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A Head Full of Coronavirus Research, Part 7

By May 26, 2020Commentary

A few articles to start.  This one on Sweden points out that even there, where less severe mitigation measures were put in place, over 70% of deaths are to nursing home residents.  88% of all deaths are to persons over 70.  The article gives an excellent description of the issues among the elderly.  Interestingly, those over 80 seldom used intensive care and tended to die in the facility.  (SSRN Paper)

The Hill carries an analysis of potential lives lost to the effects of the shutdown, especially job loss.  (Hill Article)   The author, a physician, suggests that hundreds of thousands of lives and many millions of years of life will be gone compared with a much smaller number due to the epidemic.

This article provides more detail on the JP Morgan research which I still haven’t been able to get my hands on.  (Mail Article)  The report notes that infections have actually fallen in some states since lifting the lockdown.   The author blamed the shutdowns on politicians spooked by flawed models.  The author of the research also doubts there will be successive waves.

On to the studies.  First one supporting the post I wrote this afternoon about immune system cross-reactivity. (F1000 Paper)  These researchers were also investigating the presence of immune defenses created by other coronavirus strain infections.  By sequence comparisons they found some possible areas of similarity that might lead to cross-reactivity, particularly among killer T-cells.  But their study is more limited than that of the LaJolla group’s, as it was purely theoretical and did not actually test human blood for the presence of T-cells or antibodies.

Another antibody prevalence study, this one in San Francisco, which had one of the earliest and most restrictive lockdowns.  (Medrxiv Paper)   The researchers tested 387 patients hospitalized for indications other than respiratory disease and 1000 blood donors from March.  They found antibodies in .27% of the hospital patients and .1% of blood donors.  Very low levels, which might actually be indicative of a very dumb strategy to so limit spread that most of the population remains vulnerable.

And here is another study finding probable cross-reactivity in healthy patients.  (Medrxiv Paper)   The researchers, from Russia, characterized the immune response, antibody and T-cell, in infected patients, but also looked for responses in healthy, non-infected individuals.  They used 31 patients, 14 healthy controls and looked at blood-bank donor samples from before September 2019 and from 2017.  They found that some of the healthy controls had T-cell responses to the current strain, which they said suggested that these individuals had some exposure which they fought off and avoided infection.

Another prevalence study, this one from Frankfurt, Germany.  (Medrxiv Paper)   1000 people who were employees at a large company were tested for infection and antibodies.  One person had an infection and 4 had antibodies.

And finally, a study from Houston, looking for infections among 2870 asymptomatic health care workers.  (Medrxiv Paper)   There was an infection rate of 5.6% among employees who had provided care for coronavirus patients and .6% among those who had not.  Once again, a lot of asymptomatic infections.

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