Writing (50)
Do you need to do anything different because of the new COVID mutations?

We’re all tired of social distancing, masks, and an overabundance of sanitation. Unfortunately, a new wave of COVID-19 mutations appear to be far more transmissible, and it is possible that variants will emerge for which existing antibodies or vaccines may not give the same protection they do against the currently prevalent strains. Many people have been asking us if they need to do anything differently because of these new mutations. The short answer: not really, although the health expert

Here’s why you’re not excited enough about Pfizer’s COVID vaccine

Monday morning brought the sweet, sweet news that Pfizer’s RNA-based COVID-19 vaccine has turned out to be extremely effective in its Phase 3 trial. While the news itself has been all over social media and has resulted in an instant 5% jump in the stock market, much of the press coverage has actually been not enthusiastic enough on just how great this news is. This vaccine not only works, it works so well that it may allow a return to normal life for vaccinated people before herd immunity i

Even if a COVID-19 vaccine were approved tomorrow, “normal” is still a long way off

For months now, Americans have waited anxiously for the first wave of coronavirus vaccines to be approved in the US. Most of us are watching the FDA's vaccine approval timeline because we take that approval to be the critical first step in answering the number one question on everyone's mind: when will life get back to normal? But this is wrong. The exact day or even month of the first few vaccine approvals actually has no bearing on the question of when we'll all be free to permanently move

Can’t go any longer without socializing? Try the Cicada Method

I’m fortunate enough to have full-time work-from-home privileges, a comfortable house, and other factors that make me more able to quarantine than most people.  And I'm very concerned about the pandemic and very conscious of the medical benefits of social distancing (see my State of the Pandemic series).  As a result, I've been following a very strict lockdown for six months without interruption. Staying home and leaving only for essential errands is still the safest option, but this can't g

COVID-19 cases and deaths are falling: what that means for you

Coronavirus cases at colleges might be exploding, but in the United States as a whole, the COVID case counts are actually falling. That's right. We bring you (tentatively) good news for perhaps the first time since this pandemic began. After a massive resurgence in June and July, the majority of American states and the United States as a whole have shown a sustained downward trend in COVID-19 cases and deaths for over thirty days now, with no firm sign of letting up. This is great news. Here


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Why is it so hard to tell how deadly 2019-nCoV is?

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Sure.  🙂 I said “all” because that was the information I had at the time.  I wrote before the Lancet article saying otherwise was published. Despite this information, the vast majority of early cases still have the link, and our sources in China (posts upcoming) have told us that testing of surfaces in the market showed significant amounts of coronavirus.  It’s not necessarily the case that every early case will show a link, both because 1) not every wild animal sold for food in Wuhan went through the one market, 2) not every single person will be candid about their history when speaking to doctors, and 3) not every transmission link to the market is legible.  If the disease began spreading earlier than we previously thought, then this point is reinforced, although the Lancet paper only pushes that date back 7 days relative to previous reports. Any analysis of a “first case” has to be interpreted in light of our degree of confidence about which case actually was first.  With estimates of the ascertainment rate (percentage of cases known to authorities) in the early epidemic down in the single digits, we can’t have that confidence. Although the situation is messy, the market origin hypothesis continues to be a clear leader.  And the people who say “no market origin” aren’t accounting for the facts.  The Lancet paper only says that they found no epidemiological link between the first known case and subsequent cases, not that he had no exposure to the seafood market.  And they say that 14 of the first 41 patients were not directly exposed to the market, not that they were not indirectly exposed, e.g. in the identified family cluster.  And that’s why the Lancet paper’s discussion teaches toward the market hypothesis. There’s a lot of noise out there, but the signal is still clear.