a microbiology newsletter -march, 2021
A newsletter of, by, and for microbiologists. Copyright 2021, all rights reserved
COVID Variants
How many are there?
Will the vaccines work against them?
Will there be more?

The last Petri Dish Rack you will ever buy!
Hardy's new DuraRack is constructed to last a life-time. Stop using brittle acrylic racks that must often be replaced. DuraRack is made of tough steel with a durable epoxy coating.

But can it withstand having a bowling ball dropped on it?

Can Zinc be Helpful against COVID-19?

What is an ionophore?

Click here to find out...

Flu Season...Where are you?
A Moment of Respite During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As COVID-19 presses forward, it is easy to look back at the past year and see nothing but the ruin left behind by the pandemic. 

However, as 2021 advances there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Unlike previous years, the 2020-2021 flu season has diminished immensely. Healthcare workers are reporting extraordinarily low levels of Influenza-Like-Illness (ILI) and it may be due to several precautions taken during the pandemic.(1)

In the early part of 2020, many restrictions were implemented in the United States and around the world to prevent the spread of viral particles. Travel became more restrictive; lockdowns occurred in certain countries; many businesses were forced to close or move to remote operation; masks became mandatory; and social distancing was enforced. For many, these restrictions were not met with open arms and they came at a great sacrifice. Now that flu season should be in full swing, we are seeing some positive side effects to the pandemic we had not fully anticipated: a drastic decrease in ILI. 

It is estimated that a typical flu season in the U.S. results in anywhere from 9-45 million illnesses, from 140,000-810,000 hospitalizations, and from 12,000-61,000 deaths. For this year’s season, the CDC is currently reporting that of 886,237 collected samples, only 1,553 have tested positive (0.2%) for flu. (2) A typical flu year, as seen in 2019-2020, typically contains a 27.7% positive ILI sample rate. (3) To further emphasize the quell in flu cases, the CDC reports that national percentage of visits to health centers for ILI is at 1.08%, which is much lower than last year’s 6.7%. (4)

Another factor to consider when looking at the depression in ILI rates for the 2020-2021 flu season is vaccination rates. In 2020, the CDC reported a record 175 million flu vaccination doses were distributed, and projected that for 2021 the U.S. could provide up to about 195 million doses. (5)  As of January 15th, 2021, there have been 193 million doses distributed with several months before flu season officially ends. (6)
Why is there more than a 100-fold
decrease in flu infections this season?

Although healthcare workers may enjoy seeing a decrease in ILI, the implications have some epidemiologists worried. Richard Webby, a virologist at St. Jude’s Hospital in Tennessee, warns that the reduction in influenza outbreaks for the 2020-2021 flu season may reduce circulation of several less common but less severe strains, which could limit viral competition and potentially allow for new, more aggressive swine flu variants to thrive. He states, "One of the things holding those viruses back a lot is natural immunity. If flu is low for a few seasons, that might leave a gap for swine viruses to have more impact.”(7)

There is no question that 2020 hit the world hard, but with it came some enduring lessons in preventive measures to limit viral outbreaks.  The combination of quarantine, masks, social distancing, and vaccination have shown a notable increase in empty hospital beds for our more common winter nemesis, and resulted in a 100-fold reduction in positive ILI samples. The lack of flu this season does have some worried, but it is a pleasant sign to see a reduction in at least one viral illness after the havoc from the pandemic.

Oddly enough, in spite of the flu decrease, the rhinovirus, which is responsible for the common cold, has had some sharp increases this season. One reason may be that, unlike the coronaviruses, the rhinovirus lacks an outer lipid coat, which makes the coronavirus vulnerable to soaps and sanitizers.

Hopefully, we have all learned a valuable lesson from this experience. If many of the safety precautions can continue to be upheld to some degree for future flu seasons, perhaps the trend will continue downward.  

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

By Miles Amby
R&D Microbiologist II
Your one-stop source for COVID supplies!
Rapid Antigen and Antibody Covid Test Kits
Hardy announces two new kits for Covid. One for the viral antigen (nasal specimen), one for the IgM and IgG antibodies (blood specimen). Takes only minutes to get results and requires no equipment!
Viral Transport Medium
Hardy's viral specimen transport is ideal for COVID-19 antigen testing. The shelf life has been increased to 180 days at room temperature. Swabs are sold separately.
N95 Masks
NIOSH Certified, with silicone seal
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Face Masks
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flocked swab
Specimen Collection Swabs
Hardy offers swabs in the flocked, foam, and spun polyester formats.
Pick from nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal, standard, or urethral.

Available for immediate shipping!
How do the four new COVID-19 vaccines work? Is the J&J vaccine available?

What are the stated effectivity rates?

What are the shelf life and storage requirements?

How many doses are needed?

How much do they cost?

Where are they made?

What are the risks and side effects?
The Four New COVID-19 Vaccines Compared

Someone stole my limbo stick. How low can you go?

  • A vulture carrying two dead raccoons boards an airplane. The stewardess looks at him and says, 'I'm sorry, only one carrion allowed per passenger.'

  • Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says, 'Dam!'

  • Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, 'I've lost my electron.' The other says, 'Are you sure? The first replies, 'Yes, I'm positive.’

  • Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

  • There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Seeing is Believing?
Stare at the dot in the middle of this flag for 30 seconds. Then look away from your screen. You'll be amazed at what you see!
"Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see"
~ Edgar Allen Poe

More Supplies to Keep You Safe

Hardy's hand sanitizing gel guards against drying of your skin with Vitamin E, soothes with Aloe Vera, and has a pleasant scent with lavender oil. No harmful ingredients as with the cheap drug store variety! Don't your hands deserve the very best?
Face shields

For added protection on the job, Hardy offers face shields for immediate shipping. Comfortable foam headband.

Mid-Turbinate Swabs

Hardy's nasal, mid-turbinate swabs are ideal for COVID and flu specimen collection. The stopper prevents over insertion. Nylon flocked swab tip ensures maximum recovery and release. Pediatric size also available.
Lab Coats

For added protection on the job, Hardy offers disposable lab coats, featuring three pockets, and comfortable knit cuffs and collars.

Sanitizing Wipes

90 lintless wipes for disinfecting surfaces. Food-safe. Effective against all viruses.
Dehydrated Media

Hardy manufactures a complete line of powdered media. It is conveniently packaged in five different configurations ready for export.
Hand Sanitizer Solution

Hardy's liquid hand sanitizer contains both ethanol and hydrogen peroxide for extra killing power. Contains NO methanol!
Quidel Flu Kit
Rapid Flu A and B Kit

Hardy offers the Quidel rapid test for influenza A and B. Results in only 10 minutes. CLIA waived for POC use. No equipment needed.

Rapid Test Methods

Check out our mini catalog on rapid test kits. You'll see many "hard to find" products that will save you time and money!
UV Chamber

Now you can sanitize your valuable N95 masks to make them last longer. Never run out again! Sanitizes four masks in only four minutes!
Carba 5

Detect the five most common enzymes of bacterial resistance to the carbapenems.
No equipment needed!
Now you can quickly detect colistin resistance and ESBLs using the same format (RUO). Find out how...
ImmuView P&L

Now you can simultaneously detect both Legionella and
S. pneumoniae from a urine specimen, when patients show signs of pneumonia. No equipment needed!
MBL Organisms
QC Organisms

Hardy offers a complete line of MBL control microorganisms for your quality program, in many different formats. See our catalog below...
Food Micro

Did you know we have a mini catalog just for food microbiologists? In it, you will find hundreds of great products to test for food pathogens.


In need of a brain massage?

So you've been eating hotdogs and chicken nuggets most of your life, and you won't get the vaccine because you don't know what's in it

Wisdom to Ponder...
George Washington Carver

1864 ~1943

Born into slavery in Missouri, Carver became one of the most famous agricultural scientists of the 20th Century. He taught poor farmers how to increase their yield by utilizing crop rotation and nitrogen fixation using peas and sweet potatoes. He invented numerous products using peanuts and other plants while teaching at the Tuskegee Institute.

"Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and hate within will eventually destroy the hater."

"No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it."

"It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank, that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success."

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these."

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in."

"Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God."

"Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom."

* * *
"When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world."
~ George Washington Carver
“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” 
We all know that mirrors
don't lie...
I'm just grateful that they don't laugh!

Increasing your protection...

References for utilizing Vitamin D and Zinc supplementation for the adjunct therapy
and prevention of COVID-19.

During our 41 years of serving the microbiology community, we have continually aimed to provide the utmost in "a culture of service" for our valued customers. As a 100% employee owned company, we have even more incentive to please our customers as best we possibly can every day. Do you have a suggestion, comment, or question? Please contact me here.

Jay Hardy, CLS, SM (NRCM)
CEO of Hardy Diagnostics