This is going to wind down soon, and so am I. Once again, I want to thank everyone for not just reading, but contributing. I have gotten so much assistance from readers and so many helpful and interesting comments. And I do appreciate it. It has helped keep me and all of us sane during this crazy time.
The messaging from the current federal administration has been nothing short of dreadful. They botched the J & J vaccine pause, giving people more grounds for being fearful of vaccination. They basically told vaccinated people that they couldn’t change anything, taking away any incentive to get vaxed. Finally the CDC woke up and decided that maybe vaccinated people didn’t need to be masked indoors, at least not all the time. Will Minnesota follow suit? I doubted it, but from the state of Florida I looked at the Strib’s website and miracle of miracles, the mask mandate went Friday. Now I think a lot of businesses and governments are going to keep it in place for some time, but we will see. I don’t care how this is explained, the truth is that it is a bow to reality–masks don’t make much difference in transmission, having to keep wearing them is a disincentive to get vaccinated and people are just fed up and ready to accept that we have to adapt to the virus.
The IB’s press event last nite and the briefing today revealed how hard it will be for some of these people to relinquish their power. The IB is backed in a corner by the opposing party and his polls must be showing strong negatives in regard to masking and other restrictions. The IB keeps referring to masks as a “critical tool” but everyone actually knows by now that they did nothing to slow community spread. Minnesota is a great example of that. And the speakers, including the IB, revealed how much they think the populace is a bunch of five year olds who have to be taken care of by Big Daddy and are incapable of making good decisions on their own. The Commissioner had “mixed feelings”, meaning she was reluctant to accept that vaccination works and that it is important to let people make their own safety adjustments. She is dead wrong in saying that 60% vaccination won’t keep the virus “suppressed”. 60% vaccination coupled with the infected but not vaccinated group which likely adds at least 5% to that 60% will dramatically limit spread. And suppression is a stupid, impossible goal. Minimizing spread is realistic. Kris Errorsperson said that the CDC mask change “came as a surprise” and it was apparent from the tone, it was an unwelcome change. She encouraged people to always wear a mask if they had any doubt about safety, because so much virus is still circulating. They just can’t let go of the terrorization messages. Due to seasonality and vaccination, there is almost no virus circulating, except the phantom virus picked up by excessive testing. Of course we are going to keep up the abuse of children by forcing them to wear masks in school. And we got the obligatory lecturing about vaccine and other equity. You might want to focus on behavior instead of skin color or ethnic background in your efforts to increase vaccination rates. All in all the Friday event had a gloomy, depressed tone. And the reporters, as usual, contributed to the sense of dread and the fear of people actually not engaging in obsessive, excessive safety-oriented behaviors.
This paper addresses changes in outcomes over time. (JID Article) The study was conducted in the Veteran’s Administration and examined hospitalization, ICU use, ventilator use and deaths. On an adjusted basis from February to July 2020, hospitalization rates dropped to a third of prior use, ICU use to a fourth, ventilation to a sixth of prior use and deaths to about a third. These rates plateaued through September. While use of some therapeutics, like hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, plummeted, use of others rose dramatically. Remdesivir, for example, was used in 45% of hospitalizations in the latter period. Since you have to be in the hospital to have remdesivir administered, that is evidence that a lot of hospitalizations wouldn’t occur otherwise. I would note that some of the outcome rate changes is due to changes in testing and case identification through the epidemic. Mild or asymptomatic cases were missed much more frequently early on.
Okay, this is the kind of modeling study that has been used throughout the epidemic to spur public hysteria and underpin bad decisions. (NBER Study) The authors purport to be studying whether Texas school reopenings caused more cases, and of course found that they did, because they wanted to. No real effort to actually track transmission and ignore those contact tracing studies that show very low transmission within schools or from school children to household members. They basically claimed that cases increased because parents became more mobile, went back to work, whatever, when their kids went back to school. No comparison with states where schools weren’t open, no real adjustment for broader seasonal trends. You can tell how bad this study is and how biased the authors are because they cite favorably a study claiming that Sturgis led to 100,000 cases.
And closing schools has enormous harms, as this research from England shows. Based on a longitudinal survey in England, it finds for school aged children mental health issues increased significantly. The authors note than emotional and mental health issues at this age tend to persist. (Medrxiv Paper)
Another attempt to ascertain the real CV-19 infection fatality rate, which is difficult because we know there are lots of undetected infections, and we likely over-attribute deaths. (Medrxiv Paper) Their best estimate is around .38%, which for people who remember the start of this thing, is uncannily similar to what happened on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Should have paid attention to that and not the whacko modeling from Imperial College and IMHE.