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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Real Science


REAL Science.

I think I have made clear my personal opinion of the past 5 months of covid panic-demic; most of this has been an extreme over-reaction to create an atmosphere of anxiety and fear with benefit to some.  Some of the winners are obvious – shy types who have found more than a small amount of limelight, expressing opinion as fact, creating a new set of codified language for the newly self defined Cognoscenti, happy to get their two minutes (or more) on television or social media.  All we hear about is distancing, sheltering, testing and antibodies and now contact tracing.

If only they could take a few minutes to actually read and understand the actual literature, rather than kinda-sorta quoting what they think they heard on CNN or FOX or CBC yesterday or the day before.  

What would be nice would be for at least some them to understand that having a positive nose swab does not prove infection, and having measurable antibodies does not signify immunity.   

And for those who are think that a fast vaccine is a really good idea, I suggest they read about Swine Flu (H1N1) in 1976- one (1) person died from the flu but 450 got ascending paralysis  from the vaccine. That is what we call a BAD outcome.

For those interested in the origins of the term social distance,  it was  created in 1963 by  Edward T Hall, a cultural anthropologist interested in how we interact with each other in space.  In his study of animals and space (proxemics) he defined the concepts of intimate space, personal space, social space (near) and social space (far), and social distance.  Social space (far) was 7-12 feet separation which would allow two workers to be close enough to chat, but far enough away that they could work uninterrupted.  In the animal kingdom social space (far) was about the distance that a crab could shed its shell and still survive being eaten by other crab (shell intact).  None of this has anything  to do with infections.  Hall was more intrigued in the notion of wanting unwanted people to stay outside our intimate and private spaces.  You can read his work in his books The Silent Language (1973) or the Hidden Dimension (1991).

The one person who did more study of respiratory virus transmission than anyone ever was Jack Gwaltney Jr who studied a very closely related virus called rhinovirus.  Jack Gwaltney was what you call a real scientist.  Over a decade he put people in various rooms and conditions and studied and carefully documented person to person transmission of virus that he painted on people’s fingers.  He didn’t depend upon newly developed swab tests or serology tests that result in more questions and answers.  Instead he actually measured the actual virus as it went from an actual person to another actual person.   I strongly refer you his summary article (Mechanisms of Transmission of Rhinovirus Infections.  1988 J.O. Hendley and  J.M. Gwaltney, Jr.   Epidemiologic Reviews Vol. 10.  pp242-258). 

While I would prefer you read the article yourself, but in case you don’t have access to PubMed, what he found was spread is hugely through hands, some through sneezes and nasal secretions, very little by cough (detection of virus in coughs as measured at 10 cm ( 4 inches) from the nose or mouth was less than 10%).   Viruses can be detected and spread by air transmission, but ONLY when an aerosol generating machine was used.  Machine generated aerosols and air spread?…yes.  Human generated aerosols and air spread?…NO.  (Most of what you think you know about the general truth of spread is NOT the product of studied human based experiments.  It is the product of artificial manikin machines studies that try to simulate the human condition.  

Whether you want to believe this or not is up to you, but real study by real scientists using real viruses and real people make one thing clear…  human to human transmission of virus can and does occur, but almost always it has a huge amount to do with hands and noses and objects that we touch, and little with coughs and nothing with social distance, or anything close.  Want to effectively spread virus?... sneeze into your hands and then touch someone or something.   

If you want to spread the virus further, go buy an aerosol generating machine or a manikin.  

PS: There are some other winners; the light on their feet, innovative entrepreneurs who found opportunity, turning their shut down restaurants into grocery stores and those capitalizing on video meeting equipment, and on-line teachers.  Even the personalized mask makers.  Congratulations.  Your success has that special taste of success and reward.