Oh, look, there is a slight increase in cases in the US. And look, it is in the same places that had the worst of the spring wave last year. Wow, it also is mostly states run by Democrats, with stricter lockdowns and mask mandates still in place. Seriously, how can you not 1) recognize the strong seasonality/geographic pattern that persists regardless of mitigation attempts and 2) begin to doubt the efficacy of these supposed suppression of the virus efforts. What is also clear, however, is that the combination of vaccination and prior infections is limiting the opportunity for more extensive spread. And for the 100th time, all our testing of asymptomatic people is doing nothing but producing false and low positives that exaggerate the case rise.
Minnesota acknowledges that last year drug overdose deaths rose over 65% in Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is, and by a similar percent statewide. These deaths are mostly among young adults and account for far more deaths in that group than does CV-19. The increase in deaths is clearly attributable to the lockdowns. Many of the overdoses involve fentanyl, which is what actually killed George Floyd. Fentanyl is pumped into this country intentionally by the Biden’s good friend China. (Strib Story)
One of the explanations for seasonality of transmission is the effect of various meteorological factors on the virus itself. This notion is supported by a recent study looking at why a particular mutation might make the virus more transmissible. (Medrxiv Paper) According to these researchers, a common mutation which is now dominant, makes the spike protein structure more resistant to temperature-induced changes.
According to this study, two doses of vaccine offers better protection against infection by some variants than does actual infection. (RS Study) I am not sure why this would be true, and whether it is due to better pattern recognition by the vaccine-induced adaptive immune response or the strength of the induced response. But it is good news if replicated.
This is another piece of research trying to figure out what factors account for variability in the course of the epidemic in different countries. I think these studies in general are difficult because there are too many probably interrelated variables to consider. (Arxiv Paper) In any event, according to the model these guys built, it appears that obesity, population density, and temperature play significant roles in rate of spread. Spread is fastest in the most economically developed countries; which is likely related to population density and obesity, as well as the level of contacts and the amount of testing.
Some variant terrorism in this research published in Cell. (Cell Article) The authors examined whether certain “variants of concern” (i.e., good candidates to continue the CV-19 terrorism) were affected by therapeutics or antibodies developed from infection. They found that compounds being tested as inhibitors of CV-19 entry into cells worked well against all variants. Antibodies being tested for treatment were found to be likely to be less effective against the variants. And plasma from convalescent and vaccinated persons were found to be less effective at neutralizing the variants of concern.
More variant terrorism can be found in this study from Norway. Using contact tracing, it finds that B117 is about 20% more transmissible in households. (Medrxiv Paper) The raw data, however, and looking at all contacts, not just household ones, do not appear to support that conclusion. Looking at all contacts and the secondary attack rate, transmission appears equally likely between B117 and other strains.
This story from the British Medical Journal deals with a review of antigen tests by the Cochrane Institute, a world-renowned evaluator of medical research. The Institute found that the antigen tests were good at evaluating who may actually have symptoms and disease and be infectious. This is spun negatively of course, because that means we may miss lots of people who have no symptoms and who aren’t infectious. As I have said before, sounds like a good reason to me to dump PCR testing altogether. (BMJ Story)
The Lancet carries a meta-review of studies on the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementati0n at preventing respiratory infections. It finds a small benefit, but a benefit in reducing the prevalence of infection. (Lancet Article)