Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 28, 2020

How Cluster Cases Drive The Covid Pandemic

One of the many mysteries of the Covid-19 pandemic is how the disease actually spreads. We were told to wash hands and about the dangers of droplets in one to one contacts. But newer evidence continues to point in another direction.

There are more and more reports about cases where the infections seems to have spread by aerosol, droplets smaller than 5μm in diameter, instead of by bigger droplets or fomites like surfaces and objects. Lambert Strether has collected reports of cluster cases in restaurants, buses, ships and a callcenter where aerosol transmission was the most likely cause:

There’s mounting evidence that airborne transmission indoors is a key — perhaps the main — pathway to SARS-COV-2 transmission. In this post I want to look at why that’s so, give examples, and suggest a simple heuristic to stay safe.

But a recent report about a South African study of a hospital cluster where 119 patients and staff caught the disease claims that most infections must have come through fomites transmission:

[O]n the whole, patients infected few other patients directly. Instead staff members spread the disease from patient to patient and from department to department—perhaps sometimes without becoming infected themselves. “We think in the main it’s likely to have been from [staff] hands and shared patient care items like thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, and stethoscopes,” says Richard Lessells, an infectious disease specialist at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform and one of the study leaders. He and the other authors found no evidence that aerosol transmission contributed to the outbreak.


A look into the very detailed and otherwise excellent original study shows why the researchers found no evidence for aerosol transmission. They never looked for any. The words 'air conditioning', 'HVAC' or similar do not appear in the 37 pages. That is because right at the start of the study the researchers excluded the possibility that aerosols may play a role:

SARS‐CoV‐2 is thought, on the basis of current evidence, to be transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact.
Whilst aerosol transmission may be possible in specific circumstances, particularly in the healthcare setting with aerosol‐generating procedures (i.e.endotracheal intubation, open suctioning, and manual ventilation before intubation), there is currently no evidence that aerosol transmission is an important mode of transmission more generally.

That paragraph is footnoted with a link to a WHO recommendation from March. Since then much has been learned about cluster cases in which aerosols were the most likely transmitter of the disease.

Aerosols are droplets smaller than 5 micrometers. At that small size they do not fall to the ground but float in the airstream. Unlike droplets they are not a problem outside of closed rooms as the normal air movement will start to disperse them immediately.

A study in Hubei tracked down 318 cluster creating incidents in which at least 3 persons were involved. It found that only one happened in open air. A Japanese study says that the risk of infection indoors are 19 times higher than outdoors.

An early study has found that the secondary attack rate in households defined as "the probability that an infection occurs among susceptible people within a specific group (ie, household or close contacts)" is quite low at some 35%. Other studies have come to even lower values of some 25%. There were a number of reports of families where only one or two persons were infected while other members of the household did not catch the disease.

But the overall reproduction rate R0 of Covid-19 is estimated to be somewhere between 2 and 3. That means that without isolation measures each newly infected person will on average infect 2 to 3 other persons. How does that fit with the relatively low secondary infections in households?

Science has published a must read piece that explains this conundrum:

Other infectious diseases also spread in clusters. But COVID-19, like two of its cousins, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), seems especially prone to attacking groups of tightly connected people while sparing others. It's an encouraging finding, scientists say, because it suggests that restricting gatherings where superspreading is likely to occur will have a major impact on transmission and that other restrictions—on outdoor activity, for example—might be eased.
Most of the discussion around the spread of SARS-CoV-2 has concentrated on the average number of new infections caused by each patient. Without social distancing, this reproduction number (R) is about three. But in real life, some people infect many others and others don't spread the disease at all. In fact, the latter is the norm, Lloyd-Smith says: “The consistent pattern is that the most common number is zero. Most people do not transmit.”

That's why in addition to R, scientists use a value called the dispersion factor (k), which describes how much a disease clusters. The lower k is, the more transmission comes from a small number of people. In a seminal 2005 Nature paper, Lloyd-Smith and co-authors estimated that SARS—in which superspreading played a major role—had a k of 0.16. The estimated k for MERS, which emerged in 2012, is about 0.25. In the flu pandemic of 1918, in contrast, the value was about one, indicating that clusters played less of a role.

Current estimates of the dispersion factor k for SARS-CoV-2 vary between 0.1 and 0.5. That means that cluster infections from relatively few superspreading events drive the epidemic more than single transmissions from one person to another person.

This explains the success of the Japanese strategy which brought the epidemic in that country down without ordering strict lockdown measures:

As of Thursday, Japan had confirmed more than 16,000 infections and about 900 deaths from the virus, by far the lowest figures among the Group of Seven major economies.

Japan has urged people to avoid environments with what it calls the “Three Cs”, meaning close contact in closed-off, crowded spaces, where experts say most infections have occurred.

Without knowing if the measures would work Japan picked the right strategy. Only those events and places where superspreading is most likely to occur where shunned. Additionally people in Japan actually wear their masks and are generally health conscious and disciplined.

Unfortunately it is unlikely that 'western' nations will develop such discipline.

Yves Smith has written about her recent personal experience in a hospital in Alabama where even the staff were not wearing masks and were also otherwise quite careless. This at a time where numbers in Alabama are surging.

A number of 'western' publications have claimed that democracies are more effective in fighting an epidemic.

The U.S. has now more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 and Britain has the highest rate of death in the world:

The UK has registered 59,537 more deaths than usual since the week ending March 20, indicating that the virus has directly or indirectly killed 891 people per million.

At this stage of the pandemic, that is a higher rate of death than in any country for which high-quality data exist. The absolute number of excess deaths in the UK is also the highest in Europe, and second only to the US in global terms, according to data collected by the Financial Times.

China, Vietnam and other countries that the U.S. likes to call dictatorships have handled the crisis much better than the so called leading democracies. In total all Asian nations seem to have had a better grip on the epidemic than many other countries. The most likely reason for this is that those cultures care far more for the collective good than for the benefit of individuals. 

The "western" cultures allow for more selfishness of the individual. But over the longer timeframe cultures that emphasizes personal liberty and ignore the common good are likely to see their empire fail.

Probably the biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality.

Posted by b on May 28, 2020 at 18:16 UTC | Permalink

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Looking at the fast transmission, it was very clear to me that it is spread by aerosols. I did not need studies to suspect that, even in the beginning.

And i always tried to stay 7-8 meters away from people (aerosol distance), not just 2 meters (droplet distance) as recomended by authorities. Indoors are the biggest risk, ventilation too. This is where most attention must be paid.

Posted by: Passer by | May 28 2020 18:33 utc | 1

The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality.

from what I am seeing on the teevee is about 180 degrees from that. It is all about making money from a vaccine, or getting free money, or blaming the chinese.

why does no one at all talk about single payer health care? or paid sick leave? we are told over and over again that universal health care would cost a trillion dollars over 10 years yet 1.5 trillion dollars is allocated by a united congress in a matter of hours...

I envy you b that you still hold out hope. I really wish I could too.

Posted by: dan of steele | May 28 2020 18:36 utc | 2

"The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality."

And this is sadly the biggest challenge of all. After many decades of neoliberal doctrine, coupled with shunning positive patriotism (e.g. serving for the common good of a nation) as "semi-fascist", we now reap what has been sowed.
But it must be the focus point of our work. Without it, every other effort regarding reviving democracy, social security, and even changing the crazy geopolitics of our nations is futile.

Posted by: DontBelieveEitherPr. | May 28 2020 18:48 utc | 3

Thanks, b. That's a great article. My personal experience with Covid was a probable exposure on an airline flight. I became sick in two days, but did not run a fever, and did not qualify for testing due to lack of reagents to process the tests. I had three people adjacent to me coughing away, I had my vent facing straight down on me, but to no avail. The flight attendants were frightened, as you could see it in there eyes, and their reticence to touch passenger luggage. This was in early March before any emergencies in the US were announced.

A certain segment of the population was very worried. The airlines have been very slow to helpfully respond, except to cancel flights to pack more people on the aircraft. IMO this was the primary vector to a worldwide pandemic.

It seems to me that our traditional economies are reliant on economy of scale where success is dependent upon packing as many people into as small a place as possible. The only companies succeeding are those providing remote logistics. In the US where capital is god, this will only consolidate those companies' monopolies.

Posted by: Michael | May 28 2020 18:48 utc | 4

thanks b... more interesting ideas to consider.. i liked what you described about japan... kudos for them early insight on that.. the idea of personal freedoms being curtailed even in this instance of a pandemic rubs many westerners the wrong way... the asian cultures seem to have more respect for authority whereas the western ones are very much anti any authority that interferes with their personal freedoms... it's interesting... maybe we need to be more flexible then that??

Posted by: james | May 28 2020 18:58 utc | 5

Thanks, b, for this fine exercise in fact-checking.

"The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality."

You got that right. Insane hoarding, anyone?

There was an interesting doco on TV a couple of weeks ago. It's called Assholes - A Theory. It was made in 2019 by a chap called John Walker.
I'm not suggesting that b needs to watch it because much of his writing is about Assholery and its effect on the world. Suffice to say that Assholery can be traced back to 'people' with feelings of Entitlement.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 28 2020 19:31 utc | 6

Sorry, b. this does not explain the riddle.

I tend to agree with Knut Wittkowski, who claims that whatever you do, the pandemic will run its course. Proof is Belarus where Lukashenka simply ignored the pandemic.

Japan did not test much but concentrated on treating the clinically affected. They seem to have had an effective drug as early as March

In China, the treatment of the patients of COVID-19 with a Japan-made flue drug favipiravir has been effective, according to an official of the Chinese Science and Technology Ministry,

We don't hear much about Covid-19 infection rates in Japan, but they have, for sure, the lowest rate of deaths.

The tests are unreliable anyway.

Posted by: somebody | May 28 2020 19:33 utc | 7

You are literally in a soup of aerosol in a heavily occupied enclosed space. Aerosols don't settle. Air is generally recirculated by HVAC systems. Social distancing doesn't matter much as the soup is everywhere. Best to just avoid indoor congestion or wear a good mask if you must enter.

Posted by: Dennis | May 28 2020 19:45 utc | 8

"The "western" cultures allow for more selfishness of the individual. But over the longer timeframe cultures that emphasizes personal liberty and ignore the common good are likely to see their empire fail.

The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality."

Ah, yes ... the common good ... the Great Leap Forward ... the Brave New World ... individual rights reported as selfishness ... really?

Perhaps it's better to live with some risk and the admitted limited liberty and individual rights afforded by a system of limited government (not that our governors are currently acting in accordance to the laws they have sworn to uphold)?

Or perhaps one would rather have the false security of guaranteed life in a prison?

Btw, "empire failing" would be a great thing ... and individual rights and limited governance are antithetical to empire.

Posted by: Caliman | May 28 2020 19:47 utc | 9

2 or 8 meters away from everybody? it doesn't matter.

Please go to

In this clip from the Downing Street Corona Briefing on May 11th, Chris Whitty - the UK's Chief Medical Officer - says that, to most people, the coronavirus is entirely harmless.

Most people will never get it.
Most of the people who get it won't ever experience symptoms.
Most of the people who experience symptoms won't need medical care.
Most of the people who need medical care won't be need emergency or critical care.
And even the tiny percentage of people who need who DO need critical care will survive, regardless of risk factors or medical history.

Posted by: Roberto | May 28 2020 20:12 utc | 10

Posted by: Dennis | May 28 2020 19:45 utc | 8

You can also try UV-C.
Steriair max

Posted by: somebody | May 28 2020 20:30 utc | 11

Aerosol transmission could explain the early COVID-19 outbreaks in Wuhan and northern Italy in the northern hemisphere winter. Both locations are areas notorious for high levels of air pollution. Virus particles could have been carried by soot and other particle pollutants, of which some could have been toxic themselves. I think there has actually been an Italian research study that investigated that possibility and found it plausible. (I'm on my smartphone at present so I can"t link to any particles.)

On top of this, Wuhan and most cities in Lombardia in Italy sit in river valleys close to mountains so theses cities are likely to experience regular thermal inversions during winter, in which cold air is trapped under warm air and cannot rise. This creates the kind of closed systems in which air pollution particles and any pathogens riding on them cannot escape. Cities in those systems will suffer.

Tehran was another city hit hard early by COVID-19 and has the same problems of high air pollution (in part due to poor public transport infrastructure, at least until the city got a metro network, and everyone having to put up with driving old vehicles, thanks to ecomoc sanctions) and regular winter thermal inversions.

If all this turns out to be correct, this news would not be welcome to the New South Wales govt (in southeast Australia) which is pushing people to return to work but at the same time is dissuading people from using buses and trains. This is forcing people to use cars instead to go to work. Roads are likely to suffer gridlock and we here are comimg into winter. Temperature inversions are not unknown in Sydney (a harbour city between the sea and a mountain range). Indeed, the NSW govt seems to have no plan on how to deal with any possible new cluster outbreaks that might be associated with people travelling to and from work.

Posted by: Jen | May 28 2020 20:40 utc | 12

Once again, the Chinese were first to these findings but like most virus info from China, the West (conveniently?) ignores Chinese findings until they do their own studies. And, as they delay and drag their feet, we are not supposed to notice that Government and big health insurers save hundreds of billions as older people perish sooner than they would have.

Indoor transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (Posted April 07, 2020)

Conclusions: All identified outbreaks of three or more cases occurred in an indoor environment, which confirms that sharing indoor space is a major SARS-CoV-2 infection risk.

At the time that this Chinese study came out, USA and the West were urging people to stay at home if they felt sick and "self-isolate" if they thought they might have the virus. In contrast, other countries did more testing and sent sick people to medical facilities for treatment.

Of course, no mention of this at nakedcapitalism.

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I guess the "new b" has made up with the nakedcapitalism folks? LOL.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 28 2020 20:45 utc | 13

Thanks for the link, b.

Democracies Are Better at Fighting Outbreaks

I note that the article was published on Feb 24, 2020, when the US had only a handful of Covid-19 cases and China was in deep distress. So we shouldn't be surprised the article was triumphantly pumping the American Way.

Now that over 100,000 people have died in the U.S. from Covid-19, and only 5000 in China, I wonder if the author feels even slightly embarrassed.

By the way, the U.S. death count is about two Vietnam Wars, and probably will get worse. Yep, just a flu.

Posted by: Cyril | May 28 2020 20:47 utc | 14

Just as we always knew, "social distancing" is inadequate indoors and pointless outdoors. Its only purpose thruout has been as an exercise in obedience and social control. (Really, all anyone had to do was hear such a vile Orwellian term to know that those promulgating the term and practice were doing so in bad faith. Whatever else one thinks of those spacing recommendations, they're self-evidently anti-social.)

It sure puts in perspective the great hostility the terror/lockdown campaign has had toward outdoor recreation, health-building and spirit-affirming connection with nature, breathing the wholesome air itself. (The fact that the lull in ecocidal industrial activity has cleansed the air to its cleanest in our lifetimes must be very embarrassing to the campaign managers. Probably made it more difficult to use mass suggestion to get people to believe in the miasma, that the air itself is poisonous. But all too many grasped that superstition as well.)

The "western" cultures allow for more selfishness of the individual. But over the longer timeframe cultures that emphasizes personal liberty and ignore the common good are likely to see their empire fail.

The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality.

Yes, never is the notion of "I have a right to my opinion!!" more selfish and sociopathic, more against all measures of what it is to be a responsible citizen of a democracy, than where that opinion is pro-totalitarian or aids and abets it. Examples are belief in lie detector tests, being willing to submit to drug tests, being willing to engage in luxury flying under the TSA regime, believing in DNA testing as done in the "criminal justice" system. But support for the lockdowns, in every case based on zero knowledge and on nothing but being an authoritarian follower of government agencies and media which are known liars, is the most selfish of all.

Anyway I defy anyone to tell me what the "common good" allegedly is here. Not to save lives, that's for sure.

Well, I guess we'd first have to start with what's "common", period. I sure see nothing but the same old war of all against all and all suicidally against the Earth.

Posted by: Russ | May 28 2020 20:56 utc | 15

The "western" cultures allow for more selfishness of the individual. But over the longer timeframe cultures that emphasizes personal liberty and ignore the common good are likely to see their empire fail.

The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality.

I agree 100% with this. It never occurs to the idiots in the west who are losing their minds about quarantine measures and wearing a face mask that they can infect others even though they themselves are not noticeably sick.

An excuse I often hear is “I’m younger than sixty and don’t have any underlying health conditions so why should I be compelled to stay at home or wear a mask. I demand my rights be respected!”

Rights have to balanced with responsibilities. But this concept is alien in the west, particularly in the Anglo Saxon parts, where the secular religion of neoliberal economics and its worship of greed and selfishness began.

In a sane and functional society people would not balk at, let alone lose their minds over, the idea that collective responsibilities sometimes outweigh individual liberties.

The west is a sick place where an amoral individual (think Jeff Bezos and his billionaire ilk) who displays sociopathic levels of selfishness, greed and indifference to the suffering he or she causes is lauded as a virtuous hero and a role model for children.

A society that believes in nothing except buying stuff, worships cruelty and domination and forces evermore ordinary people into a lifelong cage fight against each is on the road to self-destruction.

Like the election of Trump and the rise of right wing populism, the COVID-19 outbreak reveals deep cracks and fault lines in the fabric of western “civilization.” The west has nothing to offer anyone except illegal wars, sanctions and paranoid propaganda directed at China, Russia, Iran and other peaceful countries that want to maintain their independence from the toxic ideology of western individualism.

Despite much evidence to the contrary, it keeps telling its own citizens and the world that neoliberal capitalism is the pinnacle of human achievement and nowhere is life better than in the west. It is a fool’s paradise and no amount of feelgood rhetoric and propaganda about the barbarians in the east will change that.

Posted by: Daniel | May 28 2020 21:07 utc | 16

"The "western" cultures allow for more selfishness of the individual."

That is why the west is best.
The state is far more selfish than the individual. The individual makes culture. The state destroys culture.

Who started history's wars? The state. Who takes money from the productive to give to the unproductive? The state. Who tortures? Who cages? Who steals? Who drops atomic bombs on people? Who starts the genocides? Who murders the innocent? Who lies? The state, the state, the state, the state, the state. If you want justice, shackle the state, make it voluntary.

In other words, make the state civil and accountable for their actions much like individuals are. Civilization is the individual. The state is barbarism.

Posted by: 762x39 | May 28 2020 21:07 utc | 17

Roberto | May28 20:12 @ 10

Most people will never get it...

Hundreds of thousands of those who died and their loved ones plus survivors affected with lingering symptoms disagree with your handwaiving.

'Thousands' Of Dutch COVID-19 Survivors Likely Have Permanent Lung Damage According To Top Pulmonologist

And we are still learning about the health effects: Mystery Syndrom Similar to Kawasaki Disease Linked to Coronavirus.

Plus the virus has only hit a fraction of the worlds population thus far. That means hundreds of thousands more are at risk of dying or complications from this virus.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 28 2020 21:08 utc | 18

I recall the early study done by China of transmission within a bus from one passenger to others without having any physical contact, and that lesson has guided our response. Yesterday our county recorded its tenth positive case, but we expect that number to rise since we're reopening. One lucky group is the assisted living community across the street from us where my aunt lived--they've had zero cases out of @75 residents and staff. One of the interesting arguments being made in Oregon courts regards the restrictions on churches, which we see as quite correct as in no way does it prohibit religious worship while promoting public health.

I predict a big upsurge in cases and deaths as states reopen their economies despite the very poor efforts at controlling the virus, so I'll be curious to see if that causes a reclosing or if more preventable deaths are deemed essential.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 28 2020 21:08 utc | 19

762x39 @17--

Congratulations for getting it exactly backwards. The selfish citizen shows total apathy when it comes to self-government thus allowing others to govern in its stead and allowing all the crimes you listed and others. Franklin's adage is more than apt: "We have a Republic if we can keep it." It was known at the time that representative government required constant vigilance, yet that duty wasn't performed and the rest is history, a history which all too few bother to examine so they're unaware of any of the above.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 28 2020 21:19 utc | 20

I m not sure we need another experiment with a goverment that claims that it is time to put the "collective need ahead of individual greed" cant reform human nature
Asia is used to epidemics because of its moist weather and population density. I also think their authoritarian methods are tolerated by their citizens for this very reason, even as deeply buried in the collective psyche.
They still have plague in a number of places, no?

As to japan, it might have a treatment, or it may not yet have peaked, and strains would need to be discussed.

Posted by: Mina | May 28 2020 21:30 utc | 21

Why call it "social distancing" when we already had a perfectly good term with 'safe space'?

Wasn't the point of having a safe space to keep ourselves distant socially from persons whose behavior or language disturbed our emotional, even physical, peace?

Even so, why the knock on "personal liberty" or the support for "collective good"? Either emphasis can become a moral principle when combined with conscientious responsibility. Every person has a choice, at all times, in all places, even with a gun to our chests or a lawsuit on our doorstep, how to respond to others or act around them. It is not difficult to find times and occasions where a collective's declared good obliterates an innocent life for the sake of its own psychic well-being: we call those victims scapegoats, and it's not always clear such people consent to being the one through whom the collective, for its own good, dispels its wrath or fear. When the collective bullies its weakest and isolated member—aren't some of us reading and writing here (still) nerds and weaklings and fragile sorts who've directly experienced this, or even participated in the bullying itself?—is it wrong to think of this as being analogous to what's called "selfish"? Perhaps call it "groupishness" and hold it with similar suspicion. I'm not preaching a new gospel here, am I?

It's not that consideration for the group is superior than consideration for the self, nor that consideration for one's own self is superior to consideration for one's larger community. Whether you serve your Self or you serve your Other, ultimately it has to be your responsibility to choose, and perhaps one way out of all of this unnecessary valorizing of one side of a continuum over another is to envision a new path of seeing that there is neither collective nor individual, but just You, always you, wherever you look, wherever you breath, wherever you dine, wherever you rage, in the eyes of the other or in the leaves of the trees, shivering with the wings of the moth or carried aloft on the singing of frogs, it is all you. And the sooner you love yourself truly and intimately and deeply will you learn that loving another is to love yourself, because that's you over there, and to love yourself is to love the other, because we are no one when you do not know we are here as you, as your gift to yourself, alongside you helping you learn how to love yourself.

Perhaps there are other ways, too. Perhaps, in the end, there is nothing more than Power and its pursuit, suffering and the tears. Not what I will choose, but some do, don't they?

Posted by: Polemos | May 28 2020 21:50 utc | 22

Jen #12

Thank you for your analysis. In my case I am forbidden to travel in my vehicle and recreate in outdoors, in forests and kayak on streams etc. Confined to home! Instead of clear thinking there is repressive attitude toward even harmless activity.

Children are herded onto a sealed air conditioned bus and sent to school then back onto a sealed air conditioned bus and returned home!

Its the return journey that represents a huge risk after all that opportunistic contact through the day. Same for all users of public transport.

But it lacks logic. I guess australian states are dedicated to flattening the curve rather than eradicating the disease.

Excellent data and information at

somebody #7 Thank you for that reference:

In China, the treatment of the patients of COVID-19 with a Japan-made flue drug favipiravir has been effective, according to an official of the Chinese Science and Technology Ministry,

Posted by: uncle tungsten | May 28 2020 21:52 utc | 23

Posted by: Roberto | May 28 2020 20:12 utc | 10

A meta analysis now gives 0,75 IFR, this is 7,5 times deadlier than flu.

Combined with higher reproduction number than the flu and this gives you a significantly worse disease. Do you have parents?

Posted by: Passer by | May 28 2020 22:10 utc | 24

The only cultural feature I can think of is the (very recent) East Asian habit of using masks. Otherwise, I don't think there are that much of a difference between how Japan and South Korea are fighting the pandemic vis-a-vis the West.

The Japanese and the South Korean governments adopted a mixed policy very similar to that of the Western nations (excluding the UK, Sweden and the USA). They lucked out (assuming their numbers are trustworthy) by the fact they reacted before anyone else (because they are right next to China) and, I concede, because of their people's cultural affinity for social distance and using masks in public spaces.

There's circumstantial evidence that the Japanese and South Korean governments are very worried about loosing the grip. They may have been achieving success, but they don't seem to know why. At the same time, as capitalist countries, they must reopen soon. Abe and Moon are as worried as any Western head-of-State about when and how they should do that.

Also, we have the happy case o New Zealand - which is a Western country culturally speaking and also a capitalist country.

The true lesson here is that socialism was better suited than capitalism in tackling the pandemic. China, Vietnam, Cuba all had excellent results in flattening the curve with a fraction of the resources per capita of the likes of Germany, Italy, USA etc. I think this will become more evident as these next two years go by, since slowly but surely the capitalist countries - previously successful or not in containing the first wave - will continue to be castigated by the SARS-CoV-2 thanks to its structural necessity of keeping the cycles of capital going. I'm already placing my bet here that Japan will bleed while it drags its proverbial decadent corpse though the streets. It will push the cord in order to make that 2020 Olympics happen.

Posted by: vk | May 28 2020 22:12 utc | 25

Another periodic status update from Cook County (Chicago). There are now officially 75,000 confirmed cases and 3500 deaths out of a population of 5.2 million. About 1-1/2% are said to be positive. Still, most of us do not know anyone who has had it or even friend of a friend reported to have it. For myself I do now finally know a couple people who have been sick, have been officially tested, are included in the 75,000. Their reports make it sound nasty, and not standard flu, but not end of world scary.

It has hit the point where more and more of the little people are simply disbelieving that this is real. People who still believe chapter and verse of the MSM 9/11 tale, or who believe in the single magic bullet, are entirely disbelieving covid. Please, no flames. Simply reporting what is happening in immediate vicinity.

Posted by: oldhippie | May 28 2020 22:15 utc | 26

It is truly sad to see so many westerners so willing to throw away concepts of individual rights and the right to life AND liberty and pursuit of happiness for an incrementally more effective approach to the War Against the Virus (WAV).

Something to keep in mind: a despotic government that can force people to stay indoors, wear masks, stick medicines in their bodies, etc. on pain of imprisonment can (and will) commit all manner of other abuses. The genius of limited and divided government is precisely to prevent tyranny since, as any review of history would show, once enabled, tyranny is inevitable.

Posted by: Caliman | May 28 2020 22:24 utc | 27

Correct. Avoid crowded enclosed spaces like the plague.

Denial is a human natural defense mechanism. The West is full of it. When income is necessary for survival and companies do not spend money on protective gear for its employees since it cuts into their profits, the workers’ fear and anger are buried and acted out by attacking anyone wearing a mask, as implied in an ignorant tweet by the American President.

The real reason that the pandemic has struck Europe and North America so hard is not racial, New Zealand and Australia controlled the virus, it is ideological and economic. An amoral “get rich by any means” mentality seized the West. Frankly, the death of a 100,000 Americans or a million more due to the reopening of the 50 states is of no matter. Only profits matter. Western democracies were flushed down the drain and the EU and Global Trade Pacts replaced them. Corporations and the incompetent government wreckage leftover cannot control the pandemic. The Establishment will not spend the money to mount a national public health (test, trace and isolated the ill) campaign in the USA. This would cost the Elite way more than the little they pay in taxes now and would cut into pharmaceutical industry profits when the magical vaccine or patentable treatment become available sometime well into the future.

Instead the novel coronavirus is well on its way to becoming endemic in North America.

Posted by: VietnamVet | May 28 2020 22:39 utc | 28

Caliman @27--

Tyranny existed within the Outlaw US Empire prior and subsequent to the Revolution; it's not at all a modern development. It's even codified within the Constitution. Unmentioned is the slave-like status women endured--effectively property--until the opening of the Frontier provided some relief.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 28 2020 22:43 utc | 29

"The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality."

I disagree for several reasons:

1) "Selfishness" is not the same as "stupidity". What you are seeing is the *presentation* of stupidity as "concern for self." The problem is human stupidity, not concern for self over group. From an economic standpoint (economics being the study of human behavior in mass), *correct* concern for self over group actually *enhances* the group. This is what human trade is all about.
2) Personally, as an individualist anarchist of the Max Stirner variety, I prefer concern for self over group - especially when the group is stupid. Take advantage of the group's stupidity for one's own benefit. But not to the point of one's *own* stupidity - which is what the 1% are doing.
3) As for "changing" human behavior - good luck with that. Quoting Percival Rose again: "That ain't gonna happen."
4) People have been talking about "selfishness" for generation after generation - with zero effect - because they've ignored the root of human behavior: the fear of death, which controls *all* human emotion and behavior. Until *death* is "fixed" (sometime in the next fifty years, hopefully), nothing is going to change. So everyone is just going to have to *deal* with it.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 28 2020 22:57 utc | 30

Thanks b, esp. for that latest bit in transmission research. Behavioral changes become cultural changes. So much research ongoing - 4000 covid research papers published/pre-published in one week recently according to the TWiV podcast 616 or 617.
I would suggest that science based policy and commitment to a non-binding pandemic preparedness agreement are just as important as cultural behavior in the Asian experience of good government and health care during this pandemic.

Posted by: TDeL | May 28 2020 22:59 utc | 31

As for aerosols over droplets, I've been reading about that for the last month. I thought it was common knowledge. It's the obvious explanation for why some people get it and others don't. Fomites - the virus particles on surfaces - are supposedly responsible for only ten percent of transmission. The question was always to what *degree* aerosols were the transmission method over droplets. Quite a few articles I read debated that point, with evidence mounting that aerosols might have equal or more effect than droplets, at least as secondary transmission. Obviously if someone sneezes or coughs in your face at close range, droplets are the primary transmission. But there are tons of reports - and even video demonstrations on Youtube - of how far aerosols can be dispelled by breathing, talking, yelling, singing and coughs and sneezes. Aerosols can be spread up to 25 feet or more and hover in the air for up to 45 minutes, if not longer, depending on air temperature, humidity and air movement. Droplets can turn into aerosols depending on the same factors.

I started early on washing my hands religiously because due to the fact that I do not interact with hardly anyone in my building or elsewhere except during my supply runs, fomites would be the most likely way I could catch the virus. I have to use a common toilet - so touching the door and toilet lid would be my main risk. That's why I bought a thousand food service plastic gloves which I wear when using the john or going outside the building. When I return, I remove them by the recommended method, then wash my hands.

Initially I didn't have any masks because the depletion of the supply had already occurred. Now I have nineteen masks, 14 of which I use and rotate whenever going to the john or outside the building. I wear it when going to the john because I read recently that flushing a toilet aerosolizes fecal matter - and any virus particles - present in the water. In other words, you get a faceful of virus every time you flush a toilet. So close the lid before flushing. When I return, I wash my hands, remove the mask, then apply hand sanitizer or wash my hands again - which is the recommended procedure.

I now have an adequate supply of masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray (with some more of the latter coming), so I think I'm in a good position to reduce my risk. But of course, as with the rest of life, it's still a crapshoot.

It will be a worse crapshoot as these idiots start crowding places I have to go to for supplies. I use convenience stores a lot and they tend to be crowded because they are very small. I also visit the Target store, but they initially had the crowding under control - because you had to wait in line to get in, which took twenty minutes or more. Now with the easing of restrictions, they have eliminated the door check, so the store is a bit more crowded, but not too much. People might still be wary, as has been suggested by some articles and polls. It's a big store, so ventilation and air movement might be better than a smaller space.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 28 2020 23:24 utc | 32

@Richard Steven Hack | May 28 2020 23:24 utc | 32

The question was always to what *degree* aerosols were the transmission method over droplets

They are not mutually excusive. Aerosol transmission can theoretically occur when a droplet that contains virus particles dry out and they start chaotically move via Brownian motion of air molecules.

Looks like the virus does not die instantly in this case. After all it looks like it survives in dry state on surfaces for a day or two in the absence of sun radiation (depending on the surface -- longest on steel surfaces, shortest on copper)

Posted by: likbez | May 28 2020 23:40 utc | 33

@ Daniel (16):

Well said.

Posted by: Anonymous from Canad | May 28 2020 23:46 utc | 34

Interesting that they are so ready to dismiss or simply ignore the case for fine aerosol shedding being the culprit.

When I hear talk of vaccines on the news or see it on the interweb, my suspicious mind sees the groundwork for acceptance of a mass mandated vaccine push from the public.

Perhaps they are not mentioning fine aerosol transmission because it runs counter to their age-old push that coughing and sneezing are the main culprits.

I have already mentioned this study before that demonstrated the superior transmission ability of fine aerosol droplets over coughing and sneezing.

The above study also touches on the fact that those vaccinated against seasonal influenza for two years prior showed a 6.5x amount of fine aerosol shedding of the virus after contraction over unvaccinated.

It needs more study, but let's just say that a coronavirus vaccine which demonstrated 6.5x virulent fine aerosol shedding in carriers when administered would not bode well for their plan to capitalize on such a mandated treatment, especially if word got out that fine aerosol shedding was the main culprit in transmission.

I will continue to reiterate and remind the board here about the above study as talk of a vaccine increases. That is unless a contributor wants to challenge any of my above assertions or the legitimacy of the study that found higher transmission ability in those vaccinated.

Posted by: Nemesiscalling | May 29 2020 0:04 utc | 35

At last I found the Italian study that suggests that high air pollution levels could be part of the context in which the COVID-19 outbreak ravaged cities like Milan and Bergamo and their surrounds in Lombardia, in northern Italy, and in particular the role that particulate matter could have had in dispersing virus particles.

Leonardo Setti and others, "Is there a Plausible Role for Particulate Matter in the spreading of COVID-19 in Northern Italy?"

Air pollution in the Po Valley, especially particulate matter (PM) has received increasing attention in the past years, since exposure to PM2.5 and PM10 is notoriously associated with a number of adverse health effects, ranging from respiratory and cardiovascular to neurological and metabolic diseases or even premature death ... At the same time, a number of studies have shown that airborne transmission route could spread viruses even further the close contact with infected people ... An epidemic model based only on respiratory droplets and close contact could not fully explain the regional differences in the spreading of the recent severe acute respiratory syndrome COVID-19 in Italy, which was fast and dramatic only in Lombardy and the Po Valley.

The higher mortality rates associated with COVID19 observed in these areas, already characterized by atmospheric stability and high humidity, were proposed on March 16th 2020 in the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine (SIMA) Position Paper to be associated with the peaks of fine particulate matter concentrations, frequently exceeding the legal limit of 50 µg/m3 ... A significant correlation was found between the geographical distribution of the daily PM10 exceedances in 110 Italian Provinces and the spreading of the COVID-19 infection during the time-lapse of the study, with the number of PM10 exceedances being much more frequent in Lombardy and in cities located in the Po valley than those registered in Rome and Southern Italy, where the diffusion and lethality of the virus was significantly lower if compared with that observed in Northern regions ... Research carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health seems to confirm an association between increases in particulate matter concentration and mortality rates due to COVID-19 ...

These first observations suggest that particulate matter could be regarded as an indicator of the severity of COVID-19 infection in terms of diffusion and health outcomes. Further experimental studies could assess the possibility that particulate matter may act as a “carrier” for the viral droplet nuclei, impressing a boost effect for the spreading of the viral infection, as it has been shown for other viruses ...

Another study that became available online in mid-April 2020, due to be published in Science of the Total Environment in August, "Factors determining the diffusion of COVID-19 and suggested strategy to prevent future accelerated viral infectivity similar to COVID" highlights the following:

Transmission dynamics of COVID-19 is due to air pollution-to-human transmission rather than human-to-human transmission

Cities with more than 100 days of air pollution have a very high average number of infected individuals

Transmission dynamics of COVID-19 has a high association with air pollution of cities in the presence of low wind speed

Polluting cities in hinterland with low speed of wind have a [higher?] number of infected individuals than coastal cities

A strategy to prevent future epidemics has also to be based on sustainability science and environmental science

Significantly cities like Milan, Bergamo, Tehran and Wuhan are inland cities and are located in physical environments where at particular times of the year wind speed would be low, especially during thermal inversions.

If the conclusions of these and other studies done elsewhere outside Italy turn out to be the most plausible explanations for COVID-19 cluster outbreaks, then governments need to consider solutions that not only encourage public over private transport use but also ways of revitalising economic activity with technologies, systems and policies that minimise air pollution or which help to reduce or eliminate it.

Posted by: Jen | May 29 2020 0:11 utc | 36

Posted by: Caliman | May 28 2020 22:24 utc | 27

For too long we American been taught the freaking untruth... "willing to throw away concepts of individual rights and the right to life AND liberty and pursuit of happiness for an incrementally" Yeah used to believe exactly like you - freedom my arse, democracy, god, and life....

Look at Honkie locked in colonial ruled for 156-yrs can't speak a word of Chinese but dialect in Guangzhou. Chinese mean Putonghua, Mandarin Regardless spoken in Beijing, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or even in HK Putonghua.

HK rioters waving US and Brit flags destroying States properties. Recent HK exam question "Japan did more good than harm to China in the period 1900-45?" Can be repeated in the States... "US did more good than harm to native Indians or Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico? Or any places colonial rule including Africa and Latin America?...

One too must asked India "British did more good than harm to India?" Not forgetting India was a nation comprises of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and smaller States may or not originally part of India but along China, India, Pakistan Corridors or borders..

"...despotic government that can force people to stay indoors, wear masks, ... other abuses. The genius of limited and divided government is precisely to prevent tyranny since, as any review of history would show, once enabled, tyranny is inevitable.". Like Trump or even Obama regimes?

Too late the stoopidity voters like you continue voting Duopoly has brought about never ending wars and regimes changes

Posted by: JC | May 29 2020 0:29 utc | 37

@ #37:

Seriously? What you got from my messages was a defense of empire and the duopoly? Incredible!

Meanwhile, the system’s message is be afraid ... very afraid. Mask up citizen; don’t you know there’s a war on?

Good luck to all of us.

Posted by: Caliman | May 29 2020 2:30 utc | 38

B wrote
The "western" cultures allow for more selfishness of the individual. But over the longer timeframe cultures that emphasizes personal liberty and ignore the common good are likely to see their empire fail.

The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality.

And all the comments following that discuss this do not point out that, in fact, the West lives in a social contract dictatorship imposed by those that own global private finance.

Why don't more people understand the civilization war going on between the Western world of global private finance and China/a few others who represent an alternative social contract that has public finance at the core and is more designed to provide common good?

The answer to changing the selfish mentality is to take away finance from the private elite and force "ongoing non-corrupt" government to provide public utility finance that improves the common good.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 29 2020 2:39 utc | 39

"The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality."

This is the essence of the problem. But the "brain-lock" of neoliberalism is going to be almost impossible to break without catastrophic social breakdown. Neoliberalism is the dominant social meaning system of 'modern' capitalist society and it has been fully naturalized (embedded in our social institutions and even our individual understanding of the world—call it an operating system). We are barely aware of its scope in our lives.

Neoliberalism is an economic system. It is a hierarchical social system. It is an epistemological system. And it is an all pervasive cultural signification system. As such, it is a religion far more dangerous than the legacy religions which have run their course. We can hope that, what this pandemic is revealing to us about our society, is the beginning of the end of neoliberalism, but its tentacles are embedded everywhere. And the lobotomy will not be pretty.

Posted by: Tower | May 29 2020 2:45 utc | 40

B, between this post and your last post about Afghans wanting to throw out the invader, you are on a roll.

I wholeheartedly agree on how you identify easterners in their willingness to privilege the collective over the individual wrt locking themselves down. Yes, we in the west are selfish people. There are a few things we can learn from easterners. But I would say not to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to keeping the west for westerners.

I also very much agree that the Afghans, as a people apart, can do well and better without the intrusion of the west and its politics under the Taliban. This thesis gives credence to the notion of a unifying body of people who know an intruder when they see one. And from this a sense of border emerges to differentiate their way of life and one which they choose to express from those non-Afghans.

This is the apolitical b that I very much appreciate. Thank you!

Posted by: NemesisCalling | May 29 2020 2:48 utc | 41

Posted by: likbez | May 28 2020 23:40 utc | 33 They are not mutually excusive.

Uhm, that's what "degree" means. And did you miss "Droplets can turn into aerosols depending on the same factors"?

Sorry to nit-pick, but you didn't read my post closely enough - an apparent failing pandemic to the posters here.

But you're completely correct on everything you said, so there's that. :-)

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 29 2020 2:56 utc | 42

Bruce Schneier - well-known in infosec circles - references an article - Thermal Imaging as Security Theater - on the value - or lack of same - for thermal imaging as a measure to detect infected persons in groups. Short version: it probably won't work well. (Let's see if I did this HREF right...)

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 29 2020 3:05 utc | 43

More government incompetence...this time in the surprise there.

Laughing UK health secretary launches COVID-19 Test and Trace programme with glitchy website and no phone app.

As trials of the technology continue, it has been found to be riddled with bugs and open to abuse.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 29 2020 3:12 utc | 44

Good masks and touch management saved East Asians.

The other factor: The teams also asked whether people who haven’t been infected with SARS-CoV-2 also produce cells that combat it. Thiel and colleagues analyzed blood from 68 uninfected people and found that 34% hosted helper T cells that recognized SARS-CoV-2. The La Jolla team detected this crossreactivity in about half of stored blood samples collected between 2015 and 2018, well before the current pandemic began. The researchers think these cells were likely triggered by past infection with one of the four human coronaviruses that cause colds; proteins in these viruses resemble those of SARS-CoV-2.
The results suggest “one reason that a large chunk of the population may be able to deal with the virus is that we may have some small residual immunity from our exposure to common cold viruses,” says viral immunologist Steven Varga of the University of Iowa.

Posted by: Antonym | May 29 2020 3:34 utc | 45

Another angle on this whole debacle, is that the western elites are totally corrupt. They are long past valuing truth, the common good, honor, anything. They will say whatever they feel is useful for them to say in the moment - and if you disagree, you are a racist, a fascist, and Literally Hitler.

So masks ran short, and they came up with the 'little white lie' that masks are useless - not because masks are useless, but because, having shipped all of our mask-producing factories to communist China, it would have been embarrassing to say that masks are indeed important too bad we threw them all away tough luck sucker.

Fake Nobel Prizewinner Paul Krugman (check it out on wikipedia: there is not actually such a thing as the Nobel Prize in Economics) kept shilling that shipping all of our industries to China would be wonderful and only fascist retards could object. Now, seeing as in a disaster we no longer can produce what we need, does the eminent Dr. Krugman apologize for being wrong? Of course not, because he wasn't wrong, he was lying! And he's got his, so there!

I am hearing that there are still many places where people are being arrested for walking alone in the woods - even though that is absolutely the safest thing they can do! But keep repeating "safer indoors,' evidence be damned, it's nice to be king, and to not suffer any bad consequences for your mistakes or folly.

And don't get me started on the "bipartisan" stimulus bill, that gave crumbs to the working class and trillions of dollars in government bailouts and subsidies to the super rich. And there was no opposition, it's all rubbish.

Posted by: TG | May 29 2020 4:38 utc | 46

... an apparent failing pandemic to the posters here.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 29 2020 2:56 utc | 42

Nice that you a_p_p_a_r_e_n_t_l_y use you real and identifiable name, because I know who is responsible for overheating my brain.

Is a pandemic infecting the poster, and while it appears to be failing, in fact it does not?

Or "appearance to fail" is the main symptom of that pandemic? But not actual failures?

Or "apparent" means "manifestly visible", and in the context, not only visible but also actual?
Whatever it is, "pandemic" suggests a transient but global condition, while virtual communities typically host enduring collections of memes, hence mental dis-functions tend to be endemic.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 29 2020 4:57 utc | 47

One of the many mysteries of the Covid-19 pandemic is how the disease actually spreads.

I think it spreads via Twitter. A certain Joe Biden started to talk about a "pandemic" October 25 last year

@JoeBiden Oct 25, 2019

We are not prepared for a pandemic. Trump has rolled back progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security. We need leadership that builds public trust, focuses on real threats, and mobilizes the world to stop outbreaks before they reach our shores.

How come he knew at that point there would be much talk of a pandemic?

Posted by: Norwegian | May 29 2020 5:57 utc | 48

In the passage explaining the absence of observation for aerosol, the SA study expressly attributes the responsibility for [the (braindead) design pretexting] official ignorance of what was evident about aerosol contagion from the start, even though in part unproven yet at the time. Responsible: the WHO recommendation, the medical establishment that inexplicably keeps drafting them, along with the equally faulty recommendations in most individual Western countries led by the US.

It was evident. Our empirical knowledge, since at least the Black Death of the 13th century, of speed and patterns of contagion was suggesting it. Several experienced experts had warned (like Wathelet) and been ignored, some of them demoted. Proof came very soon and was ignored for weeks, even suppressed.

The idea of some medico-political Nuremberg might be worth discussing.

Posted by: Piero Colombo | May 29 2020 7:14 utc | 49

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 29 2020 4:57 utc | 47 Whatever it is, "pandemic" suggests a transient but global condition, while virtual communities typically host enduring collections of memes, hence mental dis-functions tend to be endemic.

Well, I was referring to this site in the hope that it might prove "pandemic." But you're right - worldwide, it is endemic. :-)

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 29 2020 7:36 utc | 50

Posted by: Polemos | May 28 2020 21:50 utc | 22

"social distancing" is framed after "social media". It is Orwell speak. Both activities are the very opposite of social.

I tend to think it is modern stupidity. It is well known from history how epidemics spread. It is NOT exponential. You can spread "social media" exponentially. It is also corruptness and stupidity of experts with smaller and smaller areas of expertise.

Posted by: somebody | May 29 2020 8:20 utc | 51

Interesting that Thailand has been ignored by Western press - independent (never colonized) and pro-Chinese stance? Regardless, we initiated curfew and banned alcohol to prevent large gatherings. Nightclubs, malls and large restaurants closed. Spacing in public. Masks recommended outside but freedom to buy food, medicine and go about.
Thais don't shake hands, kiss or hug in public and generally don't gather with strangers.
So far, 3046 cases, none local for a week, only 57 deaths in pop. 70 million. Recovered plasma used to help new patients, vaccine testing on monkeys.
Phase 3 of emergency to be lifted end of June. Our "3rd world" system seems to be working better than Sweden's "common sense".

Posted by: Jack_Garbo | May 29 2020 9:04 utc | 52

Posted by: Jack_Garbo | May 29 2020 9:04 utc | 53

You cannot tell what would have happened without those measures. Presumably the same. March through June are the hot season in Thailand?
Influenza season starts with the rainy season? They overlap.

Posted by: somebody | May 29 2020 9:14 utc | 53

Don't forget the simple correlation between being indoors and interpersonal distance. For many people, going indoors means not just sharing the same air circulation but also would bring them closer to colleagues, students, friends, patients and family, almost by definition. Indoors means then by on average more intimacy. And increasing the numbers of people in any indoor location also put strain on the mechanical or natural ventilation. Nothing new but becoming even more relevant.

Hence it will be hard to separate the potential multiple causes until a laboratory can definitely exclude or otherwise quantify the virus spread through aerosols under all possible different atmospheres and social distances.

Posted by: John Dowser | May 29 2020 9:14 utc | 54

Very odd that nationalism and Japan are suddenly given as examples to follow. Reminds me Emmanuel Todd's weird love of Japan's capitalism.
Japan and South Korea are now having cases related to the very contagious and very lethal strain that has spread from Europe throughout the holidays and business trips made in February/March and now back to Asia via repatriations. Some countries have peaked, some haven't yet.
Maybe with its aging population, Japan suddenly though it might be worth follow the French/UK/NL way of controled elderly population reduction? We will know soon enough. So conveniently untracable to put the fault on underpaid staff.
Of course, that does not mean they don't have a treatment. It would also explained how Israel was able to reopen so quickly after a very high spike and impossible-to-control fundamentalist clusters.

Posted by: Mina | May 29 2020 9:31 utc | 55

The confusion about aerosols bothers me. You would think that someone has measured the amount of aerosol someone puts in the air in a room. There will be a decay which depends on the virus and on humidity: in dry air the virus dries out which affects its halflife. With heavy droplets proximity is all that counts. With heavy aerosol air movement starts to matter. With aerosol all that counts is virus density.
If halflife is long then the virus in the room is proportional to the time the sick person spends inside. The virus absorbed by the other person is proportional to the time if the first person already left, but quadratic if the other person came in together. You'd want to know the threshold(as a statistical value) amount which is needed to infect sb.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | May 29 2020 9:36 utc | 56

Posted by: Ross | May 29 2020 8:39 utc | 52

At least in Germany, officials resisted the "dangerous virus" narrative till Mid-March when dramatic images from Italy came in. Those Italian "images of a catastrophe" made the population hysterical. It happened with "catastrophic images from China" before, but that did not really translate into action in Germany, as far, far away.

We will definitely know when/if we force the government to explain the decision process, but I guess in addition to this, European governments response was forced by Neil's Ferguson's /Imperial College of London's Covid-19 spread model, which was proven to be faulty.

The same personnel that did the swine flue hoax.

It is obvious in hindsight, but for any politician whose main competence is to read the mood of the public, it is a double bind. Some went for short term dictatorship, as favored by fearful people, some went for long-term reasonability which was difficult to get into mainstream media, anything else but the "dangerous pandemic narrative" was called "conspiracy theory".

Mainstream media in Germany are still doing a kind of gaslighting campaign by throwing reports of "dangerous infection" into reports of ridiculously low numbers and the police has taken up the fight with young people who - securing future birth rates - congegrate on public places with alcohol as they have always done.

I don't know how they want to get out of this without admitting they were wrong, but people are really creative this way. Main narrative now is "We did everything right as nothing has happened". When you start thinking along those lines it is a sure recipe for going mad, but people might prefer it to the frightening thought that their leaders are incompetent.

I am grateful Germany has a federal system It helps a lot.

Posted by: somebody | May 29 2020 9:38 utc | 57

Lambert Strether has collected reports ...
https :// ...

Oh my God! What is the world coming to? First treating NYT as a reliable source of factual news information, now treating Naked Capitalism as a reliable source of medical information! What next?

Far more reliable information can be found in medical research from China, relatively untainted by the greed and corruption of Big Pharma. Chinese research has long since shown that the main dangers from aerosols are confined to hospital settings where lots of Covid-19 patients together produce a much higher viral load, compared to domestic environments. The virus is far less infectious than claimed in the West, at least 35% of people never before exposed to the virus have T-cells in their immune systems capable of fighting the virus, and in about 80% of people exposed to the virus there are either no symptoms or the symptoms are mild, often not even noticed. Thus it is not the slightest bit surprising that the rate of intra-familial infection in the home is small. However what the Chinese studies clearly showed is that - apart from the hospital setting mentioned above - most infections take place through contact with surfaces. Those Chinese studies are also in the context of a society where the vast majority of people where masks as a matter of course - the majority simple masks not capable of reliably filtering 5nm aerosols (i.e. not N95, FF1 etc). The Chinese studies also showed that there is also very good reason to believe that infections result from droplets (not aerosols) passed between people speaking to each other in close proximity with =out masks, and similar situations.

There are those in the West persistently peddling disinformation - especially the US government, the UK government, Big Pharma interests, the MSM, financial interests, vaccine interests especially Bill Gates, and their associated lackeys. When one tirade of disinformation wears too thin they replace it with a new tirade of disinformation - the British and US governments are especially good examples of this.

Anyone looking for information in the wrong places can only expect to reap confusion and disappointment. If you concentrate instead on the very high quality scientific research from China you will have a lot more success.

I suspect aerosol transmission could be important in connection with air conditioning, particularly in certain specific circumstances (such as old buildings in Lombardy, buses, taxis and cars especially where used at excessive levels, etc). But the evidence so far, as far as residential conditions are concerned, seems to be much more consistent with contact with droplets on surfaces. I predict that the latest fad for aerosol-transmission (ouside of specific conditions where they are or may be important) will prove to be just that - another disinformation fad, after "herd immunity", "lockdowns" [specifically in the context of failing to look after the vulnerable, lumping everybody together, lack of contact tracing, testing and isolating - better described as a suicide pact].

A simple rule of thumb: for any claims peddled by Western governments and their lackeys, rely on a good dose of scepticism as primary litmus.

Posted by: BM | May 29 2020 9:39 utc | 58

Interesting that Thailand has been ignored by Western press ...
Posted by: Jack_Garbo | May 29 2020 9:04 utc | 53

Thailand is an interesting case. Yes, compared to many other countries the death rate is extremely low - 0.8 per million according to Worldometer. They reacted quite quickly and firmly, preventing it getting out of control at the beginning. But since then they have gone out of control in the other extreme - far more restrictive measures and especially for far longer than necessary or appropriate. Why wait so long before opening up when they had the infection well under control so long ago? The longer they wait, the higher the cost on the economy, and the more desperate will be the need for a "return to normal" for economic grounds.

The fact is that the genie is out of the bottle and will never be put back - so when Thailand does eventually open its borders again there is guaranteed to be reinfection. It would have been far far better to have opened the borders - gradually and with stringent limitations - back at the end of April (when it was already reasonably well under control), and open up a little bit at a time. The longer they wait, the more sudden the opening will have to be for economic reasons. That way they could have reduced the economic impact, more gradually got used to the "new normal" of having to detect infected cases coming in, and reduced the desperation (those wanting to get back to work, restart businesses, come in, come out, etc) that when the opening eventually comes is bound to cause a lot of big mistakes.

Thailand would be a good example if it had not gone to such extremes. I am doubtful if it can handle the aftermath, both economic and social. Even Thai Airways has filed for bankruptcy.

Posted by: BM | May 29 2020 10:11 utc | 59

Norwegian @ 28

I think it[covid19] spreads via Twitter

lol. i wonder if any pathogen has ever been more scrutinized by such a horde of pseudo scientists as this one?

...the slicing and dicing will continue, because only if we divide time into ever smaller increments will the record for the 100 yard dash be broken.

Posted by: john | May 29 2020 10:31 utc | 60

Singapore evacuated a building as early as February after they found people who had caught the virus while on different floors. Of course we dont know if by ventilation or door/elevator button...
(vitamin C as part of the prophylaxy!! not a bad idea... too hard for Western govs to even mention it)

Posted by: Mina | May 29 2020 10:37 utc | 61

(vitamin C as part of the prophylaxy!! not a bad idea... too hard for Western govs to even mention it)
Posted by: Mina | May 29 2020 10:37 utc | 62

In about 2002 I was told that a young junior minister in the French government was going around all the other European governments, at the instigation of Big Pharma, trying to persuade all EU governments to ban all sales of vitamin C without a prescription. (The motivation, of course, was to ever increase dependency on drugs, as always. At that time Big Pharma was afraid the influence of herbal medicine was increasing, and there was a movement to tighten up restrictions on anything good for the health). He had limited success at that time. At the time the name was unfamiliar to me and I didn't memorise it, but since then I have long suspected it was Sarkozy, does anybody know? Both timing and connections would seem to be right for Sarkozy.

Posted by: BM | May 29 2020 10:53 utc | 62

Turkey reopening June 1st

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | May 29 2020 11:09 utc | 63

Posted by: john | May 29 2020 10:31 utc | 60

The side effects are sometimes worse than the illness.

Posted by: somebody | May 29 2020 11:24 utc | 64

Serologically, the virus is and has been for some weeks now old news. All serious studies are converging to 0.2% mortality - in line with moderately severe corona virus flu epidemics.

Of course, that's not the point. The panic has to be kept going at least until the pharma guys have cashed in their vaccine checks. And Visa/Mastercard have won the fight against cash. And the "security" guys have caught up as well, helping themselves to the tax money pots for installing required new thermal cameras. That South Africa study should now refocus our fears - "clusters!" - and distract us from the mounting evidence from less dubious origins. Prof Streeck in Germany had shown a while ago that transmission is only possible through close contact, he didn't manage to grow virus in human cells that was transmitted over surfaces or as aerosol.

Oh have you heard about the deadliest of Covid-19 plagues the UK is having? Well, not the virus itself, the trick is in lots of collaterial deaths on care homes, and of course counting all and sundry as "Covid":

Dr John Lee’s latest piece in the Spectator points out that the way Covid deaths are being counted is incredibly unreliable. He writes:

Normally, two doctors are needed to certify a death, one of whom has been treating the patient or who knows them and has seen them recently. That has changed. For COVID-19 only, the certification can be made by a single doctor, and there is no requirement for them to have examined, or even met, the patient. A video-link consultation in the four weeks prior to death is now felt to be sufficient for death to be attributed to COVID-19. For deaths in care homes the situation is even more extraordinary. Care home providers, most of whom are not medically trained, may make a statement to the effect that a patient has died of COVID-19. In the words of the Office for National Statistics, this “may or may not correspond to a medical diagnosis or test result, or be reflected in the death certification”. From March 29th the numbers of ‘Covid deaths’ have included all cases where COVID-19 was simply mentioned on the death certificate – irrespective of positive testing and whether or not it may have been incidental to, or directly responsible for, death. From April 29th the numbers include the care home cases simply considered likely to be COVID-19.

Posted by: Leser | May 29 2020 12:15 utc | 65

Covid 19 is a bio medical disease but the crisis is a social, political and economic one. American capitalism -- the entire social formation of the US -- can't deal with it. The true nature of that social formation -- rampant inequality, racism, total domination of capital over every aspect of governance and society -- is illuminated.

I don't care about reopening that bullshit society here. Disney, shopping malls, bad movies, frat parties, mass consumerism as the pinnacle of existence: the world is better off without the American way of life.

We need to suppress the disease but only to get our friends back and to build a different society.

Posted by: Prof K | May 29 2020 12:17 utc | 66

I do not think that generally the American people are selfish, at least not in my general life experience - or, at least, no more selfish than the people in any other country. I am not even sure what that remark means. We need to remember that we have been receiving from BSMSM all kinds of doom and gloom news, conflicting news, changing news, every other day. People can't believe anything they hear at this point. Also, being that Bill Gates has huge economic investments in vaccine production, it is hard to take him seriously. IMO, China IS a dictatorship. The Chinese government micro-manages everybody's movements. Nobody has a vote. It is all top down and they have no trouble quarantining a MILLION people. To end, I think 3 things. We might be sicker; we take more medications, especially ace inhibitors. We are all beaten over the head with vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, as if nothing else will help a person fight this flu. What about better health habits? We are victims of big pharma advertising, media complicity in this and we receive very little MSM info. about how to keep our immune systems working (which is NOT staying in the house and not interacting with anybody). The latest CDC news says the mortality rate is 0.26%, with most of the people dying over 70 or 80 - old. Is that true? I think that in the end the pandemic will run its course, lockdown or no lockdown.

Posted by: lizzie dw | May 29 2020 12:23 utc | 67

On the question of the origin of this novel corona virus type, I'm copying an intriguing comment from poster "Posa" elsewhere:

In reply to a previous post:
"For instance, if it was to turn out that this virus may have come about because of an accidental lab release that would have implications for how we do viral research in laboratories all around the world which could make doing research much harder," he said, adding "So I think the inclination of virus researchers would be to presume that it came from an animal until proven otherwise because that would have less ramifications for how we are able to do research in the future. The alternative obviously has quite major implications for science and science on viruses, not just obviously political ramifications which we’re all well aware of."

So let's suppose that the US OUTSOURCED research to create "Chimeric, Gain of Function" franken viruses that was banned in the US? How would US "scientists" react? They'd claim that the virus jumped from animals. Except for one problem: they can't tell us what animals the CS-2 jumped from

And what if Fauci himself administered the grant to do this outsourced "Chimeric, Gain of Function" himself?

To that end, please refer to

NEWSWEEK Headline 28 April 2020

Dr. Fauci Backed Controversial Wuhan Lab with Millions of U.S. Dollars for Risky Coronavirus Research

NEWSWEEK blew the whole BSL-4 story sky high a few weeks ago.

To put a fine line under this: NIH (Francis Collins) and NIAID (Fauci) outsourced "Chimeric, GoF" research to the Wuhan BSL-4, effectively pulling an end run around the US ban on this research between 2014-2017. The grant continued through 2019. The US is DEEPLY COMPLICIT in the events leading to any leakage of a lab-made SARS-CoV-2 (“SC-2”) “franken virus”.

If you want to know about BSL-4 research ASK FAUCI (NIAID) and COLLINS (NIH) ... they wrote and administered the NIH research contract for Wuhan BSL-4 to create "chimeric, Gain of Function" franken viruses.

You can review the grant and the funding history here. Take a look at the NIH grant administered by Fauci's NIAD starting in 2014-2020.

The grant is issued to the EcoAlliance, which operates in the US and overseas, at Wuhan. EcoAlliance specializes in Bat SARS viral research. The grant states:

"We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential."

S proteins are the SC-2 spikes (“coronas” or crowns) that attach to the ACE-2 bronchial cell “Receptor Binding Domain” (RBD) and then “cleave” open the cells for the SC-2 to inject RNA into bronchial cells, often causing profound pneumonia ie COVID-19. The SC-2 virus was deliberately mutated in animal models to create perfectly adapted S proteins, with an exceptionally strong affinity for human ACE-2 lung tissue. SC-2 was a precision engineered -in-the-lab virus using sequential infection methods, a form of controlled, highly accelerated “natural selection” mutation -- a targeted mutation.

Furthermore, the NEWSWEEK demolishes the flimsy cover story from “Nature Medicine” that claims the CS2 virus is 100%, pure and natural. The “Nature Medicine” research published on 17 March is a farrago of spit-ball conjectures based on the Wuhan Wet Market fairy tale, and grossly misleading straw man arguments about irrelevant bio-engineering techniques. The “Nature Medicine” conspicuously ignored the more prevalent methods of "guided, accelerated" natural selection using animal models.

A cheeky layman’s takedown of the Nature Medicine propaganda written by a virologist is found here:***-debunking-the-proximal-origin-of-sars-cov-2-claiming-covid-19-wasnt-from-a-lab/

If anyone wants to know what went on at the Wuhan BSL-4 lab, subpoena all the grant reports at NIH- NIAID; interview Collins, Fauci and staff scientists, and do the same at EcoAlliance.

COVID-19 was a major blunder (not at all unanticipated at that), not malicious, but mixed with a lot of hubris and now deceit. We CANNOT allow ourselves to be stampeded into a WMD-style catastrophe by unscrupulous and mendacious actors in this unfolding global crisis.

Demand that the entire EcoAlliance grant file be disclosed for public inspection. This may be of great assistance in understand what experiments were underway at Wuhan- BSL-4.

Posted by: Leser | May 29 2020 12:25 utc | 68

This idiocy about the "cause of death" in COVID-19 cases is simply ridiculous.

Yes, most (not necessarily all) people seriously affected by the disease have some sort of comorbidity. That's a clear fact.

BUT...most people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are *showing symptoms*. They are *not* dying asymptomatically.

What that means is the patient is showing symptoms of a viral infection, and presumably has a history of comorbidity.

The bottom line is that no doctor is going to say the death was caused by COVID-19 *unless* there were *symptoms* that COVID-19 presents. They are *not* going to sign a death certificate when someone just keels over with a heart attack or a stroke or suffocating to death and just *assume* COVID-19.

People die from their comorbidities every single day. The doctors who sign those death certificates know that the patient had a morbidity disease and that's what killed them and that is what is on the death certificate. If those people are *not* showing symptoms of a virus, that is *not* stated on the death certificate.

And the symptoms of this virus is not just the usual flu symptoms. It is the *effects* on the body which in COVID-19 are very clearly more severe than a normal flu or cold.

The bottom line is those people who died from a comorbidity who showed symptoms of a viral infection probably would *not* have died had they *not* had the infection - whether it was COVID-19 or ordinary flu - or even a common cold.

In fact, one can rationally say that COVID-19 doesn't kill *anyone*. What it does is present enough damage to the body - via pneumonia, blood clots, and removing the brakes on immune system reaction - that *indirectly* it enables the comorbidity to kill the patient. In essence, it *takes advantage* of any comorbidity which weakens the patient's physical strength and immune system.

While there may be in *some* cases - probably statistically insignificant - an error in ascribing the cause of death to COVID-19 - or the reverse, ascribing a COVID-19 death that was actually the result of the comorbidity - this *cannot* account for the number of deaths being recorded in places like Italy and New York nor can it account for the fact that the vast majority of these patients were clearly exhibiting the effects of the disease before their death.

The medical profession *do* have a significant percentage of incompetent morons, like every other profession. In fact, one can assume a Bell Curve in *all* professions - meaning fifty percent of those in the profession are dumber than the other fifty percent.

But what is really *pig fucking witless STUPID* is the notion that everyone - or even a significant percentage - who has died in the last two months has had their deaths misdiagnosed as COVID-19 when it was really a comorbidity. The medical profession is *not* that fucking stupid.

This is just another brainless conspiracy theory from people who have a *terminal* case of cognitive dissonance - or are just - again - pig fucking witless stupid.

And I don't give a shit whether anyone on this site is offended by that characterization. If you support the notion that this virus is no more dangerous than the normal flu, or that most of deaths ascribed to COVID-19 are misdiagnosed, then you are a moron not worth engaging here.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 29 2020 13:14 utc | 69

Posted by: vk | May 29 2020 13:19 utc | 70 South Korea doesn't know what it's doing:

Maybe. Maybe not.

But just imagine how that's going to work in the US. We can just about assume that we'll be in lockdown again by June or July. And that's still just the first wave. Imagine where we'll be when flu season starts on top of the coronavirus second wave. Many of the people who would get normal flu will then get coronavirus on top of that flu - because their immune systems are already compromised by the normal flu. Those people who would normally die from regular flu will get killed by both the normal flu and the coronavirus. But many people will not get the regular flu - or more precisely, they will get the coronavirus first - and if they would not have died from normal flu, they will die from the coronavirus because COVID-19 is considerably more damaging than normal flu.

Idiots will then claim all these patients died from normal flu or their comorbidities and *not* the coronavirus. So we'll come back out of lockdown too soon again. No matter how high the death toll goes, some morons will continue to claim that the coronavirus is no more dangerous than the normal flu. Nothing will change the minds of these morons.

It's going to be circus - a circus where scores of thousands are going to die. A death toll of 200,000 by end of the year or the end of flu season next year would seem likely.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 29 2020 13:39 utc | 71

Russia records 30% rise in daily coronavirus deaths

Capitalist Russia is a failed experiment. The numbers show it. It's time to stop with that neo-paleoconservatism orthodox christian bullshit and admit the simple and obvious fact on the field.

And this admission of failure should start with one individual: Vladmir V. Putin.

I'm not saying Russia should go back to the USSR exactly as it was - it is impossible either way - but to go back to a reformed USSR, more similar to what China is doing now. With some modifications ("Russian Characteristics") it is feasible in some five or six decades, if started now (or in one or two decades, with a violent revolution).

One thing is certain: the Russian people should definitely miss the USSR by now. If they don't, they are objectively stupid.

Posted by: vk | May 29 2020 13:50 utc | 72

Sweden left out of Nordic border reopenings

As they like to say in the West: the proof of the pudding is in the taste.

Posted by: vk | May 29 2020 15:52 utc | 73

"Yves Smith has written about her recent personal experience in a hospital in Alabama where even the staff were not wearing masks and were also otherwise quite careless. This at a time where numbers in Alabama are surging."
Nicole Sirotek claims the NYC hospital workers were outright murdering the patients!

A quick glance shows NY state fatality rate= 1524 per million.
Alabama fatality rate= 121 per million (will take a lot of incompetence and "Surging" to catch the catastrophe that is covid-19 NY State style.)

Also the NY Times noted most outbreaks in the US were traced back to a NYC strain (excepting West Coast, which has handled its own epidemics much better).

Posted by: michael888 | May 29 2020 16:21 utc | 74

RSH wrote:

It's going to be circus - a circus where scores of thousands are going to die. A death toll of 200,000 by end of the year or the end of flu season next year would seem likely.

Ir may be that a lot more than that will die and it may be that a lot less will die. By now it should be obvious that predicting the future of this virus is foolish.

On the question of transmission mechanism:
If everyone wearing masks in public really does work (the evidence suggests it does) then it is doubtful that much transmission is by aerosols.

One of the problems with figuring this stuff out is that (as far as I understand) the method used (PCR) to test for the virus has no way of telling anything about how infectious the detected virus particles are. The test has no way of distinguishing between viable and non-viable virus particles. So if you detect the virus in an aerosol or in an ventilation duct or anywhere else, that does not mean that detected virus would ever be able to infect anyone.

Posted by: jinn | May 29 2020 16:28 utc | 75

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | May 29 2020 9:36 utc | 56

That was measured in one study, the virus survives 3 hours in the air staying on aerosols, after release.

That is, it can be in an empty room's air 3 hours after someone having it was in.

Posted by: Passer by | May 29 2020 17:38 utc | 76

jinn | May 29 2020 16:28 utc | 75

>>So if you detect the virus in an aerosol or in an ventilation duct or anywhere else, that does not mean that detected virus would ever be able to infect anyone.

They actually measure if the detected virus is infectious (viable) by infecting human cells.

>>If everyone wearing masks in public really does work (the evidence suggests it does) then it is doubtful that much transmission is by aerosols.

Good, but the wide spread surgical masks block 80 % of aerosols as opposed to N95 and FFP2, who block 95 %, not bad at all. It will certainly mean lower numbers of infected people and milder symptoms and death rate for those who got infected due to lower viral loads.

Then masks will block the spread of it too, from infected people, to a certain extent. So yes, mask help.

Posted by: Passer by | May 29 2020 18:02 utc | 77

Excellent post, although you are wrong about one thing: the United States is not a Democracy. Since when has the popular will had any impact on any policy matter of any substance?

What do I think about "Democracy?" To paraphrase Ghandi, I think that it might be a good idea. In the meantime, the problems in the United States are not too much "Democracy" but a ruling elite that is utterly corrupt and unaccountable and unconcerned about the nation as a whole.

Posted by: TG | May 29 2020 18:44 utc | 78

Said right away that COV was spread by aerosols, there is no other way to explain the spread.. vk disagreed, rightly so I guess at the time, yeah. Passerby at 1 had the same take.

Anyway -- some things are becoming clearer. Note many officials say ‘we don’t know enough’ etc., this is BS, much is understood, they use it as an excuse to not care, not enforce proper measures, etc.

I wish there was more de-bunking of ‘scientism’ based on ‘formulas’, ‘expressions’, ‘numbers’ that are pretty meaningless and are thrown about to impress, to hide ignorance, to boost an argument which is about something quite other, or to justify some Gvmt. policy (e.g. ‘flatten the curve’ - posted about that before.)

As pointed out in top post, R0 is not very useful or interesting. No fancy math or the Scientist articles are needed.

Understanding super-spreaders (they *do* exist) is simple, one infected person can in the space of 2 days have contact with 500, 700 ppl.

Invented ex. based on real COV profiles / occurences: She is a conference conveneer, a party girl, highly popular, she travels quickly from one spot to another (cab), goes to nighclubs, lives in a dense city, visits her gran in a care home, etc.…

By contrast, another infected person has no contact in 4 days, infects nobody.

The ‘average’ from models makes no sense because nobody knows what factors to build in (how many party girls doing what-all in what enviro conditions, how many susceptible ppl are around, etc. etc.) — the variability is too high.

Plus, the timing is presumed implicit / not taken into account, if one cares to be ‘mathematically’ correct. Ex. if R is 1.5 - each infected person infects one and half others and the incubation time is one year? Well, that means that nobody would have noticed COV at all.. for 20 years or ever.. This also gets mixed up with the time it takes to become severly ill and die - ex. if ‘day infected’ to death takes 3 days, there is not much chance of spread and the virus dies.

k is an attempt to deal with part of the mess. Imho it doestn’t help analyis, and certainly not ppl on the ground and the spread.

What about asking ppl if they feel ill, need help, providing them with doc visits, assessment, care options? (Free.) Taking them to an ISO hospital and giving them ‘premium care’ if tested pos, suffering a bit, to very sick? With free wi-fi (lap tops provided) and nice nurses, choice of meals? Telling their families lovers etc. one brief scheduled visit every 3 days, is fine, let us know?

How hard is that? How much does that cost?

Compared to, say, invading Iraq?

Posted by: Noirette | May 29 2020 18:53 utc | 79

Passer wrote:
They actually measure if the detected virus is infectious (viable) by infecting human cells.
That's not what the article you linked to says.
It says:
"However, although the viruses were able to infect cells in the laboratory, how much virus is likely to cause infections in people remains to be studied."

It is not clear what they mean by infecting cells in the laboratory. The test for the virus mimics the process of infecting cells but does not reveal whether the virus is viable enough to infect a person.

Posted by: jinn | May 29 2020 19:22 utc | 80

good post noirette.... thanks to you and many others here for commenting more at length...

Posted by: james | May 29 2020 19:25 utc | 81

Prof K @66--

Agreed. Seems Wall Street brokerage firms haven't been getting their fair share of the virus. Odd when it's considered they have more of everything. Providing more virus to Wall Street would be considered a public service don't ya think!

Posted by: karlof1 | May 29 2020 19:40 utc | 82

Posted by: jinn | May 29 2020 19:22 utc | 80

They use vero‐E6 human cells for testing virus infectivity, it is widely used in the world method for testing various coronaviruses.

Do you have information that this is not a viable method and did you inform heatlth authorities about your information/findings?

Posted by: Passer by | May 29 2020 20:11 utc | 83

Aerosols or droplets or fomites or surfaces. Deaths because of covid19 or with covid 19 Depending on which side of whatever disagreement the numbers are wrong in different directions. unhealthy eople in the past have died with a rhinovirus infection , respitory syntical virus, flu or one of the 4 other corona viruses that cause respiratory illness. the only thing known for sure is how many people died and that is only really known a few weeks later. It is entirely unknown just how accurate the several rt PCV tests or the many antibody tests are.
It still clear that only unhealthy people are at any risk for death. Overworked health workers, or paramedics with lack of sleep and exposed to much more virus than we will occasionally get sick with more severe symptoms than the other 95%+ of us. yes it does cost more to be healthy for most people these days so more poor will die. So for the AI community , Bill Gates and crew, big Pharma, the pentagon and national security state, virologists, public health bureaucrats - what's not to like about a virus that mostly only kills old people with co-morbidities and unhealthy poor people.
So what was the reason that the global economy was shut down and the all the bad things that will cause. That could only happen if the powers that be (PTB) would make it happen. In the short term it saved the dollar dominance. In the long term it will help usher in the entirely digitalized financial system and the control that entails. Most of the PTB now think that AI is advanced enough that really soon they won't need us - "who ya gonna get to do the dirty work when all the slaves are free" slavery>feudalism>wage slaves> debt slaves > robots The PTB 1% certainly don't need 7 billion people. “If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.” Prince Phillip married to one of the richest women in the world. Fortunately for us the SARS COV 2 is not that deadly but as Bill Gates said , this is just pandemic 1. and as Pompeo said, this is a live exercise.
Trump is already getting the military ready to give out the soon to be mandatory vaccination. Bill Gates wants to vaccinate the whole world. And when the changeover to robots is done...

Posted by: gepay | May 29 2020 20:29 utc | 84

Thank you b, for staying on this important subject, and for linking to Lambert Strether's focus on a recent report on the disease transmission. I haven't looked at all the links or comments here so apologies if this is a repeat. At Links at nakedcapitalism this morning was this comprehensive essay titled "Face Coverings for the Public: Laying straw men to rest" by Trisha Greenhalgh, MD. It is the most comprehensive and positive answer to arguments against face masks (I agree with her that 'face coverings' is a better description) and easy to understand for the layman:

Dr. Greenhalgh explains that a disease whose rate of infection is less than l.0 will die out, so a measure that reduces the transmission rate to below 1.0 (one person infecting one other) will be extremely effective even if some cases of transmission still occur. A cloth mask only needs to be 60 percent effective at containing ones own possible infective droplets, and worn by only 60 percent of the population, to reduce the rate of infection in general to below that threshold.

Here's her summation:

"...In conclusion, I congratulate Martin et al for rising to my challenge to produce a critique of my publications on masks and face coverings for the public. But whilst academic sparring has an important place in keeping us on our toes, we also need to remember our moral accountability to a society in crisis..."

We've had a lot of 'academic sparring' on the matter. Thanks for keeping on keeping on, b.

Posted by: juliania | May 29 2020 20:35 utc | 85

VK @ 72:

Your rants about Russia being a palaeoconservative, retro-Orthodox Christian czarist recreation under a despotic Putin don't seem to wash much here with MoA barflies.

The total death toll of some 4374 people (so far) in Russia, out of some 200,000+ infections, as the disease is going out of Moscow into the oblasts, with their varying levels of public health infrastructure, is actually quite low.

The death toll in Dagestan is a worry, given that it is one of the poorer parts of the Russian Federation, and had a problem for some time with some of its youth joining jihadi groups in Syria.

I should think the govt should be tracking the unskilled workers who regularly migrate to Moscow and other major cities who work in construction, food retail, cleaning and other low-paying jobs, and return home to their families, often multi-generational and living in poor conditions in regions where COVID-19 information is hard to get in Russian or their local languages, during lulls in the working year. Ditto for students from these regions attending colleges and universities in the cities and going home to their families during semester breaks. These groups are most likely to spread the SARS-COV-2 virus to other parts of Russia. The issue most concerns the Health Ministry in Moscow, regional governments and their health ministries and the communities where COVID-19 clusters occur - it's not the Russian President's responsibility to oversee the country's COVID-19 response.

Posted by: Jen | May 29 2020 21:01 utc | 86

Richard Steven Hack @ 30:

"... the root of human behavior: the fear of death, which controls *all* human emotion and behavior..."

I don't agree. That which is at the root, learned in infancy even and which persists even in the face of death, for the religious and non-religious alike, is love of life. It's that which is the first and last controlling factor for humanity, rich or poor. Life trumps death, especially now. Here's what Dr. Greenhalgh adds in her conclusion:

"...The relentless, day on day stories of avoidable deaths from this dreadful disease sickens me. I will do whatever I can as an academic, a doctor, and a citizen to reduce that death toll and help get society back running again..."

I'm guessing, Richard, that either you are very strongly constituted, or that you are one of the lucky ones that is asymptomatic. To be in such an environment and escape illness, you have my admiration for that - yes, we do what we can for ourselves. But we are also vectors, transmitters, whether we know it or not. It would seem virus is with us always, potentially lethal to others even if not affecting us. We should think of ourselves as carriers. My disagreement above is an attempt to help bring that awareness, that love of life in others as well as ourselves. It's a much more positive way to defeat the virus, and one the Asian countries seem to have embraced more effectively than we in the West have.

Posted by: juliania | May 29 2020 21:27 utc | 87

@Mina | May 28 2020 21:30 utc | 21

I m not sure we need another experiment with a goverment that claims that it is time to put the "collective need ahead of individual greed" cant reform human nature

@Caliman | May 28 2020 22:24 utc | 27

Something to keep in mind: a despotic government that can force people to stay indoors, wear masks, stick medicines in their bodies, etc. on pain of imprisonment can (and will) commit all manner of other abuses. The genius of limited and divided government is precisely to prevent tyranny since, as any review of history would show, once enabled, tyranny is inevitable.

In the U.S., over 100,000 people have died from Covid-19. In China, less than 5000. Clearly, something in America is seriously wrong. Why not fix only that?

Instead, both of you are in effect proclaiming that any action that prevents the self-infliction of two Vietnam Wars on the American population is tyranny. You want every U.S. citizen to give up the fight against the virus?

Posted by: Cyril | May 29 2020 21:28 utc | 88

I don't understand how aerosols are so effective at spreading Covid-19. Shouldn't tiny droplets almost instantly evaporate?

Posted by: Cyril | May 29 2020 21:54 utc | 89

Do you have information that this is not a viable method and did you inform heatlth authorities about your information/findings?
________________________________________________Do you Do you have information that this is not a viable method and did you inform health authorities about your information/findings?
I read the comments that accompanied the study. None of the scientists including the authors of the study seemed to think it showed that the virus was generally spread by aerosols.

This is one of the statements in the authors response to comments:
"The authors of the letters about our study correctly acknowledge that the viability of SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols was investigated under experimental conditions and should not be used to draw conclusions about airborne transmission."

Posted by: jinn | May 29 2020 22:55 utc | 90

Posted by: Cyril | May 29 2020 21:54 utc | 89 I don't understand how aerosols are so effective at spreading Covid-19. Shouldn't tiny droplets almost instantly evaporate?

Depends on the temperature and humidity. They don't usually last long, maybe a few minutes, but can last up to 45 minutes, I've read. Also if they land on a metal or other cool surface, the temperature differential from the surrounding air apparently allows them to remain for a longer time, which is where you get "fomites" - virus particles on surfaces. This is why "flu season" is in the winter - people stay indoors, with heated rooms - the combination produces more humidity, less air movement, more close contact between people - perfect conditions for transmission by droplets, aerosols and fomites.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 29 2020 23:00 utc | 91

Posted by: juliania | May 29 2020 21:27 utc | 87 That which is at the root, learned in infancy even and which persists even in the face of death, for the religious and non-religious alike, is love of life.

Both drives exist. You have to have life to fear death, that's obvious. Life is a given. Awareness of death is the problem. Most animals function without a fear of death - until a threat is actually perceived. Humans have awareness of death. This colors everything they do.

All animals have flight or fight responses. Humans spend most of their time engaging in flight response - they distract themselves from the fear of death with meaningless activities. A few people have fight response - they spend their time trying to improve the human condition, or just improve themselves.

"I'm guessing, Richard, that either you are very strongly constituted, or that you are one of the lucky ones that is asymptomatic."

I'm actually very sedentary and out of shape (although no longer over-weight.) I consider myself at high risk of death at my age if I get this virus. Of course, I could get lucky and beat it, or even be asymptomatic. But I don't count on that. What I am is reasonably intelligent, and so I take steps to reduce my risk.

"We should think of ourselves as carriers."

We should indeed. That is correct social behavior.

I don't believe in "right and wrong." I believe in *factually correct* behavior which can be shown by logical and economic reasoning to have positive effects for individuals and the overall society over the long term. However, this applies only in a rational society - and this society ain't that.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 29 2020 23:14 utc | 92

Thanks for your reply, Richard. I am wondering too about the aerosol studies, since as others have mentioned, whether the virus is able to contribute to the disease if inhaled in this form might be questionable. I remember but can't point to the source, that a study was done of virus that had settled onto a door handle, for instance, and that it was claimed a person would have had to touch the handle immediately after someone had coughed into their hand and used it on the door handle for transmission to occur. This seems at odds with the perception that the virus can be accumulated - the danger being the 'virus load' for hospital workers. Perhaps the aerosols even though very small have the same cumulative effect?

We know all the mistakes that have caused the virus to continue to be a problem in the US, and Trump has been absolutely no help. The scientific studies by now seem to be pinning down how the virus does what it does interacting between humans. I found these two sentences in the report I linked providing a ray of hope even with so much surrounding uncertainties of human behavior:

Mathematical modelling suggests a face covering that is 60% effective used by 60% of the population will reduce the rate of infection to below 1.0.

Every country that has mandated cloth face coverings has experienced a decline in the rate of infection.

That means the klutzes can go on being klutzes so long as 60 percent of us don't. We can beat this, even without Trump's help. We are, after all, the 99 percent!

Posted by: juliania | May 30 2020 2:16 utc | 93

@Passer by | May 28 2020 18:33 utc

Your suggested aerosol distance of 7-8 meters seems only relevant indoors as outside dispersion rate ("venting") combined with UV has shown to annul most contamination dangers. Since average rooms are not providing 7-8 meters spacing between inhabitants, the measure you are suggesting seems pointless to begin with. Simply overreaching.

In any case you might miss the point entirely. Trying not to get infected is not even the discussion as the virus will be around permanently. You will encounter is sooner or later if you have a life or business. It's all about the rate of transmission inside a population. And densely packed crowds of groups combined with unhealthy or no air circulation are now realized to be the main if not only factors for the virus to become epidemic in the first place.

Posted by: John Dowser | May 30 2020 7:56 utc | 94

cyril, i was quoting a national socialist motto from the 30's as mentioned in the attached link i gave.

Posted by: Mina | May 30 2020 10:08 utc | 95

somebody | May 29 2020 9:38 utc | 57

This is the best summary about the covid-19 situation in Germany that one can find in the Internet now. Today the situation is that anybody who questions the "dangerous pandemic narrative" in the public and tries a reason-based discussion gets mobbed immediately. A ~80% majority of people wants to go on with the ridiculous idea that the elite acted appropriate. A triumph of post-democratic political tools. The most successful political deception I have seen in my entire life. WMD, the Syrian „civil war“, the OCPW hoaxes are chicken stuff compared with this.
Based on worldwide figures it is a harmless winter flu, for sure. If one looks at the detected biological mechanismus of this virus it is far removed from being harmless but this is not discussed. Any reasonable political leadership has to check how to use resssources. Improved and cheap mass testing, both for infectious virusses and for antibodies, improved safe medication and better tools for fighting the Cytokin storms would be the priorities. Vaccination is the least promising thing, just a willful waste of money as a gift for the notorious suspects.

Posted by: Hausmeister | May 30 2020 10:20 utc | 96

Strangely enough, planes have continued to fly since March in many places, and we haven't heard of clusters among the staff.
Hausmeister "This is the best summary about the covid-19 situation in Germany that one can find in the Internet now." which link?? or Somebody's post?

Posted by: Mina | May 30 2020 10:54 utc | 97

Mina | May 30 2020 10:54 utc | 97

Yes, somebody's post.

Posted by: Hausmeister | May 30 2020 11:14 utc | 98

Posted by: Hausmeister | May 30 2020 10:20 utc | 96

My guess about the "testing that is not done" is that both tests - PCR-test for "active" cases and antibody tests are unreliable. There seems to be immunity without antibodies and nobody knows how many "normal" corona viruses that the PCR-test detects exist in the population.

Influenza - the flue - season lasts from October till mid May. Robert-Koch-Institute stopped calling it Influenza in March this year, and called it Covid-19 in April.

Posted by: somebody | May 30 2020 11:55 utc | 99

It is telling that the countries that did the most have worked the best to keep the toll of the deceased down, they followed the advice of the WHO.

In Europe I would put Baltic states, Norway, Finland, Germany, Greece, Austria, Switzerland as great examples
In the other end I would put France, England, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands - all these nations have had quite high excess of deceased people this year, also debunking the claim that this is no worse than a regular flu.

Posted by: Zanon | May 30 2020 13:17 utc | 100

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