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posted by janrinok on Thursday January 13, @04:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-hope-it's-only-the-legs-half dept.

Omicron May Infect Half of Europeans Within Weeks, WHO Says:

More than half of Europe's population could become infected with omicron within weeks at current transmission speeds, a World Health Organization official said.

The fast-spreading variant represents a "west-to-east tsunami sweeping the region," Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said in a briefing Tuesday.

He cited the Institute for Metrics and Health Assessment forecast that most Europeans could take it within the next six to eight weeks. The latest Covid surge has resulted in fewer symptomatic cases and lower death rates than in previous waves, fueling optimism that the pandemic may subside.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @05:20AM (24 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @05:20AM (#1212334)

    fewer symptomatic cases and lower death rates ... the pandemic may subside.

    Whaaat?

    First, a higher asymptomatic rate means MORE spread, as those people are less likely to test and isolate, and more likely to end up being a high-N spreader.

    Second, asymptomatic cases still have extremely high rates of Long COVID, which we don't expect to "subside" in many or even most patients.

    Some reports suggest as low as 20% of asymptomatic people will experience Long COVID (citation: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-covid-quarter-covid-patients-symptomatic.html) [medicalxpress.com] but it looks like the reality is that it's a soft curve, not a hard elbow, and getting a diagnosis will just mean your symptoms are "bad enough" - but everyone should expect permanent downstream impact, just like they should if they were in a coma for 2 months (atrophying) or ate bad mushrooms (kidney and liver impairment).

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @05:49AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @05:49AM (#1212339)

    Ooops... 404 Error

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by kazzie on Thursday January 13, @05:50AM (17 children)

    by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13, @05:50AM (#1212340)

    I might be a bit slow here, but if you're asymptomatic, then you wouldn't have any Long Covid symptoms either, would you?

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by MostCynical on Thursday January 13, @06:12AM (16 children)

      by MostCynical (2589) on Thursday January 13, @06:12AM (#1212344) Journal

      if you're asymptomatic, then you wouldn't have any Long Covid symptoms either, would you?

      No:
      A fifth of asymptomatic COVID patients develop long COVID: study [medicalxpress.com]

      --
      "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Thursday January 13, @06:39AM (4 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13, @06:39AM (#1212348) Journal
        I'll note that this is not the omicron variant nor includes effects of vaccines. Both seem to me to be mitigating factors.
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @08:16AM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @08:16AM (#1212366)

          I believe there's no data suggesting lower Long COVID rates for Omicron. Provide a citation if you have one, please. That would be good to know.

          Vaccination (actually, probably, blood Ab titer, though possibly also cell response) does seem to drop Long COVID impact significantly - maybe decreasing odds of a person reporting each specific symptom by about 1/2!

          BUT 20% IS for a mostly-vaccinated population! At 3 at 6 months post acute, unvaccinated survivors have 30-50% rates of one or more Long COVID symptoms. Citation: https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003773 [plos.org]

          Plenty of other large-N studies backing this up. The statistics are pretty irrefutable.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 13, @01:10PM (1 child)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13, @01:10PM (#1212393) Journal
            Your post for starters which acknowledges that lack of data. And the lower severity of omicron - indicates adaptations for better fitness. My take is that means that less of the virus's biological activity goes to stuff that doesn't further virus propagation, like creating long term symptoms.

            Not that I would trust evolution very far here. The flu is far more evolved for humans and it typically has a high long symptom occurrence as well (as described in the study which attributed a 16% lower chance of long term symptoms from the flu than from covid over that time period).

            BUT 20% IS for a mostly-vaccinated population!

            Not for a study that ends in February 2021! I note also that people got in the sample by either exhibiting symptoms or testing positive for covid. That won't generate an accurate sampling of asymptomatic covid cases for that time frame.

            Plenty of other large-N studies backing this up.

            Let's see those studies then (peculiar that you're saying these studies exist when you were claiming "no data" earlier). My take is that a significantly less severe disease over a more vaccinated population will result in significantly lower long term symptoms.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @12:36AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @12:36AM (#1212553)

              Your post for starters which acknowledges that lack of data.

              Then the burden of proof is on you. When my abusive uncle shows up drunk and swears this time it'll be different, today he drank beer not whiskey, the situation is too similar to a known danger.

              My take is

              Your hot take is not worth the time it took to read. Statistics or bust. Evidence or bust.

              for a study that ends in February 2021!

              ...right. Peer review takes a while. This is our best data. We have no reason to believe Omicron leads to less Long COVID.

              Do you get it?

              We have no reason to believe Omicron leads to less Long COVID.

              We have no reason to believe Omicron leads to less Long COVID.

              The burden of proof is on YOU to demonstrate that Omicron is less dangerous somehow, if you want to shift our well-based priors.

              Let's see those studies then (peculiar that you're saying these studies exist when you were claiming "no data" earlier).

              If you don't understand the difference between "we have no data indicating it's weaker" and "we have data indicating Long COVID is common", and why the two can simultaneously be true, then I don't want to try and talk with you, because anyone who claims 2+3=4 in the integer number system, can prove anything they want, and disprove anything they want.

              If you bother to search, look at Nehme in AIM, Groff in JAMA, the USA's VA/mil numbers, etc etc etc. There's lots of strong results. They only meaningfully disagree in their definition of PASC.

          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday January 13, @02:51PM

            by HiThere (866) on Thursday January 13, @02:51PM (#1212414) Journal

            There's no data *proving* lower Long COVID rates for Omicron. There *is* data suggesting it. E.g. it seems to flourish in the bronchial tubes rather than in the blood stream, so the immune systems is already hyped up by the time it tries for a systematic invasion.

            What's your theory for how "long covid" works? Mine is that it gets into the blood stream and starts lots of really small blood clots circulating, which occasionally clump together somewhere where they can cause a major disaster, and other times a minor disaster. This is separate from (though related to) the way it causes lung damage. And it gets avoided when the blood clots are cleaned out before they cause any real problem. Or if they only happen to clump in a place where it's easy to repair. The theory for what causes long covid is important in making predictions about what will cause it, and what won't. (IIRC warfarin had no effect on the clotting of blood by covid as it used a different mechanism.)

            Caution: I'm a programmer, not a bioresearcher. Don't take my theories too seriously in this area.

            --
            Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 2) by ChrisMaple on Thursday January 13, @07:05AM (7 children)

        by ChrisMaple (6964) on Thursday January 13, @07:05AM (#1212351)

        Follow closely. Long COVID has symptoms. Therefor Long COVID is not asymptomatic.

        If you wish to claim that people with Long COVID symptoms did not have symptoms early in the course of the disease, that's different.

        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mhajicek on Thursday January 13, @07:21AM (1 child)

          by mhajicek (51) on Thursday January 13, @07:21AM (#1212355)

          I'm choosing to believe that you are making an honest misinterpretation, rather than trolling. When anyone refers to an asymptomatic COVID infection, they mean there were no apparent symptoms during the course of the infection. The long COVID symptoms generally do not appear until after the pathogen has been eliminated from the body, perhaps several months later, and and from what I've read, are caused by lingering damage combined with autoimmune issues.

          --
          The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @10:22PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @10:22PM (#1212536)

            Relabeling CFS into "long COVID" for added fear, is a neat trick to keep the Twitter-readers scared out of their nonexistent minds.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_fatigue_syndrome [wikipedia.org]
            However, the impending economic crash will stop the scheme anyway; real-world dangers such as hunger and cold, tend to wipe either the imagined scares, or the too-gullible-to-live hairless apes.

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @07:52AM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @07:52AM (#1212362)

          Asymptomatic in this conversation always means asymptomatic acute COVID-19.

          Asymptomatic acute COVID-19 still leads to somewhere in 20-50% Long COVID (aka PASC aka etc) rates, mostly varying by which symptoms and what severities are included.

          "early in the course of the disease" is a value-empty phrase. These are two diseases. Acute COVID-19 is one. PASC is another. They have a common cause. This is similar to how poisoning might both cause short term metabolic dysfunction and long term liver failure. The acute poisoning and the long term organ damage are different diseases.

          If you don't understand that, now you do.

          If you did understand that already, you're trolling, and you can fuck right off.

          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday January 13, @02:57PM (3 children)

            by HiThere (866) on Thursday January 13, @02:57PM (#1212416) Journal

            Even then "asymptomatic" is not actually correct. It just means the acute symptoms weren't bad enough that you sought treatment.

            You're right, though, that the acute symptoms aren't a valid predictor of the long term symptoms. Consider that nail you carelessly kicked while barefoot. Truely a minor problem. As long as your tetanus vaccine is up to date. (Well, these days it's *usually* a minor problem anyway, as there's a lot less tetanus virus living in the soil than there used to be...but not always.)

            --
            Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @09:57PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @09:57PM (#1212531)

              The C. tetani bacteria is still just as common and dangerous today without vaccination as it ever was. This means that the more minor your injury, the more dangerous it can be because you may neglect to seek care. Everyone knows about nails, but not all will suspect the dirty cut on their hand they got while gardening roses. Another fact that I thought was mindblowing when I first heard it was that the tetanus vaccines do not immunize you against the bacteria. Instead it immunizes you against the neurotoxin it releases because your body handles the bacteria on its own but cannot develop natural immunity to the neurotoxin.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @10:32PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @10:32PM (#1212537)

                The thing with Clostridia is, they are soil bacteria. They evolved to live in the soil, not in living things, and their toxins evolved to turn an occasional animal into fertilizer for that soil.
                You might say their feeding strategy is much nearer to carnivorous plants, than to regular pathogenic bacteria.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clostridia [wikipedia.org]

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @12:41AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @12:41AM (#1212554)

              Hi, I assume you're posting in good faith. Thank you. Please note that you're mistaken because "symptom" means the patient noticed.

              Asymptomatic does not mean "didn't seek treatment", it means "didn't notice any symptoms."

              The "long term symptoms" as you call them, are not symptoms of COVID-19, but of PASC, a different disease.

              See this https://soylentnews.org/comments.pl?noupdate=1&sid=47132&page=1&cid=1212370#commentwrap [soylentnews.org] which is correct (thanks to that AC, who isn't me)

      • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Thursday January 13, @07:12AM (2 children)

        by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13, @07:12AM (#1212353)

        Curious, thank you.

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @08:42AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @08:42AM (#1212370)

          There are three important definitions that may be required. Long COVID is a syndrome, which is a collection of signs and symptoms (and sometimes findings) that correspond to a medical condition. Symptoms are the subjective experience of the patient. Signs are the objective indicators from the patient.

          An illustration I commonly use involves a patient. Said patient spends the consultation coughing. After chatting for awhile, they are asked if they have had a cough. They answer "no." In the notes for signs there should be a description of the cough and for symptoms there should be that they reported no cough. The fact that they were not subjectively experiencing cough despite objectively having one can provide the necessary finding to lead to the correct diagnosis by drastically eliminating the possible alternatives.

          Similarly, even though the acute COVID infection was subclinical then forgotten, subjectively asymptomatic, or completely silent does not mean that they didn't, don't, or can't have chronic sequelae or signs noticed by others or otherwise have unnoticed damage done.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @09:35AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @09:35AM (#1212377)

            Thank you, anon medical pro. Hat tip for these clear definitions and the short explanation of what is meant.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @12:20PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @12:20PM (#1212388)

    Hmm. The citation you give doesn't actually make the claim you are claiming. It is a study of mostly symptomatic people, with almost twice as many people who were hospitalized as were asymptomatic. The population breaks down as: 10% asymptomatic, 51% mild or moderate, 38% severe, with 16% hospitalized. If you look at the actual paper (it's open access, yay) they do not even give long-term results for people who were asymptomatic, presumably because there were not enough. There are additional aspects of the study that make it less relevant to today : it was done early in the pandemic, when testing was not widely available, and all the people had the original variant, when today we are more concerned about the milder Delta and the milder still Omicron. And it has no pre-infection data to establish a baseline.

    I found a second article on the same site that does line up with your claim ( https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-asymptomatic-covid-patients.html [medicalxpress.com] ). Maybe you meant to cite that one. But that particular study is basically Confounding Factors : The Confoundening. It's a data analysis of insurance claims (whatever happened to HIPAA?), not a real study of patients. There is no control group of uninfected people, which is a huge deal. Most of the symptoms are things that people in the demographic groups tend to get anyway. Kids with digestive issues, young women with anxiety, middle aged men with heart disease. And mental health issues are grouped in with physical symptoms - even though it's pretty well established that the pandemic itself is causing mental health problems for everyone, even people who were never infected. And some of the symptoms are things like "general discomfort" and "pain" which are so nonspecific that it's impossible to attribute them to any cause (not to say that a doctor couldn't identify them, but that it can't be determined from the data). And since most of the people in the study received treatment for COVID, even claims like "we are seeing heart disease in people who didn't show warning signs previously" can't be taken as evidence of what would be a likely result in people who had mild or no symptoms.

    This is just not good evidence. The second study was intended to be used for health administrators to make planning decisions, for which it could be useful, not to inform medical treatment or individual behavior. And the first study finds that most of the risk is in people who were hospitalized.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @03:17PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @03:17PM (#1212424)

    This is wrong. There are two ways that a pandemic ends, one is that the virus has been relegated to a small area or eliminated; the other is that people stop caring.

    If there are more asymptomatic people, then what's the point of continuing to worry? We were worried because treatments were scarce for those that were infected and medical facilities were swamped. A flood of asymptomatic cases is exactly what we want. It may not confer much protection against other strains, but it should somewhat reduce the severity at least. This is a bit like the flu where you don't get immune to the flu strains in circulation later, but generally, having had it a few times the body is more effective at fighting it.

    One of the reasons why there is an uptick in asymptomatic cases is that it's not attacking the lungs the way that other varients were, so less coughing and obvious signs. The variants have been coming quickly enough that there's no telling what the truth will look like with further research. Long covid could easily turn out to a byproduct of isolation and other factors co-occuring.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @05:51PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @05:51PM (#1212450)

      This is a bit like the flu where you don't get immune to the flu strains in circulation later, but generally, having had it a few times the body is more effective at fighting it.

      This is what we commonly called cross-immunity, at least those of us who aren't spreading complete nonsense.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @07:56PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @07:56PM (#1212499)

        And what precisely is nonsense here? Pandemics typically end when people accept the disease as endemic or there's an effective vaccine to stop the spread and confine it to a region. None of this is particularly controversial. At least not if you stipulate true things as true.