Bill Gates does a good job of explaining how mutations lead to viral variants, and what it means for Covid-19 vaccines in this post to his GatesNotes, “5 things you should know about variants“.
• I thought this was worth noting – The “T-Detect Covid” test uses T cell receptor matching comparisons to population based panels developed with the aid of machine learning to detect previous COVID-19 infection, supposedly with 97.1% sensitivity and 100% specificity. They (Adaptive Biotechnologies in a partnership with Microsoft – I have no financial interest in either) are continuing to refine their models as variants appear and hope to improve those numbers (and, I’m guessing, apply the same methodology to the diagnosis of other infections).
It will be interesting to learn what test results are in patients who have been vaccinated but not had actual disease, how long the positive result persists, and how well such a positive result correlates with immunity in comparison to more standard antibody tests.
• And Massachusetts, where I live, is finally implementing a preregistration system for COVID vaccinations (back ended by Google), a system that should help to alleviate the cutthroat (and inherently discriminatory), time-wasting and frustrating on-line angling for immunization appointments in the state. People will be able to register once, be automatically notified when they are eligible for vaccination, and then be notified and given an opportunity to book an appointment at one of the state’s seven mass vaccination sites when a slot for them opens up. Over 2.3 million COVID vaccine doses have now been administered in the state, so we’re doing a lot better after a somewhat rocky start.
The latest economic stimulus bill has officially made its way through Congress, and only awaits the President’s signature for passage. There were ZERO (yes, that’s 0) Republican votes for this measure in the House and Senate. “Handouts”were apparently OK when your party could claim credit, but not so much otherwise. Oh, and that spirit of bipartisanship present when Democrats voted for Republican sponsored stimulus bills? Gone…