A Blog by Jonathan Low


Oct 15, 2021

Scientists Work To Analyze Vaccination, Infection 'Superimmunity' Differences

Antibodies remain poorly understood, especially the differences they cause in immunity between those who are vaccinated and those who were infected. 

Science is focusing on that puzzle in an effort to further slow the virus. JL 

Ewen Callaway reports in Nature:

Those who recovered from COVID-19 months before receiving their jabs harbored antibodies capable of defanging the mutant spike, which displays much more resistance to immune attack than any known naturally occurring variant. These peoples’ antibodies even blocked other types of coronaviruses. Such ‘super-immunity’ has become one of the pandemic’s great mysteries. Researchers hope that, by mapping the differences between the immune protection that comes from infection compared with that from vaccination, they can chart a safer path to this higher level of protection.

The Pentagon Wants To Use AI To Predict Events Before They Occur

What could go wrong...?

Natasha Bajema reports in IEEE Spectrum:

(AI) real-time situational awareness for any geographic location, comprised from many different classified and unclassified data sources—massive volumes of satellite imagery, communications data, intelligence reports, and a variety of sensor data. Lattice offers real-time threat tracking and response options and strategic and cloud-based collaboration across many different commands. These decision tools are supposed to anticipate what adversaries will do ahead of time, allowing U.S. military leaders to preempt the actions of adversaries before conflict arises and deny them any benefits from taking predicted actions.

Combative Customers Cause Employees To Quit, Threatening Economy

Aggressive and sometimes violent customers are taking their frustrations out on retail, hotel and restaurant employees, causing many to quit. 

The result may become sufficiently impactful that it is beginning to stall the economic recovery. JL

Hope King and Niala Boodhoo report in Axios:

Workers say increasingly combative customers — angry about everything from long wait times to mask mandates — have prompted them to quit. Many workers say they're simply not willing to put up with the abuse any longer — and their employers are often taking their side. The number of retail workers is still 202,000 short of February 2020 levels. Restaurants and bars are still about 1 million jobs short of pre-pandemic levels, with more than two-thirds of restaurant workers saying customer behavior is a factor in the industry's labor shortage.

Covid Booster Shots Have Created Skepticism Among the Unvaccinated

Hard core Covid vaccine refusers believe that the booster shots signal that the vaccine is not working. 

They live in an alternate reality and it is not clear that anything will change their minds. JL 

Jan Hoffman reports in the New York Times:

Even as boosters are providing added protection for vulnerable populations, they are raising further doubts. The overwhelming majority of eligible adults who remain unvaccinated in the United States are hard-core refusers, and the arrival of boosters is making efforts to coax them as well as those who are still hesitating even more difficult. 71% of unvaccinated respondents said the need for boosters indicated that the vaccines were not working.

Apple Studying Potential of AirPods As Health Device

All the big tech companies, including Apple, recognize the value of health monitoring as a means of capturing additional data and the substantial revenue that will come with it. 

They have, so far, failed to address the manifest associated privacy concerns - and it is not clear they ever will. JL 

Rolfe Winkler reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Apple is studying ways to make AirPods into a health device, including for enhancing hearing, reading body temperature and monitoring posture. Apple is developing prototypes for AirPods to take wearers’ core body temperature from inside their ear. Apple’s ambition (is) to add health and wellness features to devices beyond the Apple Watch, where most of the company’s health functions exist today. Apple also aims to use iPhones to help diagnose depression and cognitive decline.

Covid Booster Shots Are Now Outpacing First Vaccine Doses

Data revealing that more Covid booster shots are now being given in the US than first or second doses suggests that those who believe in the benefits of vaccination remain committed to preventing the virus. 

But the data also reveals that those opposed to vaccination for political or cultural reasons or because they have been influenced by misinformation from anti-vax advocates or right-wing media, remain opposed and are unlikely to change their minds. The policy implications from a social science standpoint are that it may be most useful now to focus on vaccination for younger children who have not, as yet, been approved, rather than attempting to convince hard-core vaccine opponents. JL 

Kaia Hubbard and Alex Matthews report in USNews:

6.6 million shots were administered from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, nearly 2.7 million of which were booster shots, while about 2 million were first doses and 2 million were second doses. Those who are now eligible for a booster shot tend to be the same group who were first in line for a dose when they were first made available. More eligible individuals are opting for a third dose of the vaccine than one of the initial regimen. 6.7 million booster shots have been administered in total. The bulk of those have gone to seniors, while 2.4 million have gone to adults ages 18-64

Oct 14, 2021

Mixing Covid Vaccines For Boosters May Be More Effective Than Same Shot

This especially applies to those who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. 

This knowledge may be helpful going forward as vaccine surplus supplies begin to wane. JL

Beth Mole reports in ars technica:

Mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines for booster doses appears safe and as effective—if not more effective—than sticking with the same vaccine for a booster dose. That's according to preliminary data posted online from a clinical trial run by the National Institutes of Health. The preliminary trial findings hint that Moderna's mRNA vaccine may offer the strongest protection, backing up similar findings from earlier vaccine-effectiveness studies. The data also suggests that people who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine may want to get a boost with either Moderna's or Pfizer/BioNTech's.