The “impending doom” of a 4th wave surge

I do not make predictions: I make observations and ask stupid questions.

We are seeing an uptick in positive daily test “cases” and a flattening out of the hospitalization curve.

One factor in the “daily positive test cases” may be colleges are resuming after their spring break sessions – and many then do Covid-19 tests of all students and staff during the first week or so. This seemed to cause a spike in my state’s daily positive test numbers during the 1st and 2nd week of January. This includes both true positives and false positives due to using a diagnostic test as a mass screening test on an asymptomatic population, and Bayes Theorem. Most colleges hold their spring break the 2nd or 3rd week of March; thus, this impact should subside in about one more week.

A related factor is re-opening of public schools in states where schools have remained closed. Some are testing all students once or twice per week.

Update Apr 1: Heh, an actual epidemiologist seems to agree with that thought!

https://twitter.com/eliowa/status/1377426282728759300

Update Apr 2: Michigan rise in positive test cases is attributed to kids and teens, after schools re-opened. There is now much testing of asymptomatic individuals and it seems likely a proportion of these are false positives.

Hospitalizations are a better, but lagging metric. Hospitalizations have fallen roughly to where they were last summer but appear to have stopped dropping. Hospitalization numbers count everyone – those that are in for 1 day or 3 days or are “long haulers” for weeks or months. It is possible that the shorter stay patients have declined while long haulers, by definition, remain hospitalized for longer periods – and thus, won’t see a rapid decline.

These are items for contemplation. Remember, I am a brain injured idiot with no relevant experience.

The world is consuming 3 million face masks PER MINUTE

No one gave any thought to this side effect of face masks – there was and is no plan for mask recycling:

Recent studies estimated an astounding 129 billion face masks being used globally every month (3 million / minute) and most are disposable face masks made from plastic microfibers (Prataet al., 2020). With increasing reports on inappropriate disposal of masks, it is urgent to recognize this potential environmental threat and prevent it from becoming the next plastic problem.

Source: Preventing masks from  becoming the next plastic problem

Front. Environ. Sci. Engr. 2021, 15(6): 125. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11783-021-1413-7

Public health never had plans for anything. Now we have an exponentially growing problem as a surge in disposable face masks fill up land fills, plus end up on the ground and flow into streams and oceans. A completely preventable environmental catastrophe.

Where are positive test results rising?

From Kinsa Healthweather map

The main areas of rising case counts are MI, NY, CT, NJ, parts of MN and north TX and Miami, FL.

MI, NY, CT, NJ and MN continue to have many life restrictions in place whereas TX and FL have few or no government mandated restrictions. Similarly, OK and MS have dropped restrictions, and CO is ending its mask mandate shortly.

There is essentially no correlation with restrictions/mitigations and outcomes.

Continue reading Where are positive test results rising?

So what was the point of all the mitigations then? “Half of England’s population has antibodies against coronavirus”

If half the population has had the disease, then our mitigation steps were a failure. At best, all they’ve done is delay the process – while causing actual harms.

Source: Half of England’s population has antibodies against coronavirus, says statistics agency – MarketWatch

As noted in a comment to that report, 8x more people had the disease than ever tested positive.  That is a stunning figure.

History will not look kindly on the public health response and especially not kindly on the failure of epidemiology.

Well good: Covid vaccination likely protects those around you too

This would be the idea, of course, as the surge in good news grows:

In fact it is becoming increasingly clear the jab is a very big step towards protecting those around you – particularly people who are vulnerable, including the elderly and those with care needs such as learning disabilities or mental illness.

A growing body of real-world evidence suggests it stops a big chunk of people catching the virus at all – if you don’t get infected in the first place, you cannot infect other people.

Source: Covid jab probably does protect those around you – BBC News

Just like the flu: “Mutations could make current Covid vaccines ineffective soon”

There is a reason we get an annual influenza vaccination shot:

Mutations of the coronavirus could render current vaccines ineffective within a year, according to a survey of experts in 28 countries.Of those surveyed, almost a third gave a time frame of nine months or less.

Source: Mutations could make current Covid vaccines ineffective soon: Survey

This is media scare mongering, not that of the epidemiologists.

Boondoggle: Oregon’s smart phone contact tracing app failure

Smart phone contact tracing apps are a technology whose time never arrived:

Months after agency officials said they were actively “assessing the results” of a trial conducted at Oregon State University, state officials now say they have no final documentation about efforts to evaluate the project.

The decision by state officials not to formally assess the technology helps explain why the project has been delayed for months, leaving Oregon as one of just four states along or west of the Continental Divide that has failed to adopt the technology.

Source: Oregon can’t produce written evaluation of long-delayed COVID-19 exposure app – oregonlive.com

Oregon is incapable of doing IT projects anyway. Cover Oregon was the $450 million failed “health exchange” that never enrolled anyone before they pulled the plug.

Surge in good news: CDC study finds vaccines work quite well

Among unvaccinated participants, 1.38 SARS-CoV-2 infections were confirmed by reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) per 1,000 person-days.§ In contrast, among fully immunized (≥14 days after second dose) persons, 0.04 infections per 1,000 person-days were reported, and among partially immunized (≥14 days after first dose and before second dose) persons, 0.19 infections per 1,000 person-days were reported. Estimated mRNA vaccine effectiveness for prevention of infection, adjusted for study site, was 90% for full immunization and 80% for partial immunization. These findings indicate that authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are effective for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of symptom status, among working-age adults in real-world conditions. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all eligible persons.

Source: Interim Estimates of Vaccine Effectiveness of BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 COVID-19 Vaccines in Preventing SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Health Care Personnel, First Responders, and Other Essential and Frontline Workers — Eight U.S. Locations, December 2020–March 2021 | MMWR

Meanwhile, the CDC Director sees “impending doom”…