Saturday, October 29, 2022

Portable UV Sanitation: a Pricey Solution

If you could avoid Covid with greater certainty for less than $500, would you?? 

I've been looking into portable UV light. From the beginning of Covid, people have talked about Upper Room UVGI (UltraViolet Germicidal Irradiation) that can be installed near the ceiling of a room, necessarily, to ensure nobody looks directly at it. It kills viruses, but, with a wavelength of 254 nanometres, it also harms people's (and pets') skin and eyes. More information from a Harvard slideshow, the CDC, the Center for Global Health Delivery, and a fun Naomi Wu video. 

BUT last Wednesday, research published in Nature found that UV light with a wavelength of 222 nm, 

doesn't reach beyond the layer of dead cells on the surface of the skin or the film of tears on the surface of the eye. Because bacteria and viruses are much smaller than those layers, Brenner and his colleagues reasoned that far-UV radiation could destroy the pathogens without damaging the skin and the eyes. . . . 

In a 2018 study, the investigators showed that more than 95% of influenza viruses in the air were inactivated when they floated past a low-power far-UV lamp. Brenner's group had already shown that cells in a 3D human skin model and in mice were basically unaffected by such low doses, and other researchers found no evidence of eye damage from 22 nm radiation in rats.

Friday, October 28, 2022

The John Snow Project on Spooky Masks

The John Snow Project has the singular goal of cleaning the air in public buildings the way its namesake demonstrated the link between cholera and contaminated drinking water, and eventually was able to convince the government to clean water for public consumption. Cholera was one of the deadliest diseases in 19th century Britain, so this was a big deal. 

Covid is currently one of the deadliest diseases right now, but we're still in the place where some people think it spreads by magic or happenstance or that people are getting sick from the vaccines, not the virus, or they throw up their hands at the lunacy of suggesting we can actually prevent transmission. We're right where John Snow was when he just turned off the contaminated tap himself to prove that there's a link. Our situation isn't hard to prove, but it's hard to be believed. In Future of an Illusion Freud talked about the difficulty of convincing people that God isn't real -- people will kill you if you take away a belief they need to manage their lives. So it is with Covid. People get angry if you try to tell them it's not over. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Mask Court Case in Alberta

Families of five immunocompromised kids in Alberta fought the lifting of mask mandates by the government, and, long story short, Justice Grant Dunlop said the cabinet can't do that, as reported by CBC:

The order was unreasonable because it was based on an interpretation of the Public Health Act as giving final authority over public health orders to elected officials. . . . While Minister LaGrange's statement on its face appears to prohibit school boards from imposing mask mandates, it does not do so, because the minister can only do that through a regulation, and the statement was not a regulation. . . . The application argues the abrupt end of the masking mandate infringed on the charter rights of the immunocompromised children who were forced to choose between their education and their health. . . . They said the decision to remove mask mandates in Alberta schools was not consistent with public health advice and instead was made by government officials for political reasons, including "quelling protests" that were taking place at the Coutts border crossing. . . . The applicants' legal team argued the children at the centre of this court case suffered segregation, alienation and bullying as a result of having to stay home from school or, in other cases, because they were the only ones at their schools who wore masks.

Covid is a Stealthy Enemy; Our Body its Battlefield -- Shore up Your Defences, and Fight to Keep it at Bay!

Dr. Uppity (@MeddygLou), an NHS GP in Wales, wrote an excellent thread, beautifully written, explaining how Covid works with some battlefield imagery to help. I have nothing to add:

Since Covid hit the UK I’ve been reading compulsively, like how you can’t help looking as you drive past a car crash. There’s a lot still to research, but I’ve made a rough working model in my mind of how Covid attacks the body, and what the main issues can be. Covid virus travels through the air, a bit like invisible smoke. Covid is airborne. It’s also in droplets of spit & mucus in air or on surfaces, but that’s not the main way it transmits. Wash your hands & stick up a screen if you like, but improving indoor air quality & masks will do far more to protect you from infection. 

Once you breathe in air with the virus in it, the virus attaches itself to the cells that line your nose, throat, voice box, windpipe & lungs. It gets into the cells using ACE2 receptors as a “door.” ACE2 receptors are also found in the lining of the gut, the lining of your blood vessels, and many other organs, giving Covid easy access to these areas. In the lungs there’s just a thin layer of cells between the air & the bloodstream. The virus gets into a lung cell using the ACE2 “door,” then hijacks the cell’s factory area to make rough copies of itself. Lots and lots of copies! It may also turn up secretion production, so on one side the cell starts releasing mucus full of new viruses into the lungs. These can either infect more lung cells or get breathed out into the air to maybe infect someone else. On the other side is the bloodstream, where more new viruses are released. The lining of the blood vessels, the vascular endothelium, also has ACE2 “doors.” Now the virus can infect the lining of the blood vessels in the lungs, AND travel round the entire body, infecting any bit of blood vessel wall as it goes. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Covid and Kids

I feel like I'm "cheating" just copying threads instead of writing, but so much work on social media needs to be acknowledged and saved in a more searchable manner. Here's a thread from @MeetJess. She's the go-to for long threads chronicling sudden deaths of teens and young adults - picked up by Fortune magazine even, but today she focused on the lies we've been told about children. She discusses BC specifically, but this is the case in many parts of Canada. I flushed it out a bit in places for clarity:

Covid "doesn't affect kids" was one of the very first lies that was fed to the public: Kids didn't get sick, kids can't transmit the virus, kids won't have lasting effects. Kids are being sent into unsafe schools, repeatedly infected. 

One thousand B.C. kids were hospitalized, thousands left with Long Covid. A study has shown that kids who have special immunodeficiency illnesses are at a higher mortality rate due to Covid-19 complications. Some kids and teens have long-term lung damage after Covid-19. Covid-19 neurological complications, long-term complications ["7% have seizures, brain damage].  Children hospitalized with Covid-19 can have lingering health issues months later. Your kid's school needs better ventilation to help keep Covid-19 in check. 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

The Price One Pays: Liquidation of the Uncompetitive

I'm saving this excellent thread by Dr. Satoshi Akima FRACP. It's tongue-in-cheek, but of course some are sharing bits of it as proof that we need to let 'er rip! missing the point that this is what it looks like to bring some inane views to fruition. The unmistakable tip off that he's satirizing the policies of our day is his final screenshot from the introduction to Architects of Annihilation: Auschwitz and the Logic of Destruction, by Götz Aly and Susanne Heim. 

At the heart of Covid minimisation lies a Social Darwinist assault on medicine. It emanates from the implicit neo-Darwinism lying at the core of neoliberalism, which assumes all societal progress is driven by unfettered market competition. 

Government intervention in the natural competitive order undermines market competition, destroying society by propping up uncompetitive entities that ought to be permitted to be liquidated by natural attrition. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the Soviet block and its unnatural state interference in capitalist competitive marketplaces. A state lead moonshot approach to solving the Covid crisis will see the West suffer a downfall like the Soviet Union. While liquidation of the uncompetitive is painful short term, it will be for the betterment of society in the long run: it is "creative destruction." Costly interventions such as lockdowns, masks, air filtration and next-gen vaccines must be opposed for being violations of Nature. Unnatural interventions put the state in debt while creating immunity debt. It is better to get the creative destruction by the liquidation of the uncompetitive done upfront than suffer such dept-creating interventions that prolong pandemics, thus aggravating suffering long-term. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Gonsalves' The Death Eaters

Gregg Gonsalves' article in The Nation explains how Camilo José Vergara's The Pandemic Diary clarified for him, and now us, that there are two pandemics: one lived by the professional class who order groceries online, and another lived by people who can't afford to miss work and aren't able to work from home. He quotes Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

If you don't know anyone who has died from the virus, then you may conclude that Covid is not a big deal and that our kids should really be in school. If you know people that have died and been hospitalized, and if the size of your apartment does not allow you to be socially distant from your mother, who lives with you and has Type 2 diabetes, then you may have a different attitude toward sending your child back into a school building. 

Gonsalves points out the problem that our policies "have largely been based on taking the social realities of the well-off as the neutral, default setting." We're throwing the disabled, poor, racialized, and/or otherwise marginalized peoples under a bus. People crafting policy are thinking of their own and finding solutions that would work for their own nearest and dearest instead of using a more inclusive lens to protect the most vulnerable. Gonsalves writes,

Public health is not about trickle-down, with benefits given to those with means and privilege flowing down, eventually, to all--because we know that doesn't happen. To sit back and watch, even to offer data sets and statistical analyses is not enough; this technical aspect of our work may be necessary, but it is not sufficient to lift all of us up.

Absolutely. We need to make sure that the most vulnerable in our society is safe - mask mandates can help do that. 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Campaigning on Covid

As you might know, if you're a frequent reader here, I'm running for an elected position: school board trustee. It's a little position, so there's no budget or staff. There's also no speeches or debates, just lawn signs and fliers. Campaigning is like an expensive two-month long job interview that requires a daily walking and stairs regimen that goes on for hours. Recently, some well-meaning friends who are trying to help me win (by heeding the noise of the loudest voices) cautioned me to limit any writing or posting about Covid. It turns people off and will cost me votes. I agreed, but then I had second thoughts the following day, and tweeted this:
I've been cautioned not to tweet so much about covid because it could cost me votes. But we're sleepwalking through a crisis that could be averted if we can just open our eyes to it. Hospitalizations and deaths are way higher now than this time in the previous two years.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Breath of Fools

Another thread to save - this time from author Alisa Lynn Valdés. Warning: Lots of swears in this one!

The mechanism of SARS2? Endothelial damage. In plain English? Covid-19 fucks up the lining of your blood vessels. All 60,000 miles of it. Blood vessels lack nerves. You feel okay as it eats your arteries. Doesn't mean it's mild. It means the endothelium isn't innervated. So what happens when the endothelium is damaged? Well, the first thing to go are your capillaries and arterioles. They're the smallest blood vessels. One endothelial cell thick. If the endothelium is damaged, they can disappear, get clogged, leak. This won't show up on X-ray. What happens when your microvessels get fucked up? Microvessels are where all the exchanges that keep you alive take place. Oxygen gets from your lungs to your blood there. Nutrients get from your intestines to your blood there. The bad stuff is filtered out there.  So now imagine that those processes can't happen. Or can't happen like they used to. Your skin starves. Your kidneys get polluted. Your labs look normal. Your brain dies a little. Your eyes go bad. You don't die. Your government tells you you're fine. It was mild!

Saturday, October 15, 2022

The New Wave

Barry Hunt, an engineer in Ontario, explains the difference with this next wave of Covid. Full disclosure, he works at Prescientx in the manufacturing and distribution of respirators, CO2 monitors, etc. to pay the bills. That doesn't change the truth of what he writes: 

I know this wave, Wave 8, seems like the same old same old, but this time it's different. 

We used to have a respite between waves during the summer for people and hospitals to recharge and regroup prior to the fall and winter onslaught. This time we didn't. We used to finish a wave before we started the next one. This time we're starting a new wave on top of the current wave. We used to start a new wave with <1000 daily cases (in Ontario). This time we're starting with 40,000. We used to start a wave with a single dominant variant. This time we have variant soup. We used to be confident our new monoclonal antibodies would be effective against a new dominant variant. This time we aren't. We used to be confident one more vaccine boost would overcome immune evasion. This time we're not. We used to have low hospital occupancy and spare hospital capacity at the start of a wave. This time we don't. 

Thursday, October 13, 2022

77 Things to Hate About Covid

Caroline Dew, an ICU Critical Care nurse in Australia, wrote this thread that I want to save. My only criticism is that it's written in the past tense. You can see from these graphs of hospitalizations that the pandemic hasn't ended. Canada has a bigger population, but it's currently in a worse position than Australia. Sylvia Jones says our health care system isn't in crisis despite the unprecedented closures of hospital emergency wards, and I'm terrified to find out what she thinks a crisis looks like.

Dew's thread is a response to the Australian Herald Sun article "The 77 things we hated about the Covid response." (It's behind a paywall so thick I can't even link to it!):

Sunday, October 9, 2022

On Being a Bad Person

I forgot to post this from last month - my monthly posting at 3 Quarks Daily

A student asked, "How many bad actions does a good person have to do before becoming a bad person?"

The notion of good and bad people raises the image of final judgment at the pearly gates. We have a scale somewhere with our actions added incrementally to one side or the other until there's a tipping point, or sometimes there's just that one unspeakable act that slams one pan to the ground requiring an inconceivable effort to budge it.

It's possible that an infinite number of bad actions doesn't make a person bad. I like to think that we're all greater than the sum of our worst actions. We're all just works in progress doing our best in this world, and it's never too late to change our path. It sounds nice. But then I started to consider some real people who appear to have unlimited selfishness as well as a cold indifference to the suffering they cause to others. Can we call them bad people until we see some movement towards redemption?