Drowning in Coronavirus Research, Part 77

By August 31, 2020 Commentary

Another day, another scold session by the Department of Health.  I think these people don’t realize that the public is tired of the shaming and the restrictions on normal life, in light of the extremely low risk to the general population.  In our Director of Infectious Disease’s opening remarks (and she is a master scold), one statement was “it is a long road and many thought we would be at the end by now”.  That reminded me that we haven’t seen or heard about the infamous Minnesota model for a while.  The reason it reminded me is that according to that model–hurray–the epidemic is over in Minnesota, millions of cases and 22,000 deaths later.  I am so glad we got there, and I am sure we can take the masks off and actually interact with people in the usual way now.   Seriously, the model had the epidemic over by the end of August/early September.  Several million dollars down the rat hole.

Guilting about cases at “social outbreaks”.  Gee, people are trying to do the things that make life worth living, who would have thought.  Concern about college cases.  Why, why, why–these are almost universally asymptomatic cases.   Seriously, what is wrong with these people, why are we wasting any time worrying about spread among young adults.  They are far more likely to die from alcohol incidents than CV.  And don’t give us the myth of high spread from asymptomatic people, especially young people to older ones, until you release the contact tracing data you have on this subject.

Lots of vaccine talk.  It is fairly clear now that the largely unspoken strategy in Minnesota has shifted to minimizing cases until we have a vaccine.  That is a joke.  I don’t know why these supposed experts insist on misleading people about what will slow transmission, and that it may have already occurred in terms of infection levels and pre-existing immune responses, and contributing to false hopes around a vaccine.  What I worry about is that when it becomes apparent to people that a vaccine isn’t going to make the virus disappear, what will they expect as a government response?  Meanwhile, we are all supposed to see our kids miss school, see people not have jobs, see businesses restricted and gone and live non-socially.  For what reason?  Just another depressing briefing about a non-existent epidemic.

On to cheerier topics.  Here is a piece on mask research from a physician.  Covers the usual ground with a better summary of the research than I typically give.  (Mask Review)

More on what happens when the rubber meets the road, i.e., the virus meets the respiratory tract.  (Medrxiv Paper)   The researchers modeled the area using actual human cells and evaluated the interaction between virus and cell types.  In this in vitro (out of the body) model, over a long period of monitoring the virus persisted for many days with waves of replication every 7 to 10 days.  The virus infected primarily ciliated and goblet cells in the airway and did not appear to infect two other common cell types.  The infection caused relatively immediate damage to the airway.  A true infection of the airway appears to require a very heavy dose of virus, according to this model.  Of course, this model does not have the full repetoire of immune responses and other defensive mechanisms that a real human would have.

An article on the experience in a city in Brazil that appears to have reached population immunity at a 20% or so infection rate.  (Brazil Article)  Not clear what percent of the population actually has been infected, may be higher than that.  But Brazil as a whole illustrates that a country can avoid lockdowns and appear to get the epidemic largely over quickly, as Sweden also did.  Seem like a way smarter strategy to me and far less damaging to a country’s economy and the health of its citizens.

A study from the UK evinces high prevalence levels among staff and residents of nursing homes, with almost all having an antibody response, regardless of severity of illness.  And once again, even in this vulnerable population, high levels of asymptomatic illness.  (UK Study)


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