It’s About the Children! – EOH 11/13/20

President-elect Joe Biden is already busy putting together members for his new COVID taskforce and it looks like he doesn’t seem receptive to freedom or lessons from the past. Dr. Michael Osterholm, one of his coronavirus advisors, has called another 4-6 week national lockdown. Dr. Osterholm wants an even more draconian second lockdown than the first lockdown with no room for dissent or disobedience.

In other news:

  • New York City prepares to close its schools again even though the NYT frankly admits “transmission of the virus in schools has been strikingly low” and children are among the least-risk groups.
  • Chicago issued a new 30-day stay-at-home advisory starting Monday, November 16.
  • Research suggests that children more often than adults carry COVID protective antibodies generated from other related coronaviruses.
  • In Britain, 50 Tory MPs have formed a coalition to oppose future lockdowns.

Interested in becoming knowledgeable on COVID? Become a premium member. Our premium members get special access to our personal data dashboards and analysis.

Want to support our work? Visit our Substack page and leave us a tip.

On Rational Ground for our premium members, our data analyses will always be available to you. Interested in becoming a COVID expert? Become a premium member.

Additionally, we just released an update on how COVID-19 is playing out on university campuses.

COVID News

Biden COVID-19 adviser floats plan to pay for national lockdown lasting up to six weeks

https://thehill.com/homenews/525631-biden-covid-19-adviser-floats-plan-to-pay-for-a-national-lock-down-for-four-to-six

A top health adviser to President-elect Joe Biden suggested that the nation is well-positioned financially to withstand a lockdown of more than a month in an effort to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. 

“When you look at the personal savings rate in this country, it’s now gone from about 8 percent to over 22 percent. We have a big pool of money out there that we could borrow. The historic low interest rates by the federal government, we could pay for a package right now to cover all of the wages, lost wages for individual workers, for our losses to small companies to medium sized companies, for city states, county governments. We could do all of that,” said Michael Osterholm during a live event this week with Yahoo News. 

Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said there are varying ideas in terms of public perception of “what a lockdown is all about.” 

“If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks,” he said. “And if we did that, we could drive the numbers down, like they’ve done in Asia, like they did in New Zealand and Australia. And then, we could really watch ourselves, cruising into the vaccine availability in the first and second quarter of next year, and bringing back the economy long before that.”

Biden, who was projected as the winner of the 2020 presidential election on Saturday, has vowed to end the coronavirus pandemic and promised to “listen to the scientists” to get it under control. 

On Monday, the former vice president unveiled his own coronavirus task force.

N.Y.C. Schools May Close Again, a Grim Sign of a Global Dilemma

New York City has more students in classrooms — about 300,000 — than virtually any city in the country. Transmission of the virus in schools has been strikingly low. And one of the city’s top health officials has declared that the public schools are among the safest public places around.

Yet for all those hopeful signs, Mayor Bill de Blasio is on the brink of shutting down all classrooms across the school system, by far the nation’s largest, as New York confronts a second wave of the virus after months when the city’s success at curbing the outbreak made it the envy of the country. The closure could happen by Thanksgiving, if not sooner.

The move — which is now regarded by some City Hall officials as a question of when, not if — would be perhaps the most significant setback yet for the city’s recovery since the bleak days of spring, when it was a global center of the pandemic and all the schools were shuttered.

Chicago issues stay-at-home advisory, new restrictions on gatherings as COVID-19 cases surge

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a stay-at-home advisory for the City of Chicago that will go into effect starting Monday, Nov. 16.

The mayor’s announcement Thursday comes in response to the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city. The mayor and health experts have said the next seven days are toward avoiding what the City Health Commissioner said could be a catastrophe.

“If changes are not made by Chicago residents, businesses, and visitors to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the city is on track to lose 1,000 more Chicagoans by the end of the year or even more,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

The Children Never Had the Coronavirus. So Why Did They Have Antibodies?

It’s been a big puzzle of the pandemic: Why are children so much less likely than adults to become infected with the new coronavirus and, if infected, less likely to become ill?

A possible reason may be that many children already have antibodies to other coronaviruses, according to researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London. About one in five of the colds that plague children are caused by viruses in this family. Antibodies to those viruses may also block SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus causing the pandemic.

In a study published Friday in Science, the group, led by George Kassiotis, who heads the Retroviral Immunology Laboratory at the institute, reports that on average only 5 percent of adults had these antibodies, but 43 percent of children did.

Commentary

Ohio students are hurting and It’s time for them to return to the classroom

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/nov/11/ohio-students-are-hurting-and-its-time-for-them-to/

In the Buckeye State, our Midwestern mentality drives us to care for our community with kindness and compassion. For many of us during the global health crisis, that meant retaining the data we heard and making local decisions that best fit our communities of different sizes and makeups.

However, these efforts were continuously derailed by overreaching executive orders from Gov. Mike DeWine, and continuing these poor practices has now allowed further harm to individuals in our communities. Even worse, it has played a large role in harming the mental health and well-being of our children and students. The virus risk for children is over 20 times lower than adults, but school closures and shutdowns affect mental health negatively and is cause for concern. It is clear the governor does not know what Ohio families need.

While it is the parent or guardian’s responsibility to raise the child, it is also the school and caregiver’s responsibility to ensure that every child, no matter the background, has the structure and community support to learn well. At a time of immense pressure across the country like today, the role our education system plays in students’ lives is even more important to their well-being. Due to strict shutdowns, this responsibility cannot be fulfilled properly.

Case for Mask Mandate Rests on Bad Data

https://www.wsj.com/articles/case-for-mask-mandate-rests-on-bad-data-11605113310

The top scientific journal Nature Medicine published a study on Oct. 23 with an astounding claim: By simply wearing masks at higher rates, Americans could prevent as many as 130,000 Covid-19 fatalities by the end of February 2021. Produced by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation, or IHME, the study garnered immediate acclaim.

More than 100 news outlets trumpeted the study’s findings in the days following its publication—“The Price for Not Wearing Masks: Perhaps 130,000 Lives” was the New York Times’s headline—and a few hundred more articles have been written since. Reporting was often paired with calls for a national mask mandate, echoing President-elect Biden and now Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease official. The study was also invoked by Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, to push for stricter masking requirements. Recognizing the potential importance, Nature Medicine rushed the study into print after an expedited peer-review process that took only seven days to complete.

Unfortunately, the IHME modelers’ findings contained an error that even minimal scrutiny should have caught. The projected number of lives saved, and the implied case for a mask mandate, are based on a faulty statistic.

Research

Preexisting and de novo humoral immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in humans

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/11/05/science.abe1107

Abstract:

Zoonotic introduction of novel coronaviruses may encounter preexisting immunity in humans. Using diverse assays for antibodies recognizing SARS-CoV-2 proteins, we detect preexisting humoral immunity. SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein (S)-reactive antibodies were detectable by a flow cytometry-based method in SARS-CoV-2-uninfected individuals and were particularly prevalent in children and adolescents. They were predominantly of the IgG class and targeted the S2 subunit. By contrast, SARS-CoV-2 infection induced higher titers of SARS-CoV-2 S-reactive IgG antibodies, targeting both the S1 and S2 subunits, and concomitant IgM and IgA antibodies, lasting throughout the observation period. Notably, SARS-CoV-2-uninfected donor sera exhibited specific neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-2 S pseudotypes. Distinguishing preexisting and de novo immunity will be critical for our understanding of susceptibility to and the natural course of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Charts and Graphics

COVID-19 Deaths by Week

You often hear in the media that the United States has averaged 1000 deaths/day since the week of August 15th. However, those are deaths “layered” into the past. 

While deaths may be accumulating, fatality rates are on an overall decline.

International News

Covid: Tory MPs form group to oppose future lockdowns

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-54892107

Conservative MPs have set up a group to fight any future lockdown in England, arguing it would be “devastating” for the economy and “cost lives”.

The Covid Recovery Group, which has around 50 MP members, wants the country to “live with” coronavirus after nationwide restrictions end next month.

The “cure” prescribed by the government ran “the risk of being worse than the disease”, MP Mark Harper said.

But the PM has stressed the NHS faces a “medical disaster” without action.

A further 20,412 coronavirus cases were reported in the UK on Tuesday, with another 532 deaths within 28 days of a positive test recorded.

The four-week lockdown in England – which includes the closure of pubs, restaurants and non-essential retail, while curbing household mixing and unnecessary travel – is scheduled to end on 2 December.

Parliament overwhelmingly backed the restrictions earlier this month, but 34 Conservative MPs, concerned about civil liberties and the effect on wider health and the economy, rebelled against the government.