Our immune systems are remembering COVID-19 and fighting against its variants, study finds


Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers wanted to know how well human beings are holding up against an onslaught of new variants.

But, to figure out if our immune systems are up to the task would require a mathematical feat. So researchers turned to sophisticated computer models to find the answer.

Think of the coronavirus as one side of a zipper and the other side your immune system.

If every tooth matches and you can zip it up, your immune system is able to block invaders – but if the teeth don’t match and the sides can’t slide together, then your immune system can’t match up with invading molecular virus parts.

We’re not talking about antibodies, we’re talking about T-cells.

“That side of the immune system is significantly more secure and significantly more robust,” said Dr. Eric Vail, Director of Molecular Pathology at Cedars-Sinai.

A zipper is a simple analogy of HLA types found on human T-cells and parts of antigens found on viruses. We need our HLAs to recognize viruses so we can defend ourselves.

“Can your body recognize the virus when it comes in? (Do) the markers that are on your immune cells… have the capability to even see it at all?”

“We still have an enormous amount of functional reserve. They tested against 90% of the world’s population. But in that 90%, the worst that happened was a drop off of 15%,” he said.

The study found that in the last two years most people’s T-cells have developed a memory that will fire up when faced with different variants. Exposure is part of the reason, but Vail says much of the credit goes to vaccines.

“It’s basically training for your immune system. It trains it how to recognize and see a pathogen and how to respond against it in a way that protects you,” Vail said.

His advice is to get vaccinated and get boosted. The more training, the better.

Covid fatality rate moves closer to fatality rate of the flu according to ONS survey in the UK


More countries reopen to travelers, signaling a big shift in pandemic thinking


Another day — another border reopens.

In the past two weeks, a slew of countries announced plans to reopen or relax border restrictions. These include places that have maintained some of the strictest pandemic-related border controls in the world.

The announcements come on the heels of a record-setting period of global infections. According to the World Health Organization, Covid-19 cases hit a new peak worldwide in late January, with more than 4 million cases registered in a single day.

However, many countries are signaling that they can’t economically afford — or are no longer willing — to stay closed.

The pervasiveness of the omicron variant, which started spreading in countries — both open and closed — late last year, led people to question the utility of locked border policies.

In addition, more than half (54%) of the world’s population is now vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. Medical treatments can successfully thwart and treat severe infections. And, many experts are now “cautiously optimistic” — as top American medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated — that a new phase of the pandemic may be within reach.

New Zealand – Another so-called “fortress” announced plans to welcome back vaccinated international visitors.

Unlike Australia, New Zealand last week outlined a five-step phased reopening plan that won’t allow international travelers to enter until July, at the earliest. Vaccinated travelers must also self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival.

After closing its borders in March 2020, the Philippines announced plans to reopen today to vaccinated travelers from more than 150 countries and territories.

Despite rising infections, Bali, Indonesia, opened to vaccinated international travelers last week.

Malaysia’s National Recovery Council on Tuesday recommended that the country reopen to international travelers as early as March 1, according to Reuters.

Is coronavirus really any more deadly than flu?


🦠It is a question that has plagued the pandemic, sparking furious debate over Britain’s dinner tables.

Is coronavirus really any more deadly than flu?

Thread 🧵👇


📈Before the vaccine roll-out and omicron surge, the answer was undoubtedly: “yes”.

Even at the end of December, the rolling seven-day Case Fatality Rate for coronavirus was about 0.3% or one death in 333 cases, based on a 21-day lag between testing and death

In comparison, the death rate for flu sits somewhere between 0.1 and 0.2%.

➡️ Or between one death in 1,000 and one death in 500


🔺It was previously much worse. In May 2020, the Covid case fatality rate peaked as high as 15% – one death in six cases.

But it is fair to say that throughout the pandemic coronavirus has been far deadlier than flu

However, the situation has changed dramatically in the last few weeks.

🔻The millions of cases sparked by the omicron wave have translated into relatively few deaths, bringing an important change in the deadliness of Covid

📉Latest case fatality rates in England in the seven days up to January 26 are now just 0.14% – one death in 714 positive cases…

…having fallen further since hundreds of thousands of reinfections were added to the case data


The infection fatality rate – the number of deaths for all infections, not just positive cases – tells a similar picture.

➡️Prof Paul Hunter, of the University of East Anglia, estimates it to be around 0.06%

🦠It is likely now, that even with millions of Covid cases in December and January, excess winter mortality this year will not even approach a bad flu year – let alone the levels we have seen in previous waves

Originally tweeted by The Telegraph (@Telegraph) on February 2, 2022.

Denmark returns to ‘life as we knew it’ as Covid-19 restrictions end despite Omicron


Denmark on Tuesday became the first European Union country to lift all of its Covid restrictions despite record numbers of cases, relying on its high vaccination rate to cope with the milder Omicron variant.

After a first attempt at lifting all its restrictions between September and November, the Scandinavian country is once again ditching its face masks, Covid passes and limited opening hours for bars and restaurants.

“I’m so happy that this is all going to be over tomorrow. It’s good for life in the city, for nightlife, just to be able to be out longer”, 17-year-old student Thea Skovgaard told AFP the day before the lifting.

Nightclubs reopen on Tuesday, when limits on the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings also come to an end.

Only a few restrictions remain in place at the country’s borders, for unvaccinated travellers arriving from non-Schengen countries.

COVID today is very different to the Covid we originally faced in 2020


Covid19 was up to 13 times deadlier than flu especially in over 50s when it first appeared, but immunity and Omicron made it like flu, although it’s still 2 times deadlier in over 60s.

Originally tweeted by Luke O’Neill (@laoneill111) on January 31, 2022.

COVID cases declining from Omicron peaks in the US


The seven-day average for daily new cases was 543,016 as of Saturday, down 32% compared with the previous seven-day average, while the seven-day average of daily new deaths has increased 11.7% to 2,265, according to tracking by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC listed the death toll at 879,071.

The CDC has also reported that the seven-day daily average for hospitalization admissions from Jan. 19-Jan. 25 was 19,315, down 8.8% from the previous seven-day average.

States on the East Coast, which were among the first to see spikes in cases brought on by the highly infectious Omicron variant have begun to see broad declines in case rates, with New Jersey reporting a seven-day average of 7,016 new cases, a 14-day decline of 70%.

Other states such as Colorado, Florida, Illinois and Louisiana have begun to see improvement with case averages dropping more than 40% over 14 days, while Montana is seeing record numbers as its seven-day new daily case average has risen 79% in the past 14 days. Kentucky, Idaho and Washington have also seen their daily averages rise 40%-55% in the past two weeks.

New York reported 8,781 cases Sunday, way down from a record 90,132 Jan. 8. But 202 fatalities were reported Saturday with 305 Tuesday.

Screenshot 2022 01 31 at 08.01.06

Dr. Anthony Fauci optimistic omicron will peak in February


Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, said Sunday he is “as confident as you can be” about the prospect of most states reaching a peak of omicron cases by mid-February.

“Things are looking good. We don’t want to get overconfident, but they look like they’re going in the right direction right now,” he said.

Fauci said there are states in the northeast and in the upper midwest where cases have already peaked and declined “rather sharply” but that cases are still rising in southern and western states.

When Raddatz asked “what should life look like” going forward and about the “long-term strategy” for dealing with future peaks and variants, Fauci said the hope is the level of infection will be below what he calls an “area of control.”

“Control means you’re not eliminating it, you’re not eradicating it, but it gets down to such a low level, that it’s essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections that we have learned to live with.”

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New Zealand says it won’t impose lockdowns when Omicron spreads


New Zealand won’t resort to using lockdowns when there is an Omicron variant outbreak, its Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Lockdowns were implemented when the Delta variant spread in New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern said an outbreak of the Omicron variant was inevitable and she said the nation would tighten restrictions as soon as a case was detected.

“This stage of the pandemic is different to what we have dealt with before. Omicron is more transmissible,” Ardern said.

Ardern lifted the lid on her plan to tackle Omicron.

Within 24 to 48 hours of a case being detected, the nation would move to its “red” setting, she explained.

Businesses and domestic travel could continue under the “red” setting but there would be some restrictions.

Restrictions would include schoolchildren having to wear masks masks and crowds being limited to 100 people.

Most of New Zealand is in an “orange” setting at the moment which requires some mask wearing and proof of vaccination.

However, under an “orange setting, crowd sizes are not limited within the restrictions.

Scotland to lift most remaining Covid restrictions


Scotland’s Covid-19 restrictions are to be eased, with nightclubs reopening, large indoor events resuming and social distancing rules dropped.

The changes will take effect from Monday 24 January after a “significant fall” in new case numbers.

However people are still being asked to work from home and to take lateral flow tests before meeting with others.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that Scotland had “turned the corner on the Omicron wave”.

Guidance advising adults against meeting up with more than three households at a time will also be scrapped, along with curbs on indoor contact sports.

And ministers have decided against extending the vaccine passport scheme to more hospitality settings “at this stage”.

Ms Sturgeon said that while Omicron is still infecting “large numbers of people”, there had been a significant fall in the number of new infections over the past two weeks.