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Drowning in Coronavirus Research, Part 44

By July 20, 2020Commentary

The federal government moved reporting about hospitalizations and some other information to a Health and Human Services platform from the CDC.  The new data can be found here.  (HHS Data)   After the media wailing about the Administration hiding something, etc., this is a far better set of data and should be more timely.

Let’s give some credit to the University of Minnesota infectious disease center.  Despite demands from the pandemic panic crowd, they wouldn’t back down on saying evidence isn’t strong for use of cloth masks.   (CIDRAP Statement)  They stood by their prior statements that evidence didn’t support the effectiveness of those masks.

And the Annals of Internal Medicine, a reputable medical journal, added to its ongoing review of masks by finding that one additional study did not change the conclusion that there really isn’t persuasive evidence that masks are effective.  (Annals Update)

The head pathologist from a reputable lab has done research showing that the common PCR tests for CV infection may not be that effective.  (PCR Test Paper)   He used his own sensitive method to test for presence of coronavirus.  Now the sample is small, so it would be good to see confirmation of his results.  But in ten samples that were supposedly negative, he found two positives.  And in ten that were supposedly positive, he found three negatives.  Uh-oh, that is really bad.  Relatively minor mutations in the genomic sequence may have contributed to the mistakes.   This is a pretty thorough paper, and if it is correct, that are a lot of bad case numbers floating around out there.

The debate about aerosol transmission looks like it will never end.  (Medrxiv Paper)  For this research, aerosol samples were collected around six hospitalized patients.  So pretty sick people.  Infectious virions were found in some very small particles, so the authors conclude airborne transmission is possible.  But were the patients wearing masks?  Seriously, most masks won’t stop particles that size.

So when did the epidemic start in the US?  These researchers think they know.  (Medrxiv Paper)   Using a model (oh no, not again) they look at international and domestic travel patterns and conclude that there was widespread community transmission in the US by February and that the epidemic could have been seeded in the US as early as late December 2019 by travelers to the West and East Coasts, and from there by domestic travel to fly-over country, like my home state.  I actually think this is likely correct, and that there wasn’t much detection because the cases were, as they are now, largely mild or asymptomatic, and any serious illness was probably viewed as caused by flu.  Some studies have shown increases in flu-like illness reports in the early part of the year.  If true, good quality antibody testing and T cell testing should provide verification of the hypothesis.

And what would a day be without another article on schools.  (Science Article)   Mostly avoiding hysteria, the article discusses the experience of a number of countries with keeping schools open.  Personally, there is no question in my mind that the mental, social and educational well-being of children requires the in-person re-opening of schools with as few constraints as possible, including no mask nonsense that can only scare children.

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