Posted on September 10, 2020 | This is a very good short paper on the current state of the Covid-19 epidemic by two UK respiratory disease researchers that is well worth the read, with a good coverage of the problems with models and PCR testing that is encouraging some governments to renew the panic and restrictions initiated back in March.
Understanding Covid-19 is pertinent to this blog topic, not least because virtually all polar bear field research has been shut down for the year worldwide, with no indications restrictions will be lifted over the next few months: an entire year’s worth of data will be missing for all kinds of studies. Small Arctic communities that traditionally provided essential logistical support for these studies also tend to have a high proportion of vulnerable citizens and so remain closed to the outside world. Restrictions on travel – the border between the US and Canada remains closed to all but essential traffic – and limits on size of gatherings mean that the government response to this illness has severely impacted my public activities. Have a look at this important referenced essay: I’ve copied the Executive Summary below.
Evidence presented in this paper indicates that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 pandemic as an event in the UK is essentially complete, with ongoing and anticipated challenges well within the capacity of a normalised NHS to cope. The virus infection has passed through the bulk of the population as a result of wholly natural processes and evidence indicates that in the UK and other heavily infected European countries the spread of the virus has been all but halted by a substantial reduction in the susceptible population. This has occurred because the level of infection required to introduce enough immunity into the population to reduce the reproduction number (R) permanently below 1 occurred at markedly lower infection rates and loss of life than had been initially anticipated. The evidence presented in this paper indicates that there should be no expectation of a large scale ‘second wave’ with smaller localised outbreaks when the virus contacts pockets of previously uninfected populations.
Current mass testing using the PCR test is inappropriate in its current form. If it is to continue, then results and reporting should be refined to meet the gold standard of testing methodology to give clinicians improved information so that they are able to make appropriate clinical decisions. Positive tests should be confirmed by testing a second sample and all positive tests should be reported along with the Cycle Threshold (Ct) obtained during the test to aid assessment of a patient’s viral load.
It is recommended that a greater focus be placed on evidence-based medicine rather than highly sensitive theoretical modelling based on assumptions and unknowns. Current evidence allows for a greatly improved understanding of positive infectious patients and using the evidence to improve measurements and understanding can lead to sensitive measurements of active cases to give a more accurate warning of escalating cases and potential issues and outbreaks.
Read the entire paper here.