Eric Topol: Where do we stand with Omicron? The data, the math, the patterns, and the exit

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Where do we stand with Omicron?

The data, the math, the patterns, and the exit

Eric Topol18 hr ago

The New Data

Clearly, there’s a major problem with vaccine breakthrough Omicron infections. Recall that with a booster vs Delta, the vaccine effectiveness was restored to ~95% as Ravin Gupta and I recently reviewed all of the reported studies in Science
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The Exit?

So where do we go from here? Is Omicron, by infecting “up to half the world’s population” going to serve as our exit ramp from pandemic to a contained, endemic state?
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That isn’t clear and it would be foolish to predict that, even though that occurred this week Omicron’s going to help in building an immunity wall, but whether that will be sufficient is indeterminate. We’re so far from containing the virus at this point, enabling further accelerate evolution to a new variant that could potentially have a higher level of immune evasion (not so lucky as with Omicron), more fully evading our current vaccines, or even the Omicron-specific vaccine expected later this year.

That is why it’s so essential to push on the pan-coronavirus vaccine, oral and nasal vaccines that build mucous immunity and help block transmission, and get mass production of Paxlovid along with other safe and effective anti-Covid pills that are very likely variant-proof, not relying on our immune system.

As the Washington Post editorial board wrote today, and which I’m in total agreement”:

“Ultimately, in chasing variants, we are always going to be behind the curve. Along with the immediate battle with omicron, renewed effort must be made to develop next-generation vaccines that will provide broader and longer protection and dampen transmission. Ideally, scientists will develop a universal coronavirus vaccine that encompasses all of these characteristics, capable of protecting against many — or all — known variants. That day cannot come soon enough.”

Now is not the time to rely on sharp descents and that somehow “it’s over”. If that happens, and we quickly get to containment and low levels of circulating virus that are no more threatening than annual flu, terrific. It seems quite unlikely with so much of the world’s population, especially in low and middle income countries, have yet to be vaccinated. If there’s one thing we learned about predicting the path of SARS-CoV-2, it’s that it’s unpredictable. So we shouldn’t plan on a rosy picture. There’s too much we can do right now to seize control in case the most optimistic scenarios don’t play out.

Read the whole article here:

https://erictopol.substack.com/p/where-do-we-stand-with-omicron

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Portugal: Omicron (BA.1) SARS-CoV-2 variant is associated with reduced risk of hospitalization and length of stay compared with Delta (B.1.617.2)

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Omicron (BA.1) SARS-CoV-2 variant is associated with reduced risk of hospitalization and length of stay compared with Delta (B.1.617.2)

Results
We included 15 978 participants aged 16 or more years old, 9 397 infected by Delta (B.1.617.2) and 6 581 infected with Omicron (BA.1). Within the Delta (B.1.617.2) group, 148 (1.6%) were hospitalized, and 16 (0.2%) were with the Omicron (BA.1). A total of 26 deaths were reported, all in participants with Delta (B.1.617.2) infection. Adjusted HR for hospitalization for the Omicron (BA.1) variant compared with Delta (B.1.617.2) was 0.25 (95%CI 0.15 to 0.43). The length of stay in hospital for Omicron (BA.1) patients was significantly shorter than for Delta (confounding-adjusted difference -4.0 days (95%CI -7.2 to -0.8). The odds of death were 0.14 (95% CI 0.0011 to 1.12), representing a reduction in the risk of death of 86% when infected with Omicron (BA.1) compared with Delta (B.1.617.2). Conclusion Omicron was associated with a 75% risk reduction of hospitalization compared with Delta (B.1.617.2) and reduced length of hospital stay.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.20.22269406v1

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Coronavirus: ‘exponential’ outbreak of Omicron triggers lockdowns in Hong Kong housing blocks

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Is it true that everyone will get Omicron? WHO answers

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https://www.livemint.com/science/health/is-it-true-that-everyone-will-get-omicron-who-answers-11642943869065.html

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Dr Jipson Quah of Wan Medical Clinic: Investigated for falsifying Covid-19 vaccine records, ART results

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Iris Koh, founder of Healing the Divide group, and a doctor and his assistant, arrested over alleged scheme to submit false vaccination status

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Healing The Divide co-founder Iris Koh accused of conspiring to submit false COVID vax status

Nicholas Yong·Assistant News EditorSun, 23 January 2022, 12:51 pm·3-min read

SINGAPORE — Iris Koh, the controversial 46-year-old co-founder of anti-vaccination group Healing The Divide, and two men have been accused of conspiring to submit false vaccination status to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Dr Jipson Quah, 33, and Thomas Chua, 40, were each charged on Friday (21 January) with an offence of abetment by conspiracy to cheat. Koh was charged on Sunday with an offence of criminal conspiracy to cheat.

All three have been remanded for further investigations.

The offences of abetment by conspiracy to cheat and criminal conspiracy to cheat are both punishable with imprisonment for a term of up to three years, or a fine, or both.

A further eight persons are under investigation for their suspected involvement in this conspiracy.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/healing-divide-iris-koh-men-charged-covid-vax-045142270.html

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Wallace Woon Published 9 Hours Ago

SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Health (MOH) is investigating a doctor at Wan Medical Clinic in Bedok for falsifying Covid-19 vaccination records, and is suspending four clinics linked to him.

It is also investigating the clinic for allegedly offering “remote” antigen rapid test (ART) pre-event testing, in partnership with Iris Koh, the founder of anti-vaccine group Healing the Divide.

MOH said on Sunday (Jan 23) that it was looking into the clinic following anonymous feedback in December 2021.

The clinic was said to have allowed individuals to submit pre-recorded videos or photos showing them performing a self-administered pre-event ART. It would then upload a negative ART result for these individuals.

Under the Infectious Diseases (Antigen Rapid Test Providers) Regulations 2021, pre-event testing must be conducted in real time, in the presence of a registered medical practitioner or qualified self-administered test supervisor.

MOH also found that the clinic’s doctor, 33-year-old Jipson Quah, had allegedly falsified vaccination records for individuals who had not actually received the vaccine.

Quah did this by submitting false information to the National Immunisation Registry to indicate that Covid-19 vaccines had been administered to these individuals, when they had in fact not received such vaccinations.

By doing so, the individuals would then be considered as vaccinated and eligible for all vaccination-differentiated safe management measures.

Quah had also allegedly submitted a false positive ART result to the Patient Risk Profile Portal, a national healthcare system used by doctors to upload ART results and other patient information.

This was done so that the unvaccinated patient could obtain recovered status and consequently be exempted from vaccination-differentiated safe management measures.

Ms Koh is alleged to have referred clients, believed to be members of her group, to the clinic.

MOH lodged a police report on Friday (Jan 21).

The police have since arrested and charged Quah and his 40-year-old clinic assistant Thomas Chua.

Koh was charged on Sunday (Jan 23) with an offence of criminal conspiracy to cheat.
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To safeguard public health and ensure that clinic practices are in line with national Covid-19 policies and regulations, MOH said it has issued notices of suspension to four medical clinics licensed to Quah or where he was a clinic manager, pending the outcome of investigations.

The clinics are: Wan Medical Clinic in Bedok, Mayfair Medical Clinic in Woodlands, Mayfair Medical Clinic in Chong Pang, and Ong Clinic and Surgery in Yishun.

MOH has also revoked the ART approval for the clinics.

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/bedok-clinic-investigated-for-falsifying-covid-19-vaccine-records-art-results-moh

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Leon Lee: Unsilenced, a movie

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Movies

Review: ‘Unsilenced’ immersively dramatizes political oppression in China

A man interrogates a bleeding man in the movie “Unsilenced.”

By Michael Rechtshaffen Jan. 20, 2022 10:11 AM PT

The Times is committed to reviewing theatrical film releases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because moviegoing carries risks during this time, we remind readers to follow health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.

Informed by actual events, the unfailingly fervent “Unsilenced” overcomes some problematic scripting and evident logistical challenges to emerge as a moving portrait of conscious resistance in the face of political oppression.

Set in Beijing circa 1999, filmmaker/human rights crusader Leon Lee’s dramatic recreation centers around Wang (Ting Wu), an idealistic PhD student at Tsinghua University who puts his promising future on the line when the ruling Chinese Communist Party demonizes the spiritual discipline of Falun Gong (or Falun Dafa), of which Wang is among millions of adherents.

Rather than agreeing to denounce the meditative practice, Wang and his friends turn to peaceful protest and, subsequently, guerrilla activism, only to be met with an increasingly brutal campaign of suppression personified by the sadistic Zhu (James Yi) that summons alarming echoes of Tiananmen Square.

Considerably less convincing is the subplot involving the seemingly single-handed efforts of a jaded white American journalist (Sam Trammell) from the fictional Chicago Post to get the story out into the world, which can’t help but feel both derivative (see also “The Killing Fields,” “Under Fire,” etc.) and a tad paternalistic.

Given the sheer number of ANONYMOUS entries on the end credits, it’s readily apparent the production, shot in Taipei and Vancouver, was made under challenging circumstances, but those contributions and the committed performances manage to rise above the occasional missteps, which include a distractingly relentless score, to create an immersive viewing experience.

As evidenced by an affecting, surprise appearance in the film’s epilogue, artistic virtue, like truth, will ultimately find a way to prevail.

‘Unsilenced’

In English and Chinese with English subtitles

Rated: R, for some violence

Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Playing: Starts Jan. 21, Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-01-20/review-unsilenced-chinese-censorship-leon-lee-sam-trammell

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Iris Koh, founder of Healing the Divide group, and a doctor and his assistant, arrested over alleged scheme to submit false vaccination status

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Dr Jipson Quah of Wan Medical Clinic: Investigated for falsifying Covid-19 vaccine records, ART results

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Wallace Woon Published 3 Hours Ago

SINGAPORE – The founder of anti-vaccine group Healing the Divide Iris Koh has been arrested, along with a doctor and his assistant, for allegedly conspiring to cheat and submit falsified vaccination records to the Ministry of Health (MOH), The Straits Times understands.

In a statement on Sunday (Jan 23), the police said they had arrested two men, aged 40 and 33, and a 46-year old woman on Friday (Jan 21).

The police said they began investigations after receiving a report from MOH about the trio’s alleged offences under the Infectious Diseases (Antigen Rapid Test Providers) Regulations 2021, and for submitting false information to the National Immunisation Registry to falsely indicate that Covid-19 vaccines had been administered to individuals.

They added that another eight people are currently being investigated for their suspected involvement in this conspiracy.

In their preliminary investigations, the police said that the doctor and his assistant had allegedly conspired to cheat MOH by submitting false information on behalf of individuals.

This was done so that MOH would then issue certificates of vaccination against Covid-19 in the TraceTogether app to these individuals, even though they had not received the full course of vaccination.

The police said people believed to be members of Healing the Divide would be referred to the doctor by Ms Koh.

Ms Koh is currently under investigation for allegedly inciting members of her group to disrupt public hotlines, including those that were used to help the public with Covid-19 issues.

She was charged in court on Sunday (Jan 23) with an offence of criminal conspiracy to cheat. 

It is uncommon for an alleged offender to be charged on a Sunday as the courts are usually closed then.

The two men were charged on Friday with an offence of abetment by conspiracy to cheat and are currently being held in remand for further investigations.

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https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/healing-divide-covid-19-vaccination-anti-vax-arrest-2453626

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Thais turn to crocodile meat as pricey pork pulls pig off the menu for Lunar New Year feasts

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ESCAPING to Penang a World’s Heritage Site | 18 things to do & 3 accommodations in 5 Days 4 Nights

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Excerpts from “The AP Interview: Exiled artist Ai Weiwei on Beijing Games”

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Associated Press

The AP Interview: Exiled artist Ai Weiwei on Beijing Games

STEPHEN WADE
Tue, 18 January 2022, 1:01 pm

When he was tapped to help design Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the artist Ai Weiwei hoped the Games and the arena’s instantly recognizable weave of curving steel beams would symbolize China’s new openness.

He was disappointed. The Chinese dissident widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest living artists has repeatedly described the stadium and the 2008 Olympics as a “fake smile” that his native country presented to the world.

Now the Bird’s Nest is about to host the Feb. 4 opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics, and Ai expects more of the same.

“As an architect, my goal was the same as other architects, that is, to design it as perfectly as possible,” Ai told The Associated Press in an interview over email. “The way it was used afterwards went in the opposite direction from our ideals. We had hoped that our architecture could be a symbol of freedom and openness and represent optimism and a positive force, which was very different from how it was used as a promotional tool in the end.”

Even before his fame landed him the design job working with a Swiss architectural firm, Ai had been an unrelenting critic of the Chinese Communist Party. He was jailed in 2011 in China for unspecified crimes and now lives in exile in Portugal. He has also lived in exile in Germany — he still maintains a studio there — and in Britain.
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When the International Olympic Committee awarded Beijing the Olympics in 2001, it said the Games could help improve human rights. But Ai termed the 2008 Olympics a “low point” as migrant workers were forced out of the city, small shops were shuttered and street vendors removed. Blocks-long billboards popped up, painted with palm trees and beach scenes, to hide shabby neighborhoods from view.

“The entire Olympics took place under the situation of a blockade,” Ai told AP. “For the general public, there was no joy in participation. Instead, there was a close collaboration between the IOC and the Chinese regime, “who put on a show together in order to obtain economic and political capital.”

His memoir “1,000 Years of Joys and Sorrows” was published last year. It details the overlap of his life and career with that of his father, Ai Qing, a famous poet who was sent into internal exile in 1957, the year Ai Weiwei was born.

In the book, Ai writes that he watched the opening ceremony away from the stadium on a television screen, and jotted down the following.

“In this world where everything has a political dimension, we are now told we mustn’t politicize things: This is simply a sporting event, detached from history and ideas and values — detached from human nature, even.”

The IOC and China again say the Olympics are divorced from politics. China, of course, has political ends in mind. For the IOC, the Olympics are a sports business that generates billions in sponsor and television income.

In his email, Ai described China as emboldened by the 2008 Olympics — “more confident and uncompromising.” He said the 2008 Games were a “negative” that allowed China’s government to better shape its message. The Olympics did not change China in ways the IOC suggested, or foster civil liberties.

Instead, China used the Olympics to alter how it was perceived on the world stage and to signal its rising power.

The 2008 Games were followed a month later by the world financial crisis, and in 2012 by the rise of General Secretary Xi Jinping. Xi was a senior politician in charge of the 2008 Olympics, but the 2022 Games are his own.

“Since 2008, the government of China has further strengthened its control, and the human rights situation has further deteriorated,” Ai told AP.

“China has seen the West’s hypocrisy and inaction when it comes to issues of human rights, so they have become even bolder, more unscrupulous and more ruthless. In 2022, China will impose more stringent constraints to the internet and political life,” including human rights and the press, he said.

The Communist Party “does not care if the West participates in the Games or not because China is confident that the West is busy enough with their own affairs.”

Ai characterized the 2022 Winter Olympics and the pandemic as a case of fortunate timing for China’s authoritarian government. The pandemic will limit the movement of journalists during the Games, and it will also showcase the state’s Orwellian control.

“China, under the system of state capitalism and especially after COVID, firmly believes that its administrative control is the only effective method; this enhances their belief in authoritarianism. Meanwhile, China thinks that the West, with its ideas of democracy and freedom, can hardly obtain effective control. So, the 2022 Olympics will further testify to the effectiveness of authoritarianism in China and the frustration of the West’s democratic regimes.”
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Asked if he planned to go back to China, he said he was doubtful. And he dismissed the effectiveness of the West’s diplomatic boycott, which means government officials will not attend.

“Judging from the current situation, it is more and more unlikely for me to be able to return to China,” he said. “My main point here is that the situation in China has worsened. The West’s boycott is futile and pointless. China does not care about it at all.”

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AP Sports Writer Stephen Wade reported for The Associated Press from Beijing for 2 1/2 years in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics, and also the follow-up.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/ap-interview-exiled-artist-ai-050126929.html

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