Bits of good news about Covid

We’re talking about Covid again, so let’s grab some shreds of good news and pile them up like hamster bedding–only (if I remember my brother’s hamster correctly) not as stale smelling.


Shred number one

A study involving older, high-risk adults showed that nasal irrigation reduced the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid and helped people recover faster. 

What does “older” mean if we don’t have a comparison group? C’mon, we all know that in our culture it’s not nice to say someone’s old. They’re trying to be polite. My best guess is, older than the researchers.

Next question: What’s nasal irrigation? An inexpensive and low-tech way of clearing out your sinuses. You squirt a mild sterile saline solution up one nostril, tipping your head so it dribbles helplessly out the other, having found its way via satellite navigation. As the solution falls into the sink, you’ll hear a small voice saying, “You have reached your destination.” 

Irrelevant photo: It must be time for another cat photo. This is Fast Eddie, who doesn’t look like he was assembled correctly but was. Really.

Okay, I asked Lord Google what it involves, and I even tried doing it. It’s mildly off-putting but I’ve done worse things in the name of health. It’s entirely survivable.

But let’s go back to the study: Only 1.3% of the subjects were hospitalized, and none died. Compare that to the control group, where 9.47% were hospitalized and 1.5% died. Group one also got better faster and had fewer symptoms hanging on at the end of two weeks. 

The inspiration behind the study was 1) that saline decreases Covid’s ability to attach to cells–to the ACE2 receptor, in case you’re taking notes and 2) that the larger a person’s viral load is, the sicker they’re likely to be, so if within 24 hours of testing positive (the study’s designers reasonsed) some of the virus was rinsed out, that might reduce Covid’s damage. 

Nasal irrigation is a common practice in Southeast Asia, and interestingly enough death rates from Covid were lower there. That’s not definitive proof, but it’s intriguing enough to make a person design a study around it–if the aforesaid person happens to be in the right line of work, of course. 

Irrigation also helps with colds, postnasal drip,  sinus headaches, and all sorts of fun stuff. It’s said to improve people’s sense of taste and smell and the quality of their sleep. 

I’m starting to sound like a true believer, aren’t I? Sorry. I’ll recover in a minute or two, as soon as I stop this saline solution dribbling out of my left nostril. In the meantime, I can balance things out by admitting that it won’t make you taller or reverse aging.


Shred number two

A small study hints that vaccination may be decreasing the number of people who come down with long Covid. The study comes from the long Covid clinic at the Cambridge University Teaching Hospital, which treats people on the severe end of the spectrum. Between August 2021 and June 2022, it saw a 79% drop in referrals compared to August 2020 and July 2021.

That’s not proof that vaccination’s the cause–it’s only correlation–but it does suggest it.

Other studies also show a decrease, although the numbers have been all over the map. One showed a 15% reduction and another 50%. A third showed “eight of the ten most-commonly reported symptoms were reported between 50 and 80% less often.” I’d translate that into a format that parallels the other studies but somebody glued the pieces in place and I can’t. 

The reason the numbers vary so much is that the studies weren’t defining long Covid the same way or following people for the same length of time. 

So does catching Covid multiple times increase your odds of getting long Covid? The assumption has been that with each infection, you roll the dice again, taking the same risk each time. But one author of the study expects that previous infections will have more or less the same impact as vaccination and the risk will turn out to diminish after the first infection.



Shred number three

The omicron variant may be 20% to 50% less likely to turn into long Covid than the delta variant, depending on a person’s age and how much time has passed since they were last vaccinated. 

But–and isn’t there always a but?–because more people caught the omicron variant than the delta, the absolute number of people in the UK who came down with long Covid as a result was higher. 

Sorry. That second paragraph was as welcome as a thorny old blackberry cane sneaking into the hamster bedding.


Shred number four

Allergies might offer some protection against Covid. Do you have hay fever, allergic rhinitis, eczema, dermatitis? Be grateful for your bad luck, because you may be 23% less likely to get infected . Got one of those plus asthma? Be grateful twice: It may have down by 38%. 

That’s not proof, but it’s an interesting possibility.


Shred number five

A study estimates that in the first year Covid vaccines were available, they prevented 19.8 million deaths worldwide. Unfortunately, though, because of how unevenly they were distributed, the advantage was heavily skewed toward the richest countries.

You knew it wouldn’t all be good news here, didn’t you? 

During the first Covid wave, before vaccines were available, shutting schools cut daily deaths by 1.23 per million over 24 days and shutting workplaces cut daily deaths by 0.26 per million over 24 days. (Kids were less likely to get sick but they’re generous little creatures and they do like to share their germs.) For a population of 67 million (which just happens to be Britain’s population), that translates to roughly 82 deaths avoided every 24 days by shutting schools and 17 by shutting workplaces.

Lockdowns and restrictions on public transportation didn’t have as significant an impact. The difference is at least partially attributable to vulnerable people not being able to avoid workplaces and schools.  


Shred number six

India and China have approved inhalable vaccines, and many medical manufacturers are chasing their own inhalable versions. Injected vaccines concentrate antibodies in our muscles, which is useful, but we catch Covid by inhaling it, so the theory goes that loading the nose and mouth with antibodies could potentially keep us from spreading it. In other words, it really could end the pandemic.

Potentially. I don’t think the data on either of the new vaccines have been made public yet, so keep watching.


And now your weekly quota of bad-to-ambiguous news

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said, “Last week, one person died with Covid-19 every 44 seconds. Most of those deaths are avoidable.”

That quote’s from early September .

“You might be tired of hearing me say the pandemic is not over. But I will keep saying it until it is.”

A week later, he said “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We are not there yet, but the end is in sight.”

However, “If we don’t take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty.”

WHO is urging countries to continue testing for the virus, to continue sequencing it, and to vaccinate 100% of the most at-risk groups, including health workers and the elderly.

34 thoughts on “Bits of good news about Covid

  1. The irrigation is quite easy peasy when done when you don’t have sinus stuff, which also correlates with the time that most people are unlikely to engage in said behavior. Just boil the water and let it cool to essentially baby bottle temperature because it is very much a Goldilocks situation

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enough shreds for a salad! I would not trust an inhalable vaccine. I wonder if my Flonase stays in my nose long enough to do any good. With a shot, I know the magic potion is staying inside where it can get the work done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting thought. I’d love an inhalable vaccine, since it does where, with this bug, the work needs to be done. I use as inhalable, um, yeah, magic potion to stop a postnasal drip that I’ve had for as long as I can remember, and it makes a noticeable difference, in spite of all the obstacles my nose offers. (It’s an obstacle course in there.) So I’d go for it in a minute.


        • That’s worth knowing, and our dog never trusted the vet again after he squirted an inhalable vaccine up her nose. But if it works better, I’ll do it. I’m really, really tired of being cautious, although I’d rather be tired and cautious than risk the damn disease–my partner’s fairly vulnerable, and having wasted 4 years of my life on a post-viral syndrome, I worry about long Covid. I’ll weep and sneeze as needed.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Your fourth shred might explain why I’ve still managed to avoid getting covid. I’m not particularly careful anymore and I had a housemate for five months who wasn’t careful at all. It will be interesting to see what the winter brings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It will indeed. I’ve read that the number of cases is rising again, and a new twist on omicron is in the wings. Never a dull moment, eh? I’m glad you’re still okay. It’s hard not to let your guard down when the world around you has.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You say “The study comes from the long Covid clinic at the Cambridge University Teaching Hospital, which treats people on the severe end of the spectrum. Between August 2021 and June 2022, it saw a 79% drop in referrals compared to August 2020 and July 2021.”
    Two comments from a part time GP: the waiting list for long covid clinics is so long where I work that I’ve given up referring patients there and I hear that over 10% of GP referrals are being rejected.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for these interesting “shreds”.
    Btw: Mary and I have just had Covid. Both of us not in a severe form – luckily. And we’re over it. Well, Mary still has some cough, but she feels much better. Now, of course, we’re hoping that that was all and that there will be no longer lasting effects.
    Have a great weekend,

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never been brave enough to try nasal irrigation, although with my seasonal allergies, I probably should. Glad to know you didn’t think it was too bad. My allergist told me, “Some people try nasal irrigation and swear by it. Others try it and just swear.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When it gets a bit colder the TV ads over here will be selling “Neti Pots” for nasal irrigation. They illustrate the method just enough that, despite my sinus problems, I choose to avoid it.
    Today I had a choice of Covid vax #5 or my yearly flu shot. My doctor told me to get one then wait a week – preferably two – before getting the other,(didn’t matter in which order you got them)
    The pharmacist insisted that everybody was getting both at the same time. I finally told him I would argue with him before I would argue with my doctor and settled for the flu shot. The pharmacist said that they might not have enough vaccine in two weeks. I still could not imagine telling my doctor I ignored her advice to listen to the pharmacist, who I met for the first time today.
    Enjoying the picture of Fast Eddie too. I have been following Larry the Cat @ #10 on Twitter and see that he is not terribly impressed with the new PM.

    Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Larry is a feline of great political wisdom, despite who he’s had to rub shoulders with over the years.

      Over here, they’re doing the two shots in tandem, or in sequence. They don’t seem to see any difference. For whatever that’s worth.


    • High time you got something back in return for putting up with your allergies.

      Fast Eddie’s still making himself scarce since we got a second cat, although he does at least come in these days, which is reassuring. I miss him too.

      Liked by 1 person

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