COVID-19 in Geneva, less than 11% have been infected

Université de GenèveShare Print E-Mail

A study carried out among 2’766 people by the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, and the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, reveals that, at the time of the decline of the Coronavirus pandemic, only 10.8% of the Geneva population had been infected with Covid-19. Moreover, compared to adults between 20 and 50 years of age, children between 5 and 9 years of age are three times less likely to be infected and those over 65 years of age half as likely. These results were published in The Lancet.

Over the five weeks of the study – from 6 April to 9 May – the overall seroprevalence increased from about 5% to about 11% of the population. Taking into account the time for antibodies to be produced after symptoms (with a median of 10.4 days), the researchers estimated that for every confirmed case, there were approximately 12 actual infections in the community.

These results suggest that only a minority of the Geneva population has been infected during this pandemic wave, despite the high rate of COVID-19 cases identified during the acute phase of infection (1% of the population in less than 2 months).

Children and elderly less affected

Young children (5-9 years) and the elderly appear to have a much lower seroprevalence than other age groups. Indeed, only 1 in 123 children in this age group tested positive. However, further studies will be needed to better understand the dynamics of infection and of antibodies in children under 5 years of age, and to determine whether children, in addition to being generally less susceptible to Cov2-SARS, are also less severely affected.

The study also reveals a high concentration of infections within households. For example, despite the low seroprevalence of children, 17.1% of children had at least one household member who tested positive, which may suggest that children are infected by adults. On the other hand, only 3.0% of participants over 65 years of age had a household member that tested positive.

Furthermore, lower seroprevalence estimates among the elderly tend to confirm the effectiveness of partial containment measures. However, their ability to produce antibodies may be reduced due to age-related weakening of the immune system..

Protective measures have certainly contributed to the decline of the pandemic.

The preliminary results of this study provide an important benchmark for assessing the outbreak status. At the time when Switzerland appears to be reaching the end of its first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, only 1 in 10 people have developed antibodies to SARS CoV-2, despite the fact that Switzerland is one of the most affected countries in Europe. The results of this study – the largest population-based seroprevalence study to date – are consistent with preliminary reports from other teams around the world.

These results therefore underline that the decline of the epidemic may have taken place despite the fact that the vast majority of the population is not immune, which implies that other factors are at play.

The value of seroprevalence studies

Seroprevalence surveys based on the detection of specific immunoglobulin type G (IgG) are used to measure the proportion of the population that has ever been exposed to coronavirus. However, they do not provide any indication of full or partial immunity to coronavirus or of the duration of such immunity.

Seroprevalence surveys are nevertheless crucial for estimating the dynamics of the epidemic and for preparing the appropriate public health response. They are also more accurate than studies based on nasopharyngeal smears and RT-PCR tests, which are largely dependent on screening policies and miss people with mild or no symptoms, or who do not come for testing.

This general population seroprevalence study is ongoing and will be refined to take into account symptomatology and socio-demographic factors.

2’766 participants

The study was conducted among a representative sample of the Geneva population drawn from the participants of the Bus Santé study, an annual survey that examines the health of the population of the Canton of Geneva. From 6 April to 9 May 2020, sampled people were invited, together with their family members, for a blood test and a questionnaire. This sample consisted of 52.6% women and 47.2% men, and included 4.4% children between 5 and 9 years of age and 13.3% people over 65 years of age. A total of 2,766 people from 1,339 households took part.

The study was carried out by a team from the HUG and UNIGE under the direction of Professor Idris Guessous, Head of the HUG Primary Care Division and professor at the Department of Community Health and Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine, of Dr. Silvia Stringhini, epidemiologist in charge of the Population Epidemiology Unit at the HUG and Privat-Docent at the Faculty of Medicine, and of Professor Antoine Flahault, Director of the Institute of Global Health of the Faculty of Medicine. The study received support from Professor Laurent Kaiser’s Virology Laboratory and from the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, and was funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, the Swiss School of Public Health (Corona Immunitas programme), the Pictet Group’s Charity Foundation, the Fondation Ancrage, the Fondation Privée des HUG and the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases.

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From EurekAlert!

97 thoughts on “COVID-19 in Geneva, less than 11% have been infected

  1. 17.1% of children had at least one household member who tested positive, which may suggest that children are infected by adults.

    Or it means that schools were closed, contacts reduced and only the working parents had the possibility to infect them.

    • No. This is all about people being TESTED for infection. People were told to go get tested. So positives ROSE with the increase in testing. It’s why we have a bell curve. If you don’t test for something it isn’t there…statistically.

  2. …children between 5 and 9 years of age are three times less likely to be infected and those over 65 years of age half as likely…

    children over 65?

    😉

  3. Seems like the take home message here is:

    which implies that other factors are at play.

    Finally, recognition that the models are fundamentally inadequate to the point of not being fit for purpose.

    As has been clear to anyone with an inquiring mind, the lack of a resurgence of new cases as major countries unlock and get back to work is formal proof that this simplistic SEIR type models are not accounting for some fundamentally important factors in the actual , real world epidemic populations.

    The most likely inference seems to be some kind of wider immunity to corona viruses acquired through contact with other corona strains.

    • Occam’s Razor again. The most likely, simple, answer is in healthy people, their immune system(s) simple kill off the invader without taking note of how “novel” it is. Thus, no antibodies specific to Covid-19 are produced.

      For the metabolically ill (those that flunk a Kraft test), their immune system(s) are fighting chronic inflammation and related systemic inflammation caused diseases (comorbidity) and need as much of an immune system response as possible.

        • No. antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 are a correlate of immunity.
          B cells and T cells work together to clear the virus from the body. Antibodies come fro B cells and their highly differentiated daughter cells called plasma cells.
          The “other factors” are likely cross-reactive T cells to related beta-Corona viruses. Cross reactive then may allow/produce an asymptomatic infection in the host. In some people with high levels of X-reactive T cells, this may even stop the virus early before the immune system primes an IgG antibody production response.

      • I don’t think so. If someone’s immune system can fight off covid-19, then obviously they must have antibodies to it–else their immune system won’t take not of it at all, novel or otherwise. The antibody test is in fact rather non-specific, here’s what the CDC says (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/testing/serology-overview.html):

        “A positive test result shows you may have antibodies from an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, or possibly from infection with a related virus from the same family of viruses (called coronavirus), such as one that causes the common cold.”

        • No – there are two immune systems, the innate immune system that needs vitamins C and D and Zinc and Selenium for example. Just sufficiency in these is enough to prevent infection by viruses novel or not. If the innate immune system fails to protect sufficient cells the adaptive immune system comes into play as the infected cells signal their distress.
          What this study shows it that 80% of the population are innately immune. These people provided they continue to maintain their innate immune system will not get infected readily by SARS-CoV-2. The reason that the epidemiological models are all failing is that they discount or under estimate the innate immunity of the population.

          The members of the population that were not infected are not a group that is available for a second wave – they are immune. This is the reason that every nation is following the same curve of cases and there can be no second wave.

      • “These results therefore underline that the decline of the epidemic may have taken place despite the fact that the vast majority of the population is not immune, which implies that other factors are at play.”

        1. social distancing
        2. hand washing
        3. mask wearing.

        its not that hard.

        That’s why ~20 states are seeing a rise in cases.

        dumb fuckers dont know how to do simple shit

    • “Finally, recognition that the models are fundamentally inadequate to the point of not being fit for purpose.”

      has nothing to do with models.

      The models are fine. The inputs are uncertain.

      • Ha! you funny man.
        As Nic Lewis showed, models that assume a homogeneous susceptible population are likely junk.
        No amount of higher res inputs can fix bad assumptions built into in a model. A situation
        Very much like the junk GCMs. Bad assumptions not reflective of reality. No amount of input data can fix the Garbage Out result.

          • Nic approach and then conclusion:
            “With these settings, the progression of a COVID-19 epidemic projected by a standard SEIR model, in which all individuals have identical characteristics, is as shown in Figure 3. The HIT is reached once 58% of the population has been infected, and ultimately 88% of the population become infected.

            Likewise, susceptibility will vary with the strength of an individual’s immune system as well as with their social connectivity. I use unit-median lognormal distributions to reflect such social-connectivity unrelated variability in infectivity and susceptibility. Their standard deviations determine the strength of the factor they represent. I model an individual’s overall infectivity as the product of their common social-connectivity related factor and their unrelated infectivity-specific factor, and calculate their overall susceptibility in a corresponding manner.
            ….

            Conclusions
            Incorporating, in a reasonable manner,
            inhomogeneity in susceptibility and infectivity in a standard SEIR epidemiological model, rather than assuming a homogeneous population, causes a very major reduction in the herd immunity threshold, and also in the ultimate infection level if the epidemic thereafter follows an unconstrained path. “

            So…
            Trouble reading much there Mosh? Having a Biden moment?

            My take:
            We will see a HIT well below a homogeneous susceptible assumption, not for social connectivity differences, but from the fact that 30%-50% of various sub-populations have varying levels of pre-existing partial immunity from cross reactive Tcells as a result of non-SARS corona viruses. What I think k is going to be the ultimate conclusion several years from now in the literature is the predominance of these x-reactive T-cells will be from a previous non-SARS “seasonal cold” corona virus infection. Eventually SARS-2 virus will itself become a 5th circulating seasonal cold virus as well.

          • For the slow folks I try to explain it this way.

            You’re financial planner tells you that your 1 million dollar nest egg
            will be worth 100K, when you are 65

            IF INFLATION is 2%.

            There is NOTHING WRONG with his MODEL.

            The math is the math.

            What is uncertain is NOT the application of the math of inflation to my nest egg.
            what is UNCERTAIN is the ASSUMPTION ABOUT INFLATION.

        • The climate models are just fine; it is the climate inputes that are unceretain 🙂

      • The models are simplistic to the point of banal. Plus, as you accurately point out, the data is garbage.

      • The building is great – it’s just that the bricks and mortar are of extremely poor quality

    • 1. Not models are SEIR models

      if you want to see a bad model
      go here

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/03/13/the-math-of-epidemics/

      funny

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/03/13/the-math-of-epidemics/#comment-2937124

      “As has been clear to anyone with an inquiring mind, the lack of a resurgence of new cases as major countries unlock ”

      lack of resurgence?

      1. you missed signapore
      2. you missed our current surge in Korea
      3. you missed iran

      Here. USA
      https://rt.live/

      • I didn’t miss those locales, just chose to ignore them. Big difference. You see, like you I’ve been to those places, but I comprehend how they differ from the USA.

  4. That seems a surprisingly low rate of infection for older people. We were led by several sources to believe that the older people were at much higher risk than the middle-aged. Perhaps this points to my suspicion that most of those elderly people who died had very severe underlying health issues from which they would have died without this virus. Surely someone with a very severe different health problem would have been greatly additionally affected by virus-caused breathing issues. There has been considerable discussing comparing those who died with the virus compared with those who died because of the virus. Perhaps this data indicates that by far the majority of them died with the virus rather than because of it. As a healthy 82-year-old male, I would welcome that finding!

    • My anectdotal input doesn’t help to ease worries. I work at a nursing home and despite the best efforts of nursing staff (isolation of known cases, intense concentration on hygiene measures) once in our building, Covid spread rapidly. Lack of PPE and staff testing combined with the fact that there are many asymptomatic cases no doubt were factors in the spread. Our residents had an average age of 87 and almost all had health issues such as diabetes or heart disease. Of course some residents would have died with or without Covid, but we had as many deaths in six weeks as we normally have in a year.

        • Not one mention of zinc. Maybe in Texas City they have enough in their diets if they eat seafood.

          • Gee, Steven, you don’t have to defend the establishment all the time. They can be wrong sometimes. You never miss an opportunity to lampoon sceptics (we can take it) but you used to be more intelligent and informative in your parries and took on more meaty issues.

            You actually were a sceptic and a superior one a decade or so ago. Now you are hard to differentiate from the garden variety, dyed-in-the wool “progressive” foot soldiers sent to WUWT to spout talking points and centrally prepared links from Tamino, Gavin and other useful idjits that they didn’teven read. Reread your last two offerings and ask what you’d respond if they weren’t your very own.

            Re HCQ, D,C, Zn… why not be a devil and go ahead and actually read these facebook/twitter -censored subjects. Did you know Dr. Zelenko in NY treated 700 patients many of whom were elderly, with great success. Now this may not be quality data generated by double-blind, placebo conrol type studies. But we could sample his patients for antibodies for Covid as a reasonably good check and we should do this (a good sceptic doesn’t buy anything on faith alone).

          • Gary . not defending anything

            QUESTIONING ALL CONCLUSIONS DRAWN WHERE THERE IS NO PUBLISHED DATA

            GET
            THAT
            THROUGH
            YOUR
            HEAD

          • Steven, these days, I’m certain that “published” and “data” aren’t in themselves carte blanche, unerring guides for you. I give you considerably more credit than that. These, indeed, are the only things that have attracted thinking sceptics into climate (and other) controversy.

            I sort of know you in the blog interface from about a decade and a half of commenting am certain you don’t let politics be a factor in your thinking on a technical issue. You do appear to be silent, though, on confronting even the most off-the-wall stuff from consensus science that seems to be waxing strongly (a feeling of the end of days?) the last few years. It seems you only feel comfortable now ridiculing sceptics – be ny guest, but you know…

          • to Steven Mosher
            June 14, 2020 at 8:27 pm

            You mean published data like the Lancet and New England Journals that they have had to withdraw Steven?
            Ever heard of confirmation bias? It makes you very easy to fool with a paper that seems to support your position.
            Unfortunately, in this case it seems to have resulted in people dying unnecessarily.

            Some in the medical ‘profession’ need to have a close look in the mirror sometime. Those who are trying to save patients’ lives have a different attitude to those designing trials for a treatment that will challenge the vaccine they are developing.

    • Well no. Older people have a greater chance of dying from it.

      I suspect “the models” have a very crude model for infection, probably equal chance for all, maybe proportional to popualtion density. Does anyone know?

      • In AB ~150 deaths, average age 83 (life expectancy 82 so the virus is picking off those who beat the odds), and only 7 of those had no known underlying factors ( could be unknown ones).

        Virus eats the old

        • And most of those old gfolks, when they died, would have the cause listed as pneumonia.

          When you’re old, break a hip in a fall and you are sent to hospital where you die of pneumonia.

          My one-lunged sister was a lung cancer surivor and went to hospital for an operation to remove a painful bone growth on her foot. She caught pneumonia and almost died. She survived.

          I am not suggesting hospitals give you pneumonia but they are full of old, sick or infectious people. mayber, rather than rethink the police, we should rethink hospitals – spital being the operative word here I believe.

    • My thoughts have been along those lines all along. There has been much talk by the UK government (for whatever reason of its own) about protecting the elderly AND those with existing health problems. I have consistently argued that removing the words “and those” would be nearer the reality. And for a second option try removing the words “elderly and” instead.

      This virus has predominantly attacked those with diabetes, obesity, heart and/or lung conditions and Vitamin D deficiency. The fact that the older we get the more likely we are to have one or more of these conditions is no excuse for claiming that everyone over 70 should be wrapped in cotton wool and put in a drawer for six months. (Along with the Christmas decorations!).

      Nor that my grand-daughter — whose life is likely to be of considerably greater benefit to mankind than mine can be in the few years I (may) have left — should have her education interrupted to the possible long-term detriment of her life chances on the off chance that she might catch a nasty cold. Which at her age is all it is likely to be!

    • ” As a healthy 82-year-old male, I would welcome that finding!”

      you’re toast if you catch it. about a 20% mortality rate

      wash your hands, dont touch your face, wear a mask and stay clear of crowded confined spaces with poor ventilation.

      • That’s an extraordinarily, rude and ignorant thing to say. Provide the data that show older people in good health succumb to this disease in great numbers.

        • What do you expect from him?

          He’s a rude, opinionated person that is wrong more often than not. He can’t take the time to construct meaningful thoughts and he rarely uses proper English grammar.

          If he disagrees with you about something, you’re probably on the right track.

        • As an older person (not quite 82, though), I don’t see anything rude in Mosher’s response, any more than I would have found Churchill’s warnings about the Nazis or Communists to be rude. I think you’re too touchy.

          • Well, rude or not, Mr. Mosher is completely off base.

            There is no reason to be cavalier certainly, so use common sense and take precautions, but there are plenty of reasons to enjoy life.

            First, depending on circumstances, the chance that one will catch the disease at this point is minuscule. Second, the existence of comorbidities is a bigger factor than age, although of course older people tend to have more of these.

            The survival rate of a healthy 80 year old is closer to 99% than 80%, and in addition, for a variety of reasons, this disease is becoming less deadly on average.

      • “Your toast if you catch it”. Not true. The data from my province shows that the average age of COVID deaths is 83. Of this 90% have two or more co-morbid conditions.

        Virus or no, there is already a fairly high mortality associated with being over 80 with multiple co-morbid conditions. People in this group usually succumb to a respiratory infection. They are not reporting deaths from other respiratory infections in the daily news, but if they were, you might be surprised to learn they continue to occur. In fact, if cancer or cardio-vascular issues don’t kill, chances are it will be one of many different viruses.

        It must be awful to live in fear of life itself.

    • Older people are at higher risk once they do get infected. Rate of infection is dependent on exposure.

    • Mike: Also, as another healthy (truly grateful for all that made this possible) 82 year old, I think a revisit to the excellent Princess Cruise Ship experiment would confirm this finding regarding elderly folk. Despite being locked up in this boat and being served by crew members who were infected before they realized it, very few fell ill and few died.

      Generally, it’s safe to say, that these elderly travellers are a sample of healthy old folk. The ravaging of old folk homes where assisted living care is required were proof of the corollary.

    • Swiss elderly probably are likely much more healthy than many other countries. Especially compared to the US.

      • I believe you can bank on a Swiss study, too, it will be like their watches. I worked there for about a year and a half in the early 1960s. They were a severe, no nonsense people. 70-80 year olds skied on the mountain and hiked in the summer. It took virtually a year for an outsider to break the ice socially.

        I can’t believe they have succumbed to the brainless flood from the left side of the bell curve into their universities for which they had to create fill-in-the-blank “Studies” faculties to accommodate designer brains to suit up for the war against common sense.

  5. This is an interesting study, with a lot of potential for speculation as to why the statistics appear to have some variance from prevailing wisdom. Scientists shouldn’t speculate too much, but here goes anyway. Switzerland, especially the Geneva zone, is made up of a higher standard of living population than the average in the European Union, which surrounds them (Switzerland is itself not part of the EU). The data might suggest that following protocols result in a much lower viral load and that the infections need persons in more direct contact with the carrier, so the middle-aged persons, the most interactive throughout the community (back and forth to work, staffing hospitals, service calls, etc) get enough viral load to advance an infection and develop the antibody signature. All along I have considered quarantine to be forced protocol for those not naturally inclined to follow (future) safety protocol. Stay sane (played golf yesterday-yahoo!) and safe.

    • Participants considered vulnerable according to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health criteria (aged >65 years, with diabetes or cardiovascular or respiratory disease, who were immunocompromised, had active cancer, or a body-mass index >40 kg/m2) were asked to contact the study team directly by phone or email to book an appointment during times reserved explicitly for this population, to reduce the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

      Great example of a confounding factor to lower the exposure of people at risk and come back with a lower infection rate in this group (as the study did in the end).

      Study design is just difficult.

  6. Furthermore, lower seroprevalence estimates among the elderly tend to confirm the effectiveness of partial containment measures. However, their ability to produce antibodies may be reduced due to age-related weakening of the immune system..

    Well duh! Switzerland, as with everywhere else I know of, has a high fatality rate for coronavirus in nursing homes. link As far as I can tell, when the coronavirus gets into a nursing home, the infection rate is much higher than 11%.

    I have no doubt the people doing the testing did it correctly and found that a relatively low percentage of people over 65 had the antibodies. On the other hand, in light of the demonstrated infectivity of coronavirus in nursing homes, their statement should be a lot clearer than, maybe we can’t trust this data. The data, as it applies to senior citizens, isn’t trustworthy, period.

  7. There is developing evidence that vitamin D plays a significant role in the infection process. According to a French study those most affected were deficient in vitamin D. If this is the case then advising people to stay indoors would have exacerbated the problem, particularly those without gardens, it also explains why people with darker skin are more susceptible to the virus likewise the elderly who tend to stay indoors. The lack of sunlight in New York due to the height of the skyscrapers could also be a factor.

    • Living where we do – 47° North Latitude** – and with the life style we have, and health folks pushing the ‘skin cancer’ via Sun risk, most folks over age 33 (?) are likely deficient in Vitamin D.
      I’ve never been asked about this by health folks. When I asked, I was told I would have to pay for a test.
      With a multivitamin & mineral pill and a D3 pill, I get Zink and 2,400 IU of D3. My health contact approves of this.
      [When I am outside doing lawn & garden type things, I protect from the Sun and wind with clothing and a “bucket” hat.]
      [**NYC is at about 40.7° N. Lat.]

      • My médicin traitant (GP) has included Vit D and calcium levels in her requests for blood tests for years. Mine is “low” at 24.9 (French recommended minimum is 30) but not worryingly so. It’s interesting that sub-30 is considered low in France while the UK figure is 25. Perhaps re-think there is called for?

        • The whole vitamin D issue needs to be addressed. It’s quite possible that boosting people’s vitamin D levels would do more for health than pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

          • Agreed. A bit worrying there is a 20% difference between two neighbouring countries as to what the minimum level should be.

            While we’re at it we could do with something better than the glib 5-a-day, 21 units-a-week stuff. They’re as good as totally meaningless since everybody’s metabolism differs. I suppose compulsory annual medicals for over-60s wouldn’t go down well! Even assuming doctors weren’t inclined to prescribe what the last pharma salesman through his door was flogging!

          • Scissor June 14, 2020 at 9:07 am
            “It’s quite possible that boosting people’s vitamin D levels would do more for health than pharmaceuticals and vaccines.”

            Newminster June 14, 2020 at 11:32 am

            “Agreed. A bit worrying there is a 20% difference between two neighbouring countries as to what the minimum level should be.”

            As one who’se been supplementing 8,000 iu per day for more than a decade, I can assure you D3 isn’t a panacea.

            As for worrying about a 20% difference between national medical experts – have a look at Radon mitigation recommendations: 200 Bq/cuM from Health Canada, 148 from EPA, and 100 from WHO. The simple expalanation comes from Dick Pound, olympic doping test impresario, who, when asked about the provenance of his famous statistic that one out of four(?) professional athletes used performance enhancing drugs, answered “it seemed like a good number” (from “Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear” by Dan Gardner. Here in Canada, I’ve found as many as half a dozen different “reference” ranges for serum D3.

            What they had in common was that my tested levels were significantly above the top of their ranges, and that no one had an explanation for the differences.

            The feeble defense was that “lab results are not comparable from lab to lab”, which if true, would make replication of medical research impossible.

            Medicine has largely become snake oil…

  8. FWISW, I took the Quest CV-19 antibody test last week. I’m negative, that is, I have not been infected. I’m was in the “CV-19 Band Wagon” thinking whatever the evil crud I had late late Dec/early Jan might had been CV-19.

    • 100% of black men that have trouble breathing and die shortly after being under a policeman’s knee in Minneapolis have caught it.

  9. you know the epidemic when it is over..and was free to run.. this is why predict is a pain in the ass. that s why i am not hard this models but hard with people who believe them.

  10. Even on Diamond Princess and Theodore Roosevelt less than half became infected, or have I got that wro g?

    • No, you are correct.

      On the Theodore Roosevelt, about 13% were ultimately found to have been infected. The experience of the Diamond Princess was used to suggest that isolation was effective since less than 20% of passengers and crew became infected.

      It now appears that many initial conclusions and beliefs were wrong.

    • On CVN TR about 10% were infected and 50% of those had no symptoms.

      One fatality, a 41 yo CPO. The only active duty military personal that I have heard of so far.

      It has been a long time since I served in the USN. SD is not part of daily routine. Alcohol is not allowed at sea but maybe a few glasses are hoisted in port.

      I find it very interesting that the politics of the CO dismissal has been widely reported but not the C-19 results.

      Not the Spanish flu that killed many soldiers returning from WWI.

      The fear mongers are always wrong.

      • Influenza A on a susceptible population is worse than COVID-19. Anyone who doubts that needs to remember what you point out about the Spanish Flu and who it killed. One difficulty though is in 1918 no country had the large elderly population (over 70) we have 100 years later, with large concentrations of frail in collective settings (nursing homes). Another difficulty is many of the soldiers who died in 1918 likely contracted secondary bacterial pneumonia. In our age of antibiotics, a young person dying of bacterial pneumonia in a hospital is quite uncommon.

        This SARS-2 virus kills the sick and elderly almost exclusively. Those younger who have died had confounding co-morbidities (cancer, obesity w/diabetes, high serum lipids, or other underlying health problems) or likely other rare blood clotting susceptibility (genetic) factors.

        • That’s a good point regarding demographics at the time of the Spanish flu pandemic.

          Does anyone here regularly donate blood? I have type O, which is very much wanted, and I’ve held off for the last few months. I’m wondering if I should wait another month just so I’m full up.

      • Kit P – those must be early figures you are using. Final results including serological tests on a subset of the infected sailors are available now. About a quarter of the crew were PCR positive and of those 20% had no symptoms and the vast majority had mild symptoms. There were only a handful of hospitalisations and one death.

        This Business Insider (Australia) report is surprisingly good round-up:

        https://www.businessinsider.com.au/coronavirus-infected-uss-theodore-roosevelt-antibodies-2020-6?r=US&IR=T

    • The highest percentage infected on a ship that I have found is the Antarctic cruise ship that had a 28 day horror voyage. At the end, all 217 people aboard were tested and 59% were PCR positive for the Wuhan. As usual, most had no symptoms (80% of the PCR positive in this case) including 10 different cabins with one positive and one negative – if you can’t catch the disease after sharing a cabin with someone for 28 days, then something interesting is going on.

      https://thorax.bmj.com/content/early/2020/06/09/thoraxjnl-2020-215091

  11. Thanks for the report CTM
    A few comments
    10.8 is a large% of infected people for any respiratory viral infection, I think seasonal flu and cold viruses in general are much less active.
    – hence it is very surprising that only 1 child in 123 in that age group was infected. Especially as children are usually more susceptible to cold viruses.
    The statistics are a bit confusing and a sign, if they were published in the Lancet, that this once revered medical journal has recently hit the scrap heap in terms of responsible medical reporting?

    How is it possible for a < 0.8% Infection rate to be said to be 3 times less likely to be infected than the 20-50 year old group, which must be running somewhat over the 11% rate. That is an obvious error in magnitude of x4 , at least. Sloppy journalism from a sloppy review department.

    Then this comment”
    Over the five weeks of the study – from 6 April to 9 May – the overall seroprevalence increased from about 5% to about 11% of the population. Taking into account the time for antibodies to be produced after symptoms (with a median of 10.4 days), the researchers estimated that for every confirmed case, there were approximately 12 actual infections in the community.”
    They seem to be saying that over 100% of the population , 12x 10.8% = 130% approx are actually infected, they just have not turned positive yet.
    They possibly mean that the 10.8% is 12 times the number of confirmed symptomatic people but this is definitely not how they have described it, nor have they indicated the logic and maths of such an estimation.
    It reads literally instead we have over a doubling in 5 weeks and ….. therefore there are 12 cases for every one we have so far diagnosed.

    Then this statement following makes no sense
    “These results suggest that only a minority of the Geneva population has been infected during this pandemic wave, despite the high rate of COVID-19 cases identified during the acute phase of infection (1% of the population in less than 2 months).”

    1%? Infections or admitted to hospital as a “case” over 2 months is different to 5% and 10.8% and 12 cases for every identified case.

    “Children and elderly less affected” The comment about the elderly could read that they were half as likely to be less infected?
    “children between 5 and 9 years of age are three times less likely to be infected and those over 65 years of age half as likely. These results were published in The Lancet.“

    “ However, their ability to produce antibodies may be reduced due to age-related weakening of the immune system.“
    Meaningless.
    Old people produce quite adequate amounts of antibodies, that’s why vaccines work.

    • Routinely in the U.S. many tens of millions catch influenza and separately colds. The prevalence is almost always over 10%.

      Anyway, you are interpreting the very poor language of the reporting incorrectly. Those that are part of the study and the general population are different groups.

  12. Someone said, “Producing anti-bodies is how the body ‘kills off the invader.'” Hell no. Using antibodies as the “butter” for the phagocytes to eat up represents cartoon science taught in the 4th grade. It probably represents less than 0.1% of all the methodologies the body has at its disposal to fight foreign invaders. T-cells are certainly also part of the body’s armamentarium against those invaders (probably representing another 0.2% of the body’s devices against disease), as well as so much more. Most of those other methods are so quick they never give the body’s B-cell response any chance to be mounted in the interim between entry of the virus into the body and its total annihilation therein. That’s why 17% of those children who were surely infected with Covid-19 (along with probably all the rest of them playing with other children) never showed seropositive for its antibodies in their blood. They fought off the virus before their bodies could mount a B-cell response to it.

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