I am going to give a calm, rational appraisal of the CV-19 briefing yesterday, and dissect the usual misinformation in a matter-of-fact tone. They said the cases reported yesterday were not any backlog. They are–see the table I published earlier. They are every day. We do have a couple of high case recent days, but you don’t really know that for at least a week of reporting after the day of actual testing. So why they said that I don’t know. The usual guilting and shaming about our bad behavior.
Questions were good, answers, not so much. Asked about antibody tests and where we are on that, they gave more mis-information. The issue with antibody tests is whether they are sensitive enough to pick up low levels resulting from milder infections. Those low levels are still protective. And they need to be able to pick up known cross-reactive antibodies. And contrary to what was said, there is no serious question about the duration of antibodies. It is clear that people develop a durable, sufficient B memory cell repertoire and circulating antibody level.
A very good question was asked about whether all the testing was just inflating case numbers. This answer was more misinformation. The Director said every positive was a real case, that is just not true and she must know it isn’t true. There are undoubtedly a large number of false positives, not to mention the “low” positive issue. In a low prevalence world, and in Minnesota, we have a prevalence of at most 1 in 1000 people, the “positive predictive value” is also low. You get huge numbers of false positives. And the state is not insisting on retesting. This has practical consequences, like closing schools because of one positive result, which probably isn’t a positive result.
Another good question was asked about why hospital and death rates were so low, when cases seem to be rising. The Commissioner correctly said demographics and better treatment, but ignored the false and low positive issue, probably doesn’t understand the front-loading phenomenon and veered off into misinformation by giving us the completely unproven long-term health impacts BS, expressing concern about transmission from younger people to vulnerable ones, using an LTC example, but if they don’t give us the actual data, I don’t believe a word of it.