Slight delay in posting due to real work, been a busy few days, back to the grind now.
I don’t read comments at the Strib on things I write. Waste of time and the abysmal ignorance of people just terrifies me. A couple did send me emails through the website, completely incoherent. What is funniest is challenging my credentials, particularly in light of the point of the editorial, which was to develop the capability to gather information and draw conclusions for yourself, and in light of the fact that Mr. Slavitt, who was being lauded, probably has even less relevant “credentials”.
Delta and the vaccines don’t work terrorism is in full swing, with no justification, other than to try to keep us all masked, muzzled and locked down forever. The Star Tribune is doing its part by mislabeling Delta as “highly transmissible”. The paper also ran an interesting article on how the pathetic modeling at the start of the epidemic drove panic and irrational government actions. (Strib Article). Our knuckleheaded Governor defends his reliance on the state’s model, which possibly was the worst in the entire country. The DOH and others are trying in retrospect to claim the model was not a “forecast” but just a “simulation”. This is bullshit, that model was the primary thing the Governor relied on in ordering businesses and schools shut and people to stay home. The press conference is still out there on YouTube and elsewhere.
PCR tests suck, period. They are not used appropriately to winnow out people who are actually infectious and instead give false and low positives that create a misleading image of the epidemic and cause real people to quarantine and to be anxious. This study again shows how seldom a “positive” PCR test actually reflects viable virus. (JID Article). The purpose of the study was to look at nasal swabbing or saliva testing among adults. A very high cycle number threshold of 40 was used to designate a result positive. Only the nasal swabs were cultured, for weird reasons, and the focus was on culturing low cycle number swabs, which is also bizarre. While 37% of those tested reported a symptom only 11.5% had at least one positive test. Culturable virus was generally found only in samples that had a cycle number under 20 by PCR test. But you are using 40 as your threshold!! The authors ignore the large number of positive PCR tests that were negative by culture and ignore the whole issue of false positives, but that is the real message from the study.
And this study also looked at how to determine infectivity from PCR testing, using more advanced assays. The authors determined that a person was not going to be infectious with any PCR cycle number higher than 31. And numbers below but close to that also rarely indicate infectiousness. Only half of positives between 20 and 30 yielded viable virus. The authors further noted the persistance of genetic fragments that would lead to positive PCR results but not indicate the presence of virus. (Medrxiv Paper)
In regard to vaccines, the studies continue to show real benefit in preventing infections but more importantly, in preventing serious illness. This study was done among a very large matched cohort of patients at the Veteran’s Affairs system. (Annals Article). Vaccine effectiveness at preventing infection for patients 7 days or more past a second dose was around 97%.
Two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine also looked at vaccine effectiveness. One studied overall effectiveness in a prospective cohort trial of almost 4000 health care workers. (NEJM Article). The vaccine was 91% effective in preventing infection and infected vaxed persons had viral loads 40% lower than unvaxed ones. They were 50% less likely to report symptoms and had a shorter duration of illness.
The second study examined effectiveness against the dreaded Delta. (NEJM Article) For a person who received two doses of mRNA vaccine, effectiveness was only slightly lower.
And another study shows that being infected also generates a strong adaptive immune response. Over 250 patients were followed for 8 months post-disease. The researchers note that while circulating antibodies wane, the more important memory B cell populations remain robust, as does the T cell response. (Cell Article).
That finding was supported by this piece of research comparing the immune response against several strains between previously infected and vaccinated persons. While both had effective responses, it appeared that those with prior infection had a broader response. (Medrxiv Paper)
This book is worth a read and review at Amazon. (CV Book)