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Coronamonomania Thrives in Darkness, Part 98

By August 3, 2021Commentary

Thank you to the reader who pointed out that I can’t count and have a little room left before I hit 100.

Minnesota’s death numbers are truly bizarre.  Yesterday, three deaths from mid-February were reported.  That is 6 months ago.  So half the deaths aren’t recent.  Every death was of an LTC resident.  Likely the three recent ones were vaccinated, probably the ones in February as well, but that was still early in the vax program.  All the deaths were old people as well.  Does anyone not understand now that this will continue to be disease of the frail elderly?

And Dr. Osterholm is definitely seeking a place in the rational pandemic response hall of fame.  He has now said the unthinkable, that cloth, and paper, masks generally are ineffective.  GASP!!!  I believe he was never a mask zealot.  But of course, then he went backwards by suggesting maybe we should all wear N95 respirators.  If you have ever had one of those on, you know that is a simply absurd idea, so absurd that I think, and hope, that the good doctor was having one on the mask religionists.  (OH Comments)

The country is in a state of complete confusion about the effectiveness of vaccination and how dangerous Delta is or isn’t.  Worst messaging ever.  And the DOH perpetuates it in every briefing.  After going on and on about how effective the vaccines are, we are told we still need to mask up.  And while I agree that the vaccines are effective, the statistics they use to show this are very misleading.  Using per capita numbers isn’t particularly accurate when the population is shifting from one category to another and the time periods being compared contain a large shift in those categories.

Everything is pretty much about vaccines these days.  But here is one study from Japan looking at the effectiveness of the euphemistically named “non-pharmaceutical interventions”.  (Medrxiv Paper)   Regions with high infection rates were compared with low ones, and the prevalence of supposedly good behaviors like mask-wearing, hand-washing, etc.  The thing I want to point out is that two of the interventions showed no effect–one of them was mask wearing; no association with lower infection rates.

This study was done among Air Force cadets.  (Medrxiv Paper)    These are almost all healthy young people, 85% of whom were vaccinated at the time of the study.  Vaccine effectiveness was estimated at 91% in preventing infection, but we seem to be learning that this effectiveness declines over time, although effectiveness at reducing serious disease remains robust.  As with most studies, prior infection was not taken into account in either group.

Another study suggesting antibody levels decline within a few months after vaccination, similar to what has been found in regard to infection, but as the authors note, B memory cell populations remain robust.  (Lancet Article)

Similar conclusions in a study from Japan of around 250 vaccinated persons.  While the antibody count declined, we can assume there is still a substantial B memory cell population.  The authors also noted limited evidence of adverse events from vaccination.  There was variability among individuals in regard to neutralization of different variants.   (Medrxiv Paper)

Just showing how contradictory research can be, this study from Qatar looked at viral loads in persons who were vaxed and unvaxed, as well as those who had been previously infected and were reinfected.  (Medrxiv Paper)    Remember higher cycle numbers mean lower viral loads.  Compared to unvaxed persons who were infected, people vaxed with Pfizer had cycle numbers 1.3 points higher, people vaxed with Modern had cycle numbers 3.2 higher and reinfected persons had cycle numbers 4 higher.  These points correlate to substantial changes in load.  The differences were consistent across both unsymptomatic and symptomatic infections.  So we again see that prior infection has at least as good protection as vaccination.  These lower viral loads mean people are likely less infectious.  Interestingly, their appear to be many more breakthrough infections than reinfections.   This was a large study so I find the results more credible than the Wisconsin study summarized below.

This paper comes from France and examines vaccine effectiveness in long-term care facilities, with a focus on variants, in this case Beta.  (Medrxiv Paper)    This is obviously a highly vulnerable group and there was a significant outbreak in the facilities, which included several deaths.  Vaccination, however, was associated with 49% effectiveness against infection and 80% against severe illness.

This study is somewhat contrary to several others, in that it finds that viral loads in unvaccinated persons and those who were vaccinated are similar.   (Medrxiv Paper)   The study comes from Wisconsin and apparently most of the infections involved Delta.  It was a somewhat small study and one issue is relative time of testing, which may confound viral load comparisons.   If vaxed people are less likely to be symptomatic, they may get tested at a different point in their viral load curve than do unvaxed persons.  And if more infections among the vaxed are asymptomatic, only the ones with higher viral loads may be getting tested, so the true distribution of cycle numbers is unknown.  Another aspect of the study that is puzzling is that 39% of all cases were among the vaxed population in Dane county and 27% in other counties.  That seems quite high.





Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Blackwing1 says:

    Mr. Roche:

    I’ve only recently come upon your web site from Powerline, and while I have read several of your posts with regard to masks I don’t seem to be able to find much about why so many doctors and others (who should know better) seem to believe that a simple single-layer cloth or paper mask would be effective at stopping or even slightly slowing the spread of a virus.

    I spent 27 years as a design engineer of filtration systems. While these were mostly not for human application (the military NBC applications I assisted on were/are classified) the basic principles of filtration still apply to what is essentially a filter across the nose and mouth.

    Human respirable aerosols, which are the presumed path by which viral loads are imparted, tend to be in the 2 to 5 micron range. Given that a micron is on the close order of 1/25,000th of an inch, this gives aerosol sizes in the range of 1/12,000th to 1/5,000th of an inch. A typical single-layer cloth or paper mask has a pore size on the order of (at the very tightest that can be breathed through) of 1/1000th of an inch; they are generally more on the order of 1/500th of an inch.

    Simple comparison shows that even the largest of the human respirable aerosols are going straight through a filter media with openings at a minimum of 5 times bigger than the challenge material, and at average at least 10 times bigger.

    This is not “trying to stop mosquitoes with a chain link fence”, it’s more like trying to keep gnats out of the house by putting up burglar bars over the open windows.

    But this is trivia compared to the fit of all cloth and paper masks to the face. One of the biggest challenges in designing HEPA filter systems is the seal of the filter element to the tube sheet (the thing against which the seal is made). I have yet to see, on anyone wearing one, a seal of mask-to-face that is anywhere near airtight. A significant portion of air being both inhaled and exhaled is simply bypassing the filter media, which leads to a filtration efficiency of zero on all aerosols. About the only thing a mask will stop are physically huge clumps of visible material, like those that come out through sneezes or coughing.

    If you’re sneezing and coughing you probably shouldn’t be out in public anyway.

    As far as I can see, the only realistic purpose about these masks is psychological in that it may help to remind people not to sneeze or cough in public, crowded spaces. But if that is the case, there is no reason for mandating the use of masks, and it should be made clear that they are utterly ineffective at controlling viral spread.

    So why is any one listening to this nonsense about masks?

    Best Regards,


    • Kevin Roche says:

      It is good for people like you who understand air flow and filtering and particles to come forward with information. But this is like a religion for a lot of people. They are just determined to believe they work, against all evidence.

  • Al Gardiner says:

    What happened to part #97? Seems to have disappeared for me.

    • Kevin Roche says:

      let me know if still gone, the web guy was working on the site, or I maybe just can’t count. I will check that possibility

  • Jersey JoePa says:

    Kevin, reading your blog always grounds me in reality vs the hyperbole and scaremongering of the main stream media and my “low information” acquaintances. I have argued with these folks for months that the media continues to look at positive cases through the lens of March/April 2020 when the medical community was not well prepared and many people died needlessly because of this unpreparedness. I pointed out how one by one, certain categories were no longer being reported by the agencies and media. Use of ventilators, or as Cuomo said ad nauseum, “ventilatahs”, and daily ICU admits dropped from the reporting. With the DELTA variant, the number of deaths is rarely included in any main stream media report. All they report is number of cases and regional hospitalizations. I realize that fear sells advertising. Even the weather channel jumped in on the COVID daily tracking because nobody was watching the weather channel for the weather at the height of the pandemic.

    As someone with a long background in underwriting, I have learned to pay most attention to what is not being reported as this is quite often the most important information/statistic. The last thing a government agency wants is a well informed and knowledgeable public.

  • Stacey Atneosen says:

    Kevin, through all of this extreme fear with no basis of truth; you have provided Statistics and rationality and calm reason.
    Thank you and thanks to DD for all the actual truth you provide us with.

  • Al Gardiner says:

    Hey Kevin. I wasn’t trying to point out a mistake in the numbering. I could swear I saw a Part 97 right after you posted the “barrage” on the 1st. I went back the next day and noticed it was gone. Then part 98 showed up. I really can’t recall if they were two different posts. In any case, thanks again for all the great info. Also enjoying your podcast appearance over on Powerline.

    • Kevin Roche says:

      there is no telling what kind of mistakes I make, so I appreciate people pointing them out. I did skip 97 originally.

  • Abhijit Bakshi says:

    What about Ivermectin?

  • Rob says:

    Doctors won’t ever downplay masks because it would open them up to malpractice lawsuits. That’s the elephant in the room that nobody dares mention, instead they hide behind “THE SCIENCE” rather than actual science. The sad truth is the legal system doesn’t care about scientific accuracy one bit.

  • Tom says:

    Until there is a fully vetted, 98% accurate, proven testing method that in itself has gone through rigorous trials that would provide excellent results, we do not know who does or who doesn’t have anything, especially covid or any variant. Where are the world-wide accepted and practiced standards for the PCR test? There are none. Where is the agency that would provide strict parameters for testing and provide guidance that doesn’t move the goal posts every week? What other testing method is consistent and has been proven in the field with trials for this virus? As far as cases and related deaths, any stats are useless unless the testing system is rock solid and standardized. Thus, there is no pandemic of any kind until this can be established.

  • lees says:

    My reading shows coronaviruses are in the in the 20nm to 500 nm range… to convert to microns, divide by 1000 – so even smaller than Blackwing1 noted. He may have been talking about droplets, but they often breakup when hitting the mask and the virus is aerosolized then is my understanding.

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