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Omicron thrives in airways, not lungs; new data on asymptomatic cases – SaltWire Network

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By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.

Omicron multiplies faster in airways, slower in lungs

Major differences in how efficiently Omicron and other variants of the coronavirus multiply may help predict Omicron’s effects, researchers said on Wednesday.

Compared to the earlier Delta variant, Omicron multiplies itself 70 times more quickly in tissues that line airway passages, which may facilitate person-to-person spread, they said. But in lung tissues, Omicron replicates 10 times more slowly than the original version of the coronavirus, which might contribute to less-severe illness.

A formal report of the findings is under peer review for publication and has not been released by the research team. In a news release issued by Hong Kong University, study leader Dr. Michael Chan Chi-wai said, “It is important to note that the severity of disease in humans is not determined only by virus replication” but also by each person’s immune response to the infection, which sometimes evolves into life-threatening inflammation.

Chan added, “By infecting many more people, a very infectious virus may cause more severe disease and death even though the virus itself may be less pathogenic. Therefore, taken together with our recent studies showing that the Omicron variant can partially escape immunity from vaccines and past infection, the overall threat from Omicron variant is likely to be very significant.”

Omicron grips cells more tightly, withstands some antibodies

A structural model of how the Omicron variant attaches to cells and antibodies sheds light on its behavior and will help in designing neutralizing antibodies, according to researchers.

Using computer models of the spike protein on Omicron’s surface, they analyzed molecular interactions occurring when the spike grabs onto a cell-surface protein called ACE2, the virus’s gateway into the cell.

Metaphorically, the original virus had a handshake with ACE2, but Omicron’s grip “looks more like a couple holding hands with their fingers entwined,” said Joseph Lubin of Rutgers University in New Jersey. The “molecular anatomy” of the grip may assist in explaining how Omicron’s mutations cooperate to help it infect cells, Lubin added.

The research team also modeled the spike with different classes of antibodies trying to attack it. The antibodies attack from different angles, “like a football team’s defense might tackle a ball carrier,” with one person grabbing from behind, another from the front, Lubin said. Some antibodies “appear likely to get shaken off” while others are likely to remain effective. Booster vaccines raise antibody levels, resulting in “more defenders,” which might compensate to some extent for “a weaker grip of an individual antibody,” Lubin said.

The findings, posted on Monday on the website bioRxiv ahead of peer review, need to be verified, “particularly with real-world samples from people,” Lubin said. “While our molecular structure predictions are by no means a final word on Omicron, (we hope) they enable a faster and more effective response from the global community.”

Four in 10 infected people may unknowingly spread virus

Infected people who show no symptoms might be contributing significantly to transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, given that they account for 40.5% of confirmed infections worldwide, according to a study published online Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The researchers pooled data from 77 earlier studies involving a total of 19,884 individuals with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections. They found that among infected people in the general community, about 40% were asymptomatic, as were 54% of infected pregnant women, 53% of infected air or cruise travelers, 48% of infected nursing home residents or staff and 30% of infected healthcare workers or hospitalized patients.

The pooled percentage of asymptomatic infections was about 46% in North America, 44% in Europe and 28% in Asia.

“The high percentage of asymptomatic infections highlights the potential transmission risk of asymptomatic infections in communities,” wrote Min Liu and colleagues at Peking University in China. Officials should screen for asymptomatic infections, and those who are identified “should be under management similar to that for confirmed infections, including isolating and contact tracing.”

Click for a Reuters graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl on vaccines in development.

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Will Dunham)

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January 16, 2022 coronavirus update for Oakville – Oakville News

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This is Oakville’s coronavirus update for Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. As children head back to school tomorrow, the main takeaway from today’s COVID-19 update is the increase in the number of outbreaks in long-term care, retirement, and hospital facilities. OTMH is now dealing with two outbreaks as a new one was declared at 5 South, and the province has 231 hospitals recording ongoing outbreaks, an increase nice.

Hospital status

A new outbreak at OTMH was declared but not shown on the region’s update of Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. Halton does not provide new information on weekends or holidays. 

  • Oakville – 70 patients – plus 6
  • Halton – 126 patients – plus 10
  • Ontario – 3,595 patients – minus 362 (ICU 563 plus 19, Ventilators 327 plus 19)

Outbreaks

There are currently nine active outbreaks with 58 cases (LTC-41, retirement homes-13, hospitals-2) in Oakville. 

Ontario

Long-term care facilities status

  • 424 ongoing outbreaks -plus 9
  • 27,391 cases – plus 320
  • 39,06 resident deaths – plus 9

Retirement homes

  • 319 ongoing outbreaks – plus 16

Hospitals

  • 231 ongoing outbreaks – plus 16

Vaccination status

Halton 

  • 1st Dose (5+) – 90%
  • 2nd Dose (5+) – 83%
  • Boosters (18+) – 48%

Ontario administered 117,300 vaccinations

  • 1st Dose (5+) – 82%
  • 2nd Dose (5+) – 3%

Case status

The number of confirmed new cases in Oakville, Halton and Ontario is under-reported since the province restricted access to testing, limiting it to high-risk individuals, healthcare providers, and patients. 

Halton

  • 36,184 cases – plus 552 or 5,962.2 cases per million
  • 634.6 new weekly cases per 100,000, down 15.9 per cent from 2 weeks ago

Ontario

  • 948,086 total cases – plus 10,450 or 6,434.7 cases per million
  • 503.1 new weekly cases per 100,000, down 22.4 per cent from 2 weeks ago
  • 843,073 recoveries –  plus 15,317
  • 10,605 deaths – plus 40
  • 94,408 active cases – minus 4,907

**Vaccine booking: Halton continues to book first and second-dose vaccinations for all residents age five and older, plus third-dose boosters for all adults age 18 and up.

Parents must make booster doses and appointments for children in advance, but first and second doses for those 12 and up are available on a walk-in basis.

All vaccines approved for use in Canada effectively protect you against COVID-19 and all known variants of concern.

CLICK HERE to book a first, second or third vaccination appointment at a Halton Region vaccine clinic

The evidence is clear: vaccination is the best way to be protected. Local, provincial, national and international health units all affirm the same data that Canada’s approved vaccines effectively protect you from COVID-19 and significantly reduce your risks of getting sick, going to the hospital, and dying from the disease.

Pictured right is a graph from the Halton region showing how dramatically your risk of getting sick or being admitted to hospital is when vaccinated.

Sources: 

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COVID-19 outbreak declared at Veterans Memorial Lodge care home in Saanich – CHEK

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Broadmead Care is declaring an outbreak of COVID-19 at Veterans Memorial Lodge care home.

The society says three residents have tested positive for the virus, one in unit A2, two in B3.

Broadmead Care’s medical director has implemented outbreak preventions at the care home, which follow Island Health’s outbreak protocols.

The residents who have tested positive are being isolated in their rooms, and impacted residents and staff are being monitored twice daily for symptoms.

There will be no congregate dining, and social visits have been suspended. Essential visits will continue.

The affected rooms will be under enhanced cleaning and infection control measures and staff movement will be limited wherever possible.

Broadmead Care says they are in contact with Island Health about this outbreak.

The society says all family of affected residents have been contacted, and if someone hasn’t been contact then their loved one is not affected by this outbreak.

Island Health has not yet listed this outbreak on their website, and there are currently 12 other healthcare outbreaks in the health authority region.

READ MORE: Island Health declares five new COVID-19 outbreaks

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Nova Scotia reports 68 people in hospital because of COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Nova Scotia has reported that 68 people are in hospital because of COVID-19, including 10 in intensive care.

A news release from the province Sunday said the patients are receiving specialized care in a COVID-19 designated unit.

The average age of the patients admitted for COVID-19 is 65, the release states. The majority of the patients, 65, were admitted during the Omicron wave. 

There are also two other groups currently in hospital related to the virus, according to the release.

  • 60 people who were identified as positive upon arrival but were admitted for another medical reason, or were admitted for COVID-19 but no longer require specialized care
  • 112 people who contracted COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital.

The abbreviated release did not provide the number of COVID-19 admissions and discharges. 

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,711 tests on Saturday and 696 new cases have been reported.

There are 447 cases in the central health zone, 108 in the eastern zone, 105 in the western zone and 36 in the northern zone.

Less than than 10 per cent of Nova Scotians are unvaccinated, according to provincial statistics.

As of Friday’s update, unvaccinated Nova Scotians were about four times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than someone with two doses of vaccine. That is based on average hospitalizations since the province started releasing the daily hospitalizations by vaccine status on Jan. 4.

Summary offence tickets

Halifax Regional Police issued 11 summary offence tickets Sunday for violations of health regulations.

Police responded to reports of a party at a Bayers Road residence shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday.

Tickets were issued to 11 occupants for failing to comply with provisions of the Health Protection Act. 

The tickets carry a fine of $2,422.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported one death and 384 new cases Sunday. There are 5,503 active cases and 12 hospitalizations. 
  • Prince Edward Island reported five hospitalizations Saturday. There were 309 new cases and 222 recoveries in Saturday’s report.
  • New Brunswick reported four more deaths and 115 hospitalizations Sunday. The province has 5,265 active cases.
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