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A Head Full of Coronavirus Research, Part 82

By December 23, 2020December 27th, 2020Commentary

A local reporter, Tom Hauser put together a little chart on the vaccination progress of Minnesota, our neighbors and a couple of other states.  Note that Minnesota thinks it is very sophisticated among states and a beacon of good government, not to mention having the best CV-19 data and response in the world.  Yet somehow we have a fraction of the vaccinations of our much smaller neighbors, North and South Dakota, who must have a much harder time distributing the vaccine in a thinly-populated state.  On a per capita basis, we, well, suck.  I do not jest when I say that the current administration has been completely incompetent in almost every respect in regard to handling of the epidemic.

My other observation for Minnesotans, aren’t you terrified by how our cases just keep growing and growing and we are just facing this incredibly horrible winter of never-ending infections until we all can get vaccinated.  Oh, wait, as it seems to always do, CV-19 surged on its own timeline and receded on its own timeline.  Cases continue to drop rapidly here and at some point we will hit a background rate that is pretty low and then we should declare victory and stop the coronamonomania.

This study in JAMA reports on the improvement in hospitalization outcomes, particularly lower mortality.  (JAMA Article)   The researchers tracked outcomes in about 950 hospitals through June 30.  (Be useful to extend that to now.)  Most hospitals showed a significant improvement in mortality rates.  At the same time there was extensive variation across hospitals, but much of that appears related to patient characteristics.

Another paper reflecting long-lived antibody persistence, regardless of disease severity.  (Medrxiv Paper)   The study was done in Austria among about 1650 adults.  It tracked prevalence at 3 and 6 months periods.  About 10% were initially positive.  Those persons who were positive, remained positive at 6 months.  Neutralizing antibodies to the receptor binding domain showed the greatest persistence.  And those antibodies were present even in those with mild illnesses.

This study tracked antibody prevalence among a population in the state of Wisconsin from spring through late fall.  (Medrxiv Paper)   Adjusted prevalence rose from 1.6% in the spring wave of tests to 6.8% in the fall wave.  Still seems low to me and hard to know how accurate the assays used are.  Milwaukee had a rate of around 10%, but other areas of the state also showed substantial prevalence and prevalence growth, including more rural areas.

Another prevalence study, this one among Swiss school children.  (Medrxiv Paper)   2603 children were antibody tested in June and July, with a prevalence of 2.4%; 2552 were tested in October and November with a prevalence of 4.5%.  Schools remained open during this time, when there was high community transmission.  There were few outbreaks of even 2 or 3 cases in a school and no school-wide outbreaks.

How about prevalence among Swedish home care workers delivering services to the elderly?  (Medrxiv Paper)   Five companies and about 400 employees were included in the study, done in the spring.  About 20% of the workers were antibody positive, compared to around 10% of a reference population.  About 3.5% were currently positive by PCR test.  This suggests that this group of workers is at risk for infection, but no information was provided about how often they may have passed infection to clients or how often they may have contracted infection from clients.

If you want to read about modeling on how the virus goes from an infection in the upper respiratory tract to the lungs, this is the study for you.  (Medrxiv Paper)

And if you like to read about population immunity and when it may occur, kind of an interesting paper.  (Medrxiv Paper)  The author suggests that the virus basically will kill about 2500 per million of population and that when around 2000 per million have died, there have been enough cases to create population immunity.  While I might agree that deaths can be an accurate indicator of overall case levels, differences in how deaths are attributed to CV-19, in population age structures and health status and in medical resources can affect the level of deaths.  The author suggests that places like New York and New Jersey have limited remaining susceptible populations.  Either that or they are exceptionally good at killing old people and will be well above that 2500 per million limit.


Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • SteveD says:

    ‘CV-19 surged on its own timeline and receded on its own timeline.’

    The surge in many states appeared to occur exactly when you would expect a seasonal virus to surge. My only guess why it receded is that between the spring and fall surges it ran out of easy victims; resistance and cross-resistance may have reached the level where it has become difficult for the virus to spread.

  • Ganderson says:

    John Hinderaker observed that Wisconsinites are “Minnesotans without the smugness” sounds about right.

  • cak says:

    Kevin, thanks so much for putting all this information about covid in one place, for having links so we can check out your source data.

    Ever since I found this site, I’ve been checking in almost every day to see what new info you have for us. So yes, I am as excited to stop in here and see what new “presents” of truth and science you leave as I am for Santa this year! 🤣

    I live in an entirely different part of the country, but still find your commentary and info on covid to be very helpful and applicable. Thanks again and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

  • DuluthGuy says:

    Yet in Minnesota, we’re doing such an intelligent things as forcing people to wear masks while downhill skiing? They’ll say it’s only required while on the chairlift, but you still have to have it with you at all times. And you’re not allowed to ride a chairlift with someone from outside your household. Half the fun of skiing is is talking with random people on the chairlift. Not to mention, chairlift lines will take longer. Because one knows that the risk of catching COVID is so great outdoors?

    And at Elm Creek in Maple Grove, they’re limiting the number of people on the cross country ski trails at once so nobody catches COVID while cross country skiing?

    There are almost no activities where you are less likely to catch a bug than downhill and cross country skiing, and the governor is well aware of that. And these are two healthy activities to do in the winter time. Yet they are making it as difficult to do as possible. If people haven’t realized it, the current goal is to make us as miserable and depressed as possible. I’d like to think that people would stand up and start fighting back, but I’ve thought that for a while on other things and I highly doubt it happens here.

  • Debbie says:

    Anyone see the WSJ article “States Impose Stricter Lockdowns” today? Our fair Governor was quoted and did exactly what you predicted he’d do, Kevin…credited the recent lockdown right before Thanksgiving (all thanks to him, of course) with reversing a surge in case numbers. Maybe he missed the graph that cases had already peaked and were declining before he shut MN down again. Oh, and what about it takes at least 4 wks to see if mitigation practices have an effect?? The most hilarious sentence in the article stated that Walz has rolled back some of those restrictions, good man that he is. No lie, it said, “the state now allows outdoor dining again while keeping the ban on indoor dining.”

    Lord above, give me strength.

    But, it is Christmas and I shall refrain from beating a dead horse.

    Merry Christmas, Kevin, and thanks again for all your hard work!

  • Darin Kragenbring says:

    Strong post, DuluthGuy.

    I am reading Thomas Sowell’s “Discrimination and Disparities “ and on page 82 he has this gem: “ Indeed, the political costs of admitting to having inflicted socially counterproductive policies are a powerful incentive to keep on inflicting those policies and ignoring or denying their consequences.“

    He then footnotes a story from the Great Depression about FDR’s cabinet not wanting to use surplus food to feed hungry citizens because it would reveal a policy failure.

    The simplest explanation for all of this madness is some people in power have never moved from their initial assessment that this virus is as deadly as the Spanish Flu, data be darned. The fact that it’s happened across the globe is baffling and worrying to me. That is why blogs such as Mr. Roche’s are so important to keep getting the word out.

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