How months-long COVID infections could seed dangerous new variants

Tracking SARS-CoV-2 evolution during persistent cases provides insight into the origins of Omicron and other global variants. What can scientists do with this knowledge?

Ewen Callaway

Nature | June 15, 2022

These are mutations that accumulated in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 during a seven-month-long infection.Illustration by Nik Spencer/Nature; Source: Ref. 1

Virologist Sissy Sonnleitner tracks nearly every COVID-19 case in Austria’s rugged eastern Tyrol region. So, when one woman there kept testing positive for months on end, Sonnleitner was determined to work out what was going on.

Before becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 in late 2020, the woman, who was in her 60s, had been taking immune-suppressing drugs to treat a lymphoma relapse. The COVID-19 infection lingered for more than seven months, causing relatively mild symptoms, including fatigue and a cough.

Sonnleitner, who is based at a microbiology facility in Außervillgraten, Austria, and her colleagues collected more than two dozen viral samples from the woman over time and found through genetic sequencing that it had picked up about 22 mutations (see ‘Tracking spike’s evolution’). Roughly half of them would be seen again in the heavily mutated Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 that surged around the globe months later1. “When Omicron was found, we had a great moment of surprise,” Sonnleitner says. “We already had those mutations in our variant.”

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WTO decides: no TRIPS waiver

Trade delegates and WTO Secretariat celebrate package of documents issued at the end of the Ministerial Conference, yet outlook for Global South remains bleak

Peoples Health Dispatch | June 17, 2022

Activists stage a “die-in” action at the WTO Ministerial Conference to protest the lack of TRIPS waiver (Photo: Our World is Not for Sale

The WTO announced on June 17 that it had reached an agreement on the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver. The deal has been criticized by people’s movements around the world as the WTO decidedly rejected the demand by health activists for a full TRIPS waiver.

The ministerial decision on the TRIPS agreement, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, was announced in the early morning in Geneva on June 17, almost two days after the expected end of the 12th Ministerial Conference. Although the decision was hailed by the WTO Secretariat and officials from the Global North as an unprecedented result, in practice it falls short of meeting the bare minimum of the world’s needs.

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China, Cuba Present Jointly-Produced ‘Pan-Corona Vaccine’

teleSUR | June 03, 2022

Cuba and China present the first patent for the Pancorona vaccine, result of the collaboration between both countries in the biotechnological field. | Photo: Twitter @EmbacubaChina

Cuba managed to develop five COVID-19 vaccines and inoculated 95% of its population against the COVID-19 virus, despite the burden of the U.S. blockade. China, likewise, produced a massive amount of two different vaccines for its 1.4 billion-strong population and much of the Third World.


Cuba and the People’s Republic of China jointly filed the first patent for a vaccine against  COVID-19 and its many variants, which could also be effective against several related viruses, the Cuban daily Granma reported on Thursday.

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Most US kids have caught the coronavirus, antibody survey finds

Study shows that infections in very young children doubled during the Omicron wave.

Smriti Mallapaty

Nature | May 05, 2022

Credit: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Shutterstock

Roughly two in every three children aged between one and four years old in the United States have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, according to a nationwide analysis1. Infections in that age group increased more than in any other during the Omicron wave, which researchers say demonstrates the variant’s high transmissibility.

Researchers looked for COVID-19 antibodies in blood samples from more than 86,000 children under 18 years old — including some 6,100 children aged between one and four. In the youngest children, the number of infections more than doubled, from 33% to 68% between December 2021 and February 2022.

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A new pandemic has struck the world: Food inflation

Food prices are increasing at an unprecedented rate worldwide, triggered by 2 years of COVID-19 pandemic-induced disruption and now the Russia-Ukraine war

Richard Mahapatra

Down To Earth | April 19, 2022

This story was updated April 28, 2022 to correct conversion of US dollar to Indian rupees. 

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic was pushed off global front pages last fortnight by food inflation. Food prices have leaped 75 per cent since mid-2020, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) assessed.

In India, rural consumer food price has doubled in the year through March 2022, according to the All India Consumer Price Index (CPI) by the National Statistical Office (released April 12). At 13 per cent, the country’s annual wholesale inflation was at the highest in a decade. Food and fuel prices played a major role.

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The world’s peoples can always count on Cuba to be present for just causes

Party First Secretary and President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez yesterday conversed with Latin American intellectual Atilio Boró in a radio interview, discussing Cuba’s creative resistance in the face of continuing U.S. attacks and imperialist threats around the world

Granma | April 25, 2022

Artwork by Ernesto Rancaño 

“We are not going to surrender, we are going to continue resisting, but with the concept of creative resistance, which is precisely the way in which we have faced COVID-19, that is, we resist, but with talent, effort and intelligence, we also grow; as we resist, we are capable of advancing.”


This observation was among those shared by Communist Party First Secretary and President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, in an interview with Latin American intellectual Atilio Borón, for the Argentine radio stations Madres de la Plaza de Mayo and the Universidad Nacional de Avellaneda, also broadcast on several community radio stations in Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and elsewhere.

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Cuba Donates Thousands of Doses of Soberana 02 Vaccine to Sahrawi People

Orinoco Tribune | March 03, 2022

This Friday, Cuba donated a batch of 458,000 doses of its Soberana 02 COVID-19 vaccine to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), destined for the pediatric population of that country.

The African nation’s ambassador accredited in Havana, Mohamed Salec Abdesamad, praised the gesture on behalf of his people and government at a ceremony held at the Finlay Institute of Vaccines (IFV), creator of the immunogen, in Cuba’s capital.

The diplomat thanked Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel and all of Cuba, on behalf of the president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Brahim Gali.

Mohamed Salec Abdesamad assured that the doses will benefit the refugee population and residents in liberated territories.

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Cuba to distribute 200 million doses of its homegrown Covid vaccine to poor countries

by Steve Sweeny

Morning Star | January 26, 2022

Cuban plans to distribute 200 million doses of its homegrown Covid vaccine to lower-income countries were said to have reached a “historic turning point” on Tuesday.

David Adler, who headed a Progressive International delegation to the socialist island, said the “lifesaving package” was an example of vaccine internationalism that saw public health “placed above private profit and petty nationalism.”

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The Right to Healthy Food: Comorbidities and COVID-19

by Colin Todhunter

Dissident Voice | January 15, 2022

In early 2020, we saw the beginning of the COVID-19 ‘pandemic’. The world went into lockdown and even after lockdowns in various countries had been lifted, restrictions continued. Data now shows that lockdowns seemingly had limited, if any, positive impacts on the trajectory of COVID-19 and in 2022 the world – especially the poor – is paying an immense price not least in terms of loss of income, loss of livelihoods, the deterioration of mental and physical health, the eradication of civil liberties, disrupted supply chains and shortages.

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