Saturday, February 24, 2024

Infection Control Measures Work

A Lancet study found that there's little Covid transmission in schools WHEN infection control measures were in place. 

Since we stopped all mitigation efforts, hospitalizations for Covid in Ontario have increased year-round. We don't need lockdowns for Covid, but we do still need N95s until we can clean the air. 

From CP24:
"The review found that masking, vaccinations and test-to-stay policies were the best methods to reduce Covid-19's spread in schools and daycares. The effectiveness of strategies like mandatory quarantining, cohorting, and hybrid learning is uncertain and may have made 'little to no difference in transmission.'"
However, in comments on the study, developmental biologist Dr. Malgorzata Gasperowicz said, 
"Two-way masking as a Public Health tool got destroyed by flawed studies and bad journalism combo. Now school closures, which is a very effective Public Health tool to sharply reduce the spread of a new or out-of-control pathogen, is being destroyed. That's a reckless game, which weakens our biosecurity. . . . When a pathogen with RO>>3 and IFR>>10% will come and the spread won't be quickly quenched and many people will die because your city/province/state will hesitate for too long to close schools, remember today's dismantling of this biosecurity/Public Health tool."  

And biologist Arijit Chakravarty pointed out elsewhere (and was tagged in this), 

"Studies that are used to infer a lack of transmission are deeply flawed methodologically, as we explained years ago in this preprint. You cannot use the fact that infection rates are similar between schools and communities to infer that schools are. not driving spread, as we explained in that preprint. And as common sense should make apparent, too - that's using correlation to infer a lack of causality, which is just plain sloppy reasoning. Contract tracing as it was implemented in schools identified about 1% or so of all transmission events, as we explained in this preprint. So, rigorous studies show that children are often the index case inside households, while sloppy studies (with different methods) show transmission doesn't happen in schools." 
To clarify, the Lancet study doesn't say transmission doesn't come from schools, but that transmission doesn't happen much in schools with mitigations that include well-fitting masks. 

A bigger flaw/omission in the study is that it didn't look at all at cleaning the air in any way. Ideally, masks are in place until we have CO2 levels consistently down to 500ppm in each classroom, with monitors on display everywhere. Add in some upper room UV, and Bob's yer uncle! In one article it was estimated that,
"The cost of installing air filters in every classroom in the UK would be 'eclipsed' by the health, educational and financial benefits of reduced absence and illness amongst pupils and staff who are being exposed to repeat Covid infections."
Covid is a biosafety risk #3, and it's screwing with the economy from so many people being out of work.
We know what to do to reduce transmission, we just need the leadership to do it. As much as I'm against the privatization of education, if I had kids in school right now, I'd be sending them to a private school where they are doing everything to clean the air. Nobody (people or animals in labs) has survived getting Covid more than 10 times, and kids are getting it 1-2 times each year. Looks like we're just going to wait to see how bad it can get before we act collectively to implement the solutions we already have

In 1985, the CDC complacently reported that 2/3 of men HIV+ for five years didn't develop AIDS, so no worries, right? Not so fast. Another five or ten years down the road, those men were all dead. THIS is why we need to use the precautionary principle when dealing with a novel virus. 

The study also thankfully didn't mention handwashing or having kids cough into their elbow, but maybe those have been debunked enough to just go away. I doubt it, but maybe.

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