Lunchtime Pandemic Reading, 21-June-2021

Fleeting contact

Lunchtime pandemic reading.

Standard disclaimer: this is a roundup of informative pieces I've read that interest me on the severity of the crisis and how to manage it. I am not a qualified medical expert in ANY sense; at best I am reasonably well-read laity. ALWAYS prioritize advice from qualified healthcare experts over some person on Facebook.

This is also available as an email newsletter at https://lunchtimepandemic.substack.com if you prefer the update in your inbox.

You are welcome to share this.

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Australia seeing Delta variant cases. "NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said the Delta variant which is behind this outbreak is a “near and present danger” given the fleeting contact between cases at the Bondi Junction Westfield.

“It is fair to say that this Delta virus would appear to be a near and present danger to anybody who is in the vicinity,” he said.

The woman in her 40s regularly walks through the shopping centre, and it is not clear yet the date transmission occurred.

The NSW government made masks mandatory on public transport in greater Sydney on Friday for the next five days, but has so far refrained from introducing other restrictions.

The mandate came after NSW Health determined on Friday that the new case was as a result of a “fleeting contact” with an existing case. It is the second “fleeting contact” transmission connected to the first case.

A woman in her 70s was sitting outside a cafe that the initial case had visited and genomic sequencing of her virus is an exact match to the first case.

People who were at the Myer on the same floor at the same time last weekend have been told to notify NSW Health, get tested and isolate for 14 days.

Hazzard said the working assumption is the two new cases on Saturday were picked up from the origin case – the limo driver. Hazzard said the advice was people should wear masks indoors, but repeated no lockdown of Sydney’s eastern suburbs is currently planned."

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jun/19/new-south-wales-records-three-new-covid-cases-as-mandatory-masks-introduced

Commentary: The fact that Delta spreads so much more easily than previous variants is a warning sign that any activities with unvaccinated people should still be requiring masks or not being held at all. That includes things like summer camps etc. These cases from Australia are fleeting contact exposures of 10-60 seconds.

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Avoid those birthday parties too, especially for kids. " Is there an association between household birthdays, which likely correspond to informal social gatherings, and COVID-19 infection?

This cross-sectional study used administrative health care data on 2.9 million households from the first 45 weeks of 2020 and found that, among households in the top decile of county COVID-19 prevalence, those with birthdays had 8.6 more diagnoses per 10 000 individuals compared with households without a birthday, a relative increase of 31% of county-level prevalence, an increase in COVID-19 diagnoses of 15.8 per 10 000 persons after a child birthday, and an increase in COVID-19 diagnoses of 5.8 per 10 000 among households with an adult birthday.

This study suggests that events that lead to small and informal social gatherings, such as birthdays, and in particular, children’s birthdays, are a potentially important source in SARS-CoV-2 transmission."

Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2781306

Commentary: Here's the general rule of thumb: in any given room or gathering, there should be no more than one unvaccinated person. So if you're having a kid's birthday party and all the adults are vaccinated, then the birthday child doesn't need to be vaccinated for there to be a reasonable bubble of safety around them.

So, should you have a kid's birthday party at the local pizza place? No. Should other kids their age (if under 12) be invited? No. For maximum safety, have a birthday party in the backyard if possible, outdoors.

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Israel seeing issues in schools and with Delta breakthroughs. "At least 44 kids at a middle school in northern Israel have tested positive for coronavirus, local authorities announced Saturday, in the second such outbreak at an Israeli school this week.

The town of Binyamina-Giv’at Ada’s said the vast majority of those infected were in seventh and eighth grade.

According to Kan news, initial tests indicate the outbreaks there and in Modiin earlier in the week were all of the Delta variant first identified in India, which is more contagious than other variants and may be better able to bypass vaccines. The report said several adults who were infected in the school outbreaks were vaccinated.

“The data indicates contagion from returnees from abroad in recent days and not because of a local outbreak,” the town’s local council wrote on its Facebook page, without elaborating further."

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-2nd-israeli-school-outbreak-in-a-week-44-kids-diagnosed-with-coronavirus/

Commentary: Delta is known to be more transmissible than other variants. It may turn out that increased transmissibility may be what gives it the ability to breakthrough vaccinations.

I think - and I emphasize that there are currently no peer-reviewed studies to back this up yet - that there is a case to be made for everyone to get a booster shot, regardless of the vaccine type you had, if supply is plentiful and vaccinations in your area are on the decline (meaning that demand is down). Delta and the variants that will come after it are adapting to survival pressures and it's only a matter of time before more variants emerge with greater breakthrough capabilities. There are already case studies and peer-reviewed works that show efficacy for anyone who had an adenovirus vaccine (J&J, AstraZeneca) to get an mRNA booster (Pfizer, Moderna). I suspect there will be a case to be made that if you got an mRNA vaccine, to get a booster of the other brand - i.e. if you got Pfizer, get a Moderna booster and vice versa.

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A reminder of the simple daily habits we should all be taking.

1. Wear the best mask available to you when you'll be around other people, even after you've been vaccinated. Respirators are back in stock at online retailers, too. Wear an N95/FFP2/KN95 that's NIOSH-approved or better mask if you can obtain it. If you can't get an N95 mask, wear a surgical mask with a cloth mask over it.

2. Get vaccinated as soon as you're able to, and fulfill the full vaccine regimen. Remember that you are not vaccinated until everyone you live with is vaccinated. If you received an adenovirus vaccine (J&J/AstraZeneca), consider gettings an mRNA single shot booster (Pfizer/Moderna).

3. Wash/sanitize your hands every time you are in or out of your home.

4. Stay home as much as practical. Minimize your contact with others and avoid indoor places as much as you can; indoor spaces spread the disease through aerosols and distance is less effective at mitigating your risks.

5. Get your personal finances in order now. Cut all unnecessary costs.

6. Replenish your supplies as you use them. Avoid reducing your stores to pre-pandemic levels in case an outbreak causes unexpected supply chain disruptions.

7. Ventilate your home as frequently as weather and circumstances permit, except when you share close airspaces with other residences (like a window less than a meter away from a neighboring window).

8. Masks must fit properly to work. Here's how to properly fit a mask:

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Common misinformation debunked!

There is no basis in fact that COVID-19 vaccines can shed or otherwise harm people around you.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-covid19vaccine-reproductivepro-idUSL1N2MG256

There is no mercury or other heavy metals in the Pfizer mRNA vaccine.

Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/12/09/1013538/what-are-the-ingredients-of-pfizers-covid-19-vaccine/

There is no basis in fact that COVID-19 vaccines pose additional risks to pregnant women.

Source: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2104983

There is no genomic evidence at all that COVID-19 arrived before 2020 in the United States and therefore no hidden herd immunity:

Source:

There is no evidence SARS-CoV-2 was engineered, nor that it escaped a lab somewhere.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/01/29/experts-debunk-fringe-theory-linking-chinas-coronavirus-weapons-research/

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0820-9

Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/05/anthony-fauci-no-scientific-evidence-the-coronavirus-was-made-in-a-chinese-lab-cvd/

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/national/are-we-ignoring-the-hard-truths-about-the-most-likely-cause-of-covid-19-20210601-p57x4r.html

There is no evidence a flu shot increases your COVID-19 risk.

Source: https://www.factcheck.org/2020/04/no-evidence-that-flu-shot-increases-risk-of-covid-19/

Source: https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa626/5842161

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Disclosures and Disclaimers

I declare no competing interests on anything I share related to COVID-19. I am employed by and am a co-owner in TrustInsights.ai, an analytics and management consulting firm. I have no clients and no business interests in anything related to COVID-19, nor do I financially benefit in any way from sharing information about COVID-19.

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A common request I'm asked is who I follow. Here's a public Twitter list of many of the sources I read.

https://twitter.com/i/lists/1260956929205112834

This list is biased by design. It is limited to authors who predominantly post in the English language. It is heavily biased towards individual researchers and away from institutions. It is biased towards those who publish or share research, data, papers, etc. I have made an attempt to follow researchers from different countries, and also to make the list reasonably gender-balanced, because multiple, diverse perspectives on research data are essential.

This is also available as an email newsletter at https://lunchtimepandemic.substack.com if you prefer the update in your inbox.