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Opinion

Covid-19: Does Sweden have herd immunity? – Sebastian Rushworth M.D.

  • Sweden never went in to full lockdown. Instead, the country imposed a partial lockdown that was almost entirely voluntary.
  • The only forcible restriction imposed by the government from the start was a requirement that people not gather in groups of more than 50 at a time.
  • People followed the voluntary restrictions pretty well at the beginning, but that they have become increasingly lax as time has gone on.
  • After an initial peak that lasted for a month or so, from March to April, visits to the Emergency Room due to covid had been declining continuously, and deaths in Sweden had dropped from over 100 a day at the peak in April, to around five per day in August.
  • Dr. Rushworth hasn’t seen a single covid patient in the Emergency Room in over two and a half months.
  • COVID has killed under 6,000 people.
  • On average, one to two people per day are dying of covid in Sweden at present, and that number continues to drop.
  • In the whole of Stockholm, a county with 2,4 million inhabitants, there are currently only 28 people being treated for covid in all the hospitals combined.
  • Sweden seemed to be developing herd immunity, in spite of the fact that only a minority had antibodies, was due to T-cells.
  • Immunity may be long lasting, and probably explains why there have only been a handful of reported cases of re-infection with covid, even though the virus has spent the last nine months bouncing around the planet infecting many millions of people.
  • Almost all cases of reinfection have been completely asymptomatic.
  • People develop a functioning immunity after the first infection, which allows them to fight off the second infection without ever developing any symptoms.
  •  England and Italy have mortality curves that are very similar to Sweden’s.
  • Lockdown only makes sense if you are willing to stay in lockdown until there is an effective vaccine.

https://sebastianrushworth.com/2020/09/19/covid-19-does-sweden-have-herd-immunity/

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News Opinion

September’s normal increase in coughs and colds is causing ‘utter chaos’ in Britain because the Government has left people terrified of coronavirus, top Oxford scientist warns MPs – Prof. Carl Heneghan, Daily Mail

Professor Carl Heneghan said there has been a 50% rise in coughs and colds

This is normal for September when children go back to school and university

But Government messaging about Covid-19 has left people ‘terrified’, he said

  • A coughing illness would not normally be considered an epidemic until doctors were seeing 400 symptomatic cases per 100,000 – far higher than Covid-19 rates;
  • The Eat Out to Help Out restaurant voucher scheme likely led to an increase in the spread of coronavirus;
  • Increased testing is still only picking up a fraction of the true number of cases but it’s detecting more of ‘background’ infections because it’s more targeted, making it look like cases are soaring;
  • Bolton may be experiencing high infections because the virus was not widespread there before lockdown lifted and people did not build up any immunity;
  • Swab tests are still picking out too many people who aren’t infectious, and studying individuals’ viral loads could help officials to pick out those actually at risk of spreading it;
  • The country cannot test its way out of the outbreak and there must be a coherent strategy for what to do with knowledge of case numbers and a level that is acceptable;
  • Ambiguous phrases such as ‘Moonshot’ are not helpful for communicating the Government’s plans and have no basis in science, which should be paramount.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8744063/Septembers-normal-increase-coughs-colds-causing-utter-chaos-post-lockdown-Britain.html

Categories
News

CDC quietly revises coronavirus guidance to downplay importance of testing asymptomatic people – CNBC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer recommending testing for everyone who’s been exposed to Covid-19, saying people who don’t have symptoms “do not necessarily need a test.”

The CDC has quietly revised its guidance on coronavirus testing to say that people without symptoms who were exposed to an infected person might not need to be screened.

The agency previously recommended testing for anyone with a “recent known or suspected exposure” to the virus even if they did not have symptoms.

The CDC’s previous guidance cited “the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission” as a reason why people without symptoms who were exposed to the virus be “quickly identified and tested.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/26/cdc-quietly-revises-coronavirus-guidance-to-downplay-importance-of-testing-for-asymptomatic-people.html

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Publications

Diagnosing COVID-19 infection: the danger of over-reliance on positive test results – medRxiv

Unlike previous epidemics, in addressing COVID-19 nearly all international health organizations and national health ministries have treated a single positive result from a PCR-based test as confirmation of infection, even in asymptomatic persons without any history of exposure. This is based on a widespread belief that positive results in these tests are highly reliable. However, data on PCR-based tests for similar viruses show that PCR-based testing produces enough false positive results to make positive results highly unreliable over a broad range of real-world scenarios. This has clinical and case management implications, and affects an array of epidemiological statistics, including the asymptomatic ratio, prevalence, and hospitalization and death rates. Steps should be taken to raise awareness of false positives, reduce their frequency, and mitigate their effects. In the interim, positive results in asymptomatic individuals that haven’t been confirmed by a second test should be considered suspect.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.26.20080911v3

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News

A third of NHS staff in two hospital units were infected with coronavirus without showing symptoms, study finds – Independent

Almost 60 per cent of staff infected with coronavirus continued to work and commute

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-nhs-staff-symptoms-antibodies-covid-maternity-test-a9664841.html

Categories
Opinion

Our government should not be copying totalitarian states – Dr. John Lee, Spiked

  • The government is purporting to engage with ‘The Science’, but it is also engaging in psychological operations.
  • But a side-effect of compelling people to wear masks is that some may decide it is all too stupid, and they are not going to go to the shops until this idiocy is over.
  • But a side-effect of compelling people to wear masks is that some may decide it is all too stupid, and they are not going to go to the shops until this idiocy is over.
  • The science on masks is very weak. The claim is that you might spread Covid-19 without knowing, if you have it asymptomatically.
  • Firstly, asymptomatic Covid-19 spreading around is good because it reduces the virulence of the virus.
  • Secondly, the idea that masks stop the spread is not only totally unproven, but also facile. It is a failure of imagination.
  • When a droplet hits a mask, it will dry out within seconds or, at most, minutes. If there is any substance to the droplet other than water, it will turn into a dust particle. Unless you superglue the mask to your face, there will be a constant rain of dust particles coming out from all directions around your mask as you breathe. They will be breathed in by others and the virus will do what it does.
  • There seems to have been no assessment whatsoever of the effects of lockdown before we entered it. That violates a key principle of medicine: first, do no harm. 
  • There is a term in medicine for taking action without that knowledge: negligence. The government was negligent in putting us into lockdown with no assessment of what that would do.
  • The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are not fever, cough, headache and respiratory symptoms – they are no symptoms at all, and around 99 per cent of those who catch this virus recover.
  • The government painted itself into a corner very quickly. It doesn’t know how to get out of that corner apart from by acting out the scenario that it came up with in the first place, which is why, months after we could have abolished all these restrictions and got back to normal, we are going through more months of public virtue-signalling and ritualistic behaviour. 
  • The WHO is not fit for purpose and whose performance has been lamentable
  • The WHO said there were no asymptomatic cases of Covid-19. Now, it is reckoned probably about 90 per cent of people who get Covid-19 are asymptomatic. That is a big change in viewpoint.
  • Broadcasters have done a woeful job of presenting balance on this, and have not allowed views contrary to the mainstream narrative to reach the public.
  • I also fear too many people are compliant, and complacent in thinking the government knows what it’s doing.
  • This episode is showing us that personal freedom must not be taken for granted.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/08/07/our-government-should-not-be-copying-totalitarian-states/

Categories
Opinion

Coronavirus: Why everyone was wrong – Dr. Beda Stadler

Professor Dr. Beda M Stadler is the former director of the Institute for Immunology at the University of Bern, a biologist and professor emeritus.

Novelty:

Sars-Cov-2 isn’t all that new, but merely a seasonal cold virus that mutated and disappears in summer, as all cold viri do — which is what we’re observing globally right now. Flu viri mutate significantly more, by the way, and nobody would ever claim that a new flu virus strain was completely novel.

Immunity:

In mid-April work was published by the group of Andreas Thiel at the Charité Berlin. A paper with 30 authors, amongst them the virologist Christian Drosten. It showed that in 34 % of people in Berlin who had never been in contact with the Sars-CoV-2 virus showed nonetheless T-cell immunity against it (T-cell immunity is a different kind of immune reaction, see below). This means that our T-cells, i.e. white blood cells, detect common structures appearing on Sars-CoV-2 and regular cold viri and therefore combat both of them.

…almost no children under ten years old got sick, everyone should have made the argument that children clearly have to be immune. For every other disease that doesn’t afflict a certain group of people, we would come to the conclusion that that group is immune. When people are sadly dying in a retirement home, but in the same place other pensioners with the same risk factors are left entirely unharmed, we should also conclude that they were presumably immune.

Modelling:

Epidemiologist also fell for the myth that there was no immunity in the population. They also didn’t want to believe that coronaviri were seasonal cold viri that would disappear in summer. Otherwise their curve models would have looked differently. When the initial worst case scenarios didn’t come true anywhere, some now still cling to models predicting a second wave.

Asymptomatic transmission:

The term “silent carriers” was conjured out of a hat and it was claimed that one could be sick without having symptoms.

The next joke that some virologists shared was the claim that those who were sick without symptoms could still spread the virus to other people…But for doctors and virologists to twist this into a story of “healthy” sick people, which stokes panic and was often given as a reason for stricter lockdown measures, just shows how bad the joke really is. At least the WHO didn’t accept the claim of asymptomatic infections and even challenges this claim on its website.

Testing:

So if we do a PCR corona test on an immune person, it is not a virus that is detected, but a small shattered part of the viral genome. The test comes back positive for as long as there are tiny shattered parts of the virus left. Correct: Even if the infectious viri are long dead, a corona test can come back positive, because the PCR method multiplies even a tiny fraction of the viral genetic material enough [to be detected]…The crux was that the virus debris registered with the overly sensitive test and therefore came back as “positive”. It is likely that a large number of the daily reported infection numbers are purely due to viral debris.

Kawasaki Syndrome:

If an infected person does not have enough antibodies, i.e. a weak immune response, the virus slowly spreads out across the entire body. Now that there are not enough antibodies, there is only the second, supporting leg of our immune response left: The T-cells beginn to attack the virus-infested cells all over the body. This can lead to an exaggerated immune response, basically to a massive slaughter; this is called a Cytokine Storm. Very rarely this can also happen in small children, in that case called Kawasaki Syndrome. This very rare occurrence in children was also used in our country to stoke panic. It’s interesting, however, that this syndrome is very easily cured. The [affected] children get antibodies from healthy blood donors, i.e. people who went through coronavirus colds.

Second Wave:

The virus is gone for now. It will probably come back in winter, but it won’t be a second wave, but just a cold.

Face masks:

Those young and healthy people who currently walk around with a mask on their faces would be better off wearing a helmet instead, because the risk of something falling on their head is greater than that of getting a serious case of Covid-19.

Lethality:

People below 65 years old make up only 0.6 to 2.6 % of all fatal Covid cases. To get on top of the pandemic, we need a strategy merely concentrating on the protection of at-risk people over 65.

https://medium.com/@vernunftundrichtigkeit/coronavirus-why-everyone-was-wrong-fce6db5ba809

Categories
Publications

80.9% of care home residents who tested positive were asymptomatic – Department of Health & Social Care

  • 2.4% of all tests were positive (9,674 out of 397,197)
  • 3.9% of residents tested positive (6,747 out of 172,066)
  • 3.3% of asymptomatic residents tested positive (5,455 out of 163,945)
  • 80.9% of residents who tested positive were asymptomatic (5,455 out of 6,747)
  • 1.2% of asymptomatic staff tested positive (2,567 out of 210,620)

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vivaldi-1-coronavirus-covid-19-care-homes-study-report/vivaldi-1-covid-19-care-homes-study-report

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Publications

Comparative community burden and severity of seasonal and pandemic influenza: results of the Flu Watch cohort study – The Lancet (2014)

Most Flu Is Asymptomatic

On average, roughly 20% of the unvaccinated had serologic evidence of influenza infection, but up to three quarters of the infected were asymptomatic. The proportions did not vary significantly between seasonal and pandemic influenzas. The pandemic H1N1 strain was associated with less severe symptoms than the seasonal H3N2 strain.

NEJM Journal Watch, 17 March 2014

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(14)70034-7/fulltext

Categories
Opinion

Lockdown was unnecessary, claims German virologist – The Telegraph

One of Germany’s most prominent virologists has said the country’s lockdown was unnecessary to defeat the coronavirus.

“We went into lockdown too quickly because the prevailing concern was that there might not be enough intensive care beds and that there was pressure from the public,” Prof Hendrik Streeck said.

“We are seeing a lot of asymptomatic cases, that is infections with no consequences. This means we can assess the danger from the virus better. I still don’t believe that at the end of the year we will have had more deaths in Germany than in other years.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/06/10/lockdown-unnecessary-claims-german-virologist/

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Videos

WHO Says Covid-19 Asymptomatic Transmission Is Very Rare – WHO

Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the World Health Organization’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, says transmission of the coronavirus by people who aren’t showing symptoms is “very rare.” She spoke Monday at a briefing in Geneva.

Categories
Publications

Estimating the extent of asymptomatic COVID-19 and its potential for community transmission: systematic review and meta-analysis – medRxiv

Estimates of asymptomatic rate and transmission rate are vital parameters for modelling studies. Our estimates of the proportion of asymptomatic cases and their transmission rates suggest that asymptomatic spread is unlikely to be a major driver of clusters or community transmission of infection, but the extent for pre-symptomatic and minor symptomatic transmission remains unknown. Other unknowns include whether there is a difference in age (particularly children vs adults), sex and underlying comorbidities that differentiate asymptomatic from pre-symptomatic cases; development of long-term immunity; and whether asymptomatic cases take longer to develop active disease or remain silent.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.10.20097543v2.full

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News

Asymptomatic spread of coronavirus is ‘very rare,’ WHO says – CNBC

Coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials said Monday, casting doubt on concerns by some researchers that the disease could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections. 

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/08/asymptomatic-coronavirus-patients-arent-spreading-new-infections-who-says.html

Categories
Publications

The natural history and transmission potential of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection – IDSA

Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection is common and can be detected by analysis of saliva or NTS. NTS viral loads fall faster in asymptomatic individuals, but they appear able to transmit the virus to others.

https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa711/5851471

Categories
Opinion

LOCKDOWN LUNACY: the thinking person’s guide

  • Fact #1: The Infection Fatality Rate for COVID-19 is somewhere between 0.07-0.20%, in line with seasonal flu
  • Fact #2: The risk of dying from COVID-19 is much higher than the average IFR for older people and those with co-morbidities, and much lower than the average IFR for younger healthy people, and nearing zero for children
  • Fact #3: People infected with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic (which is most people) do NOT spread COVID-19
  • Fact #4: Emerging science shows no spread of COVID-19 in the community (shopping, restaurants, barbers, etc.)
  • Fact #5: Published science shows COVID-19 is NOT spread outdoors
  • Fact #6: Science shows masks are ineffective to halt the spread of COVID-19, and The WHO recommends they should only be worn by healthy people if treating or living with someone with a COVID-19 infection
  • Fact #7: There’s no science to support the magic of a six-foot barrier
  • Fact #8: The idea of locking down an entire society had never been done and has no supportable science, only theoretical modeling
  • Fact #9: The epidemic models of COVID-19 have been disastrously wrong, and both the people and the practice of modeling has a terrible history
  • Fact #10: The data shows that lockdowns have NOT had an impact on the course of the disease.
  • Fact #11: Florida locked down late, opened early, and is doing fine, despite predictions of doom
  • Fact #12: New York’s above average death rate appears to be driven by a fatal policy error combined with aggressive intubations.
  • Fact #13: Public health officials and disease epidemiologists do NOT consider the other negative societal consequences of lockdowns
  • Fact #14: There is a predictive model for the viral arc of COVID-19, it’s called Farr’s Law, and it was discovered over 100 years ago
  • Fact #15: The lockdowns will cause more death and destruction than COVID-19 ever did
  • Fact #16: All these phased re-openings are utter nonsense with no science to support them, but they will all be declared a success

https://jbhandleyblog.com/home/lockdownlunacy

Categories
Publications

A Study on Infectivity of Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Carriers – PubMed

In summary, all the 455 contacts were excluded from SARS-CoV-2 infection and we conclude that the infectivity of some asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carriers might be weak.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32405162/

Categories
Publications

A systematic review and meta-analysis of published research data on COVID-19 infection-fatality rates – medRxiv

Introduction: An important unknown during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the infection-fatality rate (IFR). This differs from the case-fatality rate (CFR) as an estimate of the number of deaths as a proportion of the total number of cases, including those who are mild and asymptomatic. While the CFR is extremely valuable for experts, IFR is increasingly being called for by policy-makers and the lay public as an estimate of the overall mortality from COVID-19.

Results: After exclusions, there were 13 estimates of IFR included in the final meta-analysis, from a wide range of countries, published between February and April 2020. The meta-analysis demonstrated a point-estimate of IFR of 0.75% (0.49-1.01%) with significant heterogeneity (p<0.001).

Conclusion: Based on a systematic review and meta-analysis of published evidence on COVID-19 until the end of April, 2020, the IFR of the disease across populations is 0.75% (0.49-1.01%). However, due to very high heterogeneity in the meta-analysis, it is difficult to know if this represents the “true” point estimate.

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News

Why is Sweden not recommending face masks to the public?

Face masks in public spaces do not provide any greater protection to the population,” Johan Carlson from the Swedish Public Health Agency Folkhälsomyndigheten said at a press conference on May 13th.

Swedish health authorities argue that keeping a distance, washing your hands, not touching your face, and staying at home if you experience any symptoms are still the best ways to halt the spread of the coronavirus. There is a concern that wearing face masks would make people follow these guidelines less strictly.

  • There is a risk of a false sense of security.
  • The virus can gather in the mask and when you take it off, the virus can be transferred to your hands and thereby spread further.
  • Worn properly, masks might reduce the spread of infection if worn by those with asymptomatic infections, even if they might not protect the wearer themselves.

https://www.thelocal.se/20200514/explained-why-is-sweden-not-recommending-face-masks-to-the-public

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Publications

Three-quarters of people with flu have no symptoms – NHS (2014)

Approximately 20% of people had an increase in antibodies against influenza in their blood after an influenza “season”. However, about three-quarters of infections were symptom-free, or so mild they weren’t identified through weekly questioning about whether participants had a cough, cold, sore throat, or a “flu-like illness”.

https://www.nhs.uk/news/medical-practice/three-quarters-of-people-with-flu-have-no-symptoms/

Categories
News

Could SARS-CoV-2 be transmitted via speech droplets? – medRxiv

Speaking may be a primary mode of transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Considering that reports of asymptomatic transmission account for 50-80% of COVID-19 cases and that saliva has peak viral loads at time of patient presentation, droplet emission while speaking could be a significant factor driving transmission and warrants further study. We used a planar beam of laser light passing through a dust-free enclosure to detect saliva droplets emitted while speaking. We found that saying the words ‘Stay Healthy’ generates thousands of droplets that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. A damp homemade cloth face mask dramatically reduced droplet excretion, with none of the spoken words causing a droplet rise above the background. Our preliminary findings have important implications for pandemic mitigation efforts.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.02.20051177v1