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A-L-E-X
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

18 Dec 2020 06:12

Thank you for referring to it as the third wave Wat!  Many in the media are mistakenly calling it the "second wave"!

Also nice to see two vaccines now about to roll out, in the midst of the worst wave yet!

NY will be back in lockdown mode before New Years.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

18 Dec 2020 07:50

The waves peak differently across the world.  So maybe a third peak in the US, but a second wave in much of Europe.
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19 Dec 2020 18:44

Interestingly Australia where I am from is doing pretty well the last several weeks.  Things have resumed to pretty much normal now, but it worries me that they are letting infected people back from overseas while trying to quarantine them, but that is not 100% without risks and as a result there is a small outbreak in Sydney at the moment linked to a person from over seas that was in quarantine.

The country was covid free for a while, if it was me I would ban any international travelers until there is some sort of vaccination numbers.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

20 Dec 2020 00:41

Quarantines can't be expected to stop the virus from spreading in all cases, but to keep the R number below 1.  Norway had a very few daily new cases this summer (< 10, now in the hundreds), and there was a mandatory quarantine if coming abroad from a red region (mostly outside Europe), but the second wave seems to be linked to employers finding ways around the quarantine (the first outbreak was linked to crew onboard a cruise ship who brought in foreign workers put straight to work because working on a ship at sea was defined as being in quarantine - duh).

It looks like Norway will get the vulnerable people mostly vaccinated within a month or so, and then chances are good that this pandemic will not cause excess deaths, maybe even fewer deaths since the drop in flu deaths might be larger.  The industry depending on tourism and business travel has been badly hit, though.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

20 Dec 2020 22:38

what is this news of a virulent new strain of the virus in Britain that is causing other nations to ban travel to and from the UK?
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

21 Dec 2020 02:10

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post what is this news of a virulent new strain of the virus in Britain that is causing other nations to ban travel to and from the UK?

It is a variant that appears to be more easily transmitted, and hence it spreads more rapidly. This is like raising the R value, which means under the same measures we would expect a faster rate of growth of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. That also means even stricter measures are needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, which is why the UK and surrounding countries are taking these actions.

This development is not exactly anything new or unexpected -- just more dramatic than what we've seen before. As we discussed back in March, the virus mutates constantly, and epidemiologists track those mutations in new cases over time. It was by noticing that a new variant suddenly accounted for a vast majority of new cases that lead them to believe that this variant is more easily transmitted. Similarly, in the spring it was found that one of the variants coming from Italy to the US was more infectious, and similarly 'won out' over the pre-existing strains that had come more directly from China.

The new variation in the UK thus far does not appear to be more lethal, nor do experts beleive it would undermine vaccination efforts. But the more rapid spread of it is a serious problem in itself, and if the virus continues to mutate enough, it is conceivable for it to eventually reach "vaccine escape", in which case our current vaccines would be less effective. However, I am informed by DoctorOfSpace that it would be fairly easy and quick to modify most current vaccines to deal with that possibility, since most of the hard work has already been done.


NYTimes: Boris Johnson Tightens U.K. Lockdown, Citing Fast-Spreading Version of Virus
BBC: New coronavirus strain in UK: How worried should we be?
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

21 Dec 2020 05:55

Does the new strain appear to be less lethal?  A mutation could theoretically do more good than harm if it spreads extremely fast, only gives mild symptoms and results in immunity against the dangerous strains.  But even if such a mutation occurs, what if it easily mutates again into something spreading equally fast but becoming lethal again?  So maybe not something to wish for.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

21 Dec 2020 13:49

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post Does the new strain appear to be less lethal?

So far there's no clear sign that it is more or less lethal. It appears about the same. The new strain makes up the majority of new cases in the UK since their latest surge began early December, but it's only been just enough time for that to manifest as deaths, and thus far the deaths are rising in about the expected way from the new cases curve. Hospitalizations, too.

Image
Image

Give it another couple of weeks and the signal will probably be much more clear.

But even if such a mutation occurs, what if it easily mutates again into something spreading equally fast but becoming lethal again?  So maybe not something to wish for.


Exactly. Also even if it were less lethal to the point of being like a typical flu, spreading more quickly would still be a very serious problem, because it could still overwhelm hospitals and result in a lot of death and suffering. Remember the nature of this pandemic is not just that it is more lethal than the flu, but also spreads faster and has higher attack rates than the flu.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

22 Dec 2020 01:03

Watsisname wrote:
Source of the post Remember the nature of this pandemic is not just that it is more lethal than the flu

I'm curious why that does not seems not to be significantly so in some countries.  As of 13 December Norway has had 398 covid related deaths (persons tested positive for covid regardless of actual death cause).  There have been about 41,000 confirmed cases, and actual cases are probably roughly twice that (asymptomatic or not tested).  So this gives a mortality rate of < 0.5%, but the median age for those who have died after being tested positive for covid is 84 years, and the average 81 years.  Do we even know the mortality of the typical flu, since flu related deaths for the 80+ group are likely less accurately reported than for covid related deaths of that group?  So, excess deaths is likely the best metric (with some degree of smoothing).  Some countries seem to have a significant amount of excess deaths, others absolutely nothing despite a significant number of covid cases.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

22 Dec 2020 06:59

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post So, excess deaths is likely the best metric (with some degree of smoothing).

That is what I would go by when possible, yeah. Speaking of which, the most recent update to the NYTimes deaths above normal page was November 27 (though the most recent data for each country varies.) A while ago, but it now does reveal the effects of autumn wave striking Europe. The US's third wave has not shown up yet (last update to the US was Nov 7th).

Image

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post I'm curious why that does not seems not to be significantly so in some countries.

It is conceivable that the infection mortality rate may depend on strain, although I would guess it is less likely to be a significant factor (or at least I have not seen any news or literature indicating it.) More significant factors may include the population age structure, genetics, preexisting conditions, treatments, and health care capacity. It also depends on the distribution of the population that is infected. In the US, that distribution appears to be pretty uniform by age, since the curves for cases and deaths go up and down in most regions roughly in unison cross all age groups, indicating the virus is widespread and no particular age group is effectively isolated from it. But other nations might be having more luck isolating the more vulnerable than others. It is a job made much easier when the rates of new cases per capita are lower, too. 41,000 total cases in Norway (less than 1% of the entire population) is probably much more manageable than the situation in other countries where about 1% of the population is infected every week, for weeks on end.

Another thing we can do is get a lower limit on the infection mortality rate in a region by simply dividing the deaths by the population size (and hence bypass the problem of case detection altogether). In counties in the US with populations that are not too small (at least tens of thousands to millions) and that have had high amounts of cases per capita (more than 1 in 20), we often find more than 0.2% of the population has died already. Perhaps the most stunning example is New York City, where 1 in 341 people has died due to complications of the virus. At its peak, the rate of death was more than 650% above normal. Yet NYC has not reached herd immunity yet, let alone 100% infected. To me, this clearly indicates COVID-19 has demonstrated its potential of being several times more lethal than a typical seasonal flu strain, and being able to strike and overwhelm health care services extremely quickly. It has done this repeatedly in many different regions and is still doing so.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

22 Dec 2020 07:51

Watsisname wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post what is this news of a virulent new strain of the virus in Britain that is causing other nations to ban travel to and from the UK?

It is a variant that appears to be more easily transmitted, and hence it spreads more rapidly. This is like raising the R value, which means under the same measures we would expect a faster rate of growth of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. That also means even stricter measures are needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, which is why the UK and surrounding countries are taking these actions.

This development is not exactly anything new or unexpected -- just more dramatic than what we've seen before. As we discussed back in March, the virus mutates constantly, and epidemiologists track those mutations in new cases over time. It was by noticing that a new variant suddenly accounted for a vast majority of new cases that lead them to believe that this variant is more easily transmitted. Similarly, in the spring it was found that one of the variants coming from Italy to the US was more infectious, and similarly 'won out' over the pre-existing strains that had come more directly from China.

The new variation in the UK thus far does not appear to be more lethal, nor do experts beleive it would undermine vaccination efforts. But the more rapid spread of it is a serious problem in itself, and if the virus continues to mutate enough, it is conceivable for it to eventually reach "vaccine escape", in which case our current vaccines would be less effective. However, I am informed by DoctorOfSpace that it would be fairly easy and quick to modify most current vaccines to deal with that possibility, since most of the hard work has already been done.


NYTimes: Boris Johnson Tightens U.K. Lockdown, Citing Fast-Spreading Version of Virus
BBC: New coronavirus strain in UK: How worried should we be?

Yep, I heard it is 70% more contagious.  Cuomo has been pleading for the feds to ban travel into and out of the UK....I wasn't aware he couldn't ban travel from the UK into NY airports on his own.
Also have heard the vaccine will still work against these kinds of mutations, that it would take a year or more for the virus to evolve enough for the vaccines to not be effective.
I wonder if we'll get a "universal vaccine" for this one day- Mt Sinai is developing one for the flu
https://www.mountsinai.org/about/newsro ... vaccine-pr

https://www.mountsinai.org/about/newsro ... thin-reach
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

22 Dec 2020 07:54

midtskogen wrote:
Watsisname wrote:
Source of the post Remember the nature of this pandemic is not just that it is more lethal than the flu

I'm curious why that does not seems not to be significantly so in some countries.  As of 13 December Norway has had 398 covid related deaths (persons tested positive for covid regardless of actual death cause).  There have been about 41,000 confirmed cases, and actual cases are probably roughly twice that (asymptomatic or not tested).  So this gives a mortality rate of < 0.5%, but the median age for those who have died after being tested positive for covid is 84 years, and the average 81 years.  Do we even know the mortality of the typical flu, since flu related deaths for the 80+ group are likely less accurately reported than for covid related deaths of that group?  So, excess deaths is likely the best metric (with some degree of smoothing).  Some countries seem to have a significant amount of excess deaths, others absolutely nothing despite a significant number of covid cases.

Do you think people from some places have more or less of a genetic predisposition (in addition to all the environmental and dietary factors we've already discussed as well as pre-existing conditions?)  With AIDS for example it was found that a higher rate of Scandanavians (specifically Norwegians) were immune to it because they lacked a certain protein...CD4 I think?
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

22 Dec 2020 07:57

Watsisname wrote:
midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post So, excess deaths is likely the best metric (with some degree of smoothing).

That is what I would go by when possible, yeah. Speaking of which, the most recent update to the NYTimes deaths above normal page was November 27 (though the most recent data for each country varies.) A while ago, but it now does reveal the effects of autumn wave striking Europe. The US's third wave has not shown up yet (last update to the US was Nov 7th).

Image

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post I'm curious why that does not seems not to be significantly so in some countries.

It is conceivable that the infection mortality rate may depend on strain, although I would guess it is less likely to be a significant factor (or at least I have not seen any news or literature indicating it.) More significant factors may include the population age structure, genetics, preexisting conditions, treatments, and health care capacity. It also depends on the distribution of the population that is infected. In the US, that distribution appears to be pretty uniform by age, since the curves for cases and deaths go up and down in most regions roughly in unison cross all age groups, indicating the virus is widespread and no particular age group is effectively isolated from it. But other nations might be having more luck isolating the more vulnerable than others. It is a job made much easier when the rates of new cases per capita are lower, too. 41,000 total cases in Norway (less than 1% of the entire population) is probably much more manageable than the situation in other countries where about 1% of the population is infected every week, for weeks on end.

Another thing we can do is get a lower limit on the infection mortality rate in a region by simply dividing the deaths by the population size (and hence bypass the problem of case detection altogether). In counties in the US with populations that are not too small (at least tens of thousands to millions) and that have had high amounts of cases per capita (more than 1 in 20), we often find more than 0.2% of the population has died already. Perhaps the most stunning example is New York City, where 1 in 341 people has died due to complications of the virus. At its peak, the rate of death was more than 650% above normal. Yet NYC has not reached herd immunity yet, let alone 100% infected. To me, this clearly indicates COVID-19 has demonstrated its potential of being several times more lethal than a typical seasonal flu strain, and being able to strike and overwhelm health care services extremely quickly. It has done this repeatedly in many different regions and is still doing so.

Ironic thing about NY, Wat, is that the infection rate here has stabilized around 5% and not risen much since, while NJ has ballooned all the way to 15%! Also NYC infection rate is slightly lower than the overall infection rate of the state as a whole (both are around 5% though.)
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

22 Dec 2020 10:59

Watsisname wrote:
Source of the post 41,000 total cases in Norway (less than 1% of the entire population) is probably much more manageable than the situation in other countries where about 1% of the population is infected every week, for weeks on end.

In the latest Norwegian report there are a total of 41,394 confirmed cases reported and 83,765 cases according to models.  There have been 1880 hospitalisations due to covid, 369 have received intensive care (whether recovered or not) and there have been 398 deaths (many who die are in nursing homes and not hospitalised). Even if zero covid patients had been admitted to hospitals (and assuming that all of the 369 would have died and a few of the remaining in the 1880 group), I don't think the mortality would approach 1%, which is still less than what's reported in the US.

Here's the latest report in English.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

22 Dec 2020 16:47

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post Cuomo has been pleading for the feds to ban travel into and out of the UK....I wasn't aware he couldn't ban travel from the UK into NY airports on his own.

Indeed, that's squarely in federal government territory. As a nation-state, the United States can bar international travel into its borders, but individual states do not have that authority. Governor Inslee has mandated a quarantine on people coming to Washington State from the UK, but of course that can't really be enforced in practice, and it won't make much difference anyway once the new variant is here in the US, if it isn't already (and it probably is).

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