Covid-19 Update: Vaccines, Airborne, Seasonality, Irony

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A tale of two vaccines

Two vaccines are racing to the finish line. We can’t say which one will arrive first, because they each have a different finish line.

The good vaccine, the one likely to be safe (though not necessarily without some side effects) and effective (though you may need two doses, which is normal for vaccines so don’t panic about that) had this deadline: When it is ready, as in, finished with Phase 3 trials. My money is still on the Oxford Jenner vaccine. If that is the first one ready, don’t expect to see it in the US because a) Jared Kushner does not have any ownership in it and b) Jared’s F-I-L is the corrupt leader of the formerly Democratic Republic of the United States. We’ll get it after Joe and Kamala, if they are not killed by Putin, are in the White House.

What? You think we are going to let you have a vaccine that I don’t make money off of? Nope, not going to happen as long as the Trump Crime Family is in charge!
The bad vaccine is whatever vaccine the Trump Crime Family has decided they can sell us. The deadline for that is November 3rd, but really, earlier, because of early voting. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, a member of the Trump Crime Family has started to say, “Oh, no, if we approve a vaccine early, and that is possible, then it will be a great vaccine, a really great vaccine, don’t worry, we are not going to play political games here. Nope. No October Surprise from the FDA, no sir.” Meanwhile all of the senior actual scientists in the government that have anything to do with this have warned Hahn, uselessly, that he should not do this, because they expect him to do this.

I’m fine with this. The fake vaccine might actually work. It will be distributed among Republicans first, and they will blindly take it because they are morons and the head of the Trump Crime Family will order them to do it. If the vaccine turns out to be dangerous, it will be they that suffer, deservedly for the adults (sorry, kids, your parents are dangerous assholes) and it will be they that later sue (if they live) Hahn and Trump over the damage done. If, on the other hand, the fake vaccine is actually a good vaccine, an emergency use authorization by Hahn will certainly speed up data collection, owing to the additional rats, er, lab rats.

See “Here’s how the U.S. could release a COVID-19 vaccine before the election—and why that scares some

The Second Coming

Never mind what you may have heard about Covid-19’s virus not being seasonal. The assertions that it is not were falsehoods, mostly generated by the press misunderstanding what this all means, spread by people who, amazingly, are not actual epidemiologists, on Facebook. OK, admittedly, I am not actually an epidemiologist either, though back in Grad school when I discovered it exists, I almost jumped ship. And, I do play one in the classroom in the class I co-teach on immunology and epidemiology. Point is, I know a little better than the average person when I’m about to say something stupid. Usually, I then shut up. But not always, so beware.

Anyway, for all the various scientific reasons, it might be seasonal. Consider group of immunologists and epidemiologist siting around having a beer, and someone asks the question, “Is Covid-19 seasonal?” you’d get a lot of hemming and hawing. Then, the inquisitor says, “OK, fine. Each of you take this slip of paper and pencil, and write down “yes” if you think it will turn out to be seasonal, and “no” if you don’t think so. Don’t share your work. If you all turn out to say the same answer, then the beer is free for the rest of the night.”

I strongly suspect they would all write down a non-committal but educated “yes.”

The thing is, an outbreak has its own momentum. Some of the worse influenza outbreaks violated the seasonal pattern we know influenza has. All the Covid-19 outbreaks we have been having have masked any possible obvious seasonality for Covid, though one study that looked at underlying factors linked to seasonality concluded that there is a pretty good chance Covid-19 is seasonal.

On top of that, we have another (not unrelated) set of seasonal factors. No matter what you do to mitigate against spread of the disease in a school, going back to school, even in some sort of limited “hybrid” pattern, WILL result in increased spread. This is not an uncertainty. And, we are starting that now, and as you probably know, it is happening. Between back to school and climate related seasonal effects, we are looking at a long hard winter.

Related: COVID-19 rising in 26 states as US hits 6 million cases

Covid-19 is probably not mainly airborne.

But it is totally airborne as well.

I think it is funny (as in “funny, holy crap, how stupid can people be????”) that once news came out that Covid-19 is very likely airbonre, that many people actually then asserted that it was NOT spread hand to object to hand. It still is folks! KEEP WASHING YOUR DAMN HANDS PEOPLE. Jeesh.

But anyway, the evidence of airborne transmission builds and our understanding of that phenomenon deepens.

COVID-19 patients in earlier stages exhaled millions of SARS-CoV-2 per hour

Exhaled breath samples had the highest positive rate (26.9%, n=52), followed by surface swabs (5.4%, n=242), and air samples (3.8%, n=26). COVID-19 patients recruited in Beijing exhaled millions of SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies into the air per hour. Exhaled breath emission may play an important role in the COVID-19 transmission.

For refernece, this is the very rough not yet accepted article that started this whole thing: Outbreak of COVID-19 in a nursing home associated with aerosol transmission as a result of inadequate ventilation

See this for a very current summary on the airborne situation.

Or, maybe you are just on your own

The latest plan from the Trump administration, other than faking a new vaccine to make money somehow, is the do nothing and wait for herd immunity to “kick in.”

New Trump pandemic adviser pushes controversial ‘herd immunity’ strategy, worrying public health officials

One of President Trump’s top medical advisers is urging the White House to embrace a controversial “herd immunity” strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus, while taking steps to protect those in nursing homes and other vulnerable populations, according to five people familiar with the discussions.

The administration has already begun to implement some policies along these lines, according to current and former officials as well as experts, particularly with regard to testing.

The approach’s chief proponent is Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist and fellow at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, who joined the White House in August as a pandemic adviser. …

Irony

Yes, I am aware that the picture at the top of the post is an example of irony. That is why it is there.

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5 thoughts on “Covid-19 Update: Vaccines, Airborne, Seasonality, Irony

  1. “fellow at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution”

    There’s a major problem: hiring anyone from one of those clown shops.

    The immediate danger of having a trump-appointed shill at the helm of this vaccine effort is clear, but we shouldn’t overlook the long term danger this politicization of the position can bring. If this fast track vaccine is worthless (or harmful), imagine the weapon that will give the existing anti-vacc groups. For once they’d have some evidence to support their claim that “vaccines hurt people”.

    If this trump butthole licker Hahn does push out a vaccine without doing all of the work, we should hope it works because it helps people. If it doesn’t work we should hold him and the people who told him to cut corners accountable. (Yes, I know, modern republicans don’t think being held accountable any more, but you can hope.)

    1. Christopher Winter:

      Thank you very much for the link. I found this very very interesting.

      Again – thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  2. I know of someone who stayed home since early March, but got infected in late April. No idea how they got infected. There are others who said they followed all the protocols and got infected. Perhaps they were not as diligent as claimed.
    However, Peru had a military enforced lockdown since March, yet has cases per capita than US, UK, or Spain, 5th in cases outright. Deaths per capita are #1 among large countries.
    Reports are people were not following the lockdown procedures, but I wonder if there is a missing pathway for spread.

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