Evidence over hysteria – COVID 8/05

As COVID-19 continues, the issue of government overreach, this time about schooling appears again. From debates regarding a new lockdown to wherever schools should be in-person or online. However, one issue is clear, that as seen with Sweden, solutions that cause less government overreach have proven less destabilizing and demoralizing than what has been enacted in the United States. These effects can be seen in the education section, as chaos reigns as people struggle to figure out what the best course of action is for their children who are undergoing K-12 or university education. From Maryland preventing blanket school closures to the Swedes starting to reopen schools, navigating the school year is the latest pandemic challenge. 

COVID News

Back-to-College Plans Devolve Into a Jumble of Fast-Changing Rules

https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-college-fall-semester-online-lockdown-reopen-harvard-michigan-berkeley-11595949067

“Spelman College announced on July 1 that the Atlanta campus would welcome back students to dorms and classrooms for the fall semester. Last week it reversed course. Classes would be online only. In Waterville, Maine, Colby College plans to open most of its campus to students and faculty with one of the more ambitious testing protocols in higher education. The small school expects to administer about 85,000 Covid-19 tests this fall, including testing students, faculty and staff at least three times during the opening weeks…”

CDC director acknowledges hospitals have a monetary incentive to overcount coronavirus deaths 

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/cdc-director-acknowledges-hospitals-have-a-monetary-incentive-to-overcount-coronavirus-deaths

“U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield agreed that some hospitals have a monetary incentive to overcount coronavirus deaths as they do deaths for other diseases.”

The YMCA provided childcare to 40,000 kids during lockdown and said it didn’t see any coronavirus outbreaks. Here are 11 precautions it took that worked.

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-ymca-childcare-centers-prevented-coronavirus-outbreaks

“Since March, YMCAs have taken care of about 40,000 children of essential workers at more than 1,000 sites across the US, Emily Waldren, YMCA senior manager of public relations, told Insider. There were some confirmed coronavirus cases, but they didn’t have any confirmed reports of cases leading to a larger outbreak, she said. This may partially be because childcare centers don’t appear to be hotbeds for infections, according to childcare center data collected by economist and Brown University professor Emily Oster.”

Research

Longitudinal analyses reveal immunological misfiring in severe COVID-19

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2588-y

“Recent studies have provided insights into the pathogenesis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)1–4. Yet, longitudinal immunological correlates of disease outcome remain unclear. Here, we serially analysed immune responses in 113 COVID-19 patients with moderate (non-ICU) and severe (ICU) disease. Immune profiling revealed an overall increase in innate cell lineages with a concomitant reduction in T cell number. We identify an association between early, elevated cytokines and worse disease outcomes. Following an early increase in cytokines, COVID-19 patients with moderate disease displayed a progressive reduction in type-1 (antiviral) and type-3 (antifungal) responses.”

Covid-19 in schoolchildren 

https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/contentassets/c1b78bffbfde4a7899eb0d8ffdb57b09/covid-19-school-aged-children.pdf

“This report is a comparison between Finland and Sweden, two in many ways similar countries who applied different measures regarding schools during the covid-19 pandemic. There is no difference in the overall incidence of the laboratory confirmed covid-19 cases in the age group 1-19 years in the two countries and the number of laboratory confirmed cases does not fluctuate with school closure or change in testing policy in Finland.”

COVID-19 Transmission and Children: The Child Is Not to Blame

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/146/2/e2020004879

“On the basis of these data, SARS-CoV-2 transmission in schools may be less important in community transmission than initially feared. This would be another manner by which SARS-CoV-2 differs drastically from influenza, for which school-based transmission is well recognized as a significant driver of epidemic disease and forms the basis for most evidence regarding school closures as public health strategy”

Amid coronavirus outbreak, nearly three-in-ten young people are neither working nor in school

“As COVID-19 cases have surged in the United States, young adults face a weakening labor market and an uncertain educational outlook. Between February and June 2020, the share of young adults who are neither enrolled in school nor employed – a measure some refer to as the “disconnection rate” – has more than doubled, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by Pew Research Center. Most of the increase is related to job loss among young workers.”

Selective and cross-reactive SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes in unexposed humans

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/08/04/science.abd3871
“Many unknowns exist about human immune responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. SARS-CoV-2 reactive CD4+ T cells have been reported in unexposed individuals, suggesting pre-existing cross-reactive T cell memory in 20-50% of people. However, the source of those T cells has been speculative. Using human blood samples derived before the SARS-CoV-2 virus was discovered in 2019, we mapped 142 T cell epitopes across the SARS-CoV-2 genome to facilitate precise interrogation of the SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ T cell repertoire. We demonstrate a range of pre-existing memory CD4+ T cells that are cross-reactive with comparable affinity to SARS-CoV-2 and the common cold coronaviruses HCoV-OC43, HCoV-229E, HCoV-NL63, or HCoV-HKU1. Thus, variegated T cell memory to coronaviruses that cause the common cold may underlie at least some of the extensive heterogeneity observed in COVID-19 disease.”

American Academy of Pediatrics: Children and Covid 7/30/2020

Assessing The Age Specificity Of Infection Fatality Rates For Covid-19:\nMeta-Analysis & Public Policy Implications

https://www.nber.org/papers/w27597.pdf

“This paper assesses the age specificity of the infection fatality rate (IFR) for COVID-19. Our benchmark meta-regression synthesizes the age-specific IFRs from six recent large-scale seroprevalence studies conducted in Belgium, Geneva, Indiana, New York, Spain, and Sweden. The estimated IFR is close to zero for children and younger adults but rises exponentially with age, reaching about 0.3 percent for ages 50-59, 1.3 percent for ages 60-69, 4.6 percent for ages 70-79, and 25 percent for ages 80 and above. We compare those predictions to the age-specific IFRs implied by recent seroprevalence estimates for nine other U.S. locations, three small-scale studies, and three countries (Iceland, New Zealand, and Republic of Korea) that have engaged in comprehensive tracking and tracing of COVID-19 infections.”

Did Lockdown Work? An Economist’s Cross-Country Comparison

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3665588

“I explore the association between the severity of lockdown policies in the first half of 2020 and mortality rates. Using two indices from the Blavatnik Centre’s Covid 19 policy measures and comparing weekly mortality rates from 24 European countries in the first halves of 2017-2020, and addressing policy endogeneity in two different ways, I find no clear association between lockdown policies and mortality development.”

Charts and Graphics

FEE: Predictions of COVID-19 patients in Swedish ICU’s vs. actual

Deaths in New York vs Sweden or Lockdown vs no Lockdown

Contribution to Real GDP by Sector before and during COVID-19

U.S Families Slow to Seek Child Care, but Readying Virtual Classes and Home Schooling 

AZ – Percentage Change in Hospital Metrics

TX Hosps – Daily Growth, 3-Day Growth Rate, 7-Day Growth Rate and 2-Weeks Growth Rate

@jhaskinscabrera COVID-19 Deaths in Florida by Day

@yinonw COVID vs Non-COVID US Deaths

@yinonw Covid Deaths in NY vs AZ/FL/TZ

International News

Coronavirus: Thousands protest in Germany against restrictions

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53622797

“Thousands of people in the German capital Berlin have taken part in a protest against the country’s coronavirus restrictions. Demonstrators said measures including the wearing of face masks violated their rights and freedoms. Police broke up the protest, saying organisers had not respected coronavirus hygiene regulations.”

Sweden’s Actual COVID-19 Results Compared to What Modelers Predicted in April

https://fee.org/articles/sweden-s-actual-covid-19-results-compared-to-what-modelers-predicted-in-april/

“At a press conference last week, Anders Tegnell said a massive decline in new COVID-19 cases shows Sweden’s “lighter touch” strategy is doing what it was designed to do. “It really is yet another sign that the Swedish strategy is working,” Tegnell, Sweden’s top epidemiologist, said. “It is possible to slow contagion fast with the measures we are taking in Sweden.” Unlike most nations in the world, Sweden avoided a hard lockdown. The nation of 10 million people instead opted for a strategy that sought to encourage social distancing through public information, cooperation, and individual responsibility. Restaurants, bars, public pools, libraries, and most schools remained open with certain capacity limits.”

Lockdown ’caused up to 21,000 extra deaths – many due to reduced access to healthcare’, shocking study claims

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8574317/Lockdown-caused-21-000-extra-deaths-reduced-access-healthcare.html

“Up to 21,000 people have died because of unintended consequences of lockdown – many due to a lack of access to healthcare, according to a shocking study. In the eight weeks after restrictions were put in place an average of almost 2,700 extra people died a week than would be usual for the time of year, despite Covid-19 not contributing to their deaths.  Many of these victims died because they were unable to get urgent healthcare, it emerged last night.”

We may already have herd immunity – an interview with Professor Sunetra Gupta

“A study produced by a team at Oxford University indicated that some parts of the United Kingdom may already have reached herd immunity from coronavirus. A significant fraction of the population, according to the study published last week, may have “innate resistance or cross-protection from exposure to seasonal coronaviruses”, making the proportion vulnerable to coronavirus infection much smaller than previously thought. The Oxford team is led by Sunetra Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology. In recent months, she has argued that the cost of lockdown will be too high for the poorest in society and questioned the language and quality of debate on the pandemic’s impact.”

Vietnam records first Covid-19 deaths

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53606917

“Vietnam has recorded its first Covid-19 fatalities, in a devastating blow for a country proud of its zero deaths. The first man, who was aged 70, was from the central city of Hoi An, state media said on Friday. A second death, of a 61-year-old man, was reported later in the day. There had been no new locally transmitted infections for more than three months, before an outbreak was reported in the nearby resort of Da Nang earlier this week. Both of the patients who died had underlying health conditions, according to Vietnamese media.”

@davidzweig The Trouble with the Coverage on Israel’s School

david zweig @davidzweigMAJOR THREAD: This Israel article is going to alter the debate about schools. It has a lot of useful information, but its framing, and its title (which is the only thing many will read) distorts reality August 4th 2020130 Retweets250 Likes

Coronavirus: track and trace fails in 50% of ‘easiest’ cases

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/coronavirus-track-and-trace-fails-in-50-of-easiest-cases-2j522685p

“The government’s £10bn contact-tracing programme failed to reach almost half the contacts named by infected patients in “non-complex” cases — including people living under the same roof. The outsourcing giants Serco and Sitel are being paid £192m to provide 18,500 call handlers who are responsible for tracing non-complex contacts referred to them. “Non-complex” cases, such as when the infected person came into contact with a friend, are dealt with by the two firms, while “complex” ones involving a potential outbreak in a school or workplace are referred to experienced Public Health England teams.

People who test positive for Covid-19 in England are traced, told to isolate and asked for the details of those they have come into contact with.”

https://pbs.twimg.com/card_img/1289661483740090368/d6aM5-T1?format=jpg&name=900×900

A Recommendation 

If you have children, but haven’t thought about it already, have you considered teaching pods?