The DOH briefing on Monday focused heavily on variant terrorism. Dan Huff, one of the inexhaustible pool of mediocrities working at DOH, tries to project a serious, even threatening tone, and he took the lead on fear-mongering. Got news for you, Dan, you just seem like an ignorant, overbearing clod. Among other things, the state is pushing for every student to be tested constantly. That is a recipe for nothing but false and low positives which make it appear that there are many more cases than actually exist, and more school closings. But at least DOH is consistent in having a completely idiotic response to the epidemic, not releasing data which would really help people understand trends, and maintaining terror as long as possible.
While DD is trying to find good enough data to see if we can tell that the vaccine is having an effect on cases among the groups most heavily vaccinated, here is study from the CDC on the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness in a nursing home population in Connecticut. (CDC Study) Infection rates among those with and without vaccination were compared. The vaccine was found to have 63% effectiveness in the initial period from 14 days after the first dose through 7 days after the second dose. Not enough time was included in the study to look at the effect of development of full adaptive immunity, which is hard to understand, but I assume that if you did the study for people who had been vaccinated for three to four weeks past the second dose, the effectiveness would have been higher. Also, there may have been less serious illness among those vaccinated but the study wasn’t clear on that.
Please pay no attention to the terrorization regarding variants. Most of the research so far finds that they are not more lethal and may not even be more transmissible. Here is a study from the UK to that effect. (Medrxiv Paper) The researchers built a model taking lockdowns and weather variables into effect and assessing the reproductive rate to see if the new UK variant (B117) had an impact. That variant in now the most common one in that country. Lockdowns were correlated with reduced transmission, as were higher temperatures. Higher humidity was associated with more transmission. The emergence of the new variant did not appear to have an effect on transmission or mortality.
For reasons that baffle me, most US jurisdictions are refusing to release information on PCR test cycle number thresholds or the distribution of test results by cycle number. This information has been shown in several studies to be relevant to clinical management of an individual patient and to provide information about the course of the epidemic. Here is another such study. (Medrxiv Paper) Almost 800,000 tests performed in France were used in the study. There was high variability based on the laboratory and the specific PCR test used. Cycle number increased with regularity based on number of days from symptom onset, indicating that viral loads were decreasing. Age also had a strong effect, with every additional year of age cycle number decreased, indicating that viral load increased with age. The cycle number decreased over the time of the study period, suggesting variation in testing which might include more or fewer asymptomatic persons, and/or an actual change in the course of the epidemic. The authors suggested that changes in the average cycle number could be useful in predicting increases or decreases in cases.
Here is a long post on masks, summarizing a lot of information. (WUWT Post)
This Lancet article states what we already know, children have about zero risk from CV-19. (Lancet Article) So as the authors suggest, why are we harming them with policies designed to protect older adults; why isn’t there more regard for the interests of children?
I don’t know what to think about Asia. Cases have been, apparently, very low in many countries there. Partly that is due to testing; they simply don’t do the kind of absurd testing we have engaged in. And you have to suspect some greater cross-reactive immunity from other coronaviruses. That is apparently the theory of a Japanese scientist. (Tweet) This Japanese researcher says that he believes many Japanese and Southeast Asian people have been exposed to a very similar virus before, which left them with some protective adaptive immunity. He gives a credible scientific reason why this could be the case. But I have some questions. Why wouldn’t the same virus have spread globally if it was at all recent? Wouldn’t we see a greater proportion of cases among Japanese children than elsewhere, since they might have been less likely to be exposed to the prior coronavirus? Why did Wuhan seem to get hit so hard, but not other places in China, at least as far as we know?
An update on the prevalence of infection in the US, based on antibody surveys. (JAMA Article) Over 60,000 adults who applied for life insurance were evaluated for antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein in September 2020, so before the big fall and winter wave. The oldest group had the lowest prevalence, around 3%, and the youngest adults had the highest, about 10%. On a population adjusted basis, this suggested that around 16 million infections had not been detected as of September 30. This would imply that there were more than twice as many undetected cases as detected ones. If that held steady, and we applied it to Minnesota, would mean as of now, we have had around 1.5 million infections (one million undetected plus 500,000 detected).
And this Lancet article says that in light of the difficulty of containing an evolving respiratory virus, with constantly emerging variants, maybe we should re-think our strategy, since the public may get tired of constant restrictions. (Lancet Article) They suggest we need a generationally-oriented contract which is more targeted to the risks faced by different age groups. I have a more fundamental question–why did we ever embark on this lockdown approach to begin with, it never made any sense and was never likely to work.