A Head Full of Coronavirus Research, Part 68

By November 27, 2020Commentary

Before I get started with research summaries, this has become one of the most intolerant countries in the world. We can’t stand diversity of thought.  And it isn’t the government that is the main problem, yet, but I am sure we will get there.  It is the ideological morons who apparently have nothing better to do than sit on social media all day and attempt to ruin people’s lives.  That head of Sanford Health, who did nothing but tell the truth about the completely infinitesimal risk of reinfection and the pointless of wearing a mask once you been a mask, got run out of town.  Researchers at Johns Hopkins University published an article pointing out that total deaths are not up this year, and within a day had to take down the article.  (The internet is good for one thing, nothing ever disappears.)  If it was taken down due to inaccuracy, then explain that, otherwise looks like more censorship.  More on that article later.  We need a serious recommitment to freedom of thought and speech and it would start by neutering the social media giants and by making it a very serious crime for private citizens to lead efforts to cause someone to lose a job or some other important part of their life because of something they said or wrote that someone else didn’t like.

The Johns Hopkins study may or may not be an accurate analysis.  Here is the original article, which is taken down on the site, but available at archiving sites.  (JH Analysis)   And here is an article commenting on the analysis.  (AIER Article)   The crux of the analysis is that there isn’t a change from normal trends in total deaths in the US, looked at by age group, and that deaths from other categories have simply been shifted to CV-19.  Having looked at the Minnesota death certificates earlier in the year and having tried to make sense of the CDC excess deaths data, it is about impossible to figure out what is actually going on, even by cause of death, because of the unprecedented, even bizarre, manner in which supposed CV-19 deaths are being attributed to the virus.  What I believe will be clearer within a few months is two things.  One is that many of the CV-19 deaths were just pull-forwards of frail elderly people who were going to die in the next few months anyway, most likely from influenza or dementia.  So the age specific death rates are going to show a drop in the elderly over the next few months.  The second is that in younger age groups we are going to see excess deaths caused by the terrorization and lockdown campaigns.  It will take a while to disentangle that because not only do you have to look at cause of death, you have to look by age at cause of death and it is very hard to get that data.  I do think that we will see in the elderly, the 70 plus and especially the 80 plus age cohorts, that a number of deaths among people with conditions like dementia, end-stage kidney disease, congestive heart failure and other serious conditions, are being attributed to CV-19 even though that disease may have played a minor or really no role in the death.  The other conditions will likely show up on the death certificate, but as contributing, not underlying conditions.  That is not consistent with reality.  As I keep suggesting, we need serious chart review studies of a random sample of death certificates so that people understand what really happened with cause of death attribution during this epidemic.

Here is a briefing paper put together by a group in the UK detailing the failures of PCR testing and the misleading information it creates for managing the epidemic.  (UK Paper)   The essence of the paper is that PCR testing creates a large number of non-disease “cases” and deaths, leading to bad policy.  Could be applied to the US as well.

The New York Times post-election rational approach to the epidemic, magically discovered, continues as it observes that the isolation and masking of children is damaging the development of their immune systems, making them more subject to disease.  (NY Times Story)   I have mentioned this concern several times.  Of course the NYT says the masking and isolation is necessary.  It isn’t, it never was for children.  Another example of the response likely causing far more damage than CV-19 disease.

The mask zealots will like this one.  It is another study attempting to use mannequins and constructed airflows to ascertain the effect of masks on both the outflow and inflow of particles and pathogens.  (Medrxiv Paper)   A couple of dummies (no, not public health experts) were placed within a short distance of each other and either one or both were fitted with masks and/or face shields.  One of the fake heads was then caused to spew particles in the direction of the other one.  For the receiver, a face shield reduced the number of particles received by about twice as much as a mask, which is just further inconsistent evidence on the value of face shields.  I have seen studies both ways on the comparison to masks.  A mask or face shield on the emitting head reduced the particles received by a much greater and very high amount.  Both wearing a mask or face shield had some small incremental benefit over the emitter alone.  The effect supposedly occurred at all particle sizes.  Here is the main problem with the experiment set up.  The exposure was 30 seconds.  30 seconds?  How do you measure what happens to a mask on an emitter or a receiver in 30 seconds?  And I have only two further comments:  Not. Real. Life.; and Look. At. The. Case. Curves.

And further work on the adaptive immune response.  (Cell Study)   These researchers focused on patients with mild disease, among whom concerns about the persistence of antibodies has been raised.  As has other recent research, this study found that there was in fact a very durable response among both B cells and T cells.  This is an excellent paper to read just the first few pages to get a sense of how the adaptive immune system works.  And it clearly found among these mild disease patients that there was likely long-lasting adaptive immunity provided by a population of memory B and T cells.

And this paper discusses the T cell response.  (Cell Study)   It has become apparent that at least for CV-19 and potentially other pathogens, the T cell arm of adaptive immunity may be more important than the antibody-producing B cell response.  The paper notes that T cells are critical to a successful defense against acute infection and reinfection, but also may be involved in excessive immune response which can exacerbate disease.

And finally, another study giving a basis for possible cross-reactive adaptive immune response to CV-19 from seasonal coronaviruses.  (Medrxiv Paper)   The researchers identified fragments of the virus genome that were related to the immune response.  In general, they found that more serious disease prompted a stronger and more diverse response.  They also did identify some good candidates for cross-reactive response, including in the spike protein region.  And they warned that we may be pushing the virus toward evolving an evasion to existing antibodies.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Cliff Hadley says:

    Spiking the excess deaths paper makes zero sense scientifically, but perfect sense politically. It’s as if media, public officials, and the medical blob are all saying: “Who ya gonna believe? Us or your lying eyes?”

  • Peggy A Lewis says:

    Thank you again Kevin for your tireless work. You will be remembered.

  • Mark McRae says:

    Kevin,

    Perhaps, as your frustration morphs into vexation, you will begin to appreciate the philosophical conflict which has always been the bane of the human condition: Rationalism vs. Empiricism.
    Ostensibly, we live in an Empirical world in which policy decisions are exclusively fact/evidence based. However, it’s become increasingly clear, as a result of Coronavirus and its concomitant science and policy arbitrariness, that fundamentalist Rationalism is winning the day — thus far; moreover, to say nothing of Passion’s dominance of Reason, ironically enough.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Joseph Lampe says:

    The ancient Greeks had this figured out. Communication occurs in three forms: pathos (emotional appeal), ethos (credibility of speaker), logos (cognitive/analytical content). Most people, and most of the major media, function in the pathos domain, with some ethos appeal to authority. Humans are hardwired to respond to pathos, but pathos is useless for multivariate analysis and decision making. Pathos makes it impossible to consider multiple working hypotheses, and it has no relationship to the scientific method.

  • Douglas Kraus says:

    Thank you so much for your work on these matters. The repression of truth is something to be feared by all. Unfortunately a good chunk of humanity is has no problem with it, as it empowers them and those with whom they are in concordance. Sharing information, as you do here, is an asset to me. Again thank you.

  • Ellen says:

    Just spent a couple days with relatives… some who know the whole thing is not about a virus and a couple really smart engineers who wore masks every minute except when eating. I appreciate all the comments. Thank you, Health Skeptic, for expressing our shared frustrations. And your remark here is what I have thought would be the case: “Researchers at Johns Hopkins University published an article pointing out that total deaths are not up this year,…” Across the time of the 1958 and 1968 pandemics, the percentage of deaths continued to go down: there was no bump in the percentage of global deaths either time.

  • Alex says:

    The Covid 19 hysterical response makes me think of, ‘what until your father gets home’. The mother struggling to contain a rebellious child waiting for the father to set the child straight.

    I keep waiting for dad to walk in any minute now to restore order. I just hope he didn’t run away with that skank at the Nancy Drool XXX massage parlour.

  • DaveK says:

    Thanks, Kevin for your commentary on the Johns Hopkins study. There certainly is some sort of mismatch between that and what you see at CDC in their “excess deaths” graphic. At one point I tried to dig a little into the CDC numbers, but as you say, they are confusing. It’s certainly difficult to sort out the numbers for causes of death when they only have breakdowns for a handful of death causes.

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