Dear TVD Friends,
Let me hope that you and your Valentine were able to create some sunshine on the 14th amidst this rain, snow, and evolving pandemic. Keep your loved ones close! And there continues to be some good news on the COVID front – the California vaccine rollout is slowly coming together, public health messaging is becoming more coherent leading to better choices in our communities (eg: mask wearing, avoiding gatherings), perhaps there are some glimmers of herd-immunity, and perhaps winter has been our friend, but bottom line is that COVID cases are down pretty sharply in the US, and around the world. It remains unclear exactly why, but we’ll take it!
That said, there is still cause for caution and continued vigilance. Read more about new COVID variants in this week’s FAQ, SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED WITH THE NEW SOUTH AFRICAN VARIANT OF COVID-19?. Note extra steps you can take to protect yourself in UPDATE: WHAT ARE THE NEW MASK GUIDELINES FROM THE CDC? DOUBLE OR UPGRADE?, and then there is more to read about Breastfeeding and International Travel below.
Lastly – are you free Monday afternoon, Feb 22nd, at 5:30pm? Join me and Evera CEO Nabeel Quryshi for a “Facebook Live” session where we will discuss COVID testing as well as Evera’s new program to bring COVID PCR testing to the comfort of your living room, for free! I’m sure we’ll also talk about vaccine strategy, and muse about the light at the end of the tunnel. Read more and sign up for a reminder here! I hope to see you then…
Eric Weiss, MD, February 16, 2021
NOTE: CV🦠News is a labor of love. If you enjoy reading this, please share widely! Was this forwarded to you by a friend? Please subscribe here.
What you need to know about the South African variant of the SARS- CoV-2:
This variant has a different “spike” protein which has some different clinical characteristics than the original virus. This variant was identified in South Africa and cases have been identified in the UK and now in the US in very small numbers. According to the CDC, there’s no evidence the new strain is more deadly or causes a more severe disease. One of the South African variants, 501Y.V2, appears to be about 50% more contagious, meaning it does a better job than the original virus at getting into human cells.
When examining blood from 44 South Africans who recovered from COVID-19, more than 90% showed reduced immunity to the new variant, and almost half of those vaccinated had no protection at all against it, according to a study published recently though not yet peer-reviewed… Read more
Prerana Sangani, MD, February 16, 2021
Most of the lactating physician moms I know are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and continuing to breastfeed. Many hope they might even be passing some immunity on to their babies through their breast milk after being vaccinated, but there is debate on this. It is felt that most of the antibodies that might be secreted in the milk are likely digested by the infant rather than making it into their body as intact, active antibodies. There is a possibility that some secretory IgA antibodies (which play an important role in immune protection of mucus membranes, including the gut) from the vaccinated mother’s milk could be functional for the infant… Read more
Jennifer Abrams, MD, February 15, 2021
The CDC updated its guidance for mask wearing to help boost fit and increase protection. They offered two methods of doing so. The first is to wear a surgical mask (or procedure mask) as a first layer, and wear a cloth mask on top. The other is to improve the fit of a single surgical mask by tying each ear loop in a knot nearest the mask and tucking in the sides of the mask to reduce air leak. Both of these methods reduced exposure to potentially infectious aerosols by 95 percent… Read more
Sky Pittson, MD, February 17, 2021
The short answer: maybe.
As it stands now, governments across the globe have a wide range of policies with respect to allowing outside travelers. For some countries, visitors need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test and/or commit to quarantining for multiple weeks; many others have completely banned entry for all non-citizens, or at least for citizens of countries that have been less successful in their containment of the virus.
As more people get vaccinated, government leaders are still figuring out what they plan to do in terms of requiring proof of vaccination. (It’s worth noting that a “vaccine passport” isn’t actually a new idea: as far back as 1933 international coalitions had started developing what later became the so-called “yellow card,” a booklet endorsed by the World Health Organization to document a traveler’s inoculations.)… Read more
Jackie Phillips, MD, February 16, 2021
If you have made it this far, time for a reward, something to lighten your day, and acknowledge the human spirit. Find some escape, or perhaps even inspiration, in this ever-growing collection of works and perspectives gathered from around the world. Please contact me directly if you have come across something that has lifted your heart today. Dr. Eric Weiss
Young Adults called to Serve with AmeriCorps
Instead of staying home, 230 young adults from across the nation have begun serving others through the AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps. They have broken up into teams that range from assigning groups responding to COVID-19 to implementing wildfire management in the West.
According to one participant, “It feels amazing to know that during these unprecedented times I have the chance to make a real difference.”
“Peanut Butter Puppies” support animal rescue
Photographer Greg Murray photographed 70 rescue puppies for his latest project, “Peanut Butter Puppies.” Around 30 animal shelters and rescue organizations in brought adoptable or recently adopted puppies for the shoot. Since being photographed, all of the dogs have been adopted!
Read (and see more cute photos) here!
“Tip War” Raises more than $34,000 for restaurant workers
A “tip war” has started between alumni and fans of Xavier University and University of Cincinnati. Because they know restaurant workers have been struggling during the pandemic, they are battling to top each other’s generous tips at local restaurants. More than $34,000 has been raised so far!
Again, CV🦠News is a labor of love. If you enjoy reading this, please share widely! Was this forwarded to you by a friend? Please subscribe here.
Yours, in health and resilience,
Eric and the TVD MD team…