It Takes a Lot of Covid-19 Tests to Keep a Movie Studio Open – The Wall Street Journal

As film and TV sets reopen at Pinewood Atlanta Studios, home to big-screen juggernauts like “Avengers: Endgame,” the biggest job is keeping the coronavirus off the Georgia studio’s lot.

The several hundred producers, set designers, painters and carpenters working to get productions ready undergo tests for Covid-19 weekly, and sometimes more often. An app tracks workers’ symptoms between tests, and a badge system prevents anyone without a negative test result from opening doors on the lot.


5 Late-Stage COVID-19 Vaccines: Which Is Likely to Be the Biggest Winner? – Motley Fool

Pat Benatar’s 1980 hit song “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” could have a very different meaning today. People around the world anxiously anticipate a new kind of “best shot” — a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

There are currently 166 novel coronavirus vaccine candidates in development, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Twenty-four of those candidates are being evaluated in clinical trials in humans. Most of those are in early-stage clinical studies. However, five COVID-19 vaccine candidates are either currently in late-stage clinical testing or are scheduled to begin a phase 3 study in the next few days.

Sinopharm Group is developing two of the five late-stage candidates, one with Wuhan Institute of
Biological Products and another with Beijing Institute of Biological Products. Another Chinese drugmaker, Sinovac Biotech, also claims a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in phase 3 testing.

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) teamed up with the University of Oxford to develop COVID-19 vaccine candidate AZD1222. WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan stated publicly in June that AZD1222 was “probably the leading candidate.”

There’s also one COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by a U.S. biotech that will soon begin phase 3 testing. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) plans to start its late-stage study of mRNA-1273 on July 27.

Which of these five late-stage COVID-19 vaccine candidates is likely to be the biggest winner? It’s complicated.

Gloved hand picking one COVID-19 vaccine bottle from a row of bottles

Images source: Getty Images.

Clinical results so far

As you might expect, all five of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have made it to phase 3 performed well in previous clinical studies. Unfortunately, there’s not a good way to differentiate which experimental vaccine seems to be more safe and effective than others.

Sinopharm and Sinovac reported preliminary results in June from earlier clinical studies. Sinopharm stated that all participants in phase 1/2 studies for its two late-stage vaccine candidates had neutralizing antibodies (which hold the potential for preventing infection by the novel coronavirus). Sinovac said that more than 90% of participants had neutralizing antibodies 14 days after receiving the second injection of its vaccine candidate, CoronaVac. Both Chinese drugmakers also indicated that their respective COVID-19 vaccine candidates didn’t cause severe side effects. 

AstraZeneca announced interim results from a phase 1/2 clinical study of AZD1222 last week. Those results, published in medical journal The Lancet, revealed that 91% of participants demonstrated neutralizing antibodies after the first injection of the vaccine candidate. All participants who received a second dose of AZD1222 produced neutralizing antibodies. In addition, the vaccine candidate induced a T-cell response in all participants, which could be key in providing longer-lasting immunity to SARS-CoV-2. AstraZeneca reported that were no severe side effects in patients receiving AZD1222.

Moderna also reported encouraging interim results from a phase 1 study of mRNA-1273 in May and followed up with more detailed data on July 14. Neutralizing antibodies and strong T-cell responses were found in all of the participants receiving two doses of the experimental vaccine. Moderna also said that “mRNA-1273 was generally safe and well-tolerated.”

Female scientist holding COVID-19 vaccine bottle

Image source: Getty Images.

Capacity and contracts so far

There are other ways to get an idea of which COVID-19 vaccine candidates might be the biggest winners if they win regulatory approvals. We can evaluate the manufacturing capacity each company has. We can also look at the supply contracts the companies have in hand so far.

Sinopharm expects to be able to produce 200 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccines annually with its manufacturing facilities in Beijing and Wuhan. The company is owned by the Chinese government, so Sinopharm is assured of a large market if its vaccine candidates prove to be safe and effective in late-stage clinical studies.

Sinovac is building a manufacturing facility in China that could make up to 100 million doses of CoronaVac annually. The Chinese government is providing financial backing for this facility. The company hasn’t announced any supply deals. However, it seems likely that Sinovac would win contracts in China if CoronaVac wins regulatory approval.

AstraZeneca publicly stated in June that its “total manufacturing capacity currently stands at 2 billion doses.” This capacity includes collaborations with external parties to produce AZD1222. And the big pharma company so far has commitments with the U.S., the United Kingdom, and other nations and non-profit organizations to supply more than 2 billion doses of AZD1222 if it wins approval.

Moderna says that it’s on track to produce around 500 million doses of mRNA-1273 per year beginning in 2021. But the biotech could boost that number to 1 billion annual doses. Moderna hasn’t announced any supply agreements with the U.S. or other countries yet, but those deals will almost certainly be on the way if mRNA-1273 succeeds in late-stage testing.

The best shot?

There’s no way to know at this point which COVID-19 vaccines will sail through phase 3 studies and which will run into problems. My view is that any late-stage candidate that proves to be safe and effective will be a big winner. 

However, I think that AstraZeneca probably has the best chances of becoming the biggest winner from a commercial standpoint (assuming AZD1222 secures key regulatory approvals). Why?

The greatest commercial winners will almost certainly be the vaccines that are marketed in the U.S. and major European countries because the price tags will likely be higher in developed nations. China isn’t going to pay nearly as much per dose to Sinopharm or SinoVac as AstraZeneca (and Moderna) would be able to charge for their vaccines.

AstraZeneca has more supply commitments lined up and much greater production capacity than Moderna does. In my view, that gives the big drugmaker a significant advantage. Moderna is a lot smaller than AstraZeneca, though. The biotech stock could be the biggest winner for investors if mRNA-1273 performs well in late-stage studies.

Keep in mind that other COVID-19 vaccine candidates could also advance to phase 3 testing in the near future. Some of the companies making these vaccines, especially Pfizer and BioNTech, already have large supply agreements lined up. It’s quite possible that the “best shot” of all won’t be any of the current late-stage candidates.


What if more of us have fought off COVID-19 than we think? – INFORUM

So-called serology research looks for antibodies in the blood that fight the illness, and how many of us have them. Other research looks at how long these antibodies last. The latest results from these studies are said to show us two kinds of bad news — that immunity after exposure to the illness is not such a sure thing, and that the number of us who have been exposed and fought off COVID-19 are fewer than hoped.

This pushes our goal of herd immunity farther into the distance, potentially even calling it into question altogether. But in measuring antibodies for COVID-19, might we have overlooked other blood markers that help fight off the sickness? Is it possible we are under-estimating both how long immunity lasts, and how close to herd immunity we really are?

Consider some recent observations.

COVID-19 cases may be surging across the state and the nation, but in former hotspots for the virus like Wuhan, China; New York; Spain; Sweden and the Lombardy region of Italy, case numbers and deaths have been declining steadily. Lombardy, once the source of a horrific COVID-19 outbreak, recently had two straight days with no deaths linked to the virus.

These declines have come about despite seroprevalence surveys that say just 5, 15 or 20% of the population has had the illness in those locales, and other data suggesting that antibodies fade quickly. For health officials, such big declines, with only small exposure to illness in the population, prove the power of lockdowns, social distancing, masking, handwashing and PPE.

Others have begun to argue something far more hopeful. That while masking, social distancing and handwashing and lockdowns are all powerful tools in reducing the spread of illness, they aren’t enough to get the credit for so many hotspots having gone cold. Instead, they say, more of us may be immune than we realize.

“When we get exposed to an infection, two big types of immune responses occur,” says Dr. Vincent Rajkumar, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic who conducts research on the type of blood cells that help us fight infection. “One is called antibody-mediated immunity. This is where you make specific proteins called antibodies to fight infections.”

“The second type of response is called cell-mediated (or T-cell) immunity. Here you don’t make antibodies, but you actually have specific cells that target the offending infection.” Serologic studies measure antibodies, but do not measure cell-mediated immunity.

In addition, Rajkkumar says, serologic tests can miss antibodies that are present in lower concentration than the assay can detect, or we may have other antibodies directed at the virus than what a given serologic test is designed to identify.

“The virus has many proteins,” he says, “and it is possible that a person is developing antibodies against other parts of the virus that we are not checking.”

Some even wonder if recent immunizations in children are what’s made them less susceptible to bad outcomes from COVID-19.

“Back in March when we were all thinking out loud,” Rajkumar says, “one of the thoughts I had was, why were children relatively protected from being seriously ill with COVID-19? Was it because of the multiple childhood vaccines they receive leading to a more responsive immune system?”

Answering these questions in the lab is no small task.

“We would have to do T-cell assays in a well-defined population to find out how many people have only antibodies, how many have only T-cells responses, and how many have both,” he explains. “Then we need adequate follow-up to determine what proportion get COVID-19 in the future. Those studies are hard to do.”

Researchers do know some persons appear to have T-cells that are cross-reactive to SARS-Cov-2 from blood samples collected before the pandemic. A recent study from Sweden has shown there are close family contacts who have reactive T-cells after having been exposed to COVID-19 without developing antibodies.

“I think the big decline in new cases we see in many hotspots are partly explained by masks, partly explained by social distancing, and may partly be explained by a larger portion of the population already being exposed.”

“All of these observations put together makes us wonder if a greater proportion of the population is not susceptible to COVID-19 than what current sero-prevalence studies suggest,” Rajkumar says.

Rajkumar has been sharing these questions on Twitter, and they are the subject of lively interactions between some of the nation’s top scientists.

So, if serology studies only show us part of the picture, how many of us are potentially immune to COVID-19?

“I think it’s much higher,” Rajkumar says. “I think it’s at least double what sero-prevalence studies are reporting.”


Maine CDC reports 24 new cases of coronavirus, no new deaths – WMTW Portland

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A 9-year-old who died of coronavirus had no known underlying health issues, family says –

— A 9-year-old girl with no known underlying health conditions is the youngest person to die from coronavirus complications in Florida, officials said.

Kimora “Kimmie” Lynum died on July 18 in Putnam County, according to Florida Department of Health records. It confirmed her identity and said she’s the state’s youngest coronavirus fatality.


She had no pre-existing health issues and her mother took her to the hospital due to a high fever, said family spokesman Dejeon Cain. The hospital sent her home and she collapsed a short time later, Cain said.

“She was always happy and made everybody happy. She was phenomenal,” said Cain, who’s also her cousin.

The family does not know how or where she was infected. She appeared healthy and spent the summer at home, and did not attend school or camp, Cain said.

Kimmie’s mother was tested for Covid-19, but had not received her results as of Saturday, Cain said.

Thales Academy staff member tests positive for coronavirus

State health department records show the child did not have close contact with anyone who recently had Covid-19. Putnam County Health Officer Mary Garcia confirmed the fatality to CNN and said she was unaware of any underlying medical conditions.

Kimmie is the fifth minor in Florida to die from Covid-19, according to the latest health records. The others were an 11-year-old boy in Miami-Dade County, an 11-year-old girl in Broward County, a 16-year-old girl in Lee County and a 17-year-old boy in Pasco County.

Putnam County is located between Gainesville and St. Augustine in the northeastern part of the state. Since April 1, the county has had 11 fatalities.

Social distance classroom

As of last Friday, 23,170 minors have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The positivity rate of the children tested is 13.4%. The state’s total number of confirmed cases now stands at 379,619.

Temporary classroom

Florida has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases, passing New York, once the country’s epicenter early in the pandemic. California, the most populous state, surpassed New York a few days ago. The states with the most recorded cases now align more closely with population rank. Florida is the country’s third-most populous, and New York is fourth.

Florida has reported 414,511 cases since the pandemic’s start, above New York’s 411,200, according to state health agencies. The number of hospitalizations has increased by 79% since the Fourth of July, according to data from the state’s health care administration.

At least 50 hospital intensive care units in Florida reached capacity Saturday. Eight of the hospitals are in Miami-Dade and six in Broward — among hardest-hit counties in the state.


Coronavirus in Michigan: Here’s what to know July 26, 2020 – WDIV ClickOnDetroit

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 76,978 as of Saturday, including 6,149 deaths, state officials report.

On Saturday, the state reported a total of 57,502 recoveries, 437 new cases and 14 additional deaths. The state also reports “active cases,” which were listed at 13,300.

Tracking Michigan COVID-19 hospitalization data trends

The number of COVID-19 hospital inpatients in Michigan has been steadily increasing since the beginning of July. However, the volume is far lower than it was in April when Michigan reported nearly 4,000 COVID-19 inpatients.

On July 21, Michigan reported 500 inpatients at hospitals, the highest number since June 4 (50). That number receded to 493 inpatients on July 22 and 481 on Friday, July 24.

Here’s a look at the state’s hospitalization trends:

Michigan officials say $600 COVID-19 unemployment bonus ends this weekend

Michigan unemployment officials said the $600 coronavirus (COVID-19) unemployment bonus will end this weekend.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency announced Friday that the additional $600 weekly unemployment bonus offered to workers during the COVID-19 pandemic will expire Saturday, barring congressional action.

FEMA provides $2.6 million in federal aid for Washtenaw County COVID-19 response

More than $2.6 million in federal disaster aid has been made available to support the continuing of COVID-19 operations in Washtenaw County.

The grant funding comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance program. The program provides funding to local governments and eligible private nonprofit organizations for costs sustained for emergency actions taken to protect lives or property. Read here.

Ann Arbor Public Schools anticipates fully virtual start to school year

Ann Arbor Public School students can anticipate returning to school virtually at the end of August.

In a Wednesday night study session meeting, officials from Ann Arbor Public Schools discussed plans for a remote-learning start to the next academic year.

Ann Arbor Public School superintendent Jeanice Swift acknowledged how officials are “hardwired” for safety and that they must put student safety first. Read here.

Judge: Detroit’s in-person summer school classes can continue with virus testing

A judge has ruled the in-person summer school classes can continue in the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD). Local 4 and ClickOnDetroit are working on getting reaction on the ruling from the district.

Summer school in the DPSCD began last week. A lawsuit was filed by parents, teachers, students and activist group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) against the district. The suit was seeking to sop summer school and first went before the judge on Friday with the decision expected this week.

While the judge has decided that the classes can continue, all of the students attending those classes need to have COVID-19 tests in the next two days or the in-person learning could be shut down.

Read more here.

St. Clair County officials warn of possible COVID-19 exposure at two businesses

The St. Clair County Health Department has been notified of possible COVID-19 exposure in two area food service establishments.

Patrons of both facilities are encouraged to self-monitor for symptoms over the next 14 days and seek testing if they become symptomatic with any of the following: fatigue, cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headaches, nausea or vomiting, congestion, sore throat, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Tracking moving 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Michigan

The chart below tracks the moving 7-day average of new cases dating back to March 17, one week after the first confirmed cases in Michigan.

Coronavirus news:

New Michigan COVID-19 cases per day since July 15:

  • July 15 — 891 new cases
  • July 16 — 645 new cases
  • July 17 — 660 new cases
  • July 18 — 678 new cases
  • July 19 — 483 new cases
  • July 20 — 489 new cases
  • July 21 — 573 new cases
  • July 22 — 523 new cases
  • July 23 — 699 new cases
  • July 24 — 594 new cases
  • July 25 — 437 new cases

Daily COVID-19 deaths reported in Michigan since July 15:

  • July 15 — 4 new deaths
  • July 16 — 16 new deaths
  • July 17 — 7 new deaths
  • July 18 — 9 new deaths
  • July 19 — 2 new deaths
  • July 20 — 7 new deaths
  • July 21 — 9 new deaths
  • July 22 — 6 new deaths
  • July 23 — 7 new deaths
  • July 24 — 3 new deaths
  • July 25 — 14 new deaths

Here’s a look at the overall COVID-19 data in Michigan:

Copyright 2020 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All rights reserved.


What kind of face mask is best against coronavirus? – The Guardian

Does it matter what sort of mask you wear?

Yes. Different types of mask offer different levels of protection. Surgical grade N95 respirators offer the highest level of protection against Covid-19 infection, followed by surgical grade masks. However, these masks are costly, in limited supply, contribute to landfill waste and are uncomfortable to wear for long periods. So even countries that have required the public to wear face masks have generally suggested such masks should be reserved for health workers or those at particularly high risk.


The evidence on the protective value of single-use paper masks or reusable cloth coverings is less clear, but still suggests that face masks can contribute to reducing transmission of Covid-19. Analysis by the Royal Society said this included homemade cloth face masks.

Are paper surgical single-use masks better or is a cloth mask OK?

The evidence on any mask use, outside of surgical masks, is still emerging: there appears to be some benefit, but the exact parameters of which masks are the best and the extent to which they protect the wearer or those around them are still being figured out. A tighter fitting around the face is probably better, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests any covering, including a bandana, is better than none.

One US study investigated which household materials best removed particles of 0.3-1.0 microns in diameter, the typical size of viruses and bacteria, and concluded that good options include vacuum cleaner bags, heavyweight “quilter’s cotton” or multiple layers of material. Scarves and bandana material were less effective, but still captured a fraction of particles.


How do you take them on and off safely?

Before putting on a mask, clean your hands well with soap and water. Cover the mouth and nose with your mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask. Avoid touching the mask while using it and, if you do, wash your hands. Replace the mask when it is damp. To remove your mask, take it off using the elastic tags, without touching the front and discard immediately into a closed bin or, if the mask is reusable, directly into the washing machine.

How often do you need to wash masks?

They should be washed after each use. The CDC suggests “routinely”.


Is there an environmental concern?

Many commercially available masks are made from layers of plastics and are designed to be single-use. According to an analysis by scientists at University College London, if every person in the UK used one single-use mask each day for a year, an extra 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste would be created. The use of reusable masks by the general population would significantly reduce plastic waste and the climate change impact of any policy requirements for the wearing of face masks, according to the UCL team, led by Prof Mark Miodownik. They say that according to the best evidence, reusable masks perform most of the tasks of single-use masks without the associated waste stream.

This article was amended on 12 May 2020 to clarify that N95 masks alone do not guarantee protection from Covid-19 infection.

This article was further amended on 5 June 2020 to take in new guidance issued by the World Health Organization

This article was further amended on 17 June 2020 and 6 July 2020 to correct the name of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Due to the unprecedented and ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is being regularly updated to ensure that it reflects the current situation as best as possible. Any significant corrections made to this or previous versions of the article will continue to be footnoted in line with Guardian editorial policy.


Across the globe, online survivor groups are a source of hope and support for those diagnosed with Covid-19 – CNN

This unlikely support group began as a way for 32-year-old Andrey Khudyakov, from Paris, to keep in touch with his family members during the pandemic, some of whom live in New York, others in Sweden and some in Italy. They began inviting friends to the Facebook group, who added their own friends and soon the online community grew to more than 28,000 members.

“It’s very hard when you’re all alone by yourself at home locked down. And maybe sometimes you don’t have family support,” he says. “And you just need to share with someone what’s going on and have feedback.”

“It gives people who have a common purpose a forum to speak openly and to feel a little bit less alone,” she says. “The ability to share your story and talk about details that might make us feel humiliated or might make us feel ashamed when in reality what we need to do is really share our story … and get the support of others.”

The forums that have sprouted out of the pandemic offer a wide-reaching community of support, with just as many people asking for advice as there are asking for words of encouragement. Members isolating at home hoping to recover from coronavirus told CNN they were able to battle the illness with the help of tips from strangers, while others found comfort from people around the world who shared their unusual experiences. Many say they found validation knowing they weren’t alone in their months-long recoveries.

“They’re all supportive, it’s just amazing to see all this exchange,” Khudyakov says.

Andrey Khudyakov, 32, lives in ParisAndrey Khudyakov, 32, lives in Paris

‘I was searching for hope’

Marialaura Osorio, 23, found Khydakev’s group after battling panic attacks following a Covid-19 diagnosis.

When health officials first raised alarm months ago, Osorio and her roommates took the threat of the virus very seriously, she says. They drafted a set of rules: they’d only invite up to two people in their home, their guests all had to be working from home and they wouldn’t participate in other gatherings. She stayed locked down at their Austin home since mid-March.

“I was literally the crazy one with this whole thing,” she says. “And I’m the only one that got it.”

I can't shake Covid-19: Warnings from young survivors still sufferingI can't shake Covid-19: Warnings from young survivors still suffering

By June, with loosened measures in the state, Osorio says she let her guard down and decided to visit family and friends and go for a round of drinks.

“I thought it was an outdoor bar, we’re going to be fine, we’re not in danger, they checked our temperatures,” she says. “I felt pretty safe, but obviously it wasn’t safe.”

Two days later, she had her first cold-like symptoms. And about ten days after that, she tested positive for coronavirus.

“The first four days from getting my result it was just like, I was in bed having panic attacks,” she says. “It was just horrible.”

She told one roommate, who stayed with family as Osorio went into isolation. The second roommate, she says, got so upset with the news they moved out. Osorio decided she wouldn’t tell any other friends or anyone outside her immediate family about her positive result. Cooped up at home with no one around, her mind fled to the worst-case scenarios she read in the news: that she’d end up deeply-ill in the hospital or that she wouldn’t be able to survive the infection. Desperate to find messages of recovery and survival, she turned to Facebook.

“I was searching for hope” she says. “So being able to post questions on there or read and support each other was just, honestly, I could totally 100% say that that is one of the huge things that got me through Covid.”

She found members who encouraged her to stay positive, to believe in her recovery. Others offered her guidance on how to build up her immune system, how to check her oxygen levels and recommended natural remedies they found helpful. She says more than a month since her positive result, there are still people she’s never met who check in on how she’s recovering.

“I would have ended up either in the hospital or my panic attack would have caused like heart problems or something,” she says. “I’m just so thankful to that group.”

An army of survivors

Diana Berrent also remembers the isolation she felt recovering from the virus.

When the 46-year-old tested positive for coronavirus on March 18, she says she was one of the first residents in her New York community to be diagnosed and didn’t have an experienced group to turn to. She locked herself in a room, away from her husband and two children, and recorded her journey in a video diary as she paced through stomach issues, severe headaches and high fevers.

“It’s really extreme isolation and a lack of information,” she says. “And that is a very, very scary place to be.”

Oregon woman has battled coronavirus symptoms since MarchOregon woman has battled coronavirus symptoms since March

The early days of her recovery process felt like she was taking two steps forward and then a step back, with symptoms coming and going. It was worst at night, Berrent says, when fears of going to the hospital or ending up on a ventilator would crowd her mind. But when she began feeling better, she had a realization that changed her life.

“I realized that if I was going to be one of the first people diagnosed, if all went well, I’d be one of the first survivors,” she says. “And with that came both the tremendous responsibility, but also an opportunity.”

She donated her plasma — not once, but eight times. The more time she spent reading about how important those contributions were during this pandemic, the more she felt eager to mobilize crowds to donate their own antibodies once they had recovered.

So Berrent created a Facebook group and pieced together a website that helps Covid survivors connect with not only each other, but also with plasma and blood banks near them, as well as medical studies they qualify for that could help find treatment for the illness. The group, Survivor Corps, now has more than 80,000 members.

Diana BerrentDiana Berrent
She calls the movement she’s created: “the Peace Corps of the Covid Generation.”

“I can’t talk about it without getting this ear to ear grin on my face,” she says in an appeal to other survivors to donate plasma. “Because, in a lifetime, how many opportunities do we have to save a single life?”

The group has become a massive forum with members sharing information on just about anything regarding the virus. Put a keyword in the group’s search bar, Berrent says, and you’ll find hundreds of posts made by members on anything from symptoms, their experience through isolation to pictures of recovery.

“It’s providing a community for … a lot of people who are living in a world where people don’t believe them, who are afraid of them, (where) they feel like a pariah, they’re afraid to tell anybody,” she says. “And so this is an outlet, a community, a source of inspiration.”

A nurse tackling stigmas online

In Dallas, Bryan Bailey’s work keeps him thinking about the coronavirus all day. When he goes home, he logs on to the online support groups he’s joined to help dozens of strangers he’s never met who are going through symptoms.

“The only time I’m not talking about Covid since February has been when I’m asleep,” Bailey said.

Covid-19 can be a prolonged illness, even for young adults, CDC report says Covid-19 can be a prolonged illness, even for young adults, CDC report says

Bailey, the director of nursing at a behavioral health facility that also treats coronavirus patients, says after helping a friend deal with the anxiety that came with her coronavirus diagnosis, he decided to join online groups to guide others through their experience with the virus. Support groups, he says, allow their communities to compare and contrast their symptoms, track patterns and help each other understand what could be a virus symptom and what could be something different, like allergies. They are needed safe spaces where no question is a bad one, Bailey says.

“From my role and my nursing background and my personal passion for mental health, (I know) a lot of people don’t ask questions,” Bailey said. “We know as healthcare providers, when they come to us, there’s a lot of things that they feel embarrassed to talk about and that they struggle with.”

Those taboo subjects for coronavirus patients can range anywhere from asking about diarrhea to brain fog to hallucinations, he says.

“So, (the group) was a great channel and vehicle for me to help other people,” he added.

Bryan BaileyBryan Bailey

When he tested positive himself, he says he was initially hesitant to share his positive result — worried about the stigma he had been helping combat.

“I struggled with whether to … tell my own story.” he says. “And I realized that, ‘My gosh, I’m one of these people. Here I am telling them not to be afraid to talk about it, and I myself am afraid.'”

The virus has been stigmatized by many as something almost permanent, Bailey says. With health officials now recognizing the long-term health effects that survivors have been reporting for months, Bailey says fears of infecting loved ones can mean those who once tested positive are afraid of leaving their house again.

With a heightened sense of anxiety the virus has created, Bailey says, “I think every American … thinks that if they cough or hiccup or sneeze, now (they)’ve got Covid.”

And some people who have stayed healthy are now avoiding contact with anyone who tested positive — even if that test was months ago.

The groups have been a vehicle to tackle those stigmas. And for people who have been fortunate enough to recover, he says the groups that served to better the patients’ mental health played a major role in that process.

“Your mental health is very important when you’re dealing with this,” Bailey says. “And you’ve still got to do a lot of self-care, not just physical care, but a lot of self-care and you need support.”


Luck? Genetics? Italian island spared from COVID outbreak – The Associated Press

GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy (AP) — Stranded on a tiny Italian island, a cancer researcher grew increasingly alarmed to hear that one, and then three more visitors had fallen ill with COVID-19.

Paola Muti braced for a rapid spread of the coronavirus to the 800 closely-knit islanders, many of whom she knows well. Her mother was born on Giglio Island and she often stays at the family home with its charming view of the sea through the parlor’s windows.

But days passed and none of Giglio’s islanders developed any COVID-19 symptoms even though the conditions seemed favorable for the disease to spread like wildfire.

The Gigliesi, as the residents are known, socialize in the steep alleys near the port or on the granite steps that serve as narrow streets in the hilltop Castle neighborhood, with densely packed homes built against the remnants of a fortress erected centuries ago to protect against pirates.

Dr. Armando Schiaffino, the island’s sole physician for around 40 years, shared Muti’s worry that there would be a local outbreak.

“Every time an ordinary childhood illness, like scarlet fever, measles or chicken pox strikes, within a very few days practically all get” infected on Giglio, he said in an interview in his office near the port.

Muti, a breast cancer researcher at the University of Milan where she is an epidemiology professor, decided to try to find out why it wasn’t happening this time.

Were residents perhaps infected but didn’t show symptoms? Was it something genetic? Something else? Or just plain luck?

“Dr. Schiaffino came to me and told me, ‘Hey, look, Paola, this is incredible. In this full pandemic, with all the cases that came to the island, nobody is sick.’ So I said to myself: ‘Right, here we can do a study, no? I am here,’” Muti said.

By then, Muti was trapped on the island by Italy’s strict lockdown rules. What was especially puzzling to her was that many of the islanders had had close contact with the visitors.

Giglio’s first known COVID-19 case was a man in his 60s who arrived on Feb. 18 — a couple of days before Italy’s first “native case” would be diagnosed in the north. The man came to Giglio for a relative’s funeral, and had been “coughing all the way” though the service, Muti said.

The virus is mainly spread through droplets when someone coughs, sneezes or talks. The man headed back on the ferry the same day to the mainland and died three weeks later in a hospital.

On March 5, four days before the national lockdown was declared, three more visitors came from the mainland and would test positive on the island. One of them was a German man from northern Italy, the initial epicenter of Europe’s outbreak. He socialized for several days with longtime friends in Giglio, including in public eateries. After a week, due to a bad cough, he was tested on the island and the result was positive. He self-isolated in a house on Giglio.

There were other known cases, including an islander who had lived in Australia for two years before slipping back onto Giglio in mid-March during lockdown to see his parents. Three days after arriving on Giglio, he developed a mild fever and tested positive, Muti said. He self-isolated at his parents’ home.

No other case has surfaced on Giglio, including since lockdown was lifted in early June, and tourists from throughout Italy have been arriving.

Giglio is part of Tuscany, and its health office quickly sent over kits to test for antibodies to see if others may have had COVID-19. In late April, just before the first lockdown travel restrictions would be eased, the islanders had their blood tested, lining up outside the island’s school and doctor’s office.

Of the 800 or so year-round residents, 723 volunteered to be tested.

“We all wanted to do it, to be tranquil” about any possible infection, but also “to help science,” said Simone Madaro, who had been working at the cemetery while the infected man had gathered with fellow mourners.

The Rev. Lorenzo Pasquotti, the priest who conducted the service for around 50 mourners, and who himself was tested recalled: “After the funeral, there were greetings, hugging and kissing,” as is the custom. Then came the procession to the cemetery, where “there were more hugs and kisses.”

Of the islanders tested, only one was found to have antibodies, an elderly Gigliese man who had sailed on the same ferry to the island with the German visitor, Muti said.

Intrigued about why “the virus didn’t seem to interact” with the island’s native population, Muti hadn’t reached any conclusions by the time she was preparing to leave the island this month. She plans to write up up her study for eventual publication.

It’s possible, Muti guessed, that islanders weren’t exposed to enough COVID-19 to get infected.

That possibility was also voiced by Massimo Andreoni, head of infectious diseases at Rome’s Tor Vergata hospital. He noted some patients are simply less capable of spreading the disease for reasons that are still unclear.

Chance might have played a role, said Daniel Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London. “It could be something more or less trivial — nobody got infected because through good luck there was little contact,″ he said in an email exchange.

Or, Altmann also noted that “it could be something important and exotic,” such as a genetic variant common among the island’s population.

With many of the Gigliesi intermarrying through generations, Muti would like to do a genetic study someday if she could obtain funding.

Giglio lies in pristine waters in a protected regional marine sanctuary, and the islanders voice relief that they live in a natural environment they like to think is good for health, whatever Muti’s study might determine.

“As an island, as the environment goes, we’re OK, no?” said Domenico Pignatelli, as the elderly man kept company with friends in chairs placed on a stony street atop Giglio.


Your Coronavirus Antibodies Are Disappearing. Should You Care? – The New York Times

Your blood carries the memory of every pathogen you’ve ever encountered. If you’ve been infected with the coronavirus, your body most likely remembers that, too.

Antibodies are the legacy of that encounter. Why, then, have so many people stricken by the virus discovered that they don’t seem to have antibodies?

Blame the tests.

Most commercial antibody tests offer crude yes-no answers. The tests are notorious for delivering false positives — results indicating that someone has antibodies when he or she does not.

But the volume of coronavirus antibodies drops sharply once the acute illness ends. Now it is increasingly clear that these tests may also produce false-negative results, missing antibodies to the coronavirus that are present at low levels.

Moreover, some tests — including those made by Abbott and Roche and offered by Quest Labs and LabCorp — are designed to detect a subtype of antibodies that doesn’t confer immunity and may wane even faster than the kind that can destroy the virus.

What that means is that declining antibodies, as shown by commercial tests, don’t necessarily mean declining immunity, several experts said. Long-term surveys of antibodies, intended to assess how widely the coronavirus has spread, may also underestimate the true prevalence.

“We’re learning a lot about how antibodies change over time,” said Dr. Fiona Havers, a medical epidemiologist who has led such surveys for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If the narrative on immunity to the coronavirus has seemed to shift constantly, it’s in part because the virus was a stranger to scientists. But it’s increasingly clear that this virus behaves much like any other.

This is how immunity to viruses generally works: The initial encounter with a pathogen — typically in childhood — surprises the body. The resulting illness can be mild or severe, depending on the dose of the virus and the child’s health, access to health care and genetics.

A mild illness may trigger production of only a few antibodies, and a severe one many more. The vast majority of people who become infected with the coronavirus have few to no symptoms, and those people may produce a milder immune response than those who become severely ill, Dr. Havers said.

But even a minor infection is often enough to teach the body to recognize the intruder.

After the battle ends, balloon-like cells that live in the bone marrow steadily pump out a small number of specialized assassins. The next time — and every time after that — that the body comes across the virus, those cells can mass-produce antibodies within hours.

The mnemonic response grows stronger with every encounter. It’s one of the great miracles of the human body.

“Whatever your level is today, if you get infected, your antibody titers are going to go way up,” said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University, referring to the levels of antibodies in the blood. “The virus will never even have a chance the second time around.”

A single drop of blood contains billions of antibodies, all lying in wait for their specific targets. Sometimes, as may be the case for antibodies to the coronavirus, there are too few to get a positive signal on a test — but that does not mean the person tested has no immunity to the virus.

“Even if their antibodies wane below the limits of detection of our instruments, it doesn’t mean their ‘memory’ is gone,” Dr. Mina said.

A small number of people may not produce any antibodies to the coronavirus. But even in that unlikely event, they will have so-called cellular immunity, which includes T cells that learn to identify and destroy the virus. Virtually everyone infected with the coronavirus seems to develop T-cell responses, according to several recent studies.

“This means that even if the antibody titer is low, those people who are previously infected may have a good enough T-cell response that can provide protection,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University.

T cells are harder to detect and to study, however, so when it comes to immunity, antibodies have received all of the attention. The coronavirus carries several antigens — proteins or pieces of a protein — that can provoke the body into producing antibodies.

The most powerful antibodies recognize a piece of the coronavirus’s spike protein, the receptor binding domain, or R.B.D. That is the part of the virus that docks onto human cells. Only antibodies that recognize the R.B.D. can neutralize the virus and prevent infection.

But the Roche and Abbott tests that are now widely available — and several others authorized by the Food and Drug Administration — instead look for antibodies to a protein called the nucleocapsid, or N, that is bound up with the virus’s genetic material.

Some scientists were stunned to hear of this choice.

“God, I did not realize that — that’s crazy,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University in New York. “It’s kind of puzzling to design a test that’s not looking for what’s thought to be the major antigen.”

The N protein is plentiful in the blood, and testing for antibodies to it produces a swifter, brighter signal than testing for antibodies to the spike protein. Because antibody tests are used to detect past infection, however, manufacturers are not required to prove that the antibodies their tests seek are those that actually confer protection against the virus.

Officials at the Food and Drug Administration did not respond to requests for comment on whether the two tests target the appropriate antibodies.

There’s another wrinkle to the story. Some reports now suggest that antibodies to the viral nucleocapsid may decline faster than those to R.B.D. or to the entire spike — the really effective ones.

“The majority of people are getting tested for anti-N antibody, which does tend to wane more rapidly — and so, you know, it may be not the most suitable test for looking at neutralizing capacity,” Dr. Iwasaki said.

In the United States, millions of people have taken the Roche and Abbott tests. LabCorp alone has performed more than two million antibody tests made by the two manufacturers.

Quest relies on tests made by Abbott, Ortho Clinical and Euroimmun. Quest declined to reveal what proportion of the 2.7 million tests it has deployed so far were made by Abbott.

Dr. Jonathan Berz, a physician in Boston, tested positive for the virus in early April but felt fine, apart from a sore throat. His wife was sicker, and despite several negative diagnostic tests, she remained ill for weeks.

“Initially, we felt as a family that, ‘Oh wow, we got sick, unfortunately,’” Dr. Berz said. “But the good side of that is that we’re going to have immunity.’”

In early June, the couple and their two children took Abbott antibody tests processed by Quest. All four turned up negative. Even though Dr. Berz knew that immunity is complex and that T cells also play a role, he was disappointed.

As a doctor in a Covid-19 clinic, he had always acted as though he was at risk for infection. But after seeing the antibody results, he said, “my level of anxiety just increased.”

A spokeswoman at Abbott said the test had 100 percent sensitivity 17 days after symptoms began but did not provide information about sensitivity beyond that time.

Dr. Beatus Ofenloch-Haehnle, who heads immunoassay research at Roche, defended the company’s antibody test. His team has tracked N antibodies in 130 people who had mild to no symptoms and has not yet seen a decline, he said.

“There is some fluctuation, but no waning at all,” he said. “We have a lot of data, and we do not rely anymore on theory.” The N antibody can be a decent proxy for immunity, Dr. Ofenloch-Haehnle added.

He also pointed to a study by Public Health England that suggested that the Abbott and Roche tests seemed to perform well up to 73 days after symptom onset. “I think we should be careful to jump to conclusions too soon,” he said.

Other experts also urged caution. Without more information about what antibody testing results mean, they said, people should do as Dr. Berz did: Act as though they do not have immunity.

There is no definitive information as yet on what levels of antibodies are needed for immunity or how long that protection might last. “I think we’re getting closer and closer to that knowledge,” Dr. Iwasaki said.