I wasn’t going to comment on this, but a reader brought it up. I know I am sometimes too fond of my sense of humor and in the case of Dr. Osterheimlich, I feel somewhat bad about it, because clearly something is a little off with him, as he is so constantly so wrong. The 14 weeks for a massive case surge are basically up and it just didn’t happen. Over the weekend he said we should shut schools because kids were going to have a huge case surge due to B117. As if we haven’t done enough damage to our children. He is kind of becoming his own joke, and apparently doesn’t realize he is the punch line. Time for the B117 terrorism to stop, it really appears no more lethal, even if, and it is an if, it is more infectious. Cases in children are rising in part because with more back at semi-real school, or should I say woke social-justice warrior training, we are doing ridiculous amounts of unnecessary testing and picking up high proportions of false positives and low positives. This would become immediately apparent if agencies like the Minnesota Department of Health would be transparent just one time and release the distribution of cycle numbers, by age, for so-called positive tests. I think that would be incredibly revealing, which is why they won’t do it.
The Minnesota coronavirus briefing yesterday didn’t contain much of note–worry about variants, talk on vaccinations. It is apparent that supply is close to overmatching demand. Vaccine hesitancy is real, driven by lots of misinformation about the vaccines. But another factor is the idiocy of public health experts and politicians in not allowing vaccinated people to return to pre-pandemic life–no masks, no social distancing, no restrictions of any kind. If you tell people “get vaccinated, but your behavior and restrictions can’t change”, you are telling them two things. One is that the vaccines may not work and the second is that getting one isn’t going to change how they are able to live. Unbelievably stupid and scientifically completely unjustified. If you want to improve vaccine uptake, tell people it means the end of restrictions.
A couple of non-CV observations, on my favorite topic, inflation. People are noticing that inflation is worse in the items that hit low-income people hardest–food, gas, medical care, housing. This is the same group that suffered the worst income losses in the epidemic. Headline inflation indices are rigged, the real cost of living, especially for low-income people, is going up much faster. A bad squeeze. And another point on inflation and money. If you think about the normal laws of supply and demand, you might think that greatly increasing the supply of money would cause a decline in its price–interest rates. That might be true if money magically came from out of thin air. It doesn’t. The money supply is largely increased by selling debt to fund government spending. Someone has to buy that debt and that takes money. Right now it takes a lot of money to buy that debt. To persuade people to exchange their money for debt when there is an excess supply of debt, you have to pay them more, leaving aside any considerations of inflation or risk of repayment. If we keep spending like this, inflation is simply inevitable, with more money chases less real products and services to buy, as are higher interest rates, as government has to hoover up more and more money to support its debt binge.
A new report from a UK group finds a frightening rise in mental health problems, especially among children. (UK Report) Mental health visits by children rose by over 20% during the epidemic, including visits due to concerns over self-harm.
You may recall that for months I have been asking why studies aren’t being done to culture masks after extensive wearing and see what is collecting on them and how viable it is. According to this tweet (Tweet) a group in Florida is doing that with masks worn by children. E coli was found, according to the tweet, but no other results were disclosed. I am hoping to see a fuller account. I will say again, masks are a literal virus collection device, and other pathogens. We know from some research that CV-19 remains viable on masks for a very extended time. We also know that particles collected by masks can eventually be inhaled or exhaled through the mask and be re-aerosolized. This is important research.
Now this study is an indication of a legitimate concern in regard to vaccines. We know that older people, especially the frail elderly, have weaker immune systems and less robust and durable adaptive immune responses to vaccines. This study on the effect of vaccination in nursing home residents in Belgium, compared to the effect in health care workers, shows that the response is much weaker in residents who never were infected with CV-19. It was relatively strong in those residents who had a prior CV-19 infection. (JID Article) If it holds, the study would suggest that we will continue to see cases and deaths among the frail elderly residing in long-term care facilities.
More research on the adaptive immunity from infection from CV-19 and other respiratory viruses. (Cell Article) In the absence of significant mutation, most respiratory viruses, including CV-19 appear to prompt a lasting adaptive immune response. Even with viral mutations, any subsequent reinfection appears to result in milder disease. The immune response is both in the antibody and T cell arms and in the case of CV-19, lasts for a least 8 months, the maximum period that could be studied for this paper. One aspect that is unclear is the durability of local mucosal tissue responses, compared to the systemic ones. Those local responses can be more critical in mounting a fast response to attempted reinfection in the respiratory system. A very readable paper with a good overview of the adaptive immune response to CV-19.
Another study on the topic of viability of the virus under certain conditions. (Medrxiv Paper) The researchers had previously found that the virus tended to survive longest in winter conditions, although on most surfaces even in winter viability was measured in hours. In this paper they were examining virus viability in typical secretions of biologic fluids. The virus was stable for up to 21 days in mucus, blood, saliva, and urine; but its survivability was very dependent on weather conditions, with winter, and to a lesser extent spring and fall, again favoring longer periods of viability. And while it could be viable for a large number of days, on average it became non-viable in a much shorter period of time.
This study from one large pediatric clinic in Texas confirms that most respiratory virus infections have dropped during the epidemic. The exceptions are rhinovirus and adenovirus. (JID Article) The reasons for the varying effects on different respiratory viruses are unclear.