It seems like I just started this series and it is running out!! You are going to be barraged with chart/animation posts today, just an enormous amount of great work by DD. Nothing helps you see what has actually happened like visualizations.
In my what comes next post, I failed to mention my usual concern about testing. Prevalence of infectious persons is very low. If we keep testing at high levels, there will be a continuing and growing proportion of false positives. The state should address this issue, but won’t. So we will have a very misleading, although low, case count.
I also want to mention a hypothesis. We have really screwed with the circulation of common respiratory viruses by our attempt to suppress CV-19. And that virus messes with other respiratory viruses. We are seeing a huge rhinovirus outbreak in part, I think, because we and CV-19 have upset the balance of respiratory viruses that each likely have some ability to inhibit other viruses. Rhinoviruses are very small and whatever value masks have it isn’t worth anything against rhinoviruses, we have given them a competitive advantage.
There are many issues with PCR testing and this is another study describing those. (Medrxiv Paper) The authors looked at extensive screening done in a city in Germany. They found that a large percent of “positive” PCR tests were likely not infectious persons. This was especially a problem with younger persons. Their conclusion was that PCR testing is not an appropriate tool for mass screening, due to its inaccuracy.
Another study that examines the cross-reactivity of antibodies from seasonal coronavirus against CV-19. (JID Article) The researchers found that a majority of people did have such antibodies.
The factors are too complex and variable for anyone to put into a set formula, but people keep working on what contributes to ease of transmission, including meteorological factors. This study attempted to ascertain the role of a variety of factors and their interaction. The focus was on temperature and mobility. Pretty interesting work, basically finding the effect of meteorological factors is modulated by mobility and other behaviors. (SSRN Paper)
When Texas reopened, the “Neanderthals” leading the state were said to be endangering the population. This study looked at whether reopening led to more business visits, affected employment or led to more cases. No behavior change in terms of visiting businesses was observed, probably because the people who weren’t afraid are already out and about, and the people who are fearful are still going to stay home. No effect on employment was observed, again probably because behavior had already changed. And most importantly, which anyone can see in the public databases, there has been no increase in cases, in fact they have declined rapidly. (NBER Study)
Everyone has heard that CV-19 caused a lot of “excess” deaths in 2020. These authors compared deaths in the US over the last few years to those in European countries. (PNAS Paper) In addition to excess deaths, an important concept is years of life lost. If a lot of older people die, you are losing fewer years of life than when large numbers of young people do. The US has been on a different trend than European countries for several years, with more excess deaths, having nothing to do with CV-19, obviously. It is due to drug overdoses and homicides and a lot of unhealthy people. The excess deaths compared to if we were on the European trend were larger in 2017 than deaths attributed to CV-19 in 2020. Gives you some perspective.