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BA.2.12.1 is on the rise in New York…

A recently named sub-strain represents the latest twist in the ongoing evolution of SARS-CoV-2. It’s currently active in the United States and looks…



A recently named sub-strain represents the latest twist in the ongoing evolution of SARS-CoV-2. It’s currently active in the United States and looks to be very capable of spreading, outpacing the base model BA.2. As usual, it’s early days so we don’t know a lot about BA.2.12.1 and disease severity or how much protection is offered by previous vaccination. It seems BA.2.12.1 is likely to visit a host near you in 2022.

Analysis of some genomes shows the rise of BA.2.12.1

The US CDC genomic sequencing data page shows this variant’s rise to the week ending 23rd of April. They also model its likely ongoing rapid spread.[2,5]

Graph from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID data tracker, variant proportions website.[2]

BA.2.12.1 has also been highlighted on NEXTSTRAIN – a gold standard resource for following the emergence and changes of a range of important viruses.[2]

Dr Emma Hodcroft notes NEXTSTRAIN has made a place for some new clades in the forest of SARS-CoV-2, and this includes BA.2.12.1 (22C).[3] See the NEXTSTRAIN blog on this image.[4]

Remember that sequencing is a lagging indicator – what we see now, happened in the past. The lag can be bigger or smaller depending on the source.

Genomic sequencing usually shows only the tip of the iceberg. It shouldn’t be used to define the number of cases in an area unless every case is a) captured (some sites are better than others) and b) can be sequenced (depends on sampling, sample handling, whereabouts in the course of the disease the person is, CT, sequencing method, data analysis, etcetera).

Drawing conclusions about changes in virus proportions based on viral genome sequencing is subject to from whom, where and when samples were collected; do they represent what we assume when we look at the data? What proportion cam from hospitalised patients, cases of special interest, asymptomatic cases, are they from a fixed percentage of cases, are they from all over the land, is there a proportional representation of locals and travellers…and so on.

Hospitalised cases are on the rise in New York

Given this apparent rise in BA.2.12.1 viruses in New York COVID-19 cases, it’s also very interesting to look at hospitalisations. Here we find that there’s been a rise in hospitalised cases as well.[1]

Graph from New York State Health Department’s novel coronavirus hospitalisation summary.[1]

BA.2.12.1 is already travelling

With an estimated transmission advantage of 23% – 27% over the original BA.2,[14] it’s no surprise BA.2.12.1 is on the move. Other States in the US have already reported cases,[13] and it’s been detected in a case in Delhi, India [17], among two local cases in Singapore [16] and in the wastewater of the Australian State of Victoria.[15,6]

We know what we can do

There are a few things we know can help us avoid getting sick from circulating respiratory viruses like SARS-CoV-2.

Getting boosted is top of the list

Our immunity to anything drops off over time.

We’ve learned in the pandemic that the first to go is the relatively short-lived immunity that protects from infection (virus getting a foothold in our airways).

The next to go is immunity against more severe disease but that isn’t necessarily because the vaccine-generate immunity has disappeared, but more because SARS-CoV2 keeps evolving. That other slippery virus we know so well, the influenza virus, does a similar thing. So we have to change the flu vaccine annually to keep up with the rapidly evolving flu viruses.

When viruses like SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus spread through so many humans, each infection giving rise to a swarm of mutants, there are more chances (because more hosts) that a “fitter” virus will emerge. In this context, fitness relates to a virus changed enough to be able to doge some of our immune response. We’ll learn more about what BA.2.12.1 can do as time goes by.

Air purity

While not accessible to everyone,[18-19] even in richer nations, we expect our food to be fresh and clean and we expect our water to be toxin and pathogen-free. These two things, when present and working, save lives and prevent a lot of diseases.

The next big revolution in public health is to purify pathogens out of the air we share.[9-12]

If we did this, we would dramatically reduce acute and chronic diseases, reduce sick days and lost education days and hospital and aged care disease outbreaks.


They don’t hurt and, if you use good ones (e.g. P2/N95) and they fit well and you wear them whenever there is a risk, you’ll reduce the likelihood of inhaling enough virus to get sick.


  1. Novel coronavirus, Daily Hospitalisation Summary
  2. COVID Data Tracker – Variant Proportions
  3. Genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 with subsampling focused globally over the past 6 months
  4. SARS-CoV-2 clade naming strategy for 2022 9last visited, 02MAY2022 AEST)
  5. New Omicron Variant BA.2.12.1 Now Dominant In New York, Driving Infections; Strain Up 47% Nationwide In Past Week
  6. COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 detected in Australia in Victorian wastewater
  7. Survival Of The Fittest: The Rise Of BA.2.12.1
  8. Portable air cleaners and residential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 aerosols: A real-world study
  9. Aerodynamic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in two Wuhan hospitals
  10. Use of portable air purifiers as local exhaust ventilation during COVID-19
  11. Airborne SARS-CoV-2 in hospitals – effects of aerosol-generating procedures, HEPA-filtration units, patient viral load and physical distance
  12. Use of portable air cleaners to reduce aerosol transmission on a hospital coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) ward
  13. A new omicron subvariant is spreading in North Texas: What we know about BA.2.12.1
  14. New York State Department of Health Announces Emergence of Recently Identified, Highly Contagious Omicron Subvariants in New York and Urges Continued Vigilance Against COVID-19
  15. Coronavirus update for Victoria – 29 April 2022
  16. 2 S’pore Covid-19 cases infected with new Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1
  17. Omicron’s BA.2.12.1 mutant found in a Delhi patient, all you need to know about the sub-variant
  18. Calls for clean water continue
  19. Uranium Detectable in Two-Thirds of U.S. Community Water System Monitoring Records

Hits: 10

The post BA.2.12.1 is on the rise in New York… appeared first on Virology Down Under.

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Family Of College Student Who Died From COVID-19 Vaccine Sues Biden Administration

Family Of College Student Who Died From COVID-19 Vaccine Sues Biden Administration

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis…



Family Of College Student Who Died From COVID-19 Vaccine Sues Biden Administration

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The family of a college student who died from heart inflammation caused by Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has sued President Joe Biden’s administration, alleging officials engaged in “willful misconduct.”

George Watts Jr. in a file image. (Courtesy of the Watts family)

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) officials wrongly promoted COVID-19 vaccination by repeatedly claiming the available vaccines were “safe and effective,” relatives of George Watts Jr., the college student, said in the new lawsuit.

That promotion “duped millions of Americans, including Mr. Watts, into being DOD’s human subjects in its medical experiment, the largest in modern history,” the suit states.

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act allows lawsuits against certain people if they have engaged in “willful misconduct” and if that misconduct caused death or serious injury.

COVID-19 vaccines are covered by the act due to a declaration entered during the Trump administration in 2020 after COVID-19 began circulating.

DOD’s conduct and the harm caused as alleged within the four corners of the lawsuit speaks for itself,” Ray Flores, a lawyer representing the Watts family, told The Epoch Times via email. “I have no further comment other than to say: My only duty is to advocate for my client. If the DOD conveys a settlement offer, I will see that it’s considered.”

The suit was filed in U.S. court in Washington.

The Pentagon and the Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment.

Watts Suddenly Died

Watts was a student at Corning Community College when the school mandated COVID-19 vaccination for in-person classes in 2021. He received one Pfizer dose on Aug. 27, 2021, and a second dose approximately three weeks later.

Watts soon began experiencing a range of symptoms, including tingling in the feet, pain in the heels, numbness in the hands and fingers, blood in his sperm and urine, and sinus pressure, according to family members and health records.

Watts went to the Robert Packer Hospital emergency room on Oct. 12, 2021, due to the symptoms. X-rays showed clear lungs and a normal heart outline.

Watts was sent home with suggestions to follow up with specialists but returned to the emergency room on Oct. 19, 2021, with worsening symptoms despite a week of the antibiotic Augmentin. He was diagnosed with sinusitis and bronchitis.

While speaking to his mother at home on Oct. 27, 2021, Watts suddenly collapsed. Emergency medical personnel rushed to the home but found him unresponsive. He was rushed to the same hospital in an ambulance. He was pronounced deceased at age 24.

According to a doctor at the hospital, citing hospital records and family members, Watts had no past medical history on file that would explain his sudden death, with no known history of substance abuse or obvious signs of substance abuse. His mother described her son as a “healthy young male.”

Dr. Robert Stoppacher, a pathologist who performed an autopsy on the body, said that the death was due to “COVID-19 vaccine-related myocarditis.” The death certificate listed no other causes. A COVID-19 test returned negative. Dr. Sanjay Verma, based in California, reviewed the documents in the Watts case and said that he believed the death was caused by the COVID-19 vaccination.

Pfizer did not respond to a request for comment.

Watts Took Vaccine Under Pressure

The community college mandate included a 35-day grace period following approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were given emergency use authorization early in the pandemic. The FDA approved the Pfizer shot on Aug. 23, 2021. It was the first COVID-19 vaccine approval. But doses of the approved version of the shot, branded Comirnaty, were not available for months after the approval.

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Tyler Durden Fri, 06/02/2023 - 23:00

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US Sent Billions in Funding to China, Russia For Cat Experiments, Wuhan Lab Research: Ernst

US Sent Billions in Funding to China, Russia For Cat Experiments, Wuhan Lab Research: Ernst

Authored by Mark Tapscott via The Epoch Times…



US Sent Billions in Funding to China, Russia For Cat Experiments, Wuhan Lab Research: Ernst

Authored by Mark Tapscott via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Hundreds of millions of U.S. tax dollars went to recipients in China and Russia in recent years without being properly tracked by the federal government, including a grant that enabled a state-run Russian lab to test cats on treadmills, according to Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) speaks at a Senate Republican news conference in the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Ernst and her staff investigators, working with auditors at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Research Service, as well as two nonprofit Washington watchdogs—Open The Books (OTB) and the White Coat Waste Project (WCWP)—discovered dozens of other grants that weren’t counted on the federal government’s internet database.

While the total value of the uncounted grants found by the Ernst team is $1.3 billion, that amount is just the tip of the iceberg, the GAO reported.

Among the newly discovered grants is $4.2 million to China’s infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) “to conduct dangerous experiments on bat coronaviruses and transgenic mice,” according to a May 31 Ernst statement provided to The Epoch Times.

The $4.2 million exposed by Ernst is in addition to previously reported funding to the WIV for extensive gain-of-function research by Chinese scientists, much of it funded in whole or part prior to the COVID-19 pandemic by National Institutes for Health (NIH) grants channeled through the EcoHealth Alliance medical research nonprofit.

The NIH has awarded seven grants totaling more than $4.1 million to EcoHealth to study various aspects of SARS, MERS, and other coronavirus diseases.

Buying Chinese Puppy Parts

As part of another U.S.-funded grant, hearts and other organs from 425 dogs in China were purchased for medical research.

These countryside dogs in China are part of the farmer’s household; they were mainly used for guarding. Their diet includes boiled rice, discarded raw food animal tissues, and whatever dogs can forage. These dogs were sold for food,” an NIH study uncovered by the Ernst researchers reads.

Other previously unreported grants exposed by the Ernst team include $1.6 million to Chinese companies from the federal government’s National School Lunch Program and $4.7 million for health insurance from a Russian company that was sanctioned by the United States in 2022 as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s gravely concerning that Washington’s reckless spending has reached the point where nobody really knows where all tax dollars are going,” Ernst separately told The Epoch Times. “But I have the receipts, and I’m shining a light on this, so bureaucrats can no longer cover up their tracks, and taxpayers can know exactly what their hard-earned dollars are funding.”

The problem is that federal officials don’t rigorously track sub-awards made by initial grant recipients, according to the Iowa Republican. Such sub-awards are covered by a multitude of federal regulations that stipulate many conditions to ensure that the tax dollars are appropriately spent.

The GAO said in an April report that “limitations in sub-award data is a government-wide issue and not unique to U.S. funding to entities in China.”

GAO is currently examining the state of federal government-wide sub-award data as part of a separate review,” the report reads.

Peter Daszak, right, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, is seen in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

The Eco-Health sub-awards to WIV illustrate the problem.

“Despite being required by law to make these receipts available to the public on the website, EcoHealth tried to cover its tracks by intentionally not disclosing the amounts of taxpayer money being paid to WIV, which went unnoticed for years,” Ernst said in the statement.

“I was able to determine that more than $490 million of taxpayer money was paid to organizations in China [in] the last five years. That’s ten times more than GAO’s estimate! Over $870 million was paid to entities in Russia during the same period!

Together that adds up to more than $1.3 billion paid to our adversaries. But again, these numbers still do not represent the total dollar amounts paid to institutions in China or Russia since those numbers are not tracked and the information that is being collected is incomplete.”

Adam Andrzejewski, founder and chairman of OTB, told The Epoch Times, “When following the money at the state and local level, the real corruption exists in the subcontractor payments. At the federal level, the existing system doesn’t even track many of those recipients.

“Without better reporting, agencies and appropriators don’t truly understand how tax dollars were used. We now know that taxpayer dollars are traded further downstream than originally realized with third- and fourth-tier recipients. These transactions need scrutiny. Requiring recipients to account for where and how they actually spend each dollar creates a record far better than agencies are capable of generating.”

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Tyler Durden Fri, 06/02/2023 - 19:40

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OraSure Technologies’ CFO Makes Bold Insider Purchase, Reigniting Investor Confidence

Executive Kenneth McGrath’s $500,000 buy read as promising signal about future for diagnostic test developer OraSure Technologies (NASDAQ:OSUR) saw…




Executive Kenneth McGrath’s $500,000 buy read as promising signal about future for diagnostic test developer

OraSure Technologies (NASDAQ:OSUR) saw a stock price re-rate on Thursday, climbing 11% after investors became aware of its CFO Kenneth McGrath buying shares in the diagnostic test developer.  This latest rally in OSUR stock, gives traders and investors hope that the strong momentum from the beginning of 2023 might return.

OSUR shares had mounted an impressive 54% rally for 2023 through to May 10, when the first-quarter results update spooked investors. 

The CFO’s trade was initially spotted on Fintel’s Insider Trading Tracker following the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Big Holdings Boost

In the Form 4 filing, McGrath, who assumed CFO duties in August 2022, disclosed buying 100,000 shares on May 30 in the approved trading window that was open post results.

McGrath on average paid $4.93 per share, giving the total transaction a value just shy of $500,000 and boosted his total share count ownership to 285,512 shares.

The chart below from the insider trading and analysis report for OSUR shows the share price performance and profit made from company officers in previous transactions:

OraSure Technologies

Prior to joining OraSure, McGrath had an impressive eight-year tenure at Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX), where he rose to the position of VP of Finance before departing. This is the first time that the CFO has bought stock in the company since August 2022. It is also worth noting that the purchase followed strong Q1 financial results, which exceeded Street forecasts.

Revenue Doubles

In its recently published Q1 update, OraSure Technologies told investors that it generated a whopping 129% increase in revenue to $155 million, surpassing analyst expectations of around $123 million. 

Notably, the revenue growth was driven primarily by the success of OraSure’s COVID-19 products, which accounted for $118.4 million in revenue for the quarter and grew 282% over the previous year.

The surge in revenue for this product was largely driven by the federal government’s school testing program, which led to record test volumes. However, it is important to note that demand for InteliSwab is expected to decline in Q2 2023, prompting OraSure to scale down its COVID-19 production operations. As part of its broader strategy to consolidate manufacturing, the company plans to close an overseas production facility.

While the COVID-19 products division has been instrumental in OraSure’s recent success, its core business delivered stable flat sales of $36.6 million during the quarter. 

In terms of net income, OraSure achieved an impressive result of $27.2 million, or $0.37 per share, in Q1, marking a significant improvement compared to the loss of $19.9 million, or a loss of $0.28 per share, in the same period last year. This result exceeded consensus forecasts of $0.16 per share. As of the end of the quarter, the company held $112.4 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Looking ahead to Q2, OraSure has provided revenue guidance in the range of $62 to $67 million, reflecting the lower order activity from the US government with $25 to $30 million expected sales for InteliSwab. The declining Covid related sales have been a core driver of the share price weakness in recent weeks.

While sales are likely to fall in the coming quarters, one positive for the company is its low debt balance during this period of rising cash rates. The chart below from Fintels financial metrics and ratios page for OSUR shows the cash flow performance of the business over the last five years.

OraSure Technologies

Analyst Opinions

Stephen’s analyst Jacob Johnson thinks that outside of Covid, OSUR continues to execute on several cost and partnership initiatives which he believes appears to be bearing fruit. Johnson pointed out that three partnerships were signed during the quarter.

The analyst thinks that the ex-Covid growth story will be the new focus for investors from now on. The brokerage maintained its ‘equal-weight’ recommendation and $6.50 target price on the stock, matching Fintel’s consensus target price, suggesting OSUR stock could rise a further 29% in the next 12 months. 

The post OraSure Technologies’ CFO Makes Bold Insider Purchase, Reigniting Investor Confidence appeared first on Fintel.

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