Sunday, December 20

COVID-19 Asymptomatic Transmission

WARNING: IF YOU ARE TRIGGERED BY NON-MAINSTREAM VIEWS AROUND COVID-19, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG!

Before I go off into my somewhat non-mainstream views, let me first say what I DO believe about COVID-19

  • A respiratory corona-virus related to SARS, MERS, and common colds, originated in Wuhan China and spread very quickly around the world.
  • The virus was most deadly for the elderly and people with certain co-morbidities, exceeding a 10% case fatality rate, which is dreadful. This has resulted in considerable excess deaths around the world.
  • People at greatest risk should absolutely take the new vaccination.

Early on in the pandemic, this notion of "asymptomatic spread" first appeared. I recall at the time thinking that didn't make much sense. These respiratory viruses are spread by droplets that come from coughs and sneezes. In fact, the reason we cough and sneeze when we get this type of virus is precisely to spread it. From a virus evolutionary point-of-view, that is the purpose of inducing coughing and sneezing, to better spread itself. So I was initially quite skeptical that this virus somehow spread effectively when a person has the virus but has no symptoms of having the virus (is "asymptomatic"). My common-sense bullshit meter was tingling, but who knows?

In fact, I was even skeptical if a person can properly said to "have" the virus if they have no symptoms. That flew in the face of standard medical practice. In general a "case" has always in the past required symptoms of some sort. In this instance, we said that if a PCR test returned positive, that was called a "case" even with no symptoms. We'll come back to this later.

I was relieved when on June 8, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove the Technical Lead for the COVID-19 response at the World Health Organization said asymptomatic spread was "very rare", in accordance with all experience of such viruses in the past. Here is a clip from the news conference where she says that.

She is saying that it is very rare for an asymptomatic transmission person to transmit the disease. She is asking for quarantine and contact-tracing for symptomatic individuals as a top priority.

A furor arose as a result of her statements, and she pseudo-walked the statement back, saying it was based on relatively few studies (4 peer-reviewed), included some unpublished information she had received from expert-briefings from member countries, and that it did not include "computer models" that concluded a wide-range of possible numbers for asymptomatic transmission, up to about 40%. It was clear however, that her judgment remains that it is rare. If you want to hear her "walk-back", you can find it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RcJ2yyNkUk&t.

I revisit this because there has been a new, major peer-reviewed study published out of Wuhan, China, in Nature on Nov 20, 2020 that has recently come to my attention: Post-lockdown SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid screening in nearly ten million residents of Wuhan, China. Of course, take anything out of China with a grain of salt. And in fact, this paper made the point that Wuhan is "good to go" and "open for business" (using scientific jargon) - and so we are to infer China as a whole as well, so there is a political point. But the interesting result is that out of 10,000,000 people tested they identified no symptomatic cases and 300 asymptomatic cases. The did contact tracing on the 300 asymtomatic cases out to an additional 1174 close contacts, and found no transmission to any of them. The number of cycles of the PCR test run on the 300 was around Ct=35 with a range as low as 30 and as high as 39. I'll get back to the significance of this later as well.

This is strong evidence that, in the real world, people who test positive for COVID-19 in a PCR test DO NOT transmit the disease. And that is sort of, yeah, duh. As Jeff Tucker writing about this study in Asymtomatic Spread Revisited re-quoted himself from June as saying:

What this suggests, of course, is that there is nothing mysteriously magical or insidious about this new virus. It behaves like the viruses that scientists have been studying for one hundred years. What we do with a normal virus is be careful around others when we have symptoms. We don’t cough and sneeze on people and generally stay home if we are sick. That’s how it’s always been. You don’t need lockdown to achieve that; you just proceed with life as normal, treating the sick and otherwise not disrupting life.
I make this point in the context of lockdowns causing huge negative health and social outcomes. Increases in suicides, un-diagnosed and missed medical treatments causing death, increases in mental health issues and drug addictions, increases in incidences of domestic violence, people losing their livelihoods and being driven into poverty.

On to the question of the COVID-19 PCR tests. I previously covered this a bit, but let me restate in the context of this information about lack of spread from asymptomatic cases.

DNA (Deoxryboynucleic Acid) is the blueprint for life.

It is a spiraled double-stranded chain of nucleic acid made up by assembling base-pairs in a certain order. The bases are named A, C, T, and G. The ordering of these create chemical factories that are the body's instructions on how to produce proteins inside the cell. The proteins then go on to regulate all aspects of how we develop and operate as humans. Identical DNA is contained inside all our cells, and comprise a unique sequence of 3 billion of these base pairs for each of us.

DNA replicates by splitting the pair of strands into two single strands. Once split, only the right complementary molecule can bind to the site of the split. All the building blocks are floating around loosely and those that can bind do bind, and that way you get back to having two identical double-helix strands.

RNA (rybonucelic acid) is a close relative of DNA. DNA splits and repairs, constructing an RNA strand in the process which then leaves the nucleus of the cell and goes out into the cell to manufacture the proteins. RNA is made of basically the same stuff as DNA, but has only a single strand. An RNA molecule can reproduce in a way similar to DNA, by attracting complimentary bases and then splitting into two RNA strands. The genetic material of viruses is in fact RNA bundled inside a little delivery capsule made of proteins. It cannot reproduce outside of cells, but must bind to a cell and inject its RNA into a cell. Inside the cell, the RNA finds a fertile ground to reproduce itself, eventually killing the cell and bursting out with multiple copies of itself.

This brings us to the PCR

The initials "PCR" stands for "Polymerase Chain Reaction". DNA Polymerase is an enzyme that can bind to DNA strands and cause them to replicate. the PCR test contains a custom-made enzyme that can cause a matching fragment of DNA to replicate if it is present. This is done over and over again to amplify that little bit of DNA, in the process binding molecules that fluoresce to that DNA segment. Once enough of that DNA is made, the light from the fluorescence can be detected. The number of cycles of replication needed to achieve that is denoted by Ct, the cycle threshold. If that can be done after relatively few cycles, there was lots of that DNA present. If after midling many, then there was just a few. If you run it enough times, you will always find the thing being looked for. PCR was initially used for forensic testing of DNA by law enforcement. You used DNA taken from the suspect to create a PCR test. you then run the PCR test against a sample found on the crime scene.

The PCR test was invented in the 1990s by a wild and crazy pot-smoking, LSD-experimenting, surfer named Kary Mullis who eventually won the Nobel Prize for it. He was on the OJ Simpson trial team. He wrote a book about his exploits

Here is Kary Mullus in 1993 talking about the PCR test in the context of detecting the HIV virus.

With PCR, if you do it well, you can find almost anything in anybody, it starts making you believe in the sort of Buddhist notion that everything is contained in everything else. Because if you can amplify one single molecule up to something that you can really measure, which PCR can do, then there's just very few molecules that you don't have at least one single one of in your body, ok? So that can be thought of as a misuse of PCR just to claim that it's meaningful.

Mullis was no fan of Fauci. Here he is commenting on him regarding his involvement in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Kary Mullis died suddenly in August, 2019, just prior to CORONA-19 hitting, unfortunately.

In many jurisdictions, in Ontario for example, you can be said to test positive up to Ct=45. That is universally regarded as too high! Here is a little chart that explains why.

The red line shows how a typical COVID-19 viral load proceeds in a patient exposed to the virus. For a while it is nothing, then it very suddenly spikes. The body is very, very good at fighting off things like this, and once the immune system kicks in it rapidly drops the viral load. You would be considered asymptomatic on either side of that spike (before day 4 and after day 9).

The dotted blue lines show at what Ct a COVID-19 PCR test detects a viral load. It shows that with a Ct=25, you're pretty safe, but juice it to Ct=30 to be extra safe. Ct=35 is overkill (the difference between 30 and 35 cannot even be seen on this scale). This is covered in the following video from Professor Michael Mina, MD, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Immunology, and Infectious Diseases at Harvard. A pretty trusted source in my opinion.

Here is another graphic that demonstrates how this stuff is known. You run a PCR test and see how many cycles it takes to hit. You also attempt to culture the sample to grow the virus. This tells you fairly definitively if there is any live virus. If no live virus, you are not infectious.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.05.20168963v1 

After 30, it's very rare. Below 27 it's safe to say you have live virus and should be quarantined.

Earlier studies out of Massachusetts, New York, and Nevada carried out in July showed that up to 90% of people testing PCR-positive for COVID-19 carried barely any traces of the virus. That was covered by the New York Times in late August: Your Coronavirus Test Is Positive. Maybe It Shouldn't Be.

In an unusual move, the WHO on Dec 14 released a memo saying the Ct values should be checked to ensure we are not getting overly many false positives:  https://www.who.int/news/item/14-12-2020-who-information-notice-for-ivd-users. That's as official as it gets.

So what am I saying? I am saying that the PCR tests are overly sensitive, and a very significant number of people are testing positive that are not at all infectious. Therefore end lockdowns and mask mandates. They're scientifically dumb and have extremely bad side effects, both health and economic. Focus on quarantining the ill as we have done forever, and make a special effort to protect the elderly who are at particularly high risk.

Trust the properly interpreted science, not the politicians. Politicians, mainstream media, and social media are outdoing one another with doom porn to get virtue points. Safe to ignore.

114 comments:

  1. I wonder if this is why Health Canada are not approving other Quicker turnaround tests that do not require a lab analysis ?
    These quick tests would allow a lot of businesses to operate by having employees and customers tested more frequently.
    Apparently one of the reasons they are not approved is because they do not have a result as reliable as PCR.
    I wonder if it is the other way around ? Raoud tests are giving a more accurate result than PCR.

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    1. A fast cheap at home test would be great even with a high false positive rate on the better safe than sorry principle. If it has any kind of false negative, that would be bad, though. But I think the best test is if you feel ill, or are sneezing or coughing, STAY AT HOME!

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  2. Very well said.

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  3. Not triggered just bored. Had enough covid analysis elsewhere. Where’s the spanking?

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    1. Ha ha! I agree. Too serious! We will soon return to our regularly scheduled spanking content. Are you an F/M, M/F or anything goes. Favourite fantasy?

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    2. Definitely F/M. That's what this blog was all about to start with, and that's what has been missing lately.

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    3. What turns your crank the most?

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    4. I would love to see a video of you pegging david. The spanking video was awesome, but would love to see pegging. If you guys are into it irl that is.

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    5. Oh, we definitely are into it! I love fucking his ass.

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  4. Obese males are at especially high risk for more serious cases of COVID. This is because in a healthy world the women discipline their men and keep them trim and in good shape.

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  5. Science involves creating theories, testing the theories through experimentation and determining whether the results of the experiments confirm or disprove the theory. Experimentation with Covid theories is especially difficult because of ethical concerns. No one is going to be injected with Covid so that they can (hopefully) become merely asymptomatic and then grouped together with non-injected individuals to see if the infection is passed on. What is going on is that theories about Covid are being presented as fact when they are merely unproven suppositions. The theory about asymptomatic transmission lays the groundwork for politicians controlling the populace through lockdowns, mask mandates, etc.

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    1. The Wuhan situation I described accidentally becomes the perfect conditions for exactly the experiment you describe. It finds 0% incidence of asymptomatic transmission.

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  6. I'm going to ask you the same thing I ask every one with this Qanon based "theory". Here in the states we have had very nearly 400,000 excess people die. That's deaths over the 5 year average and margin of error. That's with lockdowns and school closings and restrictions, and also idiots who won't follow protocols. What, in your untrained opinion is killing them? Is there a deluge of serial killers, some kind of poison in the water or food? Do you think it's some new illness we don't know about, or perhaps the reptilians? Ohh ohh I know maybe it's the unchecked pandemic that was ignored by president bleach and politicised to convince crazy people to support a fascist takeover of the largest military ever assembled on the earth.

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    1. Literally, read my second bullet point re what I believe.
      Then go research how does current weekly excess mortality stack up now, which is more germane to my point.

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    2. 400k doesn't even make sense. Not that many have died in the US, and not all deaths in that 400K will be excess. In any case, the people dying have significant comorbitities like heart disease, hypertension, COPD, and diabetes. The wife of a good friend of mine is a nurse who works in a Covid ward and said most of the people being hospitalized for Covid already had something serious going on. These are the kinds of comorbitities that make people not long for this world to begin with. But that's what disease does - it takes the sick out of the population. So if we're seeing excess deaths now, we're just going to see below average deaths a year or two from now. Most people, including technical people, have no sense of risk. 8M people die in the US every year. About 2M of those die from heart disease. Covid might kill 400K over a year. Want to save lives in meaningful numbers? Get people to eat healthy and exercise. And that pretty much eliminates the comorbitities associated with Covid, too. But Americans don't want to be told they are too fat, and they don't want to make lifestyle adjustments. They just want a magic pill or vaccine to solve their problems. And we have a health care system that doesn't punish people for making unhealthy choices in the form of higher insurance rates. And we have a welfare system that lets people buy junk food. Bottom line: protect the vulnerable, but everyone else can afford to catch Covid to help build herd immunity faster.

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  7. Something to consider is that asymptomatic and presymptomatic are different things, even though people tend to use "asymptomatic" to mean both. Someone who *never* gets visibly sick might not be likely to spread the virus, but that doesn't mean you're safe from someone who has it and just isn't visibly sick *yet*.

    Nothing wrong with a little healthy skepticism towards experts, but we should also be cautious how eagerly we're willing to ignore their conclusions (especially when they're saying something we don't want to hear). Most of us have no background in any relevant field that helps us independently evaluate complex medical information and virtually all of the concepts being discussed here are things most people have never even heard of pre-COVID. A lot of the available sources for online "research" (like the AEIR article you linked) are from people/organizations who are also not experts, but who do have a vested political interest in us drawing certain conclusions. Doesn't mean they're wrong, but it does mean they deserve at least as much healthy skepticism.

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    1. I am all for healthy skepticism. I put a certain non-mainstream view forward in hopes somebody will bring out a point I had not considered. For example, can you cite some scientific studies that demonstrate pre-symptomatic transmission of influenza? I looked and could not. E.g., I found https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2646474/
      "Presymptomatic transmission of influenza has been inferred based on the presence of the virus in the upper respiratory tract rather than from appropriate transmission experiments. This is troubling because our review of the literature does not support significant influenza transmission based on positive nasopharyngeal cultures in the absence of symptoms. Asymptomatic individuals may shed influenza virus, but studies have not conclusively determined if such people effectively transmit influenza."

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  8. As a Ph.D. in Microbiology, I think you really need to stick to spanking your husband. Your dilettante-level of knowledge is dangerous as is your ability to misinform.

    A distinction that hasn't been made clear (and i'll agree the scientific community hasn't done a good job of this) is between asymptomatic transmission and presymptomatic transmission. It is true that people with asymptomatic infections (that is-they will never develop symptoms) are very unlikely to transmit the disease. However people who simply haven't developed symptoms yet are shedding tons of virus. And there is no way to tell who is who.

    Yes, PCR is extremely sensitive and this can lead to false positives. But so what? Every test has a level of false negatives as well as false positives. But in general, people don't get tested unless they are showing symptoms or have recently been exposed to someone who is positive. Thus the population is enriched for people who are already likely to be sick.

    You say in your last paragraph to 'Trust the properly interpreted science, not the politicians.' Well, with all due respect, you are not a scientist and you do not have the technical skills to determine what is and isn't 'properly interpreted science'. We have scientists for that, and the overwhelming majority of specialists in the field, as well as a large and growing body of scientific research, indicates that the best way to prevent transmission is to wear a mask, socially distance, and avoid crowded indoor spaces. And yes, you can always find one crackpot with actual scientific credentials to espouse an alternative point of view-hell in the AIDS crisis a highly respected scientist by the name of Peter Duesberg continually asserted that HIV did not cause AIDS. He was a Berkeley professor of virology and a member of the national academy of science, but he was still wrong.

    All of us readers love reading about your sexual escapades. Please get back to spanking and being spanked and let the actual scientists handle this. Your views are amateurish at worst and dangerous at best.

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    1. Sorry 'Unknown', but you don't sound much like a scientist, otherwise you would be countering the peer reviewed science I reference with your papers demonstrating asymptomatic transmission is significant, and others that justify a PCR Ct of 45 as a good stat to base lockdowns off of. Actual scientists don't rant like you, poseur.

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    2. Obviously you didn't read what I wrote. Asymptomatic transmission is NOT significant, and that is well established. Pre-symptomatic transmission, however is well documented. Please see this letter to Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-1046-6#:~:text=In%20terms%20of%20larger%20COVID,prior%20to%20symptom%20onset12.

      And while you rail against masks, there is a substantial body of work to show that masks are the most effective way to prevent transmission short of quarantine. Here's a summary of the science and I can provide the direct references on request: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/06/417906/still-confused-about-masks-heres-science-behind-how-face-masks-prevent

      As far as poseurs go, what makes you think you have better knowledge and scientific skills than the people who have spent their lives studying these subjects? You wouldn't trust yourself to do brain surgery, because it takes years to become a brain surgeon. Becoming a scientist takes time and study as well and people like who who have no background in it simply do not have valid opinions.

      My name is Matthew Stoecker, I received my Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1998. I no longer work in science but have kept up on the literature of this pandemic, in case you want to know my bona fides. I'll be glad to have a discussion with you about this if you are willing to listen to facts and accept that maybe you don't know everything about what is going on (and neither do I) but it is irresponsible for you to be making these pronouncements without any kind of scientific background to back it up.

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    3. I read your reference. It actually debunks computer models saying up to 44% transmission is presymptomatic. In trying to come up with the correct (much lower) number, they state "it is difficult to determine the proportion of pre- and post-symptom onset transmission from individual case studies, because there is little to no information on the number of asymptomatic/presymptomatic COVID-19 cases that had close contacts but did not result in a transmission event.". The studies they cite all have this problem, and they have the further problem of not being really sure if the transmission was from the presymptomatic person or some other unreported person, or if the person claiming they had no symptoms actually had no symptoms (and you could see why people might lie about both things). So weak sauce there.

      And in case you have not figured it out yet, I am not intimidated by your claiming to be an ex-scientist. I have encountered too many dumb Ph.D.s in real life for that. The only thing that impresses me is someone who can actually make a good scientific argument, in plain terms so anybody reasonably educated can understand it, backed by papers. Just slinging references and making me dig to find the flaws, rather than you being balanced and up front about it, is not impressive.

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    4. Here we go again. First you lecture everyone on how to debate professionally, then whenever someone takes you on regarding the substance of your argument, out comes the name calling and personal insults. Shocker.

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    5. I'm not trying to intimidate you. But it is not inaccurate to say that you do not have the same level of skill and expertise as the people whose job it is to work on this every day, and it is hubris for you think that you have somehow found the great flaw that has eluded the scientific professionals who work on this problem day in and day out.

      This paper doesn't actually address any computer modeling, and you can't say that it 'refutes' any kind of modeling. This is because the epidemiology of transmission of COVID-19 is very complex and the computer models take more into account than just how infectious you are at any given moment.

      A lot has been made of the R0 value, which is the value that describes the average number of people each case infects, but a much more important number in the model is that k number, which is the dispersion number, that describes the 'shape' of the outbreaks. It appears that some 80% of the new cases are caused by only 15-20% of the infected people-i.e. so-called 'superspreader' events. And if you're sick and feel like you're going to die, you might be much more infectious than a presymptomatic person, but you are also a lot less likely to want to go to a bar and have a few with your friends. This article gives a good discussion of the R0 value with a small bit about the K value near the end: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02009-w

      A summary of the importance of the k value written for non-scientist readers can be found here: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/09/k-overlooked-variable-driving-pandemic/616548/

      Please understand, I'm not trying to be hostile, andI certainly am not part of some massive conspiracy by the scientific community. I am trying to help you understand that this just is not as simple as we all want it to be and there aren't easy yes or no answers. I have years of scientific training and I am not competent to decide on the best course of action, so someone without any scientific training certainly is not either. The people who are qualified to determine the best course of action are the people who are working in the trenches right now and doing their best to fight this pandemic, and we all need to come together and listen to them, not substitute our own judgement.

      This is important. So important that I outed myself on your page. Please listen.

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    6. Well Dan, I read the paper and refuted it. Then I told Matt I was not impressed by credentials. If those credentials are worth something they translate into a good argument.

      Matt, the entire paper was a response to He's modelling approach (I only presumed computers were involved). I quote from the intro comments: "Few studies have directly determined the proportion of transmission events that occur before symptom onset, but a recent modeling study by He et al.1 inferred that 44% of secondary cases were infected during presymptomatic stages of disease. Here, we raise questions regarding the approach and interpretation of the He et al. transmission model." "Raising questions" is the polite way of saying he disagrees. Given what comes next. :-)

      Thanks for the info on the k-value. Makes sense. It does not talk about presymptomatic at all, more about super-spreader events. I don't have too much of a problem with trying to reduce super-spreader events, more the uneven-handed lockdowns that get nowhere near superspreader events.

      My main point is that the PCR test is way overly sensitive as a basis for setting public policy. There is insufficient evidence that super-spreader events can be caused by any type of asymptomatic people (presymptomatic included). Certainly not nearly enough evidence to justify the radical harm caused by lockdowns. I am advocating that we quarantine the sick (even false positives from tests, the more rapid and easier the test the better), and that we protect the vulnerable, but keep the economy open.

      That is my point of view. It is not irresponsible. It could equally be said that a policy of unjustified lockdowns that cause unnecessary deaths and economic devastation is equally irresponsible, but I would not bring out that term towards somebody who has people's best interests at heart, even if I disagree. I would expect the same courtesy in return, especially from somebody who claims we do not know.

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    7. Well, he're the problem-we only have the tools we have. The PCR test may well be overly sensitive. The antibody tests have too many false negatives. None of the tests are perfect. But they are all we have right now.

      I realize Canada has not been hit nearly as hard as the US, but we've lost more people from this pandemic than died in all of World War II, and we are currently suffering a 9/11 every day. THIS is radical harm. I do not deny the problems that come with a lockdown, but they do not amount to over 300,000 dead Americans in less than a year.

      But frankly I'd be in favor of getting rid of lockdowns (since everyone ignores them anyway) if everyone would just wear a mask when not in their homes or in the company of others in their homes, as the science is very good on masks not only minimizing transmission but providing some measure of protection for the wearer as well, for reasons that are beyond the scope of this discussion.

      It is, however, irresponsible for you, a person with an audience at least in the 10s of thousands, to advocate a dangerous policy based on your very limited understanding of the problem at hand. And that is MY point of view.

      I'm sorry if you've felt I've been discourteous. Given the affection that I have for your blog I've tried to be as polite as I can.

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    8. It is also important to note that He et al's modeling work was done in April. The modeling has gotten more sophisticated and changed substantially since then. You can get a lot of great info on up-to-date computer models here:https://covid19forecasthub.org/

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    9. Excess deaths were bad when the pandemic was on. At this stage, the excess mortality rate is non-existent in Canada anyways and yet we still have these policies of extreme and worsening lockdowns (see https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/71-607-x/71-607-x2020017-eng.htm). That is why I am arguing as I am. This "latest wave" is an illusion caused by bad testing.

      I think it is you being irresponsible in advocating for unjustified lockdowns that are literally killing people. What kind of monster are you? (Sorry if you feel I am being discourteous). It seems your only argument is "trust the government".

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    10. Matt, you really should stop apologizing. You are a PhD in Microbiology, and Julie is a chick with a spanking blog who pieced together a study from Wuhan and one source from the WHO who is arguing against the consensus of opinion by the world's top experts on viruses and public health. Yet, she's calling you a monster with unimpressive credentials. Don't put up with the Trump-league name calling and certainly stop apologizing.

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    11. The "one source from the WHO" is the Technical Director of the COVID-19 response. Think before you write. Well, I shouldn't expect more from some airheaded boy with a spanking blog.

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    12. Boo hoo. You hurt my feelings.

      That's the same WHO that Trump accused of being under China's thumb and of downplaying the extent of the pandemic and lying to the world about how easily and pervasively it spreads, right?

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    13. Yes, upper management at the WHO did a shitty job. Fortunately, the scientists, especially the lead, has some cred. Notice how the bosses made her walk it back (sort of) the very next day, or she would have been out.

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    14. I'm a scientist/engineer. Most peoples' sense of risk is way off including yours. Covid isn't going come near the real problem - Americans are unhealthy, and that leads to all sorts of problems including increased chance of dying from Covid. The wife of a friend works as a nurse in a Covid unit, and most people in there had significant problems before catching Covid. Heart disease kills something like 2M Americans a year. That's the real pubic health crisis. Covid might kill 400K over a year with significant natural herd immunity at the end. Want to really save lives in meaningful numbers? Get people to eat healthy and exercise. You'll save a lot of those Covid deaths, too. Protect the vulnerable, but most of us can afford to be sucking in billions of Covid viruses shedding from the people around us to build herd immunity.

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    15. Well, risk/reward stuff is seldom a right or wrong answer. Lots of judgment involved.

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    16. Another meta study indicating asymptomatic (including presymptomatic transmission is rare. Could be as low as 0% within margin of error:

      "Estimated mean household secondary attack rate from symptomatic index cases (18.0%; 95% CI, 14.2%-22.1%) was significantly higher than from asymptomatic or presymptomatic index cases (0.7%; 95% CI, 0%-4.9%; P < .001), although there were few studies in the latter group. These findings are consistent with other household studies reporting asymptomatic index cases as having limited role in household transmission."
      https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2774102

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  9. There may well be an argument for opening up in Canada. You people tend to be a lot more responsible than us, and I am not familiar with the Canadian data.

    But it is bad here in the US and people who refuse to wear masks and don't think COVID is a big deal are the primary problem. We are suffering a 9/11 every day, and I guarantee you that isn't an illusion caused by bad testing.

    Given your assertion that unjustified lockdowns are literally killing people, I'm sure you have some data as to exactly how many excess deaths are attributable to lockdowns? Can you please provide it?

    And I'm the kind of monster who want to keep everyone safe. I don't trust the government, especially not this one. But I do trust the science.

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    1. Have you got good reference data for current weekly excess deaths in the US as compared to past several years as I have above for Canada to say you have an ongoing issue? Please let me know.

      It is an unusually high year for deaths from all causes which is indirect evidence. See https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/12/13/us/deaths-covid-other-causes.html - and it corresponds to common sense.

      Remember, you guys have 60,000-80,000 deaths per week this time of year in any given week. In a week you are recording 20,000 deaths on the high end. Given everybody running through the hospital is tested for COVID-19, and we KNOW the tests are overly sensitive with very high false positive rates, and each death with a positive COVID screen is called a COVID death, what is the true count?

      Saying "I trust the science" is naive when scientists are disagreeing with one another.

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  10. Also, no, my only argument isn't 'trust the government'. That's why I've been giving you scientific papers to read. I hope you will, and I hope you'll dive into them and read more than the limited few you've been exposed to.

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    1. Your papers don't say what you think they say, based on the sample you sent already. My papers back up my claims, and you have not attempted to refute them. And don't be condescending, it's annoying.

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    2. No, your papers do not back up your claims. You are claiming that transmission does not happen at any appreciable level if you are not symptomatic. That simply is not true. You also do not understand the intricacies of pandemic modeling. Neither do I .

      You appear now to be arguing that people aren't really dying of COVID? Do I have that right? Of course I have good excess death data-here is the source from the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm

      What did you think was condescending? Because I really didn't try to be. But you are out of your depth here, and you obviously don't understand the science. For example your paragraph in the initial post about DNA and RNA contains numerous errors that would get an F from a first year biology undergrad.

      I realize you think you know what the things you read mean, and I further realize that because you are unfamiliar with the science that it will be impossible to convince you otherwise. So I'd really just ask you to have a little humility and let the professionals do their jobs.

      Delete
    3. You say "simply not true" yet the recent Wuhan paper, that you still have not commented on at all, says it is true. And, you know, trust the science and all. Your counter-paper, and those they rely on, have major flaws as explained in the VERY PAPER YOU SENT (!) and whose argument I summarized (that you also did not respond to).

      I am not arguing that nobody is dying of COVID. It says more about you that you read that into the nuanced argument I am making here, almost as if you read with your blinkers firmly on?

      My explanation of DNA and RNA was meant to get people into the right ballpark in order that I could explain PCR. Rather than being nasty, tell me where I am substantively wrong and we can let others judge if you are being pedantic or truly helpful.

      And as I've said before, the "professionals" (including the freaking Nobel Laureate biochemist who invented PCR!!!!!) disagree with your "professionals".

      Delete
    4. Ok, my comment on the Wuhan paper is-what do you think it means? You assert that it is evidence "This is strong evidence that, in the real world, people who test positive for COVID-19 in a PCR test DO NOT transmit the disease. "

      Where did you get that? Because it is, most assuredly, not evidence for that.

      What it is evidence fro is that the Wuhan situation is resolved. They found 300 people that tested positive via PCR. They may well be false positives, as false positives would be expected to be prevalent in a population that was not enriched for likely positives.

      If anything, this paper is actually evidence that strict lockdowns are an effective way to control the pandemic, as the lockdown in Wuhan was strict, draconian, and effective.

      So please explain what you think that paper says and how you arrive at your conclusions.

      Kary Mullis is dead. As such, he doesn't disagree with anyone right now. It is also important to note that winning a Nobel Prize doesn't mean you are a demigod. Sometimes it means you got really lucky once. Sometimes it does mean you are a demigod, but if you are, you'll be judged on the strength of your arguments.

      As far as what you got wrong in that paragraph: It's ribonucleic acid, with an 'i'. DNA doesn't 'split and repair' when RNA is created, rather it melts locally. You say the genetic material of viruses is RNA, but in fact viruses are both DNA or RNA, depending on the virus, and they can be either single stranded or double stranded DNA or RNA, also depending on the virus. It is not 'basically made of the same stuff' as it has a ribose backbone instead of a deoxyribose backbone, and RNA contains uracil instead of thymine. And it doesn't reproduce by "attracting complimentary bases and then splitting into two RNA strands"-these processes are driven by enzymes that catalyze these reactions.

      You might thing these objections are pedantic and don't really matter, but they do. Precision is important, and no one who was seriously capable of discussing the science would casually make these mistakes. Even if you were dumbing it down for the audience, there are better and more accurate ways to do it.

      Delete
    5. The people tested positive for COVID-19 according to PCR, but were asymptomatic. None of those people infected anybody else through their entire course despite others being in close continuous contact with them. It is further evidence that asymptomatic transmission is rare and we need not be overly concerned on that point.

      I see what you do with Kary Mullins. He is one of those scientists who do not align with your personal views hence you discredit him? Really? He is the one that you choose to make him argue his points, but others you agree with get a pass and should be trusted? That's hypocritical.

      And as I said, we will now allow others to judge if your pedantry is critical to my argument or nit picking.

      Delete
    6. You clearly didn't read the whole paper. They had positive PCR tests. None of them showed any viable virus in attempts at viral culture. Given this, it is pretty clear that it is more likely that they weren't actually infected and were false positives, especially since there were only 300 in 10 million people tested.

      And you aren't making the distinction between asymptomatic cases and presymptomatic cases. Presymptomatic cases are well established to be infectious and are indistinguishable from asymptomatic cases while non-symptomatic.

      No, I'm not discrediting Kary Mullis. The development of PCR was an enormous advancement that revolutionized molecular biology. But he died in 2019. He cannot possibly have an opinion about COVID-19, so I really don't get what you're on about here. Perhaps you could clarify what you think Kary Mullis' point is here.

      I never said my 'pedantry' was critical to your argument. But it certainly is evidence of your not being equipped to properly evaluate the science.

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    7. Indeed, the fact that there were _only_ asymptomatic cases reported by this paper is strong evidence that they are false positives. If actual virus infection was going on in Wuhan, there would certainly be some symptomatic cases.

      Delete
    8. Yes, my point is that all these "asymptomatic" cases are not cases at all, and this backs it up. It's people who likely had the virus at one point and quickly defeated it without showing symptoms. If you have viable virus replicating like crazy you are not going to be asymptomatic. You still have provided no compelling evidence that presymptomatic transmission is uniquely a thing with this virus. For you to say 'well-established" is certainly an exaggeration.based on the paper you shared which self-references a lot of doubt on the question.

      Mullis had a dust up with Fauci re the appropriateness of using PCR with high Ct to diagnose HIV. The arguments are very transferable.

      Pedantry is always useless when it interferes with learning.

      And there were symptomatic cases, but quarantined and not included in the study which was looking for asymptomatic transmission.

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    9. For example, from Asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2: A systematic review (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32587980/)

      "Methods We conducted a systematic review of literature on PubMed using search filters that relate to asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission as well as serial interval and viral dynamics. We focused on studies that provided primary clinical data. Results 34 studies were eligible for inclusion in this systematic review: 11 case reports pertaining to asymptomatic transmission, 9 viral kinetic studies, 13 serial interval studies, and 1 study with viral kinetics and serial interval. Conclusion Different approaches to determining the presence and prevalence of asymptomatic and presymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 transmission have notable shortcomings, which were highlighted in this review and limit our ability to draw definitive conclusions."

      Hardly "well-established" according to the legit scientists, no?

      Delete
    10. Ok, we agree that the asymptomatic cases described in this paper are likely not real cases at all. This is progress.

      However, you incorrectly conclude that this paper supports the idea that there are no such thing a asymptomatic cases. It doesn't.

      Presymptomatic transmission is well established. There are multiple reports in the literature. Here's one I found with an easy Google search: https://jech.bmj.com/content/75/1/84. There are a lot more. To assert that presymptomatic transmission doesn't happen without anything to back that up is absurd. It isn't 'uniquely a thing' with this virus. LOTS of viruses exhibit presymptomatic transmission.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4821482/

      Kary Mullis' comments regarding PCR tests are well-taken, and in the case of the AIDS epidemic false positives were indeed a thing. There was about a .5% false positive rate.

      When I was in my undergraduate microbiology class (during the AIDS epidemic) the professor asked 'should we just test everyone for HIV. A lot of people thought we should. There were about 300,000 HIV+ people in the country then. So, if everyone was tested we'd find the 300,000 HIV positive people in the country. We'd also get (300 million *.5) 1.5 million false positives, rendering the test essentially useless.

      This is why you only perform tests on a population that has been enriched for likely positive cases. People going to drive-through testing clinics have either been exposed or are exhibiting symptoms-i.e. they are an enriched population.

      You cannot draw any conclusions whatsoever about whether or not asymptomatic cases are a 'real thing' from testing a population that is known to have an extremely low rate of cases.

      Delete
    11. The article you cite is from June, so it is pretty out of date, and is a meta-analysis. The quote you refer to doesn't mean that they are unable to conclude that presymptomatic transmission exists, but rather because of the differences in methodologies used in those papers they are not directly comparable.

      Delete
    12. Here, this review is from September, so more recent. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32960881/

      Delete
    13. At some point those asymptomatic cases with no culturable virus had the virus and defeated it. During that stage they did not transmit.

      All these references you cite suffer from the same problems I already identified. To quote your reference, "This study has potential limitations. First, we were unable to determine the complete contact histories for all cases and clusters occurring in Beijing up to the end of February 2020. The epidemiological experience of index cases with a travel history and their contacts may not reflect the epidemiological experience of the general population during community transmission. Second, the lack of testing of all contacts during the index patient’s presymptomatic period, along with solely using the RT-PCR test, may result in an underestimation of the proportion of secondary cases as the reduction of viral shedding can be rapid. Third, although the study was conducted in Beijing early in the outbreak and widespread community transmission has not been detected there, it is possible that undetected community transmission may have explained the apparent presymptomatic transmission."

      However I do agree that presymptomatic differs from cases where symptoms are never developed, and some presymptomatic transmission is likely to occur, and this has been going on from the start.

      My main point remains. If you are basing enhanced mask/lockdown measures on a second wave, then you ought not, as the second wave looks to be more a testing artefact than anything else.

      Mullis' point on HIV was that if you drive the Ct up you will find HIV in everybody. At the Ct they were using, I don't dispute the false positive rate was as you quoted (don't know). The CIVID Ct of 45 in Ontario is multiple orders of magnitude bigger than was the case for HIV and results in greater false positive rate.

      Delete
    14. Not necessarily. They could be false positives, which are positive results when the subject was never infected with the virus. There is apparently about a 3.2% false positive rate for this test https://www.aacc.org/science-and-research/scientific-shorts/2020/false-positive-results-in-real-time-reverse-transcription-polymeras

      I'll agree that a Ct of 45 is too much. if it isn't there with 25 cycles, it isn't there.

      But you are not living in reality if you think the second wave is a testing artifact. That is seriously the most absurd thing I've read about COVID this week. There are more daily deaths from COVID now then there ever have been. People do not die from testing artifacts. https://www.bing.com/covid/local/unitedstates?ref=share

      Delete
    15. Sure. False positives can result from contamination as well.

      Excess mortality in Ontario is currently non-existent. See previously posted link. Ontario has declared a full lockdown as of now, back to the way it was in March.

      Of course people don't die from testing artefacts. They die from the stuff they die from every year, but a lot of those deaths are coded COVID-19 because of the testing artefacts.

      Delete
    16. I'm not sure how you're explaining the second spike in deaths between November 1st and now in Ontario but it is pretty clearly there-please see my prior link, search for Ontario, and click on Fatal Cases.

      Further if you look at the data for all of Canada it is even clearer. And in the US where we think doing a tiny little thing to help save your neighbor's life is a violation of our rights, the evidence is even clearer.

      There are other mechanisms by which false positives can occur as well, but that kind of deviates from the discussion.

      Delete
    17. When I try to access your link for Ontario excess mortality I just get a blank page. Can you check the link?

      Delete
    18. The number of weekly deaths in Ontario at this time of year in 2019 was around 2350. Deaths recorded as Covid per week is about 175. With the way the PCR Ct is jacked up to 45, how many of those deaths are really from COVID or with PCR+ test?

      Delete
    19. Generally when you die of COVID, they don't bother doing a PCR test on your corpse.

      Because you've died of acute respiratory distress after exhibiting COVID symptoms. Likely in a hospital, on a ventilator.

      Those indications have a much lower rate of false positives.

      Delete
    20. Ok, I was able to access your link on a different browser. For reference that link is here: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/71-607-x/71-607-x2020017-eng.htm

      There is no data available for 2020 past September. It is a lie to assert that excess deaths are non-existent in Ontario because that data simply does not exist on this page.

      We saw that same excess deaths dip around September in the US. It didn't hold.

      If you don't have up-to-date statistics you are being dishonest.

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    21. If they were only counting those, I'd be much happier. But the protocols here are to tag it as COVID if it's a contributing factor, which a PCR+ test would indicate.

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    22. It's the most up-today's data I could find. If you have a better source, please point me to it. If you are claiming excess deaths are through the roof, you must base that on data,surely?

      Delete
    23. That isn't the point! You directly asserted that "Excess deaths in Ontario are non-existent". This is a lie. You do not have that data. That data has not been compiled. You can't assume that there aren't excess deaths simply because you don't have the data.

      What we DO have, however is COVID death data, up to the day. And they VERY CLEARLY show a spike indicative of a second wave.

      I think you are likely mistaken about the protocols. It is pretty clear when COVID causes a death. I realize there is a right-wing-nutjob view that when, for example, someone with diabetes dies of COVID you want to believe that it was really the diabetes that killed them, but the comorbid factors only make it more likely to cause death. If the comorbid factor wouldn't have killed them at that time, that isn't what they died of. A COVID death is a COVID death even if the patient was sick with something else.

      So what we've seen you illustrate is EXACTLY why lay people should not get involved in scientific debates that are beyond the scope of their knowledge. You have misread scientific papers, drawn unwarranted conclusions, misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented data, and most importantly you have been impacted by confirmation bias every step of the way. You are trying to make the data fit your conclusions, rather than making the conclusions fit the data.

      Delete
    24. And I don't know of any source for better data for Canada, but we DO have up to date data for the US here: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm Through Dec. 5th. There is a very substantial spike in excess deaths.

      Delete
    25. Spare the proselytizing and stick to the facts. Canada excess mortality data is not yet available, but it does appear we were around 0 from June to when the data gives out in Sep.while in the US you were definitely seeing greater excess deaths, perhaps due to first waves in different geographic regions?
      Thus is a good site to compare countries: https://ourworldindata.org/excess-mortality-covid

      Delete
    26. And you know what's funny? You seem to agree Ct > 27 makes no sense for detecting cases, and yet you seem more than willing to base public policy decisions on Ct =45 in your desperation to conform.

      Delete
    27. The thing is I've actually done PCR. Ct 45 will indeed cause more false positives but it won't be an astronomical increase. If there is a false positive rate of 3.2% (which frankly seems quite high, but it was the only number I could find with a cursory search) and you test 1000 people who are 30% positive, you'll detect 300 positives plus 32 false positives. If bumping the Ct up to 45 doubles the false positive rate (which it won't) you'll still detect only 64 false positives, so your test will be about 80% effective, and that is frankly pretty good. It isn't a level of inaccuracy that would even come close to explaining this 'PCR test false positive spike' hypothesis of yours. Now Kary Mullis' objection snot withstanding, it should be fairly easy to measure the actual increase in the rate of false positives from Ct 27 to Ct 45. It would be an easy experiment to do and I expect it's been done before. If you can find any data showing that that high level of cycles wildly increases the rate of false positives then you can revisit it. So do a literature search to support your position instead of making assumptions that you have no way of knowing the veracity of.

      And I'm not proselytizing, I'm lecturing. You deliberately misrepresented data. This is extremely offensive to everyone involved in science. If you are going to try to have real scientific conversations you have to obey the rules, and you need to have the capacity to be persuaded when the data doesn't support your position. I see no evidence of either in you. Shape up.

      Delete
    28. This article, by Public Health Ontario, actually has an excellent discussion of false positives that completely refutes your thesis. https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/main/2020/09/cycle-threshold-values-sars-cov2-pcr.pdf?la=en

      Delete
    29. Also, regarding that data. The more recent months are likely incomplete owing to the lag in death certificates being filed. That's how we see this data in the US, so the most recent weeks are likely not representative of reality.

      Delete
    30. You shape up. In fact, I won't publish your next comment if it includes an insult. Fair warning.

      And had you read my blog post with comprehension I have references in there that compute the likely false positive rates (defined as tests indicating positive where viable virus cannot be found). I quote from the referenced NYT article:
      "In Massachusetts, from 85 to 90 percent of people who tested positive in July with a cycle threshold of 40 would have been deemed negative if the threshold were 30 cycles, Dr. Mina said. “I would say that none of those people should be contact-traced, not one,” he said."
      And if you like you can count the dots on the chart from the paper I reproduced, which indicates very high culture-negative values.

      The Ontario article you reference uses a different concept of false positive, not viral viability, just presence of viral RNA fragments when previously tested as not present.

      Re. "deliberately misrepresenting data" - I did err in saying the excess mortality deaths stats as at the latest supplied data (early Sep) says anything definitive about the death stats today. Did not realize that graph was so out-of-date, but cannot find anything newer. However, we have been on partial lockdowns that entire duration in Ontario when there was literally no excess mortality and being told what a horrible crisis we were in, so I unduly extrapolated. Apologies.

      Delete
  11. If I need a mechanic, I will listen to someone qualified. If I need a doctor, I would listen to someone qualified. I could continue...

    Do I think scientists across the world have got together and agreed to scaremonger together to shut down the world and ruin entire economies?, in sime cases almost bringing down government based on how citizens are reacting to the restrictions? No, I don't. However, no one should listen to me as I am not qualified.

    Questioning scientists and forming opinions is fair game, and scientists actually expect it. Listening to unqualified people with nothing more than an opinion is also ok, as long as you know that is what you are doing.

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    1. I agree. I will also point out that scientists have a spectrum of opinions. It is politics that amplify those with a certain set of beliefs over others and attempt to shut down discussion, as I am experiencing here.

      Delete
  12. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

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  13. That site has objective numbers by country with sources. Whether anyone believes the numbers is a different matter as they are official figures with sources fir each country.

    The situation looks far from being under control, and most people don't understand exponential growth. Be grateful Canada looks alright just now, albeit on an upward trend again

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    1. The whole point of this article is that I do not at all trust those numbers as their diagnostic test is only the PCR which is way overly sensitive, and many, many conducted, and in poor conditions at that.

      Delete
  14. Entire countries are still shutting down.

    People are dying at levels not seen when compared with previous years.

    The entire research and pharmaceutical communities have been mobilised at huge cost, to deliver solutions at practically no profit compared to normal drugs.

    A new virus has clearly been detected and sequenced in labs that was unknown until the last year or so.

    Yes, you have acknowledged much of the above already.

    I'm a little confused about your most recent position though, your saying that the vast majority of cases being found are false positives? so all the panic is a mistake, covid deaths are actually low and the pharmaceutical and research communities have been worrying unnecesarily?

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    1. It depends on the country. If the country or region has already gone through its first wave, then I believe the second wave is exaggerated considerably by the flawed PCR tests. Many jurisdictions are re-imposing radical damaging lockdowns based on these flawed statistics ("cases" being the worst of the lot).

      COVID does appear to be a very serious and easily transmitted disease to certain high risk groups, including the elderly, and all reasonable efforts should be taken to safeguard them, and we are right to worry about that.

      Delete
  15. Agreed. As long as people aren't denying existence of covid, it's all fine. Similarly, I can accept people saying they would take the deaths instead of economy hit etc - recognising that it's a choice being made.

    The problem is that the people making that choice tend to be young and healthy folk like us that will probably be ok should we get it. Unfortunately, other folk would not be so lucky.

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    1. My point is that it is likely not ramping up in a second wave, and so no need to ramp up the precautions above where they were when the numbers were lower. Old people die from natural causes, and in greater number this time of year. They are being PCR-tested as COVID+. Not all. Some are dying from COVID as well. Point is there is no need to escalate the lockdowns and cause greater misery and death.

      Delete
    2. Here's the covid infection data for Canada. How can you possibly say there isn't a second wave? The US data is a lot worse. https://www.bing.com/covid/local/canada?ref=share

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    3. You're not following the argument. All that data is based on overly sensitive PCR tests and therefore is skewed. Look at this instead for current excess deaths as compared to other years: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/71-607-x/71-607-x2020017-eng.htm

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    4. Uh, no. The deaths are not based on PCR tests, nor are they skewed. These are real people who are really dead.

      Delete
    5. People die of all sorts of non-COVID reasons. About 10K/day this time of year in the US. If you test all of them for COVID, and get a high false positive rate, you report those non Covid deaths as Covid deaths which juices the number on top of the people who really died from Covid. Got it?

      Delete
    6. The people who’ve died of COVID-19 have lost 11 to 13 years of expected lifespan on average, according to studies. https://elemental.medium.com/theres-nothing-contrived-about-the-coronavirus-death-toll-b729f2526cec It sucks, but I can stand a few more months of restricted activity so someone else can live another decade.

      Delete
    7. You make the fallacy of only looking at one side of the argument. You also have to look at the harm from continued lockdowns (drug overdoses, domestic violence, suicides, general mental health, children's developmental health, missed diagnosis and delayed treatment, people's livelihoods, potential economic recession, and so on). You present as altrusitic and wanting to sacrifice yourself for the sake of 10 more years of an old person's life. In fact your are harming others.
      (P.S. the article you supplied has a very heavy political bias - suggest you improve your media sources)

      Delete
    8. I'm glad we're both advocating for the course of action we believe is best for people's lives. We seem to trust different sources of data. You're attacking a straw man though. I agree that harms caused by lock downs should be a concern, but I don't see data supporting the argument that they outweigh the harm caused by failing to contain the virus. Both the economy and access to health care will suffer if more people are sick. In a lot of the US and Canada, hospitals are reaching capacity leading to another situation where we have to take action to flatten the curve. If you don't trust testing for the infection and you don't trust death statistics, I think you should at least pay attention to hospitalizations. http://covid19.healthdata.org/canada/ontario?view=resource-use&tab=trend&resource=all_resources

      I have a few issues with your argument that PCR tests are overstating the prevalence of the disease. The test can only capture the viral load of someone at one point in time, and there's typically a delay of days before the test is processed. People are most infectious starting 2 days before they have symptoms. Given the lags involved, I think it makes sense that labs would use a lower threshold for a positive test to increase the chance that the warning would come in time for the infected person to quarantine and avoid transmitting the virus to other people. To put it another way, low viral load might just mean that they tested the person early in the progression of the disease and not that they would remain asymptomatic. When I googled "PCR Ct" to understand it better, I found that doctors were interested in the number to try to identify the more serious cases earlier, not that they had any doubts about whether the test was accurate with the thresholds being used.

      Delete
    9. One should compare hospitalizations or ICU levels relative to how busy they are at the same time of year last year. So crowded ICUs this time of year may be abnormal, or perfectly normal. Which is it?

      And I agree with high Ct for the purposes of early identification, in which case false positives are regrettable but the lesser of two evils. However I do not agree with it for the purposes of gathering stats for public policy purposes, or for the media to broadcast COVID fear porn 24x7.

      Delete
    10. Here's a situation where we may agree on some of the facts, but seem to be drawing opposite conclusions. Hospital resource use does indeed peak seasonally in the winter. However, I see COVID-19 cases as an additional risk or burden on the health care system so to me this means we need to try even harder to limit transmission and keep the case count low.

      Delete
  16. Joe2 here,

    Here is something that no one really seems to be talking about much-why are we not treating people that test positive? If I have to stay at home, then a doctor better give me something to start treating it.
    I know 11 people that tested positive and developed symptoms and only one got medicine at the beginning. And he got the medicine only after he threw a hissy fit and told the doctor that unless he was given Ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine & ZPAC and Zinc he was going to sit at the front door of the doctor's office (he was given Ivermectin). No treatment was given to the others, though they got symptoms. The others were told that they don't start treatment until their symptoms get severe. That seems rather stupid. Especially since the two treatments mentioned earlier are pretty cheap.

    If this disease is dangerous enough to stop the world, then we give drugs to be proactive, e.g. positive test results results in medicine. I think this is one of the reasons that there are still too many getting hospitalized and dying.

    OBTW, if you don't like the two treatments I mentioned, there are others. If you don't like any of the treatments, then you don't have to take them.

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    1. There is no effective treatment except the antibody treatments, which there is nowhere near enough supply of. Dexamethasone is only for very sick patients, and zinc,ivermectin, and HCQ are all BS.

      Delete
    2. Agreed that both those regimes are safe and inexpensive and have a certain amount of evidence backing them up. Good risk management decision to do that rather than nothing. But either way, young healthy people are not at great mortality risk.

      Delete
    3. If you are sick with COVID-19, you should isolate and treat it at home as you would a flu or cold - rest, hydrate, take acetaminophen for pain. If you're short of breath and/or your blood oxygen measures low (you can get a pulse oximeter to test at home, I've heard anything under 80 indicates you should seek emergency medical care). https://www.mayoclinic.org/treating-covid-19-at-home/art-20483273

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    4. Yes of course. The other stuff is a safe means of lowering the chances of having to be hospitalized, maybe. Good risk management anyways.

      Delete
  17. Thank you so much for posting everyone’s comments. It has been truly amazing to see your lunch handed to you, even when you can’t see it. Please keep posting and talking. I never thought it was possible before but maybe you can be brought back out of the rabbit hole. Thanks also for providing a space to rail against maga followers. It’s is really great being able to see how horrible their arguments are once exposed to the light of day. You are truly doing the world a favor by simply being honest and open about your beliefs. The only thing you really should add is to admit you’re a conspiracy theorist. You always hold back knowing it would discredit you, but from your posts it’s obvious your are clinging to these theories to help cope with the reality of losing. Thanks for your great spanking co tent as well. Always entertaining.

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    1. You're very welcome! And thank you for being an object lesson in someone unable to comprehend an argument and engage in a fact-based discussion! So cool!

      Delete
  18. No problem, don’t get me wrong. I hear your argument but I’m not actually here to debate you on it. I mean I might as well tangle with Kellyanne Conway and her alternative facts. Sorry. I don’t debate right wingers who dismiss every argument from the other side and show no actual growth or ability to accept any part of their argument is wrong. I don’t believe anything you say because you are a spanking blogger. JK - but I’m sure that doesn’t feel good. Kind of like a reporter who has spent months building and reporting on a story and having it dismissed as fake news by people doing their own “research”. I really do like your spanking stuff and don’t believe in the cancel culture used by the right forever against companies that supported gay rights and abortion. I used to be a right winger that was told to boycott Levi and Home Depot but I will never cancel you! Thanks again for being honest and open, I hope you are reflective about these views in the future. My reflective nature and actual ability to question everything is what finally snapped me out of the right wing distortion field.

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    1. You make the fallacy of judging the person, not the work. Read the work. It explains itself and stands on its own two feet. It explains things so you can understand, and references authoritative sources you may not have been aware of. You navigated here anyways, approach it with an open mind and you might learn something. Your mind seems super closed.

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  19. If this virus is like every other virus than I was always taught I could spread it before I feel it. That means people everywhere are walking around spreading this virus before they know they have it. Love the straw man argument though... who is advocating for a complete shut down? Fauci has said bars, and gyms, and has advocated for opening schools. No politician is advocating to shut everything down and scientists are the ones wanting more shutdowns than the politicians. Nobody wants to shut down anything because it sucks. If you are saying we should simply act like there is no virus, except to stay home when we feel sick, that is stupid on it’s face. Just look at America’s success from doing so. Every year flu and colds spread, even when people stay home when they don’t feel well. I don’t know why I’m posting this, there is nothing of real substance to argue against in this blog.

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    1. You're ignorant. Ontario, where I live, is going into an unjustified full lockdown. You have zero ability to perform a reasonable risk management assessment.

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    2. Julie, your analysis is well-written and makes sense to me. I admire your persistence in responding to numerous critical comments that launch an ad hominem attack against you rather than intelligently discuss the issues. You have a lot more patience with them than I would have.

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    3. Thank you, and golly, I feel a bit "corrected" now, and so gently, by you right after I called the previous dude "ignorant". I do try though! Thank you for my gentle correction. Puts me in the mood for a harsher one, if you know what I mean?

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    4. If there is one thing that perfectly illustrates the differences between the Right and the Left, it's your blog. You publish all kinds of comments adverse to you. Twitter and Facebook censor and suppress comments they don't like, frequently calling it "hate speech" or labeling it as "misinformation." You support free speech, they hate it. You argue the issues. Many of the commenters on this site do nothing but attack you and ignore or misrepresent the points you make.

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    5. Thank you Mark. I do try. I am by no means perfect and sometimes do some mud-slinging of my own, and am certainly not immune to confirmation bias myself, but I do try to model good behaviour and rational fact-based argumentation.

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  20. Well here in Australia and in Singapore and NZ our scientists and governments didn’t get the above memo. As soon as we get a local cluster of 10 or so cases we lock the infected suburb down hard for a week or two, recommend masks, do big testing numbers and send the contact tracers in. We’ve managed every cluster so far and are leading relatively normal lives.

    Out of 25 million population we’ve had 908 covid deaths to date. Our economy took a big hit in the second quarter 2020 with -11% economic growth but we were back in the black with 3.3% economic growth for the third quarter (despite China’s trade sanctions on our coal, barley and wine because we’re a US ally and our government called them out on their management of covid). Early numbers for economic growth in the 4th quarter 2020 look good and fingers crossed we will have recovered all economic losses by early next year.

    So the only thing running rampant in the South Pacific is Chinese bullying. While the US has had its back turned they’re building more and more naval bases. Last week they bribed the PNG government to let them build a huge “fishing fleet” naval base. The Chinese are cutting out US influence all over South America and Africa with vaccine diplomacy - giving countries free vaccines now on a pay later basis to run up their debt to China.

    While you Yanks bitch and whine amongst yourselves the Chinese are using covid to cut your grass geo politically. We love Americans but friends tell the truth and you’re losing the battle scientifically, domestically and internationally. Good luck. Mick

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  21. Who was Typhoid Mary? Femsup

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    1. I'll take carriers of louse-borne bacteria for $600, Alex.

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  22. Anonymous the Science guy spanked you worse than David ever has. Ouch!

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    1. Yeah... My rear end is still feeling the heat from that... phew.

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  23. Dr. Fauci not only admitted he was lying for most of the year about the amount of infections needed for "Herd Immunity" he is now going against the World Health Organization. But I thought only 'science-deniers' went against the World Health Organization. And of course (showing its bias) social media won't be banning Fauci's comments that go against the WHO. Don't you just love it when the experts lie to us and then expect us to trust them? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRm6k4X3lFg

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    1. He lied "for our own good". I'm sure the sheep around here will approve.

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  24. I love how Tim lays out how the "Paper of Record" (only idiots believe that any more) decided to release THIS news on the day of the year when it is least likely to be noticed or read. Anyway, I'm telling all of you, whether you want to believe me or not: You cannot trust the mainstream American press at just about anything at all. I'm not saying you automatically should trust Breitbart (nor am I placing Fox News outside the mainstream, though its pretty much the only somewhat 'conservative' voice in the mainstream), I'm saying YOU HAVE TO DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH at least about any subject you consider important, and primary sources and documents should be preferred whenever possible as the amount of conscious 'spin' (sometimes malicious as well) as well as the much more common game of 'journalistic telephone' rather than actual investigative reporting has led to media outlets repeating lies multiple times.

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