains of bird flu, including H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2, have been transmitted to humans before.

The H5N8 strain is deadly for birds, and this marks the first transmission of the strain from animals to humans. While Popova said the strain didn’t appear to be able to spread among humans, “only time will tell how soon future mutations will allow it to overcome this barrier”.

The discovery of this strain “gives us all, the whole world, time to prepare for possible mutations and the possibility to react in a timely way and develop test systems and vaccines,” she said.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/20/bird-flu-humans-infected-with-h5n8-strain-for-first-time-in-russia

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Hope you got your vaccination okay, Yonza.  

I got mine two and a half weeks ago, Was lucky it was only ten minutes away in community hub.  

Read a wee bit about the bird flu and Prof Devi Sridhar advising to act fast. 

Good to see the positivity number below 5% but case numbers seem very slow to come down.  My son in Denmark told me that in area he is in, with around 1 million population, had three days with zero cases then rose again to 20 cases.  In Glasgow there were 118 cases yesterday.

 

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From the LA Times

A coronavirus variant that emerged in mid-2020 and surged to become the dominant strain in California not only spreads more readily than its predecessors, but also evades antibodies generated by COVID-19 vaccines or prior infection and is associated with severe illness and death, researchers said.

In a study that helps explain the state’s dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths — and portends further trouble ahead — scientists at UC San Francisco said the cluster of mutations that characterizes the homegrown strain should mark it as a “variant of concern” on par with those from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.

“The devil is already here,” said Dr. Charles Chiu, who led the UCSF team of geneticists, epidemiologists, statisticians and other scientists in a wide-ranging analysis of the new variant, which they call B.1.427/B.1.429. “I wish it were different. But the science is the science.”

Californians, along with the rest of the country, have been bracing for the rise of a more transmissible coronavirus variant from the U.K. known as B.1.1.7. But they should know that a rival strain that is probably just as worrisome has already settled in, and will probably account for 90% of the state’s infections by the end of next month, said Chiu, an infectious diseases researcher and physician.

Over five months starting on Sept. 1, the California strain, which is sometimes referred to as 20C/L452R, rose from complete obscurity to account for more than 50% of all coronavirus samples that were subjected to genetic analysis in the state. Compared with strains that were most prominent here in early fall, the new strain seems to have an enhanced ability to spread, Chiu said.

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On 2/21/2021 at 1:30 PM, Pat said:

Hope you got your vaccination okay, Yonza.  

I got mine two and a half weeks ago, Was lucky it was only ten minutes away in community hub.  

Read a wee bit about the bird flu and Prof Devi Sridhar advising to act fast. 

Good to see the positivity number below 5% but case numbers seem very slow to come down.  My son in Denmark told me that in area he is in, with around 1 million population, had three days with zero cases then rose again to 20 cases.  In Glasgow there were 118 cases yesterday.

 

My vaccine appointment was for 6.55 pm today, at a centre in a suburb of East Kilbride, called High Whitehills. The Strathaven to EK bus goes a very circuitous route, which includes the road past the centre. More on that, later. It was dark, and I was looking out of the window, but didn't see the familiar sites that would have indicated time to get off. The driver had been speaking to the only other passenger, and telling him that he was new and unfamiliar with the route, which would explain why he was 16 minutes late leaving Strathaven, making me late for the appointment.

I concluded that he had done what some drivers do when they're running late, and deviated from the route in order to save time, so I got off, thinking it would only be a short walk away. The first dog walker I asked for directions told me it was 'miles away', and I'd need to get a bus. With it being so dark, and me being unfamiliar with local EK buses, I opted to walk it, anyway. I eventually got there at 7.55, to be told that the centre was now closed.

So, I headed for the nearby bus stop to get a bus back home. There was another Strathaven pensioner at the stop. There's  only one bus an hour, and the time for the bus passed. I gave it another 15 minutes, in case it was running late, but still no sign of it, so decided to head back to the town centre, to make sure I got one. I'd stop at bus stops on the way, when I thought there might be a bus due. It was going to be a very long walk.

Like many 'new towns', EK is a bit of a nightmare for pedestrians. Even in daylight, it's easy to take a wrong turning. At night, it's even worse. Lots of roundabouts with pedestrian underpasses, with four routes to choose from. Take one wrong turning, and you're in trouble. Take two, and it's panic attack time. I'm sure there must be skeletons in the overgrown shrub beds that won't be discovered for 50 years.

I eventually reached the town centre bus station at 9.50, with 37 minutes to wait until the last bus home. at 10.27. I checked the timetable, and saw that all the buses after six o'clock had a little 'c' next to the time. That indicated that they didn't go the High Whitehills route, but took a much shorter direct route. So, that explained why I hadn't seen the sites I had been expecting to see, and why there hadn't been any buses as I walked back. I don't know if the timetable change has anything to do with the reduction in passenger numbers, due to Covid.

The trip back took only about 15 minutes, compared with the usual 30 minutes. The driver wasn't hanging about, with it being the end of his shift. But, I couldn't help thinking about the pensioner waiting for a bus that would never arrive at the shelter near the vaccination centre.  I didn't see a single taxi on my long walk, although there were a few at the taxi rank, next to the bus station.

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