Written by Steven Hansen
The U.S. new cases 7-day rolling average are 16.7 % LOWER than the 7-day rolling average one week ago and U.S. deaths due to coronavirus are now 2.9 % LOWER than the rolling average one week ago. Today’s posts include:
- U.S. Coronavirus New Cases are 58,528
- U.S. Coronavirus deaths are at 879
- U.S. Coronavirus immunizations have been administered to 70.2 doses per 100 people.
- The 7-day rolling average rate of growth of the pandemic shows new cases were little changed and deaths improved
- India’s COVID-19 Variant: What We Know So Far
- A study of 6.9 million people showed the risk of severe disease and hospitalization for COVID increased with body mass index (BMI), beginning at the upper edge of normal weight
- The Math That Explains the End of the Pandemic
- Most U.S. companies will require proof of Covid vaccination from employees, survey finds
- Vaccine hesitancy is not a barrier to vaccination efforts, says study
- How India’s Vaccine Drive Crumbled And Left A Country In Chaos
- TSA under pressure to extend mask mandate
- The novel coronavirus’ spike protein plays additional key role in illness
- The Latest Anti-Vax Myth: ‘Vaccine Shedding’
- High vaccination rate is key to course of COVID-19 pandemic, modeling shows
- Lots of additional headlines.
Hospitalizations Are The Only Accurate Gauge
Hospitalizations historically appear to be little affected by weekends or holidays. The hospitalization growth rate trend is improving.
Historically, hospitalization growth follows new case growth by one to two weeks.
As an analyst, I use the rate of growth to determine the trend. But, the size of the pandemic is growing in terms of real numbers – and if the rate of growth does not become negative – the pandemic will overwhelm all resources.
The graph below shows the rate of growth relative to the growth a week earlier updated through today [note that negative numbers mean the rolling averages are LOWER than the rolling averages one week ago]. As one can see, the rate of growth for new cases peaked in early December 2020 for Thanksgiving, and early January 2021 for end-of-year holidays – and it now shows that the coronavirus effect is lower.
In the scheme of things, new cases decline first, followed by hospitalizations, and then deaths.
The New Variants Are The Primary Cause Of This Fourth Wave
Even with vaccinations picking up, the fourth wave is now underway.
- the more people that are vaccinated reduces the pool of people that can be infected. Today we have removed over 70 % of the population from being infected which theoretically should reduce the infection rate by 70 % [it is unproven whether the vaccines prevent a vaccinated person from being a carrier of the virus even though showing no signs]. If the vaccines are shown to stop transmission, then in theory it would reduce the infection rate by double the percent vaccinated [in this case you prevent your own infection and do not pass it along to another].
- it is also unknown what the effective rate of the current vaccines is against mutations that seem to appear almost daily. As an example, if the effective rate drops to 60%, it means the 70 % reduction in the infection rate discussed above is almost cut in half. The South African and Brazilian variant is reported somewhat immune to the current vaccines.
- In theory, the pandemic should be over immediately if everyone could be vaccinated today. The problem is that every day brings a new mutation (which would not appear if the pandemic was stopped). The longer the immunization process takes – the more ineffective the vaccine will become.
- It is not clear whether the vaccine prevents those vaccinated from spreading the virus. It seems to be well documented that it normally stops the virus from taking hold and when it does not – the infection is mild.
The real question is to what extent the vaccines will be mitigating this surge.
Coronavirus News You May Have Missed
Human to animal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in households is common – News-Medical
Researchers from the US recently carried out a community-based study of household pets with one or more confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases in humans living in the household.
Data was collected with the help of a survey of human and animal demographics and clinical parameters, human-animal contact, aspects in their shared environment. Blood was collected from the animals to test for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, and nasopharyngeal swabs were collected for PCR testing for the virus. The study is published on the bioRxiv* preprint server.
The researchers have reported interim findings from their sampling of dogs. Samples were gathered from 67 dogs in 46 households. Results from nasopharyngeal testing were available for 58 dogs, and serological testing results for 51 dogs. Clinical symptoms of COVID-19 were reported in 14 dogs (23.7%), and SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in 22 dogs (43.1%). The results of all PCR tests on nasopharyngeal swabs were negative.
Survey results showed that close human-animal contact was common, and most households were aware of and followed measures to minimize human-to-animal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 after diagnosis. Although there were no statistically significant associations between human-animal contact variables and COVID-19-like illness or seropositivity in dogs, there were positive trends for sharing beds with humans and the number of virus-positive humans in the corresponding household. Measures reportedly taken to mitigate transmission to pets showed a protective trend. A dog with a COVID-19-like illness was also found to be seropositive for the virus.
The findings indicate that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from human-to-animal in households is common in a study population with close human-animal contact. They also show that infected pets often show signs of COVID-like disease. Although nasopharyngeal sampling of dogs did not show positive PCR results in this study, it could be because of delays in sampling.
Household members were taking precautions to protect companion animals from SARS-CoV-2 infection, which indicated an opportunity for implementing more measures to decrease transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between humans and animals sharing households.[editor’s note: also read Russia Creates 17k Doses of COVID Vaccines for Animals]
High vaccination rate is key to course of COVID-19 pandemic, modeling shows – EurekAlert
The Mayo Clinic data scientists who developed highly accurate computer modeling to predict trends for COVID-19 cases nationwide have new research that shows how important a high rate of vaccination is to reducing case numbers and controlling the pandemic.
Vaccination is making a striking difference in Minnesota and keeping the current level of positive cases from becoming an emergency that overwhelms ICUs and leads to more illness and death, according to a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The study, entitled “Quantifying the Importance of COVID-19 Vaccination to Our Future Outlook,” outlines how Mayo’s COVID-19 predictive modeling can assess future trends based on the pace of vaccination, and how vaccination trends are crucial to the future course of the pandemic.
The Mayo researchers estimate that a peak of more than 800 patients would be in hospital ICUs in Minnesota this spring if no vaccines had been developed. The projections take into account new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as current public health measures and masking standards.
The predicted ICU census levels would be more than double the number of Minnesota COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized in ICUs on Dec. 1, at the height of the most recent surge last year.
“It is difficult to untangle how much of this elevated rate of spread right now is due to new variants as opposed to changes in social behavior,” the authors say, but “regardless of the reason, the absence of vaccinations in the current environment would have been likely to result in by far the largest surge to date.”
If Minnesota had achieved vaccination of 75% of the population by early April, the study estimates that the 7-day average of cases per 100,000 residents, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized and the number in ICUs would plummet by early July. “According to the model, this level of vaccination would completely suppress the growth (even in the face of the recent elevated spread rate) and immediately drive cases and hospitalizations down to very low levels,” the authors say.
The Latest Anti-Vax Myth: ‘Vaccine Shedding’ – MedPage
When a Miami school said earlier this week that it wouldn’t allow vaccinated teachers in its classrooms, its founder cited “vaccine shedding” as her main concern.
The trope is currently abuzz in anti-vaccine circles, said Nicole Baldwin, MD, a pediatrician who has been a target of attacks by the anti-vaxxer community.
“It’s amazing, and sad, what people will believe,” Baldwin told MedPage Today.
Essentially, they believe that people who’ve had the vaccine can somehow shed the spike protein, which in turn can cause menstrual cycle irregularities, miscarriages, and sterility in other women just by being in close proximity.
“This is a new low, from the delusional wing of the anti-vaxx cult,” said Zubin Damania, MD, a.k.a. ZDoggMD, in a video he recently posted to bust vaccine shedding myths.
Damania said the misinformation originates from an earlier claim that syncytin, a protein involved in placental formation, bears some structural similarities to the spike protein, and therefore vaccination would interfere with women’s reproductive systems. Many a fact check has shown that vaccines don’t target the protein.
Once injected, the vaccines prompt cells to make the spike protein, but it’s usually cleared in 24 to 48 hours, leaving little opportunity for “shedding,” even if it could occur — which it can’t, Damania emphasized.
Another logical fallacy he pointed out: “Why, then, wouldn’t natural spike protein do the same thing? Wouldn’t you be more scared of natural coronavirus infection? Oh, but it’s ‘natural.'”
India’s COVID-19 Variant: What We Know So Far – MedPage
As COVID-19 cases overwhelm hospitals in India, a new coronavirus variant has emerged.
Dubbed the “double mutant” variant and announced barely one month ago, already researchers are trying to figure out whether it could be causing the surge in cases — and what that could mean for the rest of the world.
“We need to keep a close eye on this variant,” Katelyn Jetelina, PhD, MPH, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, wrote in a recent email newsletter.
Its official name is B.1.617, and the “double mutant” is a bit of a misnomer, because it actually carries 13 mutations, 7 of which are in the spike protein. But the moniker comes from two notable mutations found in other variants that appeared together for the first time in this new strain: the L452R mutation and the E484Q mutation.
The L452R mutation in the spike protein was first found in the COVID-19 variant detected in California. One study found that the California variant carrying this mutation may be up to 20% more transmissible than wild-type strains.
The E484Q mutation is notable because it appears to be very similar to the E484K mutations found in the B.1.351 (South African) and P.1 (Brazilian) variants. The E484K mutation in these variants is considered an “escape mutation” because it enables SARS-CoV-2 to evade immune protection with monoclonal antibodies, which may decrease the effectiveness of vaccines. So far, though, current vaccines appear to be holding up against these variants, according to Jetelina.
The exact significance of these mutations is still being worked out.
“Just because there are two worrisome mutations on one variant doesn’t necessarily mean this is [doubly] contagious or [doubly] deadly. The WHO [World Health Organization] has declared B.1.617 a ‘Variant of Interest’ instead of a ‘Variant of Concern,'” she wrote.
WHO defines a “variant of interest” as one that has been found to cause community transmission, has been found in multiple COVID-19 cases or clusters, or has been found in multiple countries. In contrast, a “variant of concern” is defined as one that has been associated with or has demonstrated increased transmissibility, increased virulence, a change in clinical disease, or decreased effectiveness of efforts to control or treat the illness.
A study of 6.9 million people showed the risk of severe disease and hospitalization for COVID increased with body mass index (BMI), beginning at the upper edge of normal weight. – Lancet
Among 6 910 695 eligible individuals (mean BMI 26·78 kg/m2 [SD 5·59]), 13 503 (0·20%) were admitted to hospital, 1601 (0·02%) to an ICU, and 5479 (0·08%) died after a positive test for SARS-CoV-2. We found J-shaped associations between BMI and admission to hospital due to COVID-19 (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] per kg/m2 from the nadir at BMI of 23 kg/m2 of 1·05 [95% CI 1·05-1·05]) and death (1·04 [1·04-1·05]), and a linear association across the whole BMI range with ICU admission (1·10 [1·09-1·10]). We found a significant interaction between BMI and age and ethnicity, with higher HR per kg/m2 above BMI 23 kg/m2 for younger people (adjusted HR per kg/m2 above BMI 23 kg/m2 for hospital admission 1·09 [95% CI 1·08-1·10] in 20-39 years age group vs 80-100 years group 1·01 [1·00-1·02]) and Black people than White people (1·07 [1·06-1·08] vs 1·04 [1·04-1·05]). The risk of admission to hospital and ICU due to COVID-19 associated with unit increase in BMI was slightly lower in people with type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease than in those without these morbidities.
At a BMI of more than 23 kg/m2, we found a linear increase in risk of severe COVID-19 leading to admission to hospital and death, and a linear increase in admission to an ICU across the whole BMI range, which is not attributable to excess risks of related diseases. The relative risk due to increasing BMI is particularly notable people younger than 40 years and of Black ethnicity.
The Math That Explains the End of the Pandemic – New York Times
The United States has vaccinated more than half of its adults against Covid-19, but it could be months until the country has vaccinated enough people to put herd immunity within reach (and much of the world is still desperately waiting for access to vaccines).
Places with rising vaccination rates, like the United States, can look forward to case numbers coming down a lot in the meantime. And sooner than you might think. That’s because cases decline via the principle of exponential decay.
Many people learned about exponential growth in the early days of the pandemic to understand how a small number of cases can quickly grow into a major outbreak as transmission chains multiply. India, for example, which is in the grips of a major Covid-19 crisis, is in a phase of exponential growth.
Exponential growth means case numbers can double in just a few days. Exponential decay is its opposite. Exponential decay means case numbers can halve in the same amount of time.
Understanding exponential dynamics makes it easier to know what to expect in the coming phase of the pandemic: Why things will improve quickly as vaccination rates rise and why it’s important to maintain some precautions even after case numbers come down.
… The end of the pandemic will therefore probably look like this: A steep drop in cases followed by a longer period of low numbers of cases, though cases will rise again if people ease up on precautions too soon.
This pattern has already emerged in the United States: It took only 22 days for daily cases to fall 100,000 from the Jan. 8 peak of around 250,000, but more than three times as long for daily cases to fall another 100,000. This pattern has also been borne out among the elderly, who had early access to vaccination, and in other countries, such as Israel, that have gotten their Covid-19 epidemics under control.
… But contrary to popular belief, reaching herd immunity doesn’t prevent all outbreaks, at least not initially. It simply means so few people are susceptible to infections that any outbreaks that do happen tend to be snuffed out and case counts decline. Over time, outbreaks themselves become less and less common.
… You shouldn’t expect the road to herd immunity to be smooth, though. It’s natural for people to want to ease precautions when cases fall and to feel reluctant to step up precautions when cases rise again. The tricky part is that it can be hard to know how much to ease up while keeping cases trending downward so exponential growth doesn’t get out of control, as is happening in India.
TSA under pressure to extend mask mandate – The Hill
Airlines and unions are pressing the government to extend a mask mandate on airplanes and in airports that’s scheduled to expire on May 11, arguing the safety and health of both workers and passengers are at risk without it.
The federal rule, imposed in February, allows the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to fine passengers who refuse to wear a mask. Union leaders are cautioning that even with millions of Americans getting vaccinated and numerous states loosening their COVID-19 restrictions, strict rules need to stay in place for airplanes and airports.
“We’ve made tremendous efforts to get the pandemic under control, but we’re not quite there yet. That’s why we must continue the TSA enforcement directive for the CDC transportation mask mandate to keep passengers and aviation workers safe,” said Sara Nelson, international president of Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.
The mask mandate for air travel stemmed from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order that required masks at transportation hubs. President Biden signed an executive order on his first full day in office directing federal agencies to “immediately take action” to mandate the use of masks in airports, on trains, on intercity bus services and on ferries.
How India’s Vaccine Drive Crumbled And Left A Country In Chaos – NDTV
India has fully vaccinated less than 2% of its 1.3 billion-strong population, inoculation centers across the country say they’re running short of doses and exports have all but stopped.
When India launched its Covid-19 vaccination drive in mid-January, the chances of success looked high: It could produce more shots than any country in the world and had decades of experience inoculating pregnant women and babies in rural areas.
“Our preparation has been such that vaccine is fast reaching every corner of the country,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on January 22. “On the world’s biggest need today, we are completely self-reliant. Not just that, India is also helping out many countries with vaccines.”
Just over three months later, that initial promise has evaporated and the government’s plans are in disarray. India has fully vaccinated less than 2% of its 1.3 billion-strong population, inoculation centers across the country say they’re running short of doses and exports have all but stopped. Rather than building protection, the South Asian nation is setting daily records for new infections as a second wave overwhelms hospitals and crematoriums.
PM Modi’s response has been to abruptly shift strategy on vaccines and supplies. Initially the federal government negotiated prices with manufacturers, distributed them to states and restricted them to priority groups like the elderly and healthcare workers. Starting May 1, everyone over 18 is eligible for a vaccine while state governments and private hospitals can purchase doses directly from manufacturers for people from 18 to 45 years — triggering a desperate free-for-all rush to secure shots from an already strapped market.
His government says the new rules make “pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines open and flexible.” Health experts and officials in opposition-controlled states say the plan passes the buck to regional governments rather than addressing the pandemic directly. Widening the rollout of shots is also questionable when India is running low on stocks, with developers like Serum Institute of India saying the US has been hoarding ingredients and new supplies could potentially be months away.[editor’s note: great article which deserves a full read]
The novel coronavirus’ spike protein plays additional key role in illness – EurekAlert
Scientists have known for a while that SARS-CoV-2’s distinctive “spike” proteins help the virus infect its host by latching on to healthy cells. Now, a major new study shows that they also play a key role in the disease itself.
The paper, published on April 30, 2021, in Circulation Research, also shows conclusively that COVID-19 is a vascular disease, demonstrating exactly how the SARS-CoV-2 virus damages and attacks the vascular system on a cellular level. The findings help explain COVID-19’s wide variety of seemingly unconnected complications, and could open the door for new research into more effective therapies.
“A lot of people think of it as a respiratory disease, but it’s really a vascular disease,” says Assistant Research Professor Uri Manor, who is co-senior author of the study. “That could explain why some people have strokes, and why some people have issues in other parts of the body. The commonality between them is that they all have vascular underpinnings.”
Vaccine hesitancy is not a barrier to vaccination efforts, says study – News-Medical
… a team of researchers from the USA, Germany and Norway recently found that the main barrier to vaccination is not vaccine hesitancy but a supply shortage and unequal distribution of the vaccines themselves. Their data suggests that large numbers of people across the globe are willing to get vaccinated.
The study, which appeared on the medRxiv* pre-print server, showed that in the study sample in most of the countries examined, the rates of people willing to get vaccinated were high enough to reach more conservative herd immunity levels if combined with the number of those who have recovered from COVID-19.
Most U.S. companies will require proof of Covid vaccination from employees, survey finds – CNBC
- A broad majority of U.S. employers, 65%, plan to offer employees incentives to get vaccinated and 63% will require proof of vaccination, according to an ASU/Rockefeller Foundation survey.
- Overall, 44% will require all employees to get vaccinated, 31% will just encourage vaccinations and 14% will require some employees to get vaccinated.
People will likely need a booster shot about 9 to 12 months after their second dose of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, says company president – CNN
People will likely need a booster about 9 to 12 months after their second dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, company president Stephen Hoge said Thursday.
“I think somewhere between 9 and 12 months after your vaccination series is when people will probably need a booster vaccine — only while the pandemic is raging,” Hoge said during an event hosted on the social media platform Clubhouse. “That’s because we need to keep people as protected as possible, while there’s this really high risk of infection.”
Hoge said that he hopes the boosters will not be necessary once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
“My sense is that we all fear a winter epidemic, with respiratory viruses like influenza at the same time,” he said. “Giving a boost going into the fall is going to be the right thing. We’ve beaten back the pandemic. We need to stay ahead of it.”
Hoge noted the decision to recommend booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be up to public health officials, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Co-administration with an influenza vaccine would be the ideal way to do it,” Hoge said. “One of the things we’re going to look hard at over the summer this year, is how do we create data so that the CDC can provide that recommendation to healthcare systems so that it can be done as a single visit.”
The following are foreign headlines with hyperlinks to the posts
Latin America is facing a vaccine shortage and recorded more than a third of global Covid deaths last week.
India’s COVID-19 human crisis spirals with record new cases
The first US Covid-19 relief supply arrives in India
Brazil backs away from the virus brink, but remains at risk
With daily new infections closing in on 400,000, a number of states in India ran out of COVID shots the day before a national vaccination drive.
A surging death toll threatens to undo progress against the pandemic in South America.
An Italian man with lymphoma contracted COVID-19, after which his cancer mysteriously disappeared.
Driven in large part by mass vaccination campaigns, worldwide expenditures for COVID-19 vaccines are expected to reach $157 billion by the end of 2025.
Brazil’s COVID-19 Deaths Top 400,000 Amid Fears Of Worsening Crisis
Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory
Hong Kong to quarantine some residents after local COVID-19 variant found
Turkey went into a strict COVID-19 new lockdown on Thursday that bans residents from leaving their homes except to shop for groceries or to meet other essential needs.
China sent thousands of oxygen concentrators, generators, ventilators and other supplies to India on Friday to help alleviate the dire shortage, an apparent act of goodwill from one rival to another.
Battling its highest surge yet, Turkey approves Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
As death tolls rise in South America, scientists say the worst is yet to come.
BioNTech CEO confident vaccine works against ‘double mutant’ strain identified in India
Brazil’s health minister asks countries with extra vaccine doses to share them
Japan reports highest number of Covid-19 cases since late January
The following additional national and state headlines with hyperlinks to the posts
Babies whose mothers tested positive for coronavirus during pregnancy or childbirth had a low risk of infection.
The “one and done” allure of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine appears to outweigh the rare risk of clots in the court of public opinion.
AstraZeneca continues to struggle with data for its bid to convince the FDA to grant emergency use authorization for its vaccine.
Despite all the talk, Covid vaccination does not infect people with shingles
A new study, released as a preprint on the medRxiv* server, shows that inexpensive portable air cleaners may boost the removal of aerosols containing the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from indoor spaces by as much as three times, compared to conventional Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems.
BioNTech Expects Vaccine Trial Results for Babies by September
Biden says mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for military ‘a tough call’
64 Adverse Reactions to J&J COVID Vaccine Brought on By Anxiety, CDC Says
A troubled vaccine manufacturer, Emergent BioSolutions, projects record revenues.
July 1 is a “reasonable target” for US reopening, CDC director says
Weekly deaths in the US hit their lowest point so far in 2021
Today’s Posts On Econintersect Showing Impact Of The Pandemic With Hyperlinks
23 April 2021 ECRI’s WLI Growth Rate Again Marginally Declines
Final April 2021 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Improves
April 2021 Chicago Purchasing Managers Barometer At Highest Level Since December 1983
March 2021 Real Income And Expenditures Significantly Improve
April 2021 Chemical Activity Barometer Index Continues To Improve
Europe’s Vaccine Rollout Relies Heavily On Pfizer-BioNTechv
Warning to Readers
The amount of politically biased articles on the internet continues to increase. And studies and opinions of the experts continue to contradict other studies and expert opinions. Honestly, it is difficult to believe anything anymore.
I assemble this coronavirus update daily – sifting through the posts on the internet. I try to avoid politically slanted posts (mostly from CNN, New York Times, and the Washington Post) and can usually find unslanted posts on that subject from other sources on the internet. I wait to publish posts on subjects that I cannot validate across several sources. But after all this extra work, I do not know if I have conveyed the REAL facts. It is my job to provide information so that you have the facts necessary – and then it is up to readers to draw conclusions.
Analyst Opinion of Coronavirus Data
There are several takeaways that need to be understood when viewing coronavirus statistical data:
- The global counts are suspect for a variety of reasons including political. Even the U.S. count has issues as it is possible that as much as half the population has had coronavirus and was asymptomatic. It would be a far better metric using a random sampling of the population weekly. In short, we do not understand the size of the error in the tracking numbers.
- Just because some of the methodology used in aggregating the data in the U.S. is flawed – as long as the flaw is uniformly applied – you establish a baseline. This is why it is dangerous to compare two countries as they likely use different methodologies to determine who has (and who died) from coronavirus.
- COVID-19 and the flu are different but can have similar symptoms. For sure, COVID-19 so far is much more deadly than the flu. [click here to compare symptoms]
- From an industrial engineering point of view, one can argue that it is best to flatten the curve only to the point that the health care system is barely able to cope. This solution only works if-and-only-if one can catch this coronavirus once and develops immunity. In the case of COVID-19, herd immunity may need to be in the 80% to 85% range. WHO warns that few have developed antibodies to COVID-19 when recovering from COVID-19. Herd immunity does not look like an option without immunization although there is now a discussion of whether T-Cells play a part in immunity [which means one might have immunity without antibodies]
- Older population countries will have a significantly higher death rate as there is relatively few hospitalizations and deaths in younger age groups..
- There are at least 8 strains of the coronavirus. California and New York may have a deadlier strain imported from Europe, compared to less deadly viruses elsewhere in the United States.
- Each publication uses different cutoff times for its coronavirus statistics. Our data uses 11:00 am London time. Also, there is an unexplained variation in the total numbers both globally and in the U.S.
What we do or do not know about the coronavirus [actually there is little scientifically proven information]. Most of our knowledge is anecdotal, from studies with limited subjects, or from studies without peer review.
- How many people have been infected as many do not show symptoms?
- Masks do work. Unfortunately, early in the pandemic, many health experts — in the U.S. and around the world — decided that the public could not be trusted to hear the truth about masks. Instead, the experts spread a misleading message, discouraging the use of masks.
- Current thinking is that we develop at least 5 months of immunity from further COVID infection.
- The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have an effectiveness rate of about 95 percent after two doses. That is on par with the vaccines for chickenpox and measles. The 95 percent number understates the effectivenessas it counts anyone who came down with a mild case of Covid-19 as a failure. But turning Covid into a typical flu — as the vaccines evidently did for most of the remaining 5 percent — is actually a success. Of the 32,000 people who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine in a research trial, only one contracted a severe Covid case.
- To what degree do people who never develop symptoms contribute to transmission? Research early in the pandemic suggested that the rate of asymptomatic infections could be as high as 81%. But a meta-analysis, which included 13 studies involving 21,708 people, calculated the rate of asymptomatic presentation to be 17%.
- The accuracy of rapid testing is questioned – and the more accurate test results are not being given in a timely manner.
- Can children widely spread coronavirus? [current thinking is that they are a minor source of the pandemic spread]
- Why have some places avoided big coronavirus outbreaks – and others hit hard?
- Air conditioning contributes to the pandemic spread.
- It appears that there is increased risk of infection and mortality for those living in larger occupancy households.
- Male patients have almost three times the odds of requiring intensive treatment unit (ITU) admission compared to females.
- Outdoor activities seem to be a lower risk than indoor activities.
Treatments with solid scientific support:
- Proning, or turning someone on their stomach
Treatments with potential but limited evidence:
- ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
- Intravenous immunoglobulin
Drugs shown to be ineffective:
- The combination of lopinavir-ritonavir
- High dose zinc and vitamin C
- Convalescent plasma
- Monoclonal antibodies
- A current scientific understanding of the way the coronavirus works can be found [here].
There is now a vaccine available – the questions remain:
- will there be any permanent side effects that will appear months from now,
- how long immunity will last [we can currently say we do not know if it will last more than 4 months],
- there is no solid evidence yet the vaccine will block transmission
Heavy breakouts of coronavirus have hit farmworkers. Farmworkers are essential to the food supply. They cannot shelter at home. Consider:
- they have high rates of respiratory disease [occupational hazard]
- they travel on crowded buses chartered by their employers
- few have health insurance
- they cannot social distance and live two to four to a room – and they eat together
- some reports say half are undocumented
- they are low paid and cannot afford not to work – so they will go to work sick
- they do not have access to sanitation when working
- a coronavirus outbreak among farmworkers can potentially shutter entire farm
The bottom line is that COVID-19 so far has been shown to be much more deadly than the data on the flu. Using CDC data, the flu has a mortality rate between 0.06 % and 0.11 % Vs. the coronavirus which to date has a mortality rate of 4 % [the 4% is the average of overall statistics – however in the last few months it has been hovering around 1.0%] – which makes it between 10 and 80 times more deadly. The reason for ranges:
Because influenza surveillance does not capture all cases of flu that occur in the U.S., CDC provides these estimated ranges to better reflect the larger burden of influenza.
There will be a commission set up after this pandemic ends to find fault [it is easy to find fault when a once-in-a-lifetime event occurs] and to produce recommendations for the next time a pandemic happens. Those that hate President Trump will conclude the virus is his fault.
- Get the latest public health information from CDC: https://www.coronavirus.gov .
- Get the latest research from NIH: https://www.nih.gov/coronavirus.
- Find NCBI SARS-CoV-2 literature, sequence, and clinical content: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sars-cov-2/.
- List of studies: https://icite.od.nih.gov/covid19/search/#search:searchId=5ee124ed70bb967c49672dad
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