A Head Full of Coronavirus Research, Part 71

By December 1, 2020Commentary

As I feared, research is now being dumped rapidly after the holidays, so I will be in catch up mode for a while.

I can’t help but laugh every time I see one of these, I mean how much more transparently biased can you be. The New York Times, since it decided there might be a new President, has flip-flopped on CV-19 position after position.  All of sudden it is stupid to ban social gatherings, children need to be in school and now maybe we are being excessive in quarantining people.  Next thing you know they will decide we have too much worthless testing.  Anyway, today’s story related that, gee, other countries are reducing their quarantine period, and maybe we should too, because then we wouldn’t be keeping health care workers, teachers and others from their jobs for so long.  (NY Times Story)   The story is based on the same data that has been around for months about people only really being infectious from about 2 days before symptom onset to 5 to 7 days after symptoms develop.  France uses 7 days and Germany is considering going to 5 days as the isolation period.  The CDC is currently at 10 days.

And another periodical issues a highly ironic story.  I began reading Scientific American when I was 8 years old and read it for over 50 years.  Along the way it went from being completely dry and informative to deciding it needed a jazzier style, which was actually much less informative and it became a completely ideological rag, as are most science magazines now.  So I dropped my subscription with great sadness.  It is hard to imagine that all these ideological editors aren’t framing our perspective of the “science” to what they think it should be, not what it actually shows.  In any event, the irony is that this magazine, which goes out of its way to pillory anyone who doesn’t comply with their view of the “science”, has written an editorial about maybe the stifling of debate on CV-19 science isn’t such a good thing.  (SA Story)   The issues the story describes have been caused in part by the attitudes of editors at publications like Scientific American, but of course you won’t read that in the article.

And I want to get this in early, before your attention wanes due to the boring nature of these summaries.  In another study about the viability of CV-19 on currency, Bangladeshi scientists have identified that virus fragments persist on that country’s banknotes.  While the authors found even some large fragments they did not assess actual viability.  Nonetheless as a precaution, I would encourage anyone from any country to send me any currency they are concerned about for safekeeping.  You may or may not get it back.  (Medrxiv Paper)

Here is a study I do encourage you to read seriously.  I am fascinated by how little we know about survivability of the virus in the environment and implications for transmission.  This paper attempts to shed light on that topic.  (Medrxiv Paper)   The authors use what they describe as a “psychrometric” approach to identify how long the virus might be able to survive in the air under certain conditions.  They found that the half-life of the virus in aerosols in March was about 15 to 20 times longer than it was in August, largely due to certain meteorological and physical factors.  The end cause may be the effect on the virus’ lipid envelope.  If accurate, helps explain transmission and case differences by season.

Another meteorological paper, this one focusing on ultraviolet light.  (Medrxiv Paper)  The authors, from the UK, discussed two possible effects; one on the virus and one on human vitamin D levels.  There appears to be a strong correlation between the ultraviolet light index and cases–more UV, less cases.  What the mediating factors are is less clear, and may be some of each.

This paper purports to examine changes in age distribution and LTC source of fatalities in the first and second waves.  (Medrxiv Paper)   Eleven countries were included in the analysis.  People under 50 tended to represent a slightly higher fraction of deaths in the second wave.  Information about nursing home deaths was available for 9 countries and there were significantly fewer deaths among residents of LTC facilities in the second wave.  There is likely some interaction between age and nursing home deaths.  And it suggests front-loading, more of the vulnerable were attacked early on and fewer are around now.

Another contact study, this one from Switzerland, finds much higher risk of transmission in a household than among contacts outside the home.  So tell everyone to stay home makes a lot of sense.  (Medrxiv Paper) 

Finally, what post would be complete without something on the horrible things we are doing to children.  Even NPR has noticed this, in a story detailing the difficulty they have missing school and friends.  (NPR Story)  The level of anxiety and depression is heart-breaking.  And there is no reason, no reason at all for this.

Apparently I hosed up the cite on the Michigan transmission by children study, here is the right cite.  (JPID Article)

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