I put off listening to the IB’s school press conference from the week I was gone, mostly because he is really hard to take, but I finally did it, and lost an hour and a half of my life in the process. He lies repeatedly and intentionally, about Minnesota’s relative performance to other states, about the course of the epidemic, about anything, just to see if he can get away with it. He presented charts that are not accurate. It is very clear he hates actually working with the legislature and having to consider any opinion other than what he wants to do. And he lies about the importance he places on children’s lives. Schools should never have been closed and it is inexcusable that most students still don’t have access to in-person learning. And it was clear from what he said that he will continue to place false opinions about risk to teachers above the well-being of children. But the biggest lie is that he demonstrated balance in the response to the epidemic. First of all, why is he making these decisions alone, why isn’t the legislature doing it? Maybe we would have had better decisions. He has overall caused more harm to the health of Minnesotans than any minimal protection from CV-19 flowing from the mitigation measures. The appropriate comparison is Florida, with a much more vulnerable population, and a far, far less stringent set of mitigation measures. They actually have better metrics than we do. And their population is more sane and feeling less mentally stressed. The IB loves to use football analogies in regard to epidemic. He did a Jim Marshall; he picked up the ball and ran 90 yards to score a touchdown for the other team. (A quick tip for the IB, New Zealand is not in a “normal” state, as he said, they have completely isolated themselves from the rest of the world.)
At least some media in the UK are willing to be halfway rational. Check out the headline “Masks in Schools is Utterly Nonsensical–Where’s the Evidence for It?”. Couldn’t put it any better than that. (Telegraph Story)
What kind of adaptive immune response do elderly people develop following a mild or moderate CV-19 infection? According to this study, it is comparable to those found in younger people. (Medrxiv Paper) The average age of the people studied was 54, so not super-old. The response lasted the full 8 months of the study, although it waned slightly.
A ski resort in Austria had one of the early European superspreader events. A followup study finds generally long-lasting antibody responses. (Medrxiv Paper) In April 45% of the population had been infected according to antibody surveys. The antibodies generally persisted, but even where they weakened, strong memory B cell and T cell responses were found. And when the next case wave came, this area had fewer cases than other areas which had previously experienced lower case numbers, similar to what we saw in the US in the winter.
This paper focused on memory B cell responses over time and again found that they were generally robust. In addition, some impact of pre-existing responses from seasonal coronavirus was found. (SSRN Study)
Yet another study relating to adaptive immune response. (Medrxiv Paper) A cohort of health care workers was followed for several months. Antibodies remained present and the response strong. And there was evidence that seasonal coronavirus antibodies may have had a protective role.
This study on the Pfizer vaccine found that for persons who had been infected before being vaccinated, the symptoms after the first dose and the antibody response were similar to those after the second dose for people who did not have prior CV-19 infection. (Medrxiv Paper)
This study from Colorado is another one trying to tease out factors associated with more or less spread. (Medrxiv Paper) The researchers were particularly focused on airborne particulate matter, but looked at a wide variety of other factors. Particular matter density is largely correlated with population, so I am not sure what else they think it may be telling you. Now it is possible that particulate matter may be a transportation vehicle for the virus, but I don’t believe the research has yet reliably shown that. They claim to have adjusted for population density, but it wasn’t clear to me that they did. While their results supposedly show that higher levels of particulate matter are associated with more cases, different models gave different results and all had very wide uncertainty bands. I believe these authors were just trying to show that air pollution is bad, so I am inclined to take the results with a grain of salt, especially since they don’t give us details on the effect of all the factors they studied.
Another study on the mental health effects of the CV-19 terror campaign, this one from Portugal in regard to university students. Astoundingly high increases in anxiety, depression, etc. were found. (Medrxiv Paper)
And this is a study looking at relative case growth and decline rates across towns in Massachusetts. (Medrxiv Paper) Those towns with higher growth rates early on, also had faster declines in the later period. Although the entire state has been subjected to very stringent lockdown measures, there has been high variability in total cases per population unit across towns. The authors seek to tie this variability to heterogeneity in susceptibility and infectiousness, but I am not sure I followed the logic. What is likely true is that areas with higher total levels of population prevalence are likely to see fewer new cases (or experience faster decline in cases) due to fewer targets for the virus. And I suspect that phenomenon is largely linked to population density and perhaps age structure of the population.