The reason I didn’t say more about the IB’s briefing last week was that it literally makes me sick to watch and think about what this bloviating liar says. The clear messaging is that he took all these great actions that limited the damage, all based on science and data, and he has been balanced and now because of all those great actions we can all do a little more. The only balance he cares about is the one in his campaign account from teachers’ union contributions. Not a hint that he is giving up his emergency powers, which never were necessary. The usual blizzard of words and non-stop run-on sentences, you have to listen hard to understand what is being said. Nothing is his responsibility, unless he wants to take credit for something supposedly good. It is the virus’ fault. The virus doesn’t do anything, it is his decisions. Minnesota has not done better than most states. Minnesota has lousy and incomplete data, not the best in the country. They don’t follow the science, they ignore anything that is contrary to what they have done, especially if it had bad consequences, like closing schools. 500,000 people have not died from CV-19, that is a grotesque exaggeration. Students have not been fine being out of school, they have been irreparably damaged. Thousands, mostly low income and minorities, have simply dropped out of the educational system. There is zero evidence that masks work to slow community spread. Constantly glossing over the harms caused by his actions. More misinformation from the health commissioner about variants, and more nonsense about we have to get to everyone vaccinated and zero spread. Enough is enough. When will the legislature stand up and say “no more of this one-man rule.”
People ask me a lot of questions about vaccines, and I am reluctant to say much beyond my technical expertise. If you want to read more about mRNA technology, here is a good article. (Nature Article) As I have said before, the ironic thing is that the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) work like the virus does. Once injected, a carrier molecule gets the mRNA into a cell. The mRNA then tells the cells protein-making machinery to make CV-19 spike protein fragments. Those fragments are then exported to the cell surface, where the body should recognize them as foreign and prompt an immune response and part of that immune response is intended to be development of B and T memory cells. Those memory cells would then recognize any subsequent attempt at infection by CV-19 and marshal the immune response. These are novel vaccines; they can have side effects, some serious. The FDA should be being extra vigilant in monitoring use, I hope they are. But they have now been given to tens of millions of people and overall appear to have a good safety profile. So if it were me, and I have done so, I would get vaccinated unless your physician has some concerns about potential harmful effect to you personally. When we get to children, whole different issue, and I would be very leery of vaccinating kids until we do a lot more study of any possible untoward impacts on them and their still developing bodies and immune systems.
DD is taking a look at whether we are seeing a vaccination effect in Minnesota yet. Cases and outcomes were already beginning to fall rapidly at the start of the vaccination campaign and have plateaued a bit now, so a somewhat complicated analysis. One of the best indicators would be to look at whether the % of all cases that occur among the age groups more fully vaccinated has begun to drop. I will get some charts out, but the early analysis suggests not much of an impact by that standard yet.
Fun economic fact for the day, the bottom ten states of in terms of unemployment (i.e., highest levels) are all run by Democrats, except for Massachusetts, and only there would he be called a Republican.
Okay, let me rip on the mass(k) delusion again. I want to emphasize the micro-level evidence that supports the failure of masks to slow transmission, as demonstrated by the macro evidence. This study is kind of what I have been asking for all along–do some testing on masks after people have worn them for extended periods and lets see what is on there. I am not joking when I refer to them as virus collection devices. (Medrxiv Paper) The researchers are from Englands public health agency, so not fly-by-night work. They wanted to see if the virus remained viable on various kinds of surfaces and for how long. Materials commonly used in personal protective equipment, clothing and often-touched surfaces were tested. Surgical mask material and stainless steel had the slowest reduction times for viable virus; it took over 5 days for viable virus to be 100% gone. Mask material is generally hydrophobic, it doesn’t absorb moisture. So the virus stays in a nice moist environment with less evaporation. Cotton and some fabrics retained less viable virus, potentially because the droplets were absorbed, causing measurement difficults and partly because they may facilitate evaporation. A couple of other notable findings. The viability of the virus was not affected by initial concentration–that is, it didn’t live longer depending on much there was at the start. And viral RNA persisted far longer than viable virus; so using PCR tests on samples from surfaces would be highly, highly misleading.
I keep posting on these studies showing a lasting adaptive immune response from CV-19 infection. Here is another one, related to antibodies in saliva. (Medrxiv Paper) Most patients had immune responses lasting 9 months in their saliva, regardless of disease severity.
And here is another study on immune response in saliva, also finding that it lasted for the entire period since infection, up to 8 months. (Medrxiv Paper)
This paper looked at the immune system response to CV-19 infection in children and adults. (Medrxiv Paper) Few children develop severe illness and this appeared to be due to higher populations of certain innate immune system cells.
Weird study, the authors looked at whether PCR test results varied by time of day when the sample was collected. (Medrxiv Paper) Positive test results peaked for samples collected in the afternoon and varied by two over the course of the day, suggesting variation in viral shedding. They were also using an absurdly high cycle number threshold of 40. Would have been nice if they looked at variation in the cycle number over the course of the day too and reported that, so we could see how many non-infectious positives there were.
More on vitamin D. (Medrxiv Paper) In this paper the conclusion was that vitamin D deficiency was associated with higher mortality from CV-19.