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Drowning in Coronavirus Research, Part 93

By September 19, 2020Commentary

A lot to catch up on.  Couple of notes.  First, thanks to reader N. Wagner for showing me how I could calculate new hospitalizations and discharges by day with the Minnesota data.  I should have figured this out for myself, but what this shows is the value of having lots of people looking at and thinking about data and research.  I always welcome input from people, helps make the content better and more meaningful.  Second, I am giving a talk to a group early next week and will video that and make the video available.  I am technologically inept or I would have videoed stuff before now.

And one the remaining dos of the tres amigos, the good Dr. Osterholm, has poked his head up again to recommend another severe national lockdown.  I think these people are just clueless about what is going on either with the epidemic or socially or economically.  Clueless.

How about we start with more good news on the effects of the mitigation measures.  Opioid overdoses were up sharply in one emergency department in Virginia, 227 from March to June this year compared to 102 in the same period in 2019.  (JAMA Article)   And of course, the worst impact is on minorities.  Interestingly, the authors also noted a drop in heart attack visits from 41 in 2019 to 31 in 2020.

Along the same lines, here is an analysis of drug tests from November 2019 to July 2020.  (JAMA Article)  75,000 samples collected before March 14, 2020, were compared with 75,000 samples collected after that date.  Rates of drug use nearly doubled, according to the tests, with cocaine use going from 3.6% to 4.8%, fetanyl from 3.8% to 7.3%, heroin from 1.3% to 2.1% and methamphetamine from 5.9% to 8.2%.

I have seen this clearly in the CDC excess deaths spreadsheets, and in Minnesota specifically.  The restrictions due to attempts to suppress the virus are killing Alzheimer’s and dementia patients at a tremendous pace.  This is due to isolation and loss of the few contacts they have with others.  (Dem.  Article.)   As the article notes, the likely toll is thousands across the country.  The families of these patients ought to be able to make their own decisions about visiting, rather than carte blanche being banned from seeing their relatives.  This is truly heartbreaking.

Some good economic news on the lockdown impacts?  Yelp says that over 163,735 local businesses have closed for good since the start of the pandemic.  Of all businesses that closed at some point, 60% have not re-opened.  (Yelp Article)  The impact was greatest in New York and California.  Somebody’s dream disappeared, along with jobs in the community.

This is kind of weird article about a German family in which the parents tried to infect the children but couldn’t.  (JPID Article)   The parents were both doctors, became infected, and decided that it would be inevitable for their four children to become infected so they slept in the same room with them and maintained close contact.  None of the children became positive in repeated testing.

Coronvirus worse for kids than the flu?  Nope.  (JAMA Article)   The authors compared hospitalization rates for 315 children with influenza and 1402 with CV-19.  They found no difference in hospitalization rates, use of ICU or use of mechanical ventilation.  But it is clear from the data that those with influenza had higher numbers, in some cases much higher numbers of use that did those with CV-19.

Okay, this is in German, but you can kind of figure out what it means, or you can use a translation program, or someone on Twitter will have translated it for you.  All work.  (German testing)  The release is about German PCR testing.  They discovered a number of false positives that were due to cross-reactivity to common seasonal coronavirus.   Over 10% of positives were due to these viruses and other ones.  Another problem with PCR testing that should be fixed or at least accounted for.

Another look at seasonality.  (Seas. Article)   Many respiratory viruses are seasonal, although exactly what the factors are that cause infections to wax and wane are not clear.  Something about people, something about the virus, something about the environment?  These authors describe the general pattern for respiratory viruses as higher in winter in temperate areas and higher during rainy season in tropical areas.  Non-enveloped viruses, like rhinoviruses and adenoviruses, are more likely to circulate at a similar level year round.  CV-19 in enveloped.  Prior studies of coronaviruses pretty consistently detected strong seasonal patterns, with a peak in winter and early spring, in temperate regions.  In more tropical ones, the pattern was for more regular circulation all year.  The authors also summarized the research on virus and host factors which might explain seasonality.  Finally, they give reasons why CV-19 might and might not be as seasonal as other coronaviruses.


Join the discussion One Comment

  • Ellen says:

    99% Survival rate of those who get COVID

    350 million people in the USA; per the CDC as of Sept 4, 0.056% deaths attributed to COVID

    360 total COVID attributed deaths in people 25 or under

    92% of all COVID attributed deaths in people 55 years or older.

    6% of all COVID attributed deaths were caused by COVID alone.

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