Texas governor protects emergency powers to block local health efforts

Texas governor extends pandemic emergency to block public health orders

Governor Greg Abbott has renewed the Texas pandemic disaster declaration for the 31st time, making its state one of 12 that still has a COVID-19 emergency order in place, according to a national tracker from the National Academy for State Health Policy. According to a report by the San Antonio Express-News, the governor, who was among the first to abandon virus mitigation measures, has no plans to revoke them anytime soon. Abbott’s office told the paper that he intends to renew the pandemic order not necessarily to use those powers, but to block regional public health officials’ efforts to fight the virus. “The end of the COVID disaster declaration would allow local governments to once again enforce employment limits, mask mandates and vaccine mandates,” said Renae Eze, a spokesman for Abbott. “Gov. Abbott will not allow any government to trample on the right of Texans to choose for themselves or their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses or get vaccinated ”.

The bivalent booster may not be better against BA.5 than the original vaccine, the study notes

When given as a fourth dose, the upgraded bivalent mRNA vaccine targeting the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 does not induce superior neutralizing antibody responses in humans compared to the original monovalent vaccine formulation, according to to a preliminary study released on Monday that has not yet been peer-reviewed. The updated shots manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna were not tested on humans but on mice before they received emergency use clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in August.

In a real-life clinical study, researchers from Columbia University and the University of Michigan found that after three to five weeks, individuals who received the new booster dose “had neutralizing antibody titers similar to those who received a booster dose. fourth monovalent mRNA vaccine against all SARS – CoV-2 variants tested, including BA.4 / BA.5. They added that “the results may be indicative of immunological imprinting”, the phenomenon in which exposure to a strain viral limits the development of immunity against subsequent minor variant strains of the virus, sometimes also called “original antigenic sin”.

Eric Topol, executive vice president of Scripps Research in San Diego, who was not involved in the study, said the result that was to be expected. But he added that vaccines are still effective in reducing deaths and shelters, although new omicron sub-variants such as BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 become dominant and encourage people to maintain their protection. “Bottom line: Until more data becomes available, consider the bivalent booster equivalent to a booster that boosts and broadens immunity, without specific anti-BA.5 properties,” said Topol. His comments start a lively discussion on Twitter.

UCSF Wachter Says Newsom Has Right To Revoke Emergency Order: “The World Is Different”

Dr. Bob Watcher commented on the poor absorption of boosters and the threat of the upcoming winter wave in a wide-ranging conversation on KQED’s Forum radio show on Monday. UCSF’s medical department chair, who has built a sizable Twitter following with his data-driven pandemic updates, endorsed Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan to end the COVID-19 state of emergency in February, stating which “is appropriate” with the availability of life-saving vaccines and antiviral treatments. “I think the world is different,” he said.

But Wachter is also concerned that people are becoming too lenient about the pandemic, especially in the winter months with new coronavirus sub-variants increasingly immune-evasive looming. “All of us are tired of all of this and don’t want to think about it anymore,” he said, noting that about 350 Americans still die from the virus every day. “COVID is still here. It will still hurt people, kill some of them. “

He attributed the slow absorption of the new bivalent booster shots to a combination of misinformation, fatigue, and general indifference. “We are on a break. Relatively few people are dying. People really want to move on, “Wachter said.” People wonder and worry about this shot, which hasn’t been tested on humans to the extent that previous shots were. There are some people who think: ‘ I will wait until there is more information or closer to the signs of a surge in COVID ‘”.

Wachter expressed confidence that the updated vaccine would protect against worse outcomes even if data on its effectiveness are limited. “It reduces the likelihood of infection by 60 to 70 percent,” Wachter said. “The question is how long does it last?”

And he’s still personally doing everything he can to avoid the virus due to the threat of a long COVID, which can trigger complex and persistent symptoms even after a mild infection. “There are no blood tests, no x-rays that can tell you that you have a long COVID,” she said. She later added: “We haven’t found any treatment that works reliably.”

While he thinks people in the Bay Area could start wearing masks again if there is another sharp rise in cases, he said other parts of the country are unlikely to respond in the same way. “That whole behavioral change factor is a great unknown,” she said.

California science fiction reading and math test scores a punch in the stomach for school districts

With a few exceptions, schools across California have experienced a significant drop in standardized test scores from pre-pandemic levels, with less than half of the students proficient in reading and a third performing at the elementary level in math.

Read more here on the recently released full look at the impact of distance learning, high rates of absenteeism, pain, mental health problems and other difficulties that students have faced in the past two years.

Rapid tests are less reliable with the new subvariants, experts say

According to infectious disease experts, the new coronavirus subvariants have made it harder for rapid home tests to recognize a COVID-19 infection the moment symptoms begin. “You can also have a negative test and still be infected, simply because you are not contagious or not contagious enough to trigger a positive test,” said Colin Furness, infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. Global news. He said that people usually have to wait a few days from the start to see a positive result with the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 strains. Rapid tests have a hard time recognizing specific spikes on subvariants, but they can still identify the virus, she said. Furness suggested swabbing the throat and nose as the best method of getting an accurate test result. A study published in April in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology found that the sensitivity of rapid tests can be altered with several variations. “Although these new omicron sublines have some different mutations in this part of the virus, they are not expected to make rapid antigen tests no longer effective,” said Samantha Yammine, a science writer in Ontario. “But it may take more than one test to detect it, or you may need to be further along in symptoms before it is detected.”

The most common symptoms have changed, the data show

Some COVID-19 symptoms frequently reported during the first phase of the pandemic, such as loss of taste and smell, have given way to several indicators, according to new data released last week from the ongoing ZOE Health Study. By dividing the participants into three categories – those who received two doses of the vaccine, individuals who received one and unvaccinated – the researchers found that the four most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 across all groups are now sore throats. , runny nose, a cough and headache. “Previous ‘traditional’ symptoms as still outlined on the government website, such as anosmia (loss of smell), shortness of breath and fever are at the bottom of the list at 6, 29 and 8, respectively,” the researchers wrote. “A persistent cough is now at number 5 if you’ve had two doses of the vaccine, so it’s no longer the primary indicator of having COVID.”

Biden to receive an updated boost

President Biden is expected to receive the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday and “deliver remarks on the ongoing fight against the virus,” the White House said in an email Sunday. Biden tested positive for the virus in July and experienced a rebound case of COVID-19 shortly after taking the antiviral drug Paxlovid. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend waiting at least two months after a previous dose of vaccine or infection to get the updated vaccination. The administration is encouraging more Americans to receive bivalent boosters before the holidays. So far, according to federal health data, about 20 million people have received the shots, a figure that represents less than 10% of the more than 216.2 million eligible people.

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