How the death rate is determined in a pandemic

My next-door neighbor died in his sleep awhile ago. The day before he was pruning his fruit trees. He had died in his bed. He was over 75 and had heart problems. We called the police. No investigation. No autopsy. His death was recorded in public records as a heart attack.

But when pandemics are surging, such as in New York and Italy, people die in their homes or on the way to the hospital. Hospitals were overwhelmed. We did not know much then about Covid-19. Sometimes deaths were not recorded as due to Covid-19.

There have been issues in the past about how the cause of death is estimated. For example, suicide, which many families don’t want recorded. Or AIDS, when the epidemic was very strong. In some rural areas, for example, the coroner is not a physician and maybe a funeral director or other occupation. For Covid, people who died tended to have serious pre-existing conditions, which can make selecting one specific cause of death difficult.

Continue reading “How the death rate is determined in a pandemic”

Who gets the vaccine first? Discussion Draft Released with 4 Phases 9-1-20

When we hear about vaccines one of our first questions is “Who will get it first?There are many, many issues. This Discussion Draft will give everyone somewhere to start in trying to decide who gets it. 4 Phases of distribution are proposed. See below.

Update 10-15-20 New report, Framework for Equitable Allocation of a COVID-19 Vaccine, done by the same committee, with lots more detail, dated 10-2-20 Click here to read.

“Discussion Draft of the Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine” was released on September 1.

Table of the 4 Phases
Scroll down to read more details


The committee’s final report is expected early this fall, after input from the public and other interested parties.

There are many uncertainties affecting COVID-19 vaccine allocation, such as the number and timing of available vaccine doses, number of available vaccine types, vaccine efficacy and safety, vaccine uptake, and vaccine distribution and administration.

Continue reading “Who gets the vaccine first? Discussion Draft Released with 4 Phases 9-1-20”

Dr. Fauci is Back! Comments on deaths, schools, asymptomatic testing, etc. (VIDEO) 9-1-20

The interview is 5 min. 39 seconds. on 9-1-20 His “raspy” voice is gone (from too many interviews). Fauci took two weeks off to get vocal cord polyps removed.

Very good short interview. To watch the video, click here. 30-second of ads but worth waiting for the video. The transcript link is below the video on the right. The related extras link below goes to another recent Fauci interview.

Why does Fauci do so many interviews on Instagram, Facebook live, etc.?

Everyone wants to interview Dr.Fauci! But, his interviews have to be approved. They were restricted. Interviews on major news stations started declining significantly in early May.

Continue reading “Dr. Fauci is Back! Comments on deaths, schools, asymptomatic testing, etc. (VIDEO) 9-1-20”

Physical distancing – 3 ft. vs. 6 ft. vs. 13 ft. vs. ??? – new research

1-18-21 New Fun Video!!

We know now that airborne small particles are emitted whenever we breathe, speak, etc. We don’t have much data about how much, if any, Covid viruses are included in the airborne particles. There are many factors: outside vs. inside, crowded small rooms, etc. We know that measles can travel through the air (distances vary) and particles can remain in the air for several hours or longer.

Studies regularly cited are observational (for example, choir practice in a small room and many were infected) or airflow patterns in research labs. Fluid dynamic studies spraying particles to see how far they go. But there is no information about how far viruses can travel in the air. An air sampling study published in late July in hospitals found that Covid was in the air particles in nearby rooms. In hospitals, Covid travels through the air, but the people are very sick and exhaling a lot of air.

Video image of cloud of airborne particles (21 to 24 feet) emitted by natural human violent emission such as a sneeze, From The BMJ article referenced below.

The WHO’s original three-foot guideline followed some of the earliest research into how diseases spread. In the 1930s, Harvard researcher William F. Wells measured how far large exhaled droplets traveled and arrived at the three-feet figure. Click the Continue reading link below for more information on the new research study and an excellent Risk Table.

Continue reading “Physical distancing – 3 ft. vs. 6 ft. vs. 13 ft. vs. ??? – new research”

Coronavirus, Novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19 What are the definitions?

The new virus was identified as a coronavirus by Chinese scientists in December 2020. The virus was labeled “novel” because it has never infected humans. It has probably been around for some time in animals, possibly bats. Since December, 2020, the terminology has changed. Coronavirus, Novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19 What are the definitions?

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. Seven coronaviruses can infect people.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. The total number of coronaviruses is not known. Bats can host thousands of types without getting sick.

Coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve and make people sick and become a new human coronavirus. The virus can cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Three recent examples of this are SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV, (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) and the most recent: SARS-CoV-2

How SARS-CoV-2 was named

This new coronavirus is similar to SARS-CoV. The virus was named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses on February 11. It was discovered in 2019.

The disease caused by the virus was named COVID-19 (COronVIrusDisease-2019) by WHO on Feb. 11.

For more information on SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV see the August 23 post below: Previous epidemics and pandemics

Preprint vs. peer-reviewed scientific research papers. What is the difference?

Before the pandemic, academic researchers submitted their research to scientific journals and their peers reviewed them. To get ahead in their careers “publish or perish” was needed. Few preprint scientific research papers were done They are needed now for the COVID pandemic.

COVID is a pandemic now. People are dying all over the world. Scientists can’t wait to have a study published to find out about new ideas about therapies (treatments), vaccines, Covid and how it works, etc.

What is a preprint?

Continue reading “Preprint vs. peer-reviewed scientific research papers. What is the difference?”

1918 Spanish flu documentary (Video)

56 minutes. This fascinating PBS documentary “Influenza 1918” was first available in January, 1998 and was re-issued in March, 2020.

Dr. Fauci, in his “normal” non-raspy voice, speaks several times in the section on what scientists were doing in 1998 and his hopes for the future.

The film takes viewers back to September of 1918, when soldiers at an army base near Boston suddenly began to die. The cause of death was identified as influenza, but it was unlike any strain ever seen.

The film includes interviews from survivors of the flu in different parts of the county. Many people died, including entire families.

There is a  “mystery” story of how the virus genome was finally completed around 1995. It starts with a young Swedish virologist who went to a small Alaskan village in the 1950s and retrieved samples from people who died and buried frozen in the permafrost. To read about the “Mystery” story of how the genome was decoded “Scientific Investigation of the 1918 Flu” click here

50 million deaths worldwide. 675,000 Americans died. The U.S. population at that time was 103,268,000. The death rate was 6.5%. Mass graves were used.

My comments: The film is not about today’s political issues. It was produced in 1998. I watched it in mid-March when it first became available. I recently re-watched it. The film is even more relevant today as it helps us understand our last U.S. pandemic. Similar to New York in March, there were mass graves, many people in hospitals, large crowded events, etc.

Click here watch on youtube Also available on Amazon Prime

Many of the issues in 1918 are relevant today. There was denial, failure to wear masks, crowds, no physical distancing. Of course, back then no one knew what caused it. We did not know about viruses until the electron microscope was invented in the 1930s and we could see them.

To watch another popular video, Deadliest Plague of the 20th Century: Flu of 1918, click here.

Previous epidemics and pandemics from today to 5,000 B.C.

(Updated 9-14-20) Most of the recent pandemic and academic viruses are influenza (flu) coronaviruses, as you can see below. They mutate into different versions. Fortunately, Covid-19 does not appear to mutate very much, so far.

Every epidemiologist’s nightmare was a respiratory virus pandemic. Now we have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which is similar to the 1918 Spanish flu, our last pandemic.

“The virus met all his four criteria for a nightmare scenario” Per Dr. Anthony Fauci: new, respiratory-borne, easily transmissible and has a significant degree of illness or mortality.”

Electron microscope view

1918 Spanish flu (H1N1 influenza coronavirus) was a “novel” (new) coronavirus. No human had ever been infected. The most recent U.S. pandemic. The avian-borne flu resulted in 500 million infected and 50 million deaths worldwide, from February 1918 to April 1920. 675,000 Americans died. The U.S. population at that time was 103,268,000. The death rate was 6.5%.

The Spanish flu disappeared when most of the infected had either developed immunities or died (herd immunity). Many of the deaths were people in their 20s to 40s, very unusual, which had a significant negative effect on America. Covid mostly affects older people, especially over 80 and has a much lower death rate, .6 to 1.0%. 

1957 Asian flu (H3N2 influenza, combination of other coronaviruses) caused an estimated total of about 1.1 million deaths globally, with 116,000 deaths in the United States. A vaccine was developed, effectively containing the pandemic.

Continue reading “Previous epidemics and pandemics from today to 5,000 B.C.”

Why what scientists say about COVID keeps changing

SARS-Cov-19, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, is a new (novel) coronavirus. No human had ever been infected by the virus.

Scientists looked at other recent coronaviruses, such as SARS, MERS, swine flu, and influenza viruses to help them understand COVID-19. Scientists are learning more daily, even hourly.

Scientific research is shared openly and is transparent. For COVID this means new results can change what we understand about it.

Sometimes what was reliable last week may be wrong this week. We will know a lot more in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, etc. But, recommendations had to be made early in the pandemic, based on the viruses we knew about.

Comparing Covid to seasonal influenza (flu)

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SARS-CoV-19, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, is a very efficient virus

Viruses are not alive. Their only reason for existing is to reproduce and spread to as many hosts as possible. All viruses mutate. Some mutations are very successful. See below,

1-25-21 UPDATE: Virus Mutations (variants)

Preliminary research suggests the United Kingdom Covid mutation (variant) makes the SARS-CoV-2 virus is over 50% transmissible. Per Dr. Fauci, it may cause more deaths. We don’t know where it is spreading in the U.S. due to a lack of genomic surveillance to identify what was causing people to get infected“original” Covid or a variant.

1-18-21 Excellent podcast What You Need to Know About the Variants 49 minutes, but worth the time. The best variant interview I have ever heard. Understandable and very well done. “So-called” UK and South African variants with virologist Angela Rasmussen and evolutionary biologist Paul Turner.

In the United Kingdom, about 10% of the virus samples from infected persons are genetically sequenced. In the U.S., about 0.3% of virus samples are sequenced. Biden plans on increasing this.

This is a new (novel) type of coronavirus. Humans have no immunity. Every human can be infected. We do not yet know if any of us has “natural” immunity (cannot get infected).

The virus kills a relatively low percentage of people (estimated around 1%), compared with Ebola at 50%. About 6.5% died in the 1908 Spanish flu.

With Covid, more people are left alive to infect. It is easily transmitted through the air (respiratory), much more efficient than requiring close physical contact (Ebola), and mostly kills old people, especially over 80. More younger humans are left alive to infect.

About 50% (estimate has varied over time) of people infected with the virus have no symptoms (asymptomatic) and can spread the virus. This is unusual for a virus and greatly increases its ability to expand into many humans.

Emerging research suggests that people may actually be most contagious during the 48 hours before they start to experience symptoms. It can take between 1-14 days for COVID symptoms to show up. More time for infected people to spread the virus and infect others.

It “waits” for humans to help it expand by leaving their homes, not using face masks or doing physical distancing, crowding inside rooms with lots of unmasked people and poor ventilation, not washing hands, etc.

If you are infected no one knows if you will be immune or for how long. Some viruses, such as in the seasonal flu, regularly mutate, so humans have relativity short immunity time.

On the plus side, it is a “starter” virus, much less deadly than SARS, with a 10% death rate or Ebola at 40%. It is less contagious than measles, which has very tiny droplets, that can remain suspended in the air for up to two hours after someone with measles has left an area.

Covid Airborne Transmission Inside Homes (Podcast)

Note from all the experts: We don’t know much yet about how the virus is transmitted.

Podcast (16 minutes) “Open the Window: Talking about Airborne Transmission”

“Can the novel coronavirus be spread through the air? And if so, what can we do to make sure the air inside our homes and buildings is as clean as possible? Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks with Joseph Allen, Director of the Healthy Buildings program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, about the science behind airborne transmission.”

A very good, understandable and interesting, discussion by an expert from many angles, focusing on homes. But also discusses schools. Starts with tenement housing many years ago, which often lacked windows, and what was done to provide windows. I see many older apartment buildings, pre-1940, built with small “air vents” in the middle of the building providing ventilation.

On CNN Fact vs. Fiction with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. One of my favorite Covid podcasts. To listen to the Podcast Click here

Fauci Talks About Vaccines, Treatments, School Safety

8-20-20 Video 61 minutes Dr. Anthony Fauci continues to be cautiously optimistic that the United States will know if there’s an effective, safe vaccine around the end of 2020 or the start of 2021.

Excerpts below from Healthline’s information on the town hall.

Multiple vaccine candidates are now being evaluated in phase III trials to ensure they’re safe and effective.

Fauci also touched on major challenges in the fight against COVID-19, pointing out that contact tracing in the United States is still not where it needs to be.

The conversation, which was moderated by Healthline’s Medical Affairs Director Dr. Elaine Hanh Le, dug into how COVID-19 has affected mental health, child care and schools, and frontline workers.

The experts also explored the most effective treatments being used against the new coronavirus along with what to expect in regard to future treatments and a vaccine. will know if there’s an effective, safe vaccine around the end of 2020 or the start of 2021

To watch the 61-minute event Click Here

Fauci is speaking from 15 min. to 33 min. and then does a Q and A discussion with two panelists.

For information on the speakers, Healthline (the sponsor), and more information on what was discussed Click Here

The Fauci Tracker Update 1-22-21

Many thanks, Dr. Fauci, for speaking the truth for the past year, when there was so much dis-information. I encouraged everyone to listen to you. You can speak about what is important much better than I can write about it!

Biden is president and Dr. Fauci can speak directly to us from the White House. I don’t need to compile this Fauci Tracker any more!!

After Sparring With Trump, Fauci Said the Biden Administration Feels ‘Liberating’

I started this Tracker to let people know when he was speaking and post the videos here. He became the most trusted source for Covid info and spoke the truth. He was hard to find online. Dr. Fauci was restricted on where he could be interviewed.

He is an “insider” who is a Special Advisor the President Biden, does Covid vaccine research in his lab and is a practicing physician. Fauci explains topics so everyone can understand what is happening now and his forecasts for the future.

I will continue to post Fauci humorous videos. We all need something that makes us laugh!!! I will update my list below when posting these plus interviews that are well done, with experienced interviewers.

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

Read more

Fauci: The Bottom line is, I’m not pleased with how things are going

Speaking at the National Geographic panel on Stopping Pandemics 8-13-20 Video 1 hour 13 minutes

Excerpts: U.S. public health officials are beginning to see a “disturbing” uptick in the rate of coronavirus tests that come back positive in some regions of the nation”, Fauci said.

“We certainly are not where I hoped we would be, we are in the middle of very serious historic pandemic.”

To listen to excerpts of Fauci’s speech on opening safely, reopening schools, and voter safety, plus read transcript Click Here . Scroll down the page to see each section of his speech.

To listen to the full panel (1 hour 13 min.) Click here (Fauci is at the beginning, starting at 4 minutes) Fauci, the featured presenter, speaks for 29 minutes.

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, a self-employed real estate appraiser since 1986. I have two appraisal newsletters, where I started writing about Covid in February 2000.

My first job after college (studied biology and chemistry) in 1966 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. That is also how I write about Covid-19.

I am compelled to write about Covid-19. I want to help people. I started my appraisal newsletters to help appraisers. This is my first science writing and is taking a lot of my time. I will be so glad when the pandemic is over, and I don’t have to write about it anymore!!

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

Continue reading “About Ann O’Rourke, the author of this blog”

Parody of the Song ‘Alexander Hamilton’ With Dr. Anthony Fauci as the Title Character

Just for Fun!! Only 1 minute long!

Published 7-23-20

Excerpt: Vocalist Scott Hoying of the a cappella band Pentatonix performed a brilliant parody of the song “Alexander Hamilton” from the incredibly popular musical Hamilton.

The parody substitutes the original lyrics with the name, accomplishments, and expertise of acclaimed immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci. It also quite appropriately poses the question “why aren’t we listening to him?”. Hoying wrote the song along with comedy writers Brad Silnutzer and Joey Orton.

My name is Doctor Anthony Fauci and there are a million things I haven’t cured, but just you wait, just you wait. Just one quote from Parody of the Song ‘Alexander Hamilton’ With Dr. Fauci.

To view the fun video, click here

My comments: I am a Big Fan of Fauci, but he does tend to be a bit serious when speaking… Finally some humor plus some unexpected fotos. 359,221 views. Warning: Mentions Trump very briefly. I can’t always be NPA (No Politics Allowed) ;> Fauci is also NPA.