A common concern people have is the outcome of eating food that is moldy. This happens when you are not paying attention to what you are eating and suddenly realize that you just ate half a sandwich made with bread that has some mold on it. Then you go “Oh, crap, I just ate some mold” and then you google it to find out if you are going to die …. Continue reading What happens if I eat mold?→
Years ago Ebola made itself known to scientists, when it appeared simultaneously in the Sudan and Zaire. The two events were a very long way from each other. It happens that I am very familiar with that part of the map, and I’m certain that any attempt to go from Nzara, Sudan, to Yambuku Zaire on land would take several weeks and, actually, be impossible. It could not happen casually. For a while, experts thought a particular person who was probably patient zero at Yambuku had made the trip, despite no evidence for him having done so. In the end, most ebola experts simply stopped thinking about this conundrum. A few of us working in the area, though, had a different idea. Animal-born (we thought fruit bat) ebola spread in the animal first, and conditions emerged that heightened the chance of a jump to humans also spread, so there were two separate jumps. Likely, this could happen now and then, with several jumps within a few weeks time, but only during those few weeks time when conditions were just right. The trick to managing future ebola outbreaks might be to figure out what those conditions might be, and at least, set up a warning system. But, since epidemiology worked at the time entirely on the pump model, one source, one initial spread, that sort of thinking never happened.
If that is typical for zoonotic diseases (even if not inevitable in every case) it presents a slightly different view than what one usually conjures up. It is not the case that an animal sneezes or bleeds (or whatever) on a human, then that humna, patient zero spreads the disease to other humans. Rather, the condition of transfer from an animal reservoir becomes temporarily highly likely insead of almost impossible, and perhaps dozens of transfers happen, of which, one or two or three, perhaps, are traced to eventually by epidemiologists.
Turns out that is what probably happened with Covid-19. The transfer happened twice, over just a few weeks time. The best explanation for this is that some animal species (could be more than one) had their own epidemic of this particular coronavirus strain going on, and there happen to be a big market with this animal species (or species) on sale, and the rest is history.
There are two studies, this one and this one, seem to support this idea. When the disease experts are done being incredibly busy with Covid, maybe they can go back to Sudan/Congo and rethink the initial appearance of Ebola with this model, now no longer just some zany idea a few of us had years ago, in mind.
The global, and American, research programs in health and biology over recent decades have given us inadequate tools to understand the Covid virus as fully and quickly as I think we could have. We need:
…more basic research on viruses, never mind the virus
…more basic research on infections, never mind the pathogen, the host, or even the severity of the disease
…a research center on T cells, another on B cells, another on NK cells, another on the lymph system, if that is what it takes
For every working vaccine for an existing vaccine there should be 1000 vaccines made up just for the fun of learning what and how and if and everything one learns while making things.
Pathogen researchers should be producing experimental just-for-fun vaccines like Linux geeks produce operating systems or distros. So when a new pathogen comes along, the best vaccine response, you can order on Amazon.
Very little of these basic research approaches has been the subject of targeted research. This is the fallacy of targeted research. Targeted research alone is not how we address the Next Big Thing.
In the US, the NIH,NSF, and all the other research funding and oversight agencies, and the research arms of all the scientific agencies such a the USGS, NOAA, DOE,etc. are INFRASTRUCTURE and their funding should be TRIPLED.
Let’s throw money at this thing!
The global research program in health and biology gave us inadequate tools to understand the Covid virus as fully and quickly as I think we could have.
In Minnesota, our surge peaked just before Thanksgiving. Then it unpeaked and went higher. Then is started to go down a little, then Xmas, and it unpeaked again and is probably going to go higher by the weekend. Just in time for the New Years resurgence, which would result in a peak-on-top-of-peak happening about January 8th.
But, that peak will be nothing compared to the Superpeak that will pile on top of that one, because Omicron will sweep through the region. Expect the biggest peak ever to pretty much coincide with the month of January.
And this is really going to mess up school in January. World epidemic expert Michael Osterholm was recently asked what should happen in schools. He was essentially unable to answer because the question is so ridiculous, framed as it is as a request for options. There are no options. He did say, “We may think we are done with Covid, but Covid is not done with us.”
For those who don’t know, the following are entirely or mostly true, as far as I know:
1) 1 In X P-12 teachers will be out with Covid in January.
2) 1 in Y P-12 teachers will be unable to go to work because their daycare shuts down because of Covid in January.
(X and Y are unknown but the ratio is not insignificant.)
3) Same for administrators and students, at various levels.
4) There are no substitutes. That is not the beginning of a sentence where the next word is “for” like “there are no substitutes for good study habits.” There are no substitutes, as in substitute teachers. Short term subs are gone, long term subs were hired up as teachers long ago.
5) There are very few, if any, new teachers coming in to replace those who retired, went crazy and ran away, or died, during this pandemic. Our society has shoved its problems up the nether regions of teachers for long enough, Covid is the last straw, only an idiot would become a teacher these days, and most possible teachers are not idiots. Maybe they will go be truck drivers. So, there is probably a rapidly growing systemic shortage of teachers going on independently of Covid, made worse by Covid.
By mid January we are going to be herding the kids who show up to school into large rooms where cameras controlled by Covid-riddled deans working from home will watch them during the school day, after which they will be picked up by their parents because whatever is left of the school bus system is going to collapse again.
Now’s your chance, Children of Covid! You don’t need no education!
Surely, getting Covid would, for most people, cause a certain degree of immunity. That is what the immune system is for, after all. A vaccine imitates that process. It is entirely conceivable that getting a disease would be better than vaccinating in some cases. Remember the 2009 influenza epidemic? One study showed that getting that strain of influenza conferred better immunity than the vaccine available at the time.
The logic behind infection being better than a vaccine is usually this: The body responds, possibly, to multiple, and different, molecular configurations on the infectious agent, and learns to recognize them. A vaccine is almost always targeted to a smaller set of molecular configurations, so naturally a vaccine would not prime the immune system in as many different ways as the infection would.
That is a nice logical argument, but the empirical data clearly indicates it is wrong. The available vaccinations work better than infection in creating immunity. So why is this true?
I don’t think we fully understand this yet, but I’ll offer two lines of thinking. First, the somewhat more obscure but possibly very important. Remember, despite the fact that reporters and even doctors (and Facebook and Twitter self styled experts) only know about one part of the multi-part immune system, the b cell mediated anti-body response to an infection. There are other pars as well, including the t cell response, which amounts to t cell mediated death of infected cells, and the memory system for both t and b cell systems. Both of these systems work in concert with other aspects of the immune system, that involve for example cells that find a pathogen and bring it to specific sites in the body where it is interrogated, and responded to.
There is research to suggest that for some diseases (not Covid specifically but other respiratory viruses) an infection may elicit a very rapid response by the t cell system, which does the infection in fast enough that the b cell system does not fully develop an “evolved” memory response to use later in the event of a second infection. However, over time, with repeated infections, all of the various parts of the adaptive immune system figure it out and fully respond, and now the individual has excellent immunity.
Personally I suspect that this explains the curious phenomenon that no children or young adults are zero percent likely to get a cold, but lots of people in their 70s or older claim that they never had a cold in their lives. They did, they forgot, and in the mean time, their immune system developed a strong response to common colds. This is an untested hypothesis, so don’t go around thinking it just yet.
The larger point is this. If that research is meaningful, it may be the case that the immune system is capable of tripping over itself, so a natural infection produces a less than idea result. Meanwhile, a vaccine is designed to not do that. Remember, if we have a few vaccines for a given infection, those vaccines represent a small subset of many potential vaccines that were tried out and either gave indications of ineffectiveness or bad side effects. Perhaps those earlier variants of the vaccine are analogous to less than effective immune responses to natural infection.
Which is a nice segue into the second idea. Imagine a target in a shooting range, one of those outlines of the body with a few areas designated (by bull’s eye symbols) as places to shoot. Imagine firing a gun semi-randomly at the target and maybe hitting it in a few places. If you do that a bunch of times, you may now and then accidentally hit the head, and have a clean kill. All the other shots are either totally ineffective, or only “wound” the target. That is natural immunity to a natural infection.
Alternatively, you shoot the target in the head once and it is dead. One bullet, one shot, but a perfect shot aimed at exactly where you have to shoot to have the best result. That is a carefully designed vaccine. It doesn’t matter how many other body parts (surface configurations of molecules on a virus) the natural immunity responds to, if there is one main configuration (in this case, part of the spike protein) that the vaccine focuses on. And no, the virus doesn’t easily mutate in such a way that the spike protein is different enough that it can’t be targeted. This is a part of the virus that is highly conserved. It cant change much, or the individual virus with the change can’t reproduce. A target can’t exist without a head. It will always have a head, and if you can always hit the head, then you always win, and all the other strategies are lesser.
“John Nolte argued that the partisan gap in vaccination rates was part of a liberal plot. Liberals like Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Anthony Fauci and Howard Stern have tried so hard to persuade people to get vaccinated, because they know that Republican voters will do the opposite of whatever they say, Nolte wrote.”
This would be funny if it wasn’t so …. no wait, this is actually just really funny.
Source: New York Times “The Mornting” September 27, 2021, byline: David Leonhardt
A growing number of Contaminants (aka Republicans aka Magatrumpers) believe that Liberals and Democrats are pushing vaccines in order to make conservatives and yahoos dislike and therefore avoid vaccines, so that on election day, more Republicans are dead of Covid than Democrats.
Maybe we are doing that, maybe we are not. Not my job to tell you. I am not the mule skinner.
I feel sorry for some of these people, esp the couple with the dogs. Some of the others? Might as well be Nikolas Cruz, since their choices result in the death of innocent children. But they are all doing one thing well: Serving as object lessons. Don’t be a dumbass.
Have a look at this line. I call it “line going up.” Feel free to download it and use it for your own purposes.
I ask you to consider the following questions. Assume the vertical scale on the y-axis is 10:
1) What is the average value of this line?
2) What is the average value of the last 20% of the line, over to the left?
3) Assume the “line going up” is in fact upward-going indefinitely. This is the first ten units of time. What will be the average value of the second ten units of time?
4) Given the same assumption, what is the average value of all 20 units of time?
5) If you were asked to predict the total magnitude (all the areas under the curve) for all of the curve, for the next 10 units of time only, what would it be?
1: about 5.
2: About 8
3: About 15
4: About 10
5: A lot, but it runs from about 10 to about 20, so if it is that many units per day, about 150 (the average of 10 and 20 times 10).
I know you got all those questions right. So, now that we can do baby analytical geometry and statistics, have a look at this:
This graph shows an upward trend. We know the trend is somewhat open-ended up to about 7 million a day, with new vaccines coming on line. The drop before the recent mode, which casues an average that would have been about 2.0 million per day, was caused by a preternatural natural disaster (Texas). So, the best estimate of curent production is much closer to 2.5, not 1.7, and that rate will continue to go up so in about four weeks it will be closer to 4 million a day. This is not just based on me looking at the graph and sucking my thumb. This is what the experts are saying. April through July would be 600 million doses, many of which would be one shot doses of the newest vaccines. In other words, every eligible person in the US will be vaccinated by the end of July, comfortably.
That is a very conservative estimate.
Why to people take perfectly good data combined with clear projections from the health experts and turn them into bald face lies? Oh, it is not a lie you say, just a mistake. No, I reply, it is impossible to make a mistake like this and publish it in bloomberg. This is a lie, designed to get a rise out of the readership, and that lie regardless of its intent will contribute to the gloom and doom and that has consequences.
The importance of microplastic particles in the ecosystem, both as they might effect ecological systems and human health, is the subject of great deal of new research, and is one of more rapidly developing areas of of knowledge related to environmental concern. Once thought of as mainly a problem in the oceans (related to the now famous “Pacific Garbage Patch“) it is now understood that microplastic particles are also common in the terrestrial ecosystem and the part of the food chain we eat.
Sources of microplastic particles include wearing down of tires, the use of synthetic textiles, road paint, the coatings and pain used on boats, and personal care products (roughly in that order) as well as “city dust,” a ‘generic name given to a group of nine sources” including the soles of footwear, synthetic cooking utensils, building paint, cleaning supplies, etc, all with small individual contributions but collectively about 24% of the microplastic particle pollution observed in the ocean. (See this.)
The effects of microplastic particles may be more related to size and shape of the particles, rather than toxicity. (But all these factors matter.) Microplastic particles are mostly made of carbon. Normally carbon gets spread around the environment as part of the photosynthetic segment of the carbon cycle. Microplastic particles now exist in what has become known of as the “plastic cycle.” (See this and this.) Since the nature of microplastic routed carbon is different than “natural” carbon, direct and indirect effects on ecology can occur. Soil structure can be affected (including the spaces where air or water may be trapped in soil). Microplastics in soil can benefit plants, because soil density is lowered, so root growth is easier. However, where microplastics make up a large proporation of fill, plant growth is reduced (see this).
Note that the carbon in microplastic particles is fossil carbon, which prior to the manufacture of the plastic was mostly trapped in petroleum or coal, which in turn is mostly out of the short and medium term carbon cycle. Moving carbon from the long term cycle (which involves processes like continents being subjected into the mantle of the Earth, to be belched out later from volcanoes or added to spreading sea floors) into the short and medium term cycle (such as the cycle affected by human activity to cause global warming) may be important.
We may tend to think of microplastic particles as being a problem because we use plastic containers, which can break down into micro particles. That is true. For example, using polypropylene bottles in the preparation of infant formula releases microplastic particles into the formula itself. But a lot of microplastic particles are introduced directly into the environment because we make and use those small sized particles in a range of applications including agriculture and cosmetics. As a rule where the material being used is less solid, the degree to which it is soluble and thus the ease with which it enters the environment increases. This could allow regulations to be focuses more stridently and more quickly on areas of plastic use and production that have the most effect.
Microplastic particles can be taken in to cells by a process called “internalization” or “endocytosis” (synonyms) (see abstract below). There is evidence that “fresh” microplastic particles are not easily taken in but once exposed to the environment for a while, the surface of the microplastic particles changes, allowing internalization to happen more easily. The effects of the microplastic on the inside of the cell is understudied, but could in some cases be a problem. Microplastics may decrease cellular activity and increase reactive oxygen species, which in turn has potentially serious health effects.
Is this hopeless? Possibly. Can we stop using plastics? Maybe. Can the environment sequester microplastic particles (and thus carbon) naturally? Sometimes and maybe. Developing nations contribute hugely to plastic pollution due to a lack of solid waste infrastructure. Developed nations like the US have a great plastic waste infrastructure, but use so many plastics that the contribution from these countries is still huge (see this). We shed microplastic particles through many activities from feeding one’s baby to driving to the store to buy more forumla.
The fact that microplastic particles are something we ingest, breath in, our that our cells engulf is not itself a novelty. The gas and liquids we exist among are normally full of particles. Many of these particles are polymers, like plastic, but natural (pollen, skin cells, etc.). The problem with microplastic particles isn’t so much that they exist, but that they exist and are subtly, or sometimes dramatically, different than what is normally there, and what we thus normally adapt to. Also, microplastic particles may create a different distribution than what would normally occur (like the frequency in baby formula?). The challenge is to figure out where microplastic particles matter most, and then figure out ways of addressing those problems first and fast. This will also involve figuring out if the best solutions (which is a function of how well the solution works and how likely it is to get it to happen) is a change in specific policies or regulations, or changes in individual behavior. And, of course, we must be cognizant that changes to avoid or reduce microplastic particles do not result in some other negative effect.
This is just a rough, preliminary look at microplastic particles. I tried to include a wide selection of links to recent works, but I’m afraid many may be behind paywalls. But, you should be able to find a lot more by CLICKING HERE.
Abstract: oils are essential components of terrestrial ecosystems that experience strong pollution pressure. Microplastic contamination of soils is being increasingly documented, with potential consequences for soil biodiversity and function. Notwithstanding, data on effects of such contaminants on fundamental properties potentially impacting soil biota are lacking. The present study explores the potential of microplastics to disturb vital relationships between soil and water, as well as its consequences for soil structure and microbial function. During a 5-weeks garden experiment we exposed a loamy sand soil to environmentally relevant nominal concentrations (up to 2%) of four common microplastic types (polyacrylic fibers, polyamide beads, polyester fibers, and polyethylene fragments). Then, we measured bulk density, water holding capacity, hydraulic conductivity, soil aggregation, and microbial activity. Microplastics affected the bulk density, water holding capacity, and the functional relationship between the microbial activity and water stable aggregates. The effects are underestimated if idiosyncrasies of particle type and concentrations are neglected, suggesting that purely qualitative environmental microplastic data might be of limited value for the assessment of effects in soil. If extended to other soils and plastic types, the processes unravelled here suggest that microplastics are relevant long-term anthropogenic stressors and drivers of global change in terrestrial ecosystems.
Ramsperger et al. 2020 “Environmental exposure enhances the internalization of microplastic particles into cells” Science Advances 6(50) Abstract: Microplastic particles ubiquitously found in the environment are ingested by a huge variety of organisms. Subsequently, microplastic particles can translocate from the gastrointestinal tract into the tissues likely by cellular internalization. The reason for cellular internalization is unknown, since this has only been shown for specifically surface-functionalized particles. We show that environmentally exposed microplastic particles were internalized significantly more often than pristine microplastic particles into macrophages. We identified biomolecules forming an eco-corona on the surface of microplastic particles, suggesting that environmental exposure promotes the cellular internalization of microplastics. Our findings further indicate that cellular internalization is a key route by which microplastic particles translocate into tissues, where they may cause toxicological effects that have implications for the environment and human health.
When I was in graduate school, four things happened at almost the same time (probably within a three year time frame, but who’s counting?) 1) The publication of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett (well, and my reading of the book); 2) the cultural phenomenon of “hot zone” movies and books, of which the most memorable is probably Outbreak starting Dustin Hoffman; and 3) the realization that a good part of the archaeology I was doing in the Congo was of villages that had been abandoned because a plague of some kind came along and killed enough people that everyone moved elsewhere, which is apparently a tradition in that area; and 4) the Zaire Ebola outbreak in Kikwit. Since I had been working in the area, I got involved, in a minor way, with some of the Ebola research, and I produced evidence for a model for the virus jumping from fuit bats to humans that turned out to be exactly what had happened about ten years later when the West African Ebola epidemic occurred. Continue reading Everything is as expected, even the Covid-19 pandemic→
A second vaccine has passed the final non-red tape hurdle in the US, and will likely be authorized by the end of the week. Six million doses will be distributed, probably over the weekend or early in the week, to over 3,000 locations.
There is argument and discussion going on as to the lower age limit on the vaccines. So far everything seems authorized for 18 year olds and older. It will probably be a serious mistake if that isn’t adjusted very soon. Now, the kids who transmit the disease that kill grandma are anonymous. Once they are the main carriers, they will not be, and a spotty subgroup of an entire generation will be scarred. At least, we’ll be given by fate the name for that generation. The Marys (for Typhoid Mary).
Let’s talk about Pregnant and lactating women for a minute. There have been no systematic trials pertaining to pregnant women, so the FDA advice is vague. They say, “you decide.” The following are supportable facts:
1) There is evidence, subject to revision because it is not the focus of any systematic experimental study, that pregnant women are somewhat protected from getting Covid-19, but not to anywhere near the degree that they can flout caution.
2) There is evidence, again subject to revision, that when pregnant women do get Covid-19, they have a number of worse outcomes than other people of similar age. They may get sicker, and there is a possible risk of preterm birth.
3) Non-live vaccines are generally considered safe for pregnant women.
To manufacturers and health care providers, this may be more a mater of blame and liability than anything else. Of all the people who get the vaccine, some are going to get sick or die randomly even if the vaccine never causes an actual problem, and someone is going to sue somebody over something. The chance of such a suit winning probably goes up if the plaintiff is a pregnant woman or her survivors, or if a baby is born with a problem etc. etc. So, by saying “you decide” we just get on with it, is probably the thinking.
VERY IMPORTANT: We humans have a lot of misconceptions about immunity and pregnancy. A common falsehood is that immunity of the mother is passed on to the offspring. This is not true. Also, an in utero fetus does not get vaccinated when the mother gets vaccinated. A lot of people believe these things happen but they do not.
What does happen is that the mother’s immune products, if she’s got them, circulate in the fetus, and may even be found in the newborn for a while. But an infant does not have much of a functioning adaptive immune system, so there can be no development of long term immunity, and the magical immunity stuff we have spent so much time talking about can’t be passed on.
During lactation, some of this humeral immunity of the mother will be shared with the offspring via breast feeding. This, of course, is also temporary.
It has been a while since I’ve done a literature search on this, but last time I looked there were no studies that really examined how effective any of this passive immunity is. Our cultural love of breastfeeding, and rhetoric from pro-breast feeding organizations, have led many people to believe that mother to infant immunity (i.e. through breastfeeding and esp the passing on of colostrum) is powerful and highly effective. We don’t really know this.
In the US right now 2.9 million Pfizer doses (with second doses already accounted for) have been shipped. Moderna will ship over 5 million doses right away. According to Health and Human Services (a Trump Crime Family Joint) there will be enough doses to vaccinate everybody in the US by the end of June 2021. We await the replacement of the Deplorables with Biden appointees to confirm (or deny) that.
Can you pass Covid-19 on if you are vaccinated?
Nobody knows yet, but there is not really a useful “yes” or “no” answer to this. Here’s the story: What matters is the R0 value of the disease, right? How many people will get infected down the road if a particular individual is infected. More realistically, sort of, imagine a population of 1 million people, and 1,000 people freshly infected show up and there are no precautions taken. If that disease is Covid and the 1 million are not vaccinated, the next “generation” of infection will see more than 1,000 people infected, and the next generation, more than that, etc. as a wave of the disease spreads across the populations. SO, maybe, 1,000 gets you 1800, and that gets you 2500, and that gets you 4,800, and so on.
If most everybody is vaccinated, the whole point is that the chance of the virus being able to reproduce in you at all is lower, the time frame and intensity of that reproduction is shorted or lowered. Maybe to zero, but even if not, the R0 value is significantly lowered.
So, in the above scenario, with the population mainly vaccinated, 1,000 infected people gets you maybe 100 (max, that would b a lot) which gets you 10, which gets you zero, and Bob’s your uncle.
They put the NBA on ESPN theme song on a vaccine entrance and this is currently my favorite video on the Internet. pic.twitter.com/ag8jBpD78Q
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. …
Yes, I am aware that the picture at the top of the post is an example of irony. That is why it is there.