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A Head Full of Coronavirus Research, Part 83

By December 27, 2020Commentary

A study in the British Medical Journal finds that children’s mental health deteriorated significantly during the lockdown.   (BMJ Article)   Who cares, keeping them out of school might have kept a 100 year-old person with a month’s life expectancy from getting CV-19.

An  Austrian court thinks maybe the lives of children should have some priority and finds that government rules requiring split school classes and mandatory masks in school had no basis.  (Austria Article)    The court said the education ministry had not shown why the measures were necessary.

For those of you who frequently ask about information to use in regard to schools, this is a great study for that purpose.  A large review from Europe looked at schools and transmission.  (EU Study)   The first conclusion was that school closings should be a last resort and that the harms to children outweighed any benefits.  Other conclusions included that children from 1 to 18 have less severe disease than adults; while children of all ages can become infected and can transmit, younger children seem less likely to do so, and children are less likely to contribute to transmission than adults; the reopening of schools in Europe was not shown to contribute to an increase in cases; and that educational staff do not appear to be at higher risk.

These researchers looked at 21 studies to calculate an approximate length of the incubation period for CV-19, the time between exposure and symptom development.  (Medrxiv Paper)  They found that both the average and the median period was between 5 1/2 and 6 days.  There was a suggestion that the period may be shorter for those exposed to a higher dose or who developed more serious illness.

Why does transmission occur and what affects the risk of transmission.  Still largely a mystery after almost a year.  This study of over 100,000 people attempted to provide information relevant to that question.  (Medrxiv Paper)   Being on international flights, being in gatherings of over 50 people and having contact with an infected person appeared associated with greater transmission risk.  Contact with children and having minor non-CV infections in the prior months appeared associated with lower risk of transmission, which the authors thought might be related to prior immune responses.

Another study casts doubt on the real-world performance of tests used to ascertain CV-19 infection.  (Medrxiv Paper)   This was a meta-review of 19 studies on rapid antigen tests.  In general, there were significant issues with accuracy, leading the authors to conclude that use of the tests to conduct widespread screening of asymptomatic individuals in a low prevalence environment would likely cause very misleading results.

This paper from Mexico attempts to ascertain factors related to case spread and deaths in that country.  (Medrxiv Paper)   As has been the pattern elsewhere, they noted that in the first wave cases were concentrated in more urban areas and later spread to smaller cities and the countryside.  Income inequality, diabetes, obesity, and amount of air pollution were associated with more cases and deaths.

A study from Iceland adds to the evidence that antibody protection from CV-19 lasts for at least several months.  (NEJM Article)   The researchers also found that about half of infections were not detected and that the fatality rate appeared to be around .3%.

A lot of these preprints are never going to be peer-reviewed and published in a journal, and there is good reason in many cases.  This paper falls into that category and also has an intersection with the desperate attempts to find any kind of justification for the notion that masks may not stop transmission, but they could lessen disease severity.  (Medrxiv Paper)   The authors claim that masks increase humidity in the respiratory tract and that leads to less severe disease.  This is science?

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