The BA.2 virus – a subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant – isn't just spreading faster than its distant cousin, it may also cause more severe disease and appears capable of thwarting some of the key weapons we have against Covid-19, new research suggests.
New lab experiments from Japan show that BA.2 may have features that make it as capable of causing serious illness as older variants of Covid-19, including Delta.
And like Omicron, it appears to largely escape the immunity created by vaccines. A booster shot restores protection, making illness after infection about 74% less likely.
I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify. Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue. —Joni Mitchell
Neil Young has threatened to remove his music from Spotify because he believes the streaming company enables podcaster Joe Rogan to spread “fake information” about vaccines.
In an email to his record label, Warner Records, Young said Spotify “has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform.”
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he wrote. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Hell yeah, Neil Young.
Doctors from Duke, UNC-REX and WakeMed hospitals all echoed the same three messages on Thursday: get vaccinated, get boosted and avoid emergency rooms if you aren't seriously ill.
Getting vaccinated and boosted is the key to staying out of hospitals or becoming seriously ill from coronavirus, all three physicians urged. At WakeMed and UNC hospitals, 100% of COVID-19 patients on ventilators are unvaccinated, they said.
At all WakeMed hospitals, only 1 in 10 ICU patients are fully vaccinated, and at Duke, all the patients on ECMO, a form of life support used for only the sickest patients, are unvaccinated.
In "The Plague", 1947:
In spite of such unusual sights our townsfolk apparently found it hard to grasp what was happening to them. There were feelings all could share, such as fear and separation, but personal interests, too, continued to occupy the foreground of their thoughts. Nobody as yet had really acknowledged to himself what the disease connoted. Most people were chiefly aware of what ruffled the normal tenor of their lives or affected their interests. They were worried and irritated—but these are not feelings with which to confront plague. Their first reaction, for instance, was to abuse the authorities. The Prefect’s riposte to criticisms echoed by the press—Could not the regulations be modified and made less stringent?—was somewhat unexpected. Hitherto neither the newspapers nor the Ransdoc Information Bureau had been given any official statistics relating to the epidemic. Now the Prefect supplied them daily to the bureau, with the request that they should be broadcast once a week.
In this, too, the reaction of the public was slower than might have been expected. Thus the bare statement that three hundred and two deaths had taken place in the third week of plague failed to strike their imagination. For one thing, all the three hundred and two deaths might not have been due to plague. Also, no one in the town had any idea of the average weekly death-rate in ordinary times. The population of the town was about two hundred thousand. There was no knowing if the present death-rate were really so abnormal. This is, in fact, the kind of statistics that nobody ever troubles much about—notwithstanding that its interest is obvious. The public lacked, in short, standards of comparison. It was only as time passed and the steady rise in the death-rate could not be ignored that public opinion became alive to the truth. For in the fifth week there were three hundred and twenty-one deaths, and three hundred and forty-five in the sixth. These figures, anyhow, spoke for themselves. Yet they were still not sensational enough to prevent our townsfolk, perturbed though they were, from persisting in the idea that what was happening was a sort of accident, disagreeable enough, but certainly of a temporary order.
Camus, Albert. The Plague (Vintage International) (pp. 77-79). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
In "The Plague", 1947:
The word “plague” had just been uttered for the first time. At this stage of the narrative, with Dr. Bernard Rieux standing at his window, the narrator may, perhaps, be allowed to justify the doctor’s uncertainty and surprise—since, with very slight differences, his reaction was the same as that of the great majority of our townsfolk. Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.
In fact, like our fellow citizens, Rieux was caught off his guard, and we should understand his hesitations in the light of this fact; and similarly understand how he was torn between conflicting fears and confidence. When a war breaks out, people say: “It’s too stupid; it can’t last long.” But though a war may well be “too stupid,” that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.
In this respect our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences. A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they haven’t taken their precautions. Our townsfolk were not more to blame than others; they forgot to be modest, that was all, and thought that everything still was possible for them; which presupposed that pestilences were impossible. They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views. How should they have given a thought to anything like plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views. They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.
Camus, Albert. The Plague (Vintage International) (pp. 36-37). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
On May 19, one teacher, who was not vaccinated against the coronavirus, began feeling fatigued and had some nasal congestion. She dismissed it as allergies and powered through. While she was usually masked, she made an exception for story time so she could read to the class.
By the time she learned she was positive for the coronavirus two days later, half her class of 24 had been infected — nearly all of them in the two rows closest to her desk — and the outbreak had spread to other classes, siblings and parents, including some who were fully vaccinated.
Make the free-riders pay.
People who choose not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus face greater odds of getting seriously ill and hospitalized – a decision that could risk not just their health, but their finances as employers mandate vaccination and insurance companies look at ways to pass on the costs of treatment.
More than 90% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. And because 41% of eligible Americans have not yet been fully immunized against the virus, some are pushing a new tactic – making the unvaccinated pay a larger share of their medical bills.
Four Florida teachers working in the same school district died of COVID-19 within one day of each other this week. “Within a 24-hour span, we had an assistant teacher pass away, a teacher at her school pass away, an elementary teacher pass away, and another teacher at a high school,” Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco told CBS. Fusco said three of the teachers were unvaccinated and that the vaccination status of the fourth was unknown.