Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
Dutch woman dies after catching Covid-19 twice, the first reported reinfection death
An elderly Dutch woman has become the first known person to die after catching Covid-19 twice, according to researchers in the Netherlands, raising serious questions about how long immunity and antibodies can last.

The woman, who suffered from a rare type of bone marrow cancer, first tested positive for the virus earlier this year, after being admitted to hospital with a severe cough and fever. She was discharged five days later. Nearly two months after her first Covid-19 episode, the woman developed symptoms again while she was in chemotherapy treatment. She once again tested positive for Covid-19, and no antibodies were detected in her blood system when tested on days four and six. Her condition deteriorated on day eight.

Her immune system was compromised due to the cell-depleting therapy she was receiving, but researchers wrote that her natural immune response could still have been "sufficient" to fight-off Covid-19, as the type of treatment she received for cancer "does not necessarily result in life threatening disease."

More than 1 million mink will be killed to help contain a series of Covid-19 outbreaks on Danish farms
Danish Mink
The Danish government has ordered the country's mink farms to cull over 1 million mink due to a series of Covid-19 outbreaks among the animals.

The current outbreak is believed to have started in late June when a Covid-19 patient was associated with a mink farm in North Jutland, according to a report by the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. The disease was found to have spread to the mink after the Danish Patient Safety Authority had samples taken from 34 of the farm's animals.

The government began to introduce measures in the summer to limit the spread of Covid-19 on mink farms, but the number of cases dramatically increased in September.

... The culling process will be handled by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the Danish Emergency Management Agency, and mink breeders will receive compensation for the loss of their herd along with compensation for their operation losses.

Denmark is the world's largest producer of mink skins. According to the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, there are approximately 1,500 Danish fur farmers that produce nearly 19 million mink skins per year.


Richard Quest: After recovering from Covid-19, I thought I was safe. Now my antibodies are waning
Resilience, but no immunity?

I relate all of this because it's another example of our collective tortuous journey with this disease. The circuitous progress of the pandemic creates fear, then hope, then back to fear again, seemingly with no end.

I have seen many Covid recoverees quietly parade their antibody status as if it is a shield for life. Yet I would bet good money that if they took another test they would also discover that their armor has cracked, or has holes in it.

I only discovered the curious case of my dwindling antibodies because I get tested frequently because of my travels for work.

I like to think common sense tells me that I can't catch Covid again in the short term -- otherwise we would have heard of many more cases of re-infection. So far there have only been a few outlier cases and they tend to have unique circumstances. Yet common sense must now be trumped by that hoary but voguish cliché: the "abundance of caution." I will only take common sense so far.

This is all teaching me that what was fact yesterday, doesn't mean it's the same today. Experts are saying we know a lot more about Covid now than we did six months ago. That is true at the helicopter level, where governments make national policies, and also at the grass roots, as I go about my life.

My new reality is that I no longer have the antibodies of which I was once so proud. I may have a resilience based on T-cell memory and I am unlikely to be infected again, but I may! I just wonder what other "certainty" is going to crumble into the dust next.

While I wait to find out, I will follow the rules.

Boris Johnson has split from his top scientists on coronavirus
There was a time when Boris Johnson claimed his government was following the science at every step of its plan for dealing with the coronavirus.

But as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK soars once more, and the country braces for a long, miserable winter, the British Prime Minister appears to be at odds with those same advisers he once placed front and center of the pandemic response.

Long Island venue fined for 'super-spreader' Sweet 16 party linked to nearly 40 cases
A Sweet 16 turned sour when 29 guests took home the coronavirus as a party favor -- a costly gift for the Long Island venue hit with $12,000 in Covid-19 violation fines.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services levied the fines after extensive contact tracing connected a cluster of cases to a September 25 Sweet 16 party at the Miller Place Inn, according to a Suffolk County Health Department press release.

The 81-person guest list, 49 students and 32 adults, violated New York state's executive orders limiting nonessential gatherings to 50 people or less than 50% capacity.

Of the 37 positive cases health officials identified from the party, 29 were party guests, seven were household members and one a close contact of someone who attended the party.

As of Tuesday, health officials identified 334 contacts, 151 who were non-school affiliated and 183 who were school affiliated. A total of 270 people connected to the event are under quarantine, according to the health department.

The Miller Place Inn is charged with causing, permitting and serving as the venue for an indoor gathering of more than 50 persons and for not enforcing New York and Suffolk County Department of Health Covid-19 restrictions. The venue is also charged with operating a food establishment in an unsanitary condition.

The White House is embracing a 'herd immunity' strategy that would allow COVID-19 to spread freely, despite it being widely disputed by scientists
  • White House officials say the administration is warming to a controversial herd immunity strategy advocated in a document called the Great Barrington Declaration.
  • Under the strategy, those not particularly vulnerable to serious infections are allowed to live normally while the vulnerable are shielded.
  • The document is widely criticized by scientists, and emphatically rejected by the WHO, the UK government, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Barron Trump tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after the president and first lady did, according to a letter from Melania
  • Barron Trump tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after his parents did, First Lady Melania Trump disclosed on Wednesday.
  • The 14-year old initially tested negative for the virus, according to the White House.
  • "My fear came true when he was tested again and it came up positive. Luckily he is a strong teenager and exhibited no symptoms," the first lady wrote in a White House blog post. He has since tested negative.
  • On Wednesday when asked about his son, President Donald Trump said he's "fine."