What is really happening with these new Omicron COVID virus variants?

Every week or so there seems to be an impassioned announcement of a new Omicron variant of the COVID virus (SARS-CoV-2) that “threatens our population.” The latest, called XBB.1.5, has arrived with great fanfare. It even has been nicknamed “Kraken” because it is supposedly monstrous! XBB.1.5 was first identified in the Eastern United States whereContinue reading “What is really happening with these new Omicron COVID virus variants?”

Are vaccines driving the development of COVID variants? A response to the Wall Street Journal editorial.

I’ve been asked by several readers to evaluate an editorial in the Wall Street Journal with the provocative title “Are vaccines fueling new COVID variants?” This editorial by Allysia Findlay, a non-medical member of the Journal’s editorial board, proposes that vaccinating individuals against COVID-19 is now responsible for driving the creation of new COVID virusContinue reading “Are vaccines driving the development of COVID variants? A response to the Wall Street Journal editorial.”

Good COVID news for the over 50 crowd this Christmas.

While there has been considerable debate about the use and value of COVID-19 interventions in young people, there is no doubt that they are really necessary in older individuals. Essentially 90% of deaths from COVID right now occur in those over 65 years old, and the bulk of the hospitalizations come from people in thisContinue reading “Good COVID news for the over 50 crowd this Christmas.”

Dr. Fauci’s Retirement

I have made no secret about my respect for Tony, who I was fortunate to train with for a brief time 40 years ago. Despite this, I think the current controversy surrounding him was the unfortunate result of several errors he made. One of the biggest was probably taking advice from people like Drs. BobContinue reading “Dr. Fauci’s Retirement”

Let’s all be thankful that it isn’t 1918.

As we try to understand the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be useful to analyze the course of the 1918 influenza pandemic, the closest similar event for which we have accurate public health records. There are interesting parallels and some important differences between what happened in 1918 and the COVID-19 pandemic of theContinue reading “Let’s all be thankful that it isn’t 1918.”

The Thanksgiving triple play: RSV, Flu and COVID discussed on Flashpoint November 20th at 10:00 AM

Dear loyal readers of pandemicpondering.com. I am back from a week of crossing the country for two professional meetings and for better or worse I can assure everyone that wearing masks on airplanes is passe’! I will be writing a post about what we have to be thankful for this week, but in the meanContinue reading “The Thanksgiving triple play: RSV, Flu and COVID discussed on Flashpoint November 20th at 10:00 AM”

Dr. Walensky, why at this point doesn’t the U.S. have a plan for handling COVID-19 and other pandemics?

Everyone seems to still have questions about COVID-19. Parents want to know the rationale behind immunizing their children, businesses want to know the likelihood of future economic disruptions and people generally want an assurance that they can normalize their lives. I can see the confusion on the faces of people parsing whether to wear aContinue reading “Dr. Walensky, why at this point doesn’t the U.S. have a plan for handling COVID-19 and other pandemics?”

The CDC director just got sick with COVID 19 a month after she had received her booster vaccination. How can this happen and what does it mean?

Early this week the CDC announced that its director, Rochelle Wollensky, was infected with COVID-19. While she is reportedly doing well and isolating at home, this raised eyebrows because she had received the new bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine booster just a month before. Her immunity to COVID infection from this booster should have been at itsContinue reading “The CDC director just got sick with COVID 19 a month after she had received her booster vaccination. How can this happen and what does it mean?”

I didn’t believe anything about COVID could upset me anymore until I heard about these folks at Boston University…

The news came out that there was an experiment at Boston University to try to make a potentially more lethal SARS-CoV-2 omicron virus. On face value this seems like an incredibly stupid idea, but with more investigation, it’s actually worse than that! There is a federal biodefense lab at Boston University (National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory)Continue reading “I didn’t believe anything about COVID could upset me anymore until I heard about these folks at Boston University…”

Will there be a new COVID surge this winter?

The Internet has been ablaze with stories about a potential COVID-19 surge that is anticipated this winter. While most of the articles strongly argue for the likelihood of a surge, there is no hard data indicating that the United States is indeed going to experience new infection outbreaks. In fact, most areas in the countryContinue reading “Will there be a new COVID surge this winter?”