A Head Full of Coronavirus Research, Part 43

By October 25, 2020Commentary

Important Request for Help:  Someone told me before how to get archived web pages.  I have forgotten.  Here is what I need, maybe someone can help me.  Like a dolt, every now and then something hits me that I should have thought of a long time ago.  Every day on the Minnesota Department of Health’s situation page, they have the cumulative number of cases, the number of people no longer needing isolation, the number of new cases and the number of deaths.   I can get the deaths from the deaths table.  And I might be able to use the case table, although it is date of specimen not date of report.  The number no longer needing isolation, I don’t think I can get anywhere.  With this information, I can track how many active patients there are on a day, which is current prevalence, at least according to Minnesota statistics.  It also is an interesting trend statistic.  I would like to go back to September 1st and get those numbers to fill them in on my excel spreadsheet and then I can create a cute graph.  So anyone who has any ideas or willing to help, be great.

Quote of the day, thanks to Alex Washburn on Twitter:

“The reputational costs to science of exaggerated deaths goading governments into extremely costly responses would be lessened if we had let a more diverse roster of scientists with diverse perspectives be represented as such instead of bullying for consensus in Jan/Feb.”
Close to the quote of the day, the Swedish health authorities saying they took restrictions off old people because the isolation was endangering their mental health and quality of life–a public health official said “we cannot only think about infection control, we also need to think about public health.”  Too much common sense.  I am wondering, can we just sell the United States to Sweden for a dollar and let them handle the epidemic for us.
On to some cheery stuff.  CMS, the agency that runs Medicare, says 21% of beneficiaries report skipping care during the epidemic.  (CMS Survey)   The most common risk for missing care was not wanting to be at risk at a medical facility, but close behind was because the facility had closed.  The most commonly missed treatment was dental care, a regular checkup, treatment for an ongoing condition or a screening.  A high percentage of beneficiaries also reported being anxious, lonely or sad and less connected to family and friends.
Thanks to a reader, here is a copy of the article describing the protocol for the Danish mask study.  One issue could be the self-testing by participants, although they were trained.  Better than using Facebook responses in any event.  (Danish Mask Protocol)
And here from the Swiss Policy Research Institute is a good summary of the evidence on face mask use, or rather non-evidence of benefit.  (SRI Paper)
Nursing homes and other LTC facilities have been a source of most of the CV-19 deaths.  Yet even there a high percent of cases are asymptomatic.  (JAMA Article)   Medical records from one large nursing home company with over 350 facilities across the country were used.  40% of all CV-19 cases in these facilities were asymptomatic.
Now some fun with antibodies and T cells.  First up another paper examining the comparative antibody and T cell response.  (SSRN Paper)   The researchers followed patients for up to six months.  They were looking for virus segments widely recognized among the patients.  Interestingly, the T cell responses actually increased over time, as did cross reactive response.  Antibody response was also assessed.  Spike antibodies tended to decline over time while nucleocapsid ones remained stable.  People with long-lasting symptoms had similar T cell responses to those without such symptoms, but stronger antibody responses.  They identified 8 fragments that appeared to prompt particularly common T cell development.
Next up, another paper looking at T cell responses.  (Cell Paper)   As the prior paper did, this one finds that T cell responses were most common to fragments outside the spike protein.  These T cells were common across patients.  They did not find significant evidence of cross-reactivity from CV-19 T cells to seasonal coronavirus.
This study looked at development of antibody responses over time in severe and mild cases.  (PLOS Paper)   The authors found that the patients with severe illness developed antibodies faster, but that all patients developed them.  A few patients who had apparently undetectable levels of antibodies upon screening were nonetheless found to have neutralizing antibodies when tested for neutralization.  This is very important and suggests an inadequacy of many assays used in prevalence studies.

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