Category Archives: Public Health/Coronavirus

Covid-19: The false positive problem – using tests that specifically err on the side of producing more false positives

NICOLA Sturgeon said it was better to “err on the side of caution” on Covid testing even if it means generating more false positives.

Source: Sturgeon says she would rather ‘catch as many Covid cases as possible’ – even if it means more false positives | HeraldScotland

Note below “Whenever you do screening tests, you actually want a lot of false positives because you want to capture everybody with the disease”. For that reason, they recommend that those testing positive with a rapid test then be tested with a PCR test. Except that is not happening in my state.

Below is a description of the test my state is rolling out en masse – without the follow up PCR testing. In fact, the CDC says not to do subsequent tests – and if you do and you test negative after a positive test, the CDC (and my state) say you still must quarantine for 11 days. We are using a test that generates false positives and insisting that the result be the definitive result.

Continue reading Covid-19: The false positive problem – using tests that specifically err on the side of producing more false positives

Six states will not accept FDA approval of covid-19 vaccines

Public health is a political activity masquerading as science.

California, New York, Oregon, Colorado, Michigan, West Virginia and the District of Columbia will create their own “expert review” panels to approve or not approve vaccine availability within their states.

What could possibly go wrong?

Source: Six states plus Washington DC don’t trust the FDA and will conduct their own “expert panels” before approved vaccines are available to citizens in their states.

Continue reading Six states will not accept FDA approval of covid-19 vaccines

Covid-19: Does this mean the IFR is 0.13%?

World Health Organization estimates that 760 million people worldwide have already had Covid-19.

With fatalities at 1,045,039 as of right now, that becomes an IFR of


———- = 0.13%



In May, the IFR was estimated to be 0.4 to 1.5%:

Current estimates of the IFR for the coronavirus range from 0.4 to 1.5 percent (Statnews) — so anywhere from 4 to 15 times higher than the flu, which has an IFR of about 0.1 percent (CDC).

This revised estimate sounds like good news, right?

(For many reasons, the IFR of Covid-19 should not be directly compared to influenza.)

Public Health England lost about 16,000 Covid-19 positive tests due to not understanding Excel spreadsheet limitations

The BBC has confirmed the missing Covid-19 test data was caused by the ill-thought-out use of Microsoft’s Excel software. Furthermore, PHE was to blame, rather than a third-party contractor.

Source: Covid: Test error ‘should never have happened’ – Hancock – BBC News

Could have happened to anyone. What’s 16,000 lost positive test results among friends, anyway?

What will it take to vaccinate 50% of the population?

Half of the U.S. population is about 165 million people.

  • Let’s say vaccinations are widely available starting on February 1st.
  • Let’s further say that our goal is to vaccinate half of the U.S. population in six months (that certainly ought to be a goal). That’s about 180 days.
  • That is 917,000 vaccinations given every day, seven days per week, for 180 days.
  • Many, or even most vaccines, may require two-doses spaced over time – that means the U.S. will need to administer between 1 and 2 million doses every single day for six months.

Considering the country is averaging almost 1 million Covid-19 tests per day, that level of vaccination is achievable – but only if public health is planning hard to engage in an aggressive rollout.

Continue reading What will it take to vaccinate 50% of the population?

Government releases “equitable allocation” framework for distribution of covid-19 vaccine

Strangely, at age 61, my wife and I fall in the last 5-15% to be vaccinated. That’s weird since they spent months telling us that people at age 60+ needed to stay home because we are at higher risk[1]. We also have some conditions like exercise-induced asthma the CDC labels “increased risk” but not severe risk (plus severe food and medicine allergies).

The effect of this is that we are, apparently at high risk, but are oddly in the very last group to vaccinated. Per their plan, college students will be vaccinated before us.

My guess remains their Phase 1 and 2 will be in Q1, 2021. Phase 3 will be underway in Q2, and Phase 4 will be at the end of Q2 into Q3. We will see. Starting in January we will need to vaccinate 1 to 2 million doses per day (some vaccines are a 2-dose sequence spread across several weeks) to vaccinate 50% of the population by July.

Not looking forward to remaining in hiding from the virus for another 9 months. But I guess everyone else can then thoroughly test the vaccine first, right?

May be treatment modalities will be sufficiently improved that coronavirus is (mostly) treatable before then, such that many of us can get on with life.

Source: National Academies release framework for equitable allocation of a COVID-19 vaccine for adoption by HHS, state, tribal, local, and territorial authorities | EurekAlert! Science News

[1] Is this yet another public health flip flop? Now the segment age 60-64 is no longer considered high risk? That is exactly what they are now saying with the vaccine guidelines. We are literally the last group that will receive a vaccination.

Then what is the strategy? “Top health official says coronavirus herd immunity not U.S. strategy”

Then what is the strategy? None is described in this news report:

Allowing the coronavirus to circulate through the U.S. population unchecked in an effort to achieve herd immunity “is not the strategy” of the nation’s federal government, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.

Source: Top health official says coronavirus herd immunity not U.S. strategy

All pandemics have eventually ended due to herd effects, vaccines (more recently), the virus became less virulent or people just get on with their lives.

It appears there is no strategy at the moment other than continued lock downs and restrictions. I thought they would have articulated that vaccines are the strategy but they said nothing about that.

There is also no goal post nor metrics to know when we have reached a point where life can resume. Are we expected to remain restricted for the remainder of our lives? If that is the strategy than option 4 – “people just get on with their lives” is the actual strategy. (For example, Shasta County, CA is in open revolt on coronavirus restrictions. This may spread.)

Top Science on Covid-19: Horror fans and morbidly curious individuals are more psychologically resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic


Pandemic practice: Horror fans and morbidly curious individuals are more psychologically resilient during the COVID-19 pandemicexternal icon. Scrivner et al. Personality and Individual Differences (September 15, 2020).

Key findings:

  • Horror fandom was significantly associated with lower psychological distress during the current COVID-19 pandemic (p = 0.006) but not with positive resilience or pandemic preparedness.
  • Fandom of prepper genres (zombie, apocalyptic, alien-invasion) was associated with lower psychological distress (p = 0.030) and greater COVID-19 pandemic preparedness (p = 0.014).
  • Morbid curiosity (a trait that motivates a person to learn about dangerous or threatening phenomena) was significantly associated with positive resilience during the pandemic (p <0.001).
  • Watching pandemic films in the past was significantly related to pandemic preparedness (p = 0.003) (Figure).

Methods: 322 US adults recruited and surveyed online in April 2020 with questions on movie genre fandom, COVID-19 pandemic preparedness, pandemic psychological resilience and personality traits. Limitations: Not representative or generalizable; no causality can be inferred; limited confounding covariates.

Implications: Fans of horror or prepper fiction and films and those with morbid curiosity may be more psychologically resilient and prepared during the COVID-19 pandemic. More research would need to be done before recommending engagement with horror or prepper media to increase resilience.

Source: Pandemic practice: Horror fans and morbidly curious individuals are more psychologically resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic

Car Seats as Contraception 

The unintended consequences of laws – the end of 3 children families.


Since 1977, U.S. states have passed laws steadily raising the age for which a child must ride in a car safety seat. These laws significantly raise the cost of having a third child, as many regular-sized cars cannot fit three child seats in the back. Using census data and state-year variation in laws, we estimate that when women have two children of ages requiring mandated car seats, they have a lower annual probability of giving birth by 0.73 percentage points. Consistent with a causal channel, this effect is limited to third child births, is concentrated in households with access to a car, and is larger when a male is present (when both front seats are likely to be occupied). We estimate that these laws prevented only 57 car crash fatalities of children nationwide in 2017. Simultaneously, they led to a permanent reduction of approximately 8,000 births in the same year, and 145,000 fewer births since 1980, with 90% of this decline being since 2000.

Source: Car Seats as Contraception by Jordan Nickerson, David H. Solomon :: SSRN