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Alleged early SARS-CoV-2
Forum: COVID-19
Last Post: M_T
09-01-2022, 05:10 AM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 35
Forum: COVID-19
Last Post: M_T
07-30-2022, 04:25 PM
» Replies: 3
» Views: 109
NYTIMES: Surge of Student...
Forum: COVID-19
Last Post: M_T
07-27-2022, 12:31 PM
» Replies: 5
» Views: 307
Quicker access to Paxlovi...
Forum: COVID-19
Last Post: NoGoldenCalves
07-26-2022, 04:00 AM
» Replies: 1
» Views: 61
Comparing different vacci...
Forum: Vaccine
Last Post: M_T
07-20-2022, 12:24 PM
» Replies: 1
» Views: 60
Sewage readings, plus ano...
Forum: COVID-19
Last Post: Hurlburt88
07-09-2022, 11:00 AM
» Replies: 1
» Views: 59
"Close contact"
Forum: COVID-19
Last Post: Hurlburt88
06-26-2022, 07:32 AM
» Replies: 1
» Views: 65
2nd booster ok for 50+ (e...
Forum: Vaccine
Last Post: ChrisGreene
06-04-2022, 04:19 PM
» Replies: 9
» Views: 274
Trying to define the prob...
Forum: COVID-19
Last Post: ChrisGreene
06-04-2022, 04:07 PM
» Replies: 5
» Views: 149
HEROS: Various results on...
Forum: Research
Last Post: M_T
06-01-2022, 03:26 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 60

  Alleged early SARS-CoV-2
Posted by: M_T - 09-01-2022, 05:10 AM - Forum: COVID-19 - No Replies

Italian study finds SARS-CoV-2 in clinical samples collected before December 2019

We've seen these claims before.  I can't see how they're possibly true when SARS-CoV-2 was so infectious.
How could it be as widely spread as they claim without having triggered an epidemic?
Are they suggesting it was a pandemic earlier, but not enough people sick to notice, and no one was dying from it?
Boy, won't the conspiracy theory people have fun with that.  (And especially with the association to skin eruptions.)

I don't know if they're seeing some precursor infection, or have contaminated samples or what.
At least at one point in the article, they indicate that the samples failed to be detectable by PCR, indicating that the amount of viral material was very little.  I wonder if they've proven that they wouldn't detect it in, say, similar samples from 1995, or even in the Shroud of Turin.

If you read the article closely, you'll notice that the mutations in the alleged pre-pandemic RNA were the same mutations found in the early pandemic virus in Italy.  That's consistent with the samples being contaminated.  Or it is consistent with Italy having had spontaneous generation of SARS-CoV-2 that didn't create an epidemic until after China had their epidemic.  I hope the research report addresses this.

Note they try to suggest it was related to suspected measles/rubella cases, but then offer no positive evidence that it was.  Indeed, their evidence, if believed, would suggest it is not related.  (And, while some COVID patients may have had skin lesions (and caries, for that matter), it certainly wasn't a common symptom, so why would there be a noticeable number of people with COVID-associated skin lesions, but not notice they (and a lot more) had a cough, pneumonia, etc.?)

As I understand it, this statement in the article is wrong: "Despite the lack of a definitive timeline on when SARS-CoV-2 initially emerged, previous evolutionary studies indicate that the virus likely circulated in China for several months before the first outbreak was recorded in Wuhan, China."

As I recall (and I may be wrong, or different opinions may have been offered), the evolutionary studies suggested a (late?) October origin, some 6 weeks or so before the first known symptom (December 5).  They searched for evidence even earlier than that, of course, and found none.  Nothing I've seen suggested it "circulated in China".

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  Comparing different vaccines vs different variants
Posted by: M_T - 07-19-2022, 01:10 PM - Forum: Vaccine - Replies (1)

Omicron spike function and neutralizing activity elicited by a comprehensive panel of vaccines

Lots of info on the ability of the different vaccines regarding neutralizing different variants (GB14, BA.1, BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.4/5)

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  Quicker access to Paxlovid
Posted by: M_T - 07-13-2022, 02:41 PM - Forum: COVID-19 - Replies (1)

The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization allowing a state-licensed pharmacist to prescribe Paxloviid to patients under certain conditions:

  • The patient must be at high risk of developing severe COVID (CDC ;  NIH)
  • The prescriber must have recent (12-month) blood work that shows no issues with liver or kidneys
  • The patient must have mild to moderate COVID (I don't know that asymptomatic COVID is considered "mild")

A self-reported positive home antigen test is allowed for evidence of COVID.

Previously and still, Paxlovid was available at Test-to-treat sites.
Now, it should be more easily available.

(I recently had to get a (non-COVID) vaccine.  I went to one of the pharmacies a couple of miles away that is also a test-to-treat site.  They were 45 minutes behind their appointments.   Now I should be able to get it at a more local, less backed-up neighborhood pharmacy.)

I find the CDC's info on high risk to be a bit confusing.  It is easy to read it as just being a list of comorbidities.  But 65+ is actually one of the (not-obviously listed) high risks.

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  Sewage readings, plus another source of info
Posted by: M_T - 07-07-2022, 11:54 AM - Forum: COVID-19 - Replies (1)

I was pointed at this site of an epidemiologist ("YLE" = "Your Local Epidemiologist") thoughts on COVID today.  COVID 2.75?
If you go to her main site, you'll see more than just this one analysis. (Of interest is that she recently got her two young (2-ish?) daughters vaccinated.)
(And don't forget Steve's COVID-19 updates)

The author referenced the Biobot sewage data, so I went to look at that.   Last I had looked, they had a graph that didn't show the current surge in their overall or regional data, but was showing it in their individual county data.  I didn't track down what I saw as a discrepancy.

The CDC may be using the Biobot data at their site.  I note it doesn't include the Stanford data for SF, SF peninsula, San Jose, Gilroy, Sacramento.  I find their data to be quite confusing!

I hadn't looked at the Stanford SCAN site for a while.  It was VERY slow to load the graphs.  Yep, things are still running hot.  I find their default focus on the last 6 weeks to be too narrow.  Maximize the number of weeks and you can compare current with Omicron levels, the little Delta bump, or the Dec. 2020 wave.

You likely will find it interesting that SCAN is now measuring influenza, RSV, and, yes, Monkeypox.
Monkeypox is detected in the two SF sewagesheds, but not in the other areas yet.

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Posted by: M_T - 06-22-2022, 06:54 PM - Forum: COVID-19 - Replies (3)

If you haven't seen the useful data of the "MaskNerd", Aaron Collins, you should have.

Fairly recently, he did an interview with the 3M VP of Personal Safety Division.  There are some nuggets in there.

What's the difference between masks and respirators?
  Masks are designed to keep droplets from getting into or out of your nose and mouth.
  Respirators are designed to protect your respiration system (lungs).

What does "single-use" mean with regard to masks or respirators?
  It means they are not designed to be cleaned and re-used.  (ie, you can reuse them but don't try to clean them.)

When do you need to replace a respirator?

  • When it becomes difficult to breath through
  • When it becomes visibly dirty
  • When it fails (strap breaks, nose piece breaks)
  • When it becomes loose (no longer seals)

The VP's final plea was, if you are going to wear a N95 respirator, use both straps - one up high on the head, one down on the neck.

The VP points out that the 3M site has where you can buy 3M masks and know they are genuine.  Among the retail outlets for the 9205+ are Home Depot and the 3M store on Amazon.

The mask I use for long periods is the 3M Aura 9205+ which is mentioned several times.  The VP said it is designed to fit most faces, and it comes in only one size.   Aaron Collins describes it as a boat-style.  It has a flat surface that is parallel to the face with the long dimension that wraps around the face.   It has sides that cover the nose and the chin.

It isn't as easy to put on or take off as the ear-loop KN95 masks.  I prefer them for a quick trip into a store.

Some personal thoughts on masks/respirators:

Beards are going to be a problem. If I had a beard, I wouldn't use a cup-style mask, as the seal would be terrible. I'd use a bifold or boat-style mask. I'd get a very large one so it might fit over the beard.

For males, beard stubble can be a problem. You want to be clean shaven so the seal works best.

Most of the time, I would wear a mask for long periods only when I'm in an air-conditioned environment. Not today though. I am finding that if when I'm sweaty and have a bit of stubble, the boat-style mask is irritating my face. I think it is rubbing salt into the beard pores. If you're going to be sweaty, maybe a cup-style mask would have less irritation (I don't know that).

I've been thinking about the use of a respirator mask when you have COVID. Does it keep the virons inside the mask in this case, as it keeps them out normally? The best I can answer is "Maybe". Certainly the mask should be handled differently.

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  "Close contact"
Posted by: M_T - 06-22-2022, 06:34 PM - Forum: COVID-19 - Replies (1)

I had a co-worker notify me last night (Tuesday) that they tested positive for COVID.  I had actually seen him about 1.5 hours earlier.  I spent several hours in a suite of rooms he had been in earlier in the day.  I was in an hour long meeting 5 days before his test, and had seen him briefly four days before.

What bothers me is that, as of 24 hours later, my company has not notified me that I might have been exposed.

It struck me that the CDC's "close contact" dates from the early days of COVID -- when the CDC insisted that COVID was spread by droplets, not aerosols; when the CDC didn't even recommend masks, much less respirators.

By not notifying me, I believe the company is complicit in allowing the disease to spread.  And, I put the blame for that squarely on the stuck-in-the-mud CDC.  By sticking to, and allowing to persist in the public, early COVID misconceptions, the public is being harmed.

One can no longer trust the self-reported number of cases.  IMO, only two numbers can be trusted:
  1) The rate of COVID in any fully tested subset of the community.  Unfortunately, such numbers aren't published.  What is published, and is close, is the number of COVID cases in newly hospitalized patients.  I believe all newly hospitalized patients are tested.  If we knew the number hospitalized (which I don't), we could estimate the infection rate in the general population.

  2) Sewage levels.  There's no getting around it.  If someone has COVID, they will impact the amount of COVID found in sewage.
Unfortunately, there isn't a correlation that says "Level X in sewage corresponds to an infection level of Y%"   But you can compare sewage levels in June versus sewage levels in January.  In my community, sewage levels show the infection rate in the general population is as high as the peak of Omicron.
    Odd - Biobot's national levels don't show a current peak, but when you look at the communities they measure, at least a third show such a peak.  (They don't include my community's levels.)

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  HEROS: Various results on infections
Posted by: M_T - 06-01-2022, 03:26 PM - Forum: Research - No Replies

An NIH study has a set of results.

  • Obesity and high BMI increase risk of getting SARS-CoV-2  (as well as increased risk of a severe case for obese individuals).
  • Asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis did not affect the risk of getting SARS-CoV-2.
  • Having self-reported, physician-diagnosed food allergies is associated with a 50% decreased risk of getting SARS-CoV-2

Quote:children ages 12 years or younger are just as likely to become infected with the virus as teenagers and adults, but 75% of infections in children are asymptomatic. In addition, the study confirmed that SARS-CoV-2 transmission within households with children is high.
This surveillance took place in 12 U.S. cities between May 2020 and February 2021, before the widespread rollout of COVID-19 vaccines among non-healthcare workers in the United States and before the widespread emergence of variants of concern.
The HEROS researchers found that children, teenagers and adults in the study all had around a 14% chance of SARS-CoV-2 infection during the six-month surveillance period.  Infections were asymptomatic in 75% of children, 59% of teenagers and 38% of adults. In 58% of participating households where one person became infected, SARS-CoV-2 was transmitted to multiple household members.
The viral load range among infected children was comparable to that of teenagers and adults.
The HEROS investigators concluded that young children may be very efficient SARS-CoV-2 transmitters within the household due to their high rate of asymptomatic infection, their potentially high viral loads, and their close physical interactions with family members.

I wonder if they tracked who brought the first infection into households, and correlated that with outside conditions:  Work at home or not; in school/daycare or not; in other outside activities (sports, etc) or not.

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  "Mean" Mask wearing decreases R by (only?) 19%
Posted by: M_T - 05-31-2022, 02:18 PM - Forum: Research - No Replies

(I had to quote "Mean" in the subject.  Otherwise to easy to read it as wearing mean masks!)

Mask wearing in community settings reduces SARS-CoV-2 transmission

Quote:We resolve conflicting results regarding mask wearing against COVID-19. Most previous work focused on mask mandates; we study the effect of mask wearing directly. We find that population mask wearing notably reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission (mean [across regions of the world] mask-wearing levels corresponding to a 19% decrease in R). We use the largest wearing survey (n = 20 million) and obtain our estimates from regions across six continents. We account for nonpharmaceutical interventions and time spent in public, and quantify our uncertainty. Factors additional to mask mandates influenced the worldwide early uptake of mask wearing. Our analysis goes further than past work in the quality of wearing data–100 times the size with random sampling–geographical scope, a semimechanistic infection model, and the validation of our results.

They are measuring R across the population 24x7, but mask wearing is only being measured when worn in public.  Wearing masks only reduces transmission between households, not within households.  The use of masks in public is no barrier to transmission (ie, doesn't reduce R) at home.   So, I'd argue that the reduction in R  while in public  is much more pronounced.

I suspect one could model the population as a group of household units as being composed of N people, with a particular R inside the household and a separate R outside the household ("in public"), where each of the N is independently at risk of bringing COVID into the house.  The combined value of those R's is being measured as a reduction of 19%, but the reduction in R outside the household would be more significant.

They do point out that some of their data can't distinguish between people wearing cotton masks 51% of the time vs wearing a N95 100% of the time.  They also seem to recognize that actual mask wearing was less than self-reported.

It took a while for me to realize that their %R reduction doesn't account for actual mask wearing.   I wasn't able to find which region had what reduction.  The two regions that had about 1% reduction might be regions that had almost no mask wearing at all.

They noted that mandates did not reflect step functions in usage (at start or end).   I will use the analogy of training cats.  You can tell a cat to do something if it already is doing it.  Maybe it is a bit of a positive enforcement, but it seems that the mandate didn't have a sharp effect on practices.  

They have graphs of mask wearing from 3 weeks before to 3 weeks after a mandate for various countries (Netherlands, England, Scotland, N. Ireland  are by far the least masked at the time of mandate) and US States (virtually every US state listed wore masks more than all countries except a handful (S. Korea; Brazil; Italy, Turkey, and a few more)).   My interpretation of that is that the mandates came too late in the US, after the population was already mostly convinced it was necessary and was doing it.  The data show that there was almost no noticeable effect in mask wearing by the mandates.  Either that, or it didn't effect the level of lying about mask wearing.    HOWEVER, note that the graphs in the supplement of mask wearing show a steep increase at or close to mandate date.

Their "mean" is among 92 regions of the world, regardless of population (Delaware and India are each one region). 46 regions had a reduction in R of 18-23%; 46 regions had a reduction of 1-18%.  Note that their reduction estimates were for mask wearing alone, after accounting for other factors.

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  Masks/no masks at venues in SF Bay Area
Posted by: M_T - 05-30-2022, 01:00 AM - Forum: Regional - No Replies

One of the music venues that I've attended in the past is in Santa Cruz, CA.  I still get their weekly mailings but haven't been there since before COVID.  I note that they say they follow their county's orders and that masks are NOT required.

This past week, I evaluated going to a concert in an indoor venue in Berkeley, CA. An artist I have followed for decades was playing there.  The venue said all the right things:  MERV-13 filters, 7 air exchanges per hour of fresh air, no food in the auditorium, vaccinations of all guests (5+; no under 5 allowed) checked before entry, masks (no bandanas/gaiters) required of all guests, performers&staff vaccinated, cleaning of surfaces, etc.  Refunds given if you feel sick & can't attend.  I called 1.5 hours before the show and was told that about 30% of the seats were sold.

I decided to go, knowing that I could leave at any time if I felt uncomfortable.  I took a new N95 mask (plus 2 spares).  I wear glasses and wore a baseball cap as I have when I've had to go into stores and such (it is close to a full face mask).

Everything went as indicated.  Vaccination checked before they'd let me in.  During the entire show and after, I saw only one guest not wearing their mask properly (over their mouth but not their nose).   The crowd was mostly 50+.   The main floor had 3 sections.  The middle section was 60-70% occupied when I got there (10 minutes before the show).  The side section I chose had no more than 2 people on any row, all on the aisle.  I wound up seating maybe 7 seats in from the aisle, with one person on the aisle on my row, and two people on the aisle on the adjacent rows.  

So, if you're in the Bay Area and looking for a music venue that is serious about protecting their patrons, I would recommend The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.  I can't promise that other audiences will be as good about wearing masks.

I'd think just about everyone in the US, vaccinated or not, has some immunity, and anyone, vaccinated or not, might have COVID at any time.  I don't think vaccination proof is much good as a predictor as to whether someone has COVID today.  Recent vaccination/booster is presumably a predictor.  (If someone has never been vaccinated and has never had COVID, they probably have been and will continue to be very careful to avoid exposure.)

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  Blood markers corresponding to some Long Covid symptoms
Posted by: M_T - 05-29-2022, 01:59 AM - Forum: Research - Replies (2)

In Long COVID, Blood Markers Are Linked to Neuropsychiatric Symptoms (medical news article about a report from March)

UCSF scientists correlated certain blood markers with the presence of particular symptoms in some Long COVID sufferers.  Note that this is not predictive of getting the symptoms, but may allow a test to confirm (or maybe quantify) the issue.

Quote:Goetzl said that SARS-CoV-2, like several other viruses, targets structures called mitochondria within the cells it invades. The virus very likely interferes with normal mitochondrial tasks, he said, which include providing the cell with a usable form of energy and contributing to the immune system’s ability to respond to infection.

The researchers measured significant differences in levels of several mitochondrial proteins between long COVID patients with and without neuropsychiatric symptoms, pointing to alterations in mitochondrial function within neurons, according to Goetzl.

“I think the majority of scientists who have considered this might say it’s very unlikely that the virus particles remain infectious at this stage, but these viral proteins hanging around in the cell can still do bad things,” Goetzl said. He is optimistic about the development of small-molecule drugs that can enter infected cells and destroy specific viral proteins.

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