Friday, July 30, 2021

New York City: "Researchers Find Signs of COVID-19 Mutations in NYC Sewage, Pointing to Possible Dog and Rat Infections"

Gettin' a bit o'that David Bowie Future Legend vibe here.*

From The City, July 29:

Scientists studying coronavirus in local wastewater say that city environmental officials initially had “zero willingness to help explore this potential public health risk.” Officials stress that the findings are preliminary.

This story is the product of a collaboration with the Documenting COVID-19 project at Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

A group of researchers charged by New York City with scouring human sewage for signs of the coronavirus — and its many mutating variants — made a startling discovery in April.

After months of testing and re-testing, they found four combinations of COVID mutations that, when compared to a global database of more than 2.5 million sequenced variants, had not been seen before. The four variants are at least somewhat antibody-resistant, which could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, the researchers found.

The team of virologists and microbiologists from CUNY’s Queens and Queensborough colleges, the New School and the University of Missouri have been studying sewage from the city’s 14 wastewater treatment plants since June 2020, collecting samples in plastic bottles once a week and analyzing them to see concentrations of the virus. Since January, the researchers have gone a step further, analyzing the sewage for different COVID-19 variants.

The data is preliminary and has not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal. Some outside experts say it’s far too early to raise alarms. But there’s one troubling possibility about where the new sewer mutations are coming from, according to a preprint study published by the researchers on Thursday.

As with other animals, COVID-19 could be infecting dogs and rats, leading to new mutations and an outbreak in New York City’s sewers. While animal-to-human transmission of the virus is exceedingly rare, it has been seen in the U.S. in minks.

‘Do It Ourselves’

Despite the potential implications, the researchers say the presentation last month of their findings to city officials earned a muted response.

They were told they could investigate further, but the city’s Department of Environmental Protection initially offered no additional funding or support for their efforts.

“The city officials basically told us if we wanted to do any kind of surveillance of the rats we would have to do it ourselves,” Dr. Marc Johnson, a virologist at the University of Missouri, wrote in a June 9 email obtained through an open-records request by the Documenting COVID-19 project. “They had zero willingness to help explore this potential public health risk.”....

*And in the death
As the last few corpses lay rotting on the slimy thoroughfare
The shutters lifted an inch in temperance building, high on Poacher's Hill
And red mutant eyes gazed down on Hunger City
No more big wheels

Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats
And ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes
Coveting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers
Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue
Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers
Family badge of sapphire and cracked emerald
Any day now, the year of the Diamond Dogs

"This ain't rock and roll! This is genocide!"

As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent
You asked for the latest party

Genius Lyrics