How to use this Covid blog

To find what you want, use the search box on the right. On the right, use Categories and a list of the most recent posts. To get the posts when they are posted, subscribe to the blog via email on the right. I regularly update the posts and include the date updated.
I always assume everyone, including myself, has Covid, including family and friends. 50% of infected persons show no symptoms.

The Fauci Tracker

When people ask me about the best source of scientific information on Covid, I always say Dr. Fauci. That’s why I started this Fauci Tracker!! He is a very reliable source for the “big picture” including forecasts, but interviews with him can be hard to find. He is an “insider” who is on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, plus does Covid vaccine research in his lab. Fauci explains topics so everyone can understand what is happening now and his forecasts for the future.

In this blog, I post information on Dr. Fauci’s most recent “sightings” on youtube, Facebook live, podcasts, etc. plus written interviews, so you can listen to the full version of what he said. I post the interviews that are well done, with experienced interviewers.

11-23-20 Fauci: Herd Immunity. Vaccines. Testing.

11-23-20 34 minutes. The Path Forward: Combating COVID-19 with Anthony S. Fauci. Excellent interview by Robert Costa of the Washington Post. Hear Fauci speak about Herd immunity, Vaccines, Testing, and a lot more. Much better than reading about it!! Plus more time for Fauci to talk about it. News “sound bytes” are too short. Some of the topics (Starts at 17 minutes after surge warnings:

  • Herd immunity plus example using an African wildebeest (antelope) herd. Understandable by everyone.
  • Vaccines. Excellent analysis from approval to the future.
  • Very good explanation of the PCR vs. antigen vs. antibody Covid tests. – Post-Covid syndrome – after the virus is gone. It can last for months—many problems.

To read my full post, click here.

To get a full list of previous Fauci posts click Continue Reading below

Read more

About Ann O’Rourke, the author of this blog

Ann O’Rourke has a science background (college, labs) plus has been a writer and publisher since 1992. I have been a self-employed real estate appraiser since 1986 and have given presentations around the U.S. and Canada about appraisal business issues. I have two appraisal newsletters and have written for many appraisal publications.

My first job after college in 1986 was in a toxicology lab. I worked in other labs plus worked for 5 years at a biotech company.

In both science and appraising, you are trained to be objective and analyze the data. You look for the truth. ]

To read more about my science, appraisal, and business backgrounds and, why I started this blog, informations sources I use, and how to contact me, etc. Click “Continue Reading” below.

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Face Masks and Covid Risks in Homes

Why should you use a face mask?

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, Covid-19 is spread by sharing breaths. When we breathe, water particles are released. The virus “attaches” to the water. The air-water particles are much larger and are easier to filter out than covid. A good visual example of what happens is exhaling when it is cold outside. Water droplets form in the air. Face Masks and Covid Risks in Homes is important to know about.

How tight the mask fits your face is very important. N95 masks are tight.  Surgical masks are loose. They protect the healthcare worker from giving bacteria or viruses to the patient during surgery.

The amount of virus exposure is a critical factor. The riskiest people are those who have symptoms such as coughing and sneezing. If infected, they expel large amounts of particles containing more virus.

What if you want more protection?

No face mask discussed in this post can keep outside air from coming in. You have to breathe the air to live.

To be safest, don’t let any person’s breath come inside your lungs. Wear a full body and head covering with oxygen supplied through a hose. The ultimate is a special containment room with no outside air coming in and air going out completely cleaned, used by pathogen researchers. Hoses run overhead from the air system to the researchers.

You may have seen recently on TV news that nurses and doctors caring for Covid patients sometimes use a portable device on their backs with long air hoses coming to their head and face coverings. They have complete body and head protection. I assume they use portable heavy-duty battery-operated air cleaners for the room air.

Which type of face masks to use inside homes

Click “continue reading” link for info about FDA approved n95 and surgical masks plus some info on cloth masks.

Continue reading “Face Masks and Covid Risks in Homes”

New Mayo Clinic research: How Face Masks Reduce Risk

New, unpublished data from researchers at Mayo Clinic found that physical separation reduces the exposure of respiratory droplets. Three feet is helpful, but 6 feet separation reduces particle counts to near baseline levels. 11-24-20. This study quantifies that the closer you are to a person, the higher the risk to both people. How Face Masks Reduce Risk, especially if both people wear face masks.

Dr. Elie Berbari and Dr. Matthew Callstrom discuss mask study.

The findings strongly support the protective value and effectiveness of widespread mask use and maintaining physical distance in helping to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Mannequin experiment

This was an experimental study that emulated the production of respiratory droplets by using mannequins. Some were masked and other mannequins were unmasked. The study measured the spread of those droplets at various distances.

Researchers measured how effectively masks blocked the number of aerosol particles from a masked source. The study simulated an individual with a COVID-19 infection. They also simulated the risk of an individual contracting COVID-19, when they were masked.

Continue reading “New Mayo Clinic research: How Face Masks Reduce Risk”

Fauci: Herd Immunity. Vaccines. Testing.

Recorded 11-23-20 34 minutes. The Path Forward: Combating COVID-19 with Anthony S. Fauci. Excellent interview. Hear Fauci speak about Herd immunity, Vaccines, Testing, and a lot more. Much better than reading about it!! Plus more time for Fauci to talk about it. News “sound bytes” are too short.

The interview starts with Thanksgiving, but Fauci’s comments apply to upcoming events in the next 30 days. Unfortunately, three of our most popular socializing times are Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’. All are in the cold winter months when we meet indoors. Many of his comments apply anytime you are gathering indoors with persons outside your household, including other family members and friends.

Some of the topics (Starts at 17 minutes after surge warnings)

  • Herd immunity plus example using an African wildebeest (antelope) herd. Understandable by everyone.
  • Vaccines. Excellent analysis from approval to the future.
  • Very good explanation of the PCR vs. antigen vs. antibody Covid tests. – Post-Covid syndrome – after the virus is gone. It can last for months—many problems.

Dr. Fauci: Surges – Don’t Give Up. Vaccine Approval Process. 11-23-20

11-23-20 Video and full transcript 12 minutes, 40 seconds. Judy Woodruff is an excellent interviewer. This interview is long enough to have more than one topic typically included in a news story video, which is very short. Topics include Surges – Don’t Give Up. Vaccine Approval Process

The headline is “Thanksgiving gatherings will put families at risk,” but this topic only lasts for the first four minutes. The recommendations apply to any time you are getting together, for any reason, from a surprise visit from an out of town friend to family events to large crowded events.

Unfortunately, three of our most popular socializing times are Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’, all are in the cold winter months when we usually meet indoors.

Youtube video – no transcript or comments

Link to video and full transcript – PBS Newshour. Note: Fauci is an excellent speaker. Seeing him is much better than reading a transcript. I tested this on myself. The transcript is useful if you want to be sure you remember what he said.

A few brief excerpts

“We don’t have to inevitably accept a dire situation, because it is within our power to do something about it.”

“The process of the decision of whether or not a vaccine is safe and effective… is made by an independent group of scientists, vaccinologists, ethicists, statisticians.

Covid: The Good The Bad and Some Humor!!

Humor:

Parody of the Song ‘Alexander Hamilton’ With Dr. Anthony Fauci as the Title Character One minute. It made me smile ;>

Fun Covid Risk Rating Chart.

The Good

Very effective vaccines will be available to many people by early winter. Phase I is for healthcare workers and others, next older people, and others. Note: the final decisions on what groups are in the phases have not been determined.

Proposed phases Who Gets The Corona Vaccine First 10-2-20

The Bad

The Bad: The pandemic is out of control everywhere, just like the 1908 Spanish flu in the fall. I live in the Bay Area, which has always had strict requirements. Everyone wears face masks and does social distancing but cases are going way up.

My Holiday season advice for this year:

Skip getting together this year. By this time next year, probably earlier, many of us will be vaccinated, especially older people at high risk.

Do not get together with anyone outside your household. That is what we are doing in my family. Of course, we have a scheduled big Zoom meet up with all of us!!

Do not celebrate with anyone who is high risk, such as older people.

Map of high risk U.S. counties, if you are traveling

Assume everyone, including yourself, has Covid, including family and friends. 50% of infected persons show no symptoms. I have been doing this since March.

Dr. Fauci says vaccine could be available to all by April

11-10-20, updated 11-17-20 Why has he changed his forecast from much later in 2121? Because with over 90% efficacy, many people will want to take the vaccines. The flu vaccines are 40-60% effective. Only about 50% of people get one. Covid is significantly more dangerous than the flu. Plus, the Covid vaccine could be available to all by April!

Return to Normalcy finally!!

Dr. Fauci has always said “cautiously optimistic” about vaccines. For the first time, he said “The results are really quite good, I mean extraordinary,”

Fauci has also said that Covid could remain a chronic problem, and face masks, distancing, etc., would still be needed for some time.

Several of the top vaccines now are mRNA. Moderna also has high efficacy. Both Pfizer and Moderna are expected to get FDA Emergency Use Authorization by the end of 2020. They are Genetic Vaccines that deliver one or more of the coronavirus’s own genes into our cells to provoke an immune response.

Click here to watch the 3 minute CNN video

Pfizer Vaccine over 90% effective – Fantastic news!!

This vaccine uses the same new messenger RNA technology as two of the other vaccines in late-stage clinical trials: Moderna and Novavax. They are Genetic Vaccines that deliver one or more of the coronavirus’s own genes into our cells to provoke an immune response. They will hopefully have similar efficacy so we will have three vaccines available. The other vaccines are based on existing dead vaccines. Pfizer Vaccine gives us hope for the future!

Return to Normalcy!

11-9-20 5 min. 18 seconds “How a COVID vaccine might work — and the challenges of distributing it” Video and transcript.

Excerpts: “We’re waiting for the independent review. The peer-reviewed science work is still unknown to us. But, assuming all of this bears out, this is an extraordinary number. This vaccine will easily get into the Hall of Fame batting .900 percent, 90 percent.

It’s stunning, actually. When you think about it, the typical flu vaccine, its efficacy is somewhere between 40 and 60 percent. But there’s still a lot of work to do here, obviously. We’re talking, in all, of 94 cases among tens of thousands, 94 cases of COVID.

Link to youtube video above (no ads and no transcripts)

PBS NewsHour video and full transcript

Distribution

Continue reading “Pfizer Vaccine over 90% effective – Fantastic news!!”

Pfizer CEO on vaccine – a “game-changer” for controlling COVID-19

With an over 90% effectiveness, the number of humans for the virus to infect will decline. We will get closer to “normal”. Of course, face masks, distancing, etc. will be required until the vaccine is fully distributed. The percent of people vaccinated is the key to success but will take a while.

Video and full transcript PBS Newshour 11-9-20 5 min. 33 seconds. Excerpts: …”over 90 percent effective in preventing COVID among volunteers who had no prior infection. The data hasn’t been published or reviewed by a medical journal yet, but Pfizer released it on November 9, 2020, with the hopes of getting approval for use in the weeks ahead.” Pfizer new vaccine data.

Youtube video (no transcript)

“We can produce approximately 50 million doses this year, approximately 1.3 billion doses next year in the U.S., we will have 12.5 million people that we can protect…. People that they are more likely to get the disease, like first-line workers, very sensitive population, et cetera.”

My comments:

Hearing about the vaccine directly from the Pfizer CEO is worthwhile to find out about the background. He is not a dynamic speaker but is understandable.

Over 90% effective is fantastic!! Flu is 40-60%, with an average of 50% with annual doses. Probably why the FDA said 50% minimum. Measles is 97% effective with one dose in childhood. Half the doses are available in the U.S. The other half are in Europe as Pfizer’s partner is BioNTech, a German company. Return to Normalcy!

Continue reading “Pfizer CEO on vaccine – a “game-changer” for controlling COVID-19″

Excellent Illustrations of Covid spreading indoors

This analysis has some of the best illustrations I have seen, using a living room, a bar, and a classroom.

One time examples, such as the church choir in Seattle or infections in bars, are useful. But we are a visual species. Illustrations and animations can help understand what is happening.

Spanish paper El Pais ran various simulations using the Covid Airborne Transmission Estimator developed by scientists from the University of Colorado. Excellent Illustrations of Covid spreading indoors.

A few excerpts:
Irrespective of whether safe distances are maintained, if the six people spend four hours together talking loudly, without wearing a face mask in a room with no ventilation, five will become infected, according to the scientific model explained in the methodology.

The infection risk drops to below one when the group uses face masks, shortens the length of the gathering by half, and ventilates the space used.

If two hours are spent in the classroom with an infected teacher and 20 students, without taking any measures to counter the number of aerosols, there is the risk that up to 12 students could become infected.

To watch the Excellent Illustrations of Covid spreading indoors, translated into English, click here.

Good article about the illustrations

New CDC guidance on 15 minutes of intermittent COVID exposure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has new guidance clarifying what exactly “close contact” means when it comes to transmission of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The previous guidance suggested that a close contact occurred when a person was within six feet of an infectious individual for 15 consecutive minutes. The New CDC guidance on 15 minutes of COVID exposure acknowledges that even brief contact can lead to transmission.

Specifically, the new guidance suggests that those spending a total of 15 minutes of contact with an infectious person throughout a 24-hour period should be considered in close contact.

Despite the change, most public health professionals have been clear for months that there is nothing magic about six feet. In the same way, there is nothing magic about 15 minutes. These should be used as rough estimates to indicate the types of contact that are relatively higher risk.

October 30, 2020, CDC report, COVID-19 in a Correctional Facility Employee Following Multiple Brief Exposures to Persons with COVID-19 — Vermont, July–August 2020 Click here to read the report Note: the report can be difficult to read but worthwhile. Paragraphs are too long with too much information.

Link to a good PBS article with links

Note: Ryan Malosh, an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan, wrote this article. He allows free reprinting of the article.

Continue reading “New CDC guidance on 15 minutes of intermittent COVID exposure”

How face masks work: excellent animations

Watch the best visualization of the filtering capabilities of face masks at the microscopic level I have seen. You can scroll through the animations. Less than 5 minutes is required. There are references for more information.

With these animations, you can see how cotton and n95 mask filtering works. For example, you can see the smallest particles being bounced around by air molecules in a random zig-zag pattern, increasing the time they spend in the fiber forest and their chances of getting captured.

Tightly woven cotton outperforms most common fabrics. A nonwoven material like that of an N95 respirator is most effective.

Humans are visual. We can more easily understand if we can see something. But, the virus-containing particles are too small for us to see, even with a standard microscope. Now you can see the particles being trapped in cotton vs n95. How face masks work: excellent animations

I always assume everyone, including myself, has Covid, including family and friends. 50% of infected persons show no symptoms.

To watch the animation, click here

Continue reading “How face masks work: excellent animations”

Observational vs. Experimental Covid research – what’s the difference?

I prefer experimental research, where you collect data and analyze it. I was trained in science, starting high school. Observational vs. Experimental Covid research – what’s the difference?

Observational research

This type of research uses several different types of non-experimental studies where behavior is systematically observed and recorded. The goal of observational research is to describe a variable or set of variables. Many Covid research studies are observational.  Over 200,000 people have died, and we need analysis and information as fast as we can get it. There is not enough time to set up experimental research. Observational research can help until there is time for experimental research.

The CDC research study, on 15 minutes of intermittent exposure was observational. The study had only one person. A prison guard interacted with infected prisoners over a specified period of time.

My blog post A home is not always safe from Covid-19 had a study where infected persons and their household members were tested over a period of time. There was significant virus transmission among household members.

Another widely quoted example of observational research on airborne transmission was a crowded choir practice in Seattle in a small room with no masks or social distancing. Other indoor choir practices were not analyzed, such as the effect of face masks and physical distancing.

Experimental research

This research is a scientific approach. One or more independent variables are manipulated and applied to one or more dependent variables to measure their effect on the latter.

For Covid, the vaccine trials are experimental: one group gets the vaccine, the other receives a placebo (saline solution). The research is double-blind: no one knows which one they receive. Observational vs. Experimental Covid research – what’s the difference?

Experimental vs. observational research

Continue reading “Observational vs. Experimental Covid research – what’s the difference?”

A home is not always safe from Covid-19

From the first stay at home recommendations in March, we assumed that we were safe at home. We knew that Covid-19 transmission occurs within households. However, transmission estimates varied widely, and the data on transmission from children was limited. This CDC study shows that A home is not always safe from Covid-19.

Covid-19 (yellow) emerging from cells after attack

The research, part of an ongoing CDC-supported study, followed 101 people initially infected with Covid-19. Locations were Nashville, Tennessee, and Marshfield, Wisconsin, between April and September 2020.

What is useful from this report?

A 53% household infection rate, the study said, is higher than what has been documented so far. To date, related research has reported only a 20% to 40% infection rate.

Findings from a prospective household study with intensive daily observation for equal or greater than 7 consecutive days indicate that transmission of Covid-19 among household members was frequent from either children or adults.

Asymptomatic transmission

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Fauci Update Holidays, Face masks, Vaccines, Herd Immunity

October 28, 2020. 28 minutes. Anthony S. Fauci, MD returns to JAMA’s Q&A series to discuss the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. See the topics and times below. One of the best Fauci interviews I have heard. Find out more detail than what you hear on the radio or TV news.

The full interview is worth listening to. Or, scroll through the video or audio recording to find you want. To read the many youtube comments, scroll down past the video list.

Topics: list and times

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:20 NAM Presidential Citation for Exemplary Leadership
  • 1:19 COVID-19 numbers and excess deaths
  • 4:05 National masking mandate
  • 5:55 How to get people to accept masking
  • 7:07 Herd Immunity and the Great Barrington Declaration
  • 9:51 The holidays and airplane travel
  • 13:44 Therapies update
  • 17:54 Vaccines update
  • 20:08 Vaccine distribution
  • 22:00 Vaccine safety
  • 24:42 How Australia has dealt with COVID-19 spikes
  • 27:00 Acknowledgements and baseball

Audio podcast recording link

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What Virus causes the disease COVID-19?

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes Covid-19. A virus is genetic material contained within an organic particle that invades living cells and uses their host’s metabolic processes to produce a new generation of viral particles. What Virus causes the disease COVID-19? Coronavirus, Novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19 What are the definitions?

How big are viruses?

The size of a single human hair is comparable to the size of as little as 400 SARS-CoV-2 particles to as many as 1,000 particles.

Virus sizes vary from the extremely minuscule – 17 nanometre wide Porcine Circovirus, for example – to monsters that challenge the very definition of ‘virus’, such as the 2.3 micrometer Tupanvirus.

How much smaller are most viruses in comparison to bacteria? Much smaller. With a diameter of 220 nanometers, the measles virus is about 8 times smaller than E.coli bacteria

Are viruses living or not?

For about 100 years, the scientific community has repeatedly changed its collective mind over what viruses are.

First seen as poisons, then as life-forms, then biological chemicals. Viruses today are thought of as being in a gray area between living and nonliving. They cannot replicate on their own, but can do so in truly living cells and can also affect the behavior of their hosts profoundly.

Some say it’s more accurate to think of viruses as part of the continuum between chemistry and biology, one that isn’t clearly divided into living and non-living.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-viruses-alive-2004/

When could we first see viruses?
Electron microscopes were invented in the 1930s. For the first time, we could see what viruses looked like, such as the H1N1 virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu.

Where did the word virus come from?
The word virus comes from a Latin word describing poisonous liquids. This is because early forms of isolating and imaging microbes couldn’t capture such tiny particles.

Resources, including good Covid short videos

Continue reading “What Virus causes the disease COVID-19?”

National Mandatory Face Masks Can Prevent Covid-19 From Spreading

If the virus cannot get inside our lungs, it cannot infect us. The primary method of transmission is by human breathing. It is a respiratory virus. The virus is not alive. It is inert and “driven” to reproduce by spreading among humans. As fewer humans are available to infect, spreading will decline. It “waits” for us to give it an opportunity to spread. National Mandatory Face Masks Keep Covid-19 From Spreading.

Compared with other viruses, not many people
die from Covid, about 0.6%. The flu is about 0.01%. If more people died, we would be much more willing to wear face masks, avoid crowded interiors, etc. We are very lucky that a relatively low percentage of people die with Covid. The death rate for the 1918 Spanish Flu was 6.5%. SARS was 10%.

ANOTHER PRIMARY REASON: FACE MASKS OR SHUTDOWNS. WHICH IS WORSE?

ASSUME EVERYONE IS INFECTED, INCLUDING YOURSELF, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS.
50% have no symptoms and don’t know they are infected.

Face Masks keep the virus from spreading and primarily keep other people safe if you are infected. Face Masks can protect you from infected people coughing and sneezing in your face.

Fall/winter surges is not new. They occurred in the 1919 Spanish Flu and is currently happening in Europe.

We are all waiting for a vaccine or multiple vaccines to become available. We will still need to wear face masks. Vaccines will not be available to everyone until mid- or late 2121. The transmission will decline as more people are vaccinated. The virus will probably always be around, such the flu viruses.  

Not everyone will be protected by a vaccine. We will still need to wear face masks. The measles vaccine is 97% effective with two doses. The flu vaccine is about 50% effective. If 100 people get Covid vaccine shots that are 50% effective, 50 will not be immune. If 50% of 100 people refuse to take the vaccine, 50 people will not be immune. That does not leave many that are resistant to infection.

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Don’t Mess With Dr. Fauci!

Fauci on his media restrictions, Trump contracting COVID, masks, White House superspreader event, death threats, and more. Don’t Mess With Dr. Fauci!

In a wide-ranging 60 Minutes interview on October 18, 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci expresses his frustration with a Trump campaign ad. He explains why, early in the pandemic, masks were largely recommended for health care workers; and says that he plans to vote in person.

The episode included videos from a previous 60 Minutes interview 4 years ago, including his vaccine lab.

Watch this video!! To listen to the 13 min. 28 second interview click here Worth waiting for 30 second ad to finish.

My comments:

Continue reading “Don’t Mess With Dr. Fauci!”

Overweight Covid Risk Get your BMI to find out!

More than one-third of adults in the United States are obese. In the United States, 36.5 percent of adults are obese. Another 32.5 percent of American adults are overweight. In all, more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. Now, CDC says there is overweight Covid Risk. Before it was just obese.

Click here  for more info and a BMI (Body Mass Index) online calculator Source: CDC
There is also an iphone app “NIH BMI Calculator”. Simple and easy to use.

Obesity and Overweight COVID-19 Risks Podcast 25 minutes Oct. 15, 2020

Continue reading “Overweight Covid Risk Get your BMI to find out!”

States required to submit Covid-19 draft distribution plans by Oct. 16, 2020

The CDC required that states submit their draft plans for vaccine distribution by October 16, 2020. I have no idea how the states could do that reliably as to who gets the vaccine is uncertain. For example, do healthcare workers include nursing home workers and hospital janitors? The final national distribution report from experts was not available until Oct. 2.

The recent report on vaccine distribution came out Oct. 2. Link to my post on Oct. 2 final report on Covid vaccine distribution. The primary candidates for approval (using mRNA, a new technology) require vaccine storage at below 94 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Pfizer’s vaccine requires special ultra-low temperature freezers that can store the vaccine at minus-328 degrees. Also, all require two vaccine doses, very complicated.

For those reasons (vaccine storage and 2 doses) and other reasons, Phase 1a in the new report above gives the vaccine to health care workers and first responders. They have jobs, can be tracked for the second dose, and can get both doses at their places of employment.

What is your state’s plan?

Continue reading “States required to submit Covid-19 draft distribution plans by Oct. 16, 2020”