Thursday, September 10, 2020

Countering C19 Myths in Social Media

This post is a guest column submitted by Robert Wise, Esquire and Dr. David Dzielak, the former Director of Mississippi Medicaid.

We are alarmed in the midst of a major pandemic that brings Mississippi to seventh place in new cases per 100,000 people, and still high positivity rate (14.8%), to see untrue arguments in social media that masks do more harm than good, that we are somehow burning through the virus here, that that we are in range of achieving herd immunity, or that it’s just a little flu. We fear that too many of our fellow Mississippians will just say “what the heck; I’m dropping my mask”. No, however inconvenient, the masks must stay on until we have a vaccine!

Mississippi has shown a slowdown in new cases and hospitalizations since Governor Reeves finally…finally instituted a Statewide mask mandate August 4. However, as we move into the Fall and a new school year, our positivity rate of nearly 15% is worse in the past two weeks and still at an unacceptably high level of community spread. We urge Governor Reeves to announce the Statewide mask mandate will remain in place, not for arbitrary, piecemeal extensions of time, but until a vaccine is widely available and deployed in Mississippi, period. Easing up on the Statewide mask mandate at any point until then will only let the virus do what the virus does: spread geometrically while creating more sickness, suffering and death. The virus knows no arbitrary time limits any more than it knew earlier arbitrary limits based on county boundaries. Piecemeal limits do not work; wishful thinking does not work; only consistent mask and distancing mandates work.

Epidemiologists on the front lines of the pandemic are clear that masks are our most effective tool to prevent the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control reversed course earlier this year and firmly stated that the more people wearing cloth masks the better to slow the virus. According to USC San Francisco epidemiologist George Rutherford, MD, and USC infectious disease specialist Peter Chin-Hong, MD, what convinced the CDC to change course was the rising rate of the disease in the US and the coming to a clear understanding that pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission are common. Studies have found that viral load peaks in the days before the onset of symptoms. Just speaking, a person, unaware they are infectious, can be a super spreader.

Dr Chin-Hong has been quoted as saying, “We can’t tell who’s infected. You can’t look in a crowd and say, oh, that person should wear a mask. There is a lot of asymptomatic infection, so everybody has to wear a mask.”

Lab experiments using high speed video show the masks are effective in blocking nearly all of the droplets from 20 to 500 micrometers created by a single spoken phrase. Dr. Rutherford points to another study that found that mask mandates led to an increasing greater slowdown in the daily COVID-19 growth rate over time, with the rate of slowing doubling in the first three weeks compared to the first five days of a mask mandate.

According to Dr. Rutherford: “What you want is 100 percent of people to wear masks, but you’ll settle for 80 percent.” In a scientific simulation published last April (Rotkirch and Nagalia), researchers concluded that 80 percent of the population wearing masks would be more effective than a strict lockdown. Rotkirch and Nagalia found: “These effects hold even at the lower filtering rates of homemade masks”. So, don’t lockdown or kill the economy: just mandate everyone wear their masks (as well as social distance) until an effective vaccine is widely deployed. Indeed, Dr. Rutherford states that while social distancing and handwashing are important, “mask wearing is more important.”

On another score, how close is Mississippi to herd immunity? Nowhere close. Herd immunity requires at least 60% immune. However, the “estimated seroprevalence” in Mississippi, according data, is now only 16.6%.

We agree there is interesting research on the possible cross-reactivity to COVID-19 of common cold coronaviruses. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) very recently (Aug. 18) reported that researchers found from tested blood samples that among common cold coronaviruses showing the most genetic similarity to COVID-19, some “57% showed cross-reactivity by memory T cells.” According to Dr. Daniela Weiskopf at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology: “This could explain why some people show milder symptoms of the disease while others get severely sick.” Yet, Dr. Weiskopf also concludes: “It still remains to be addressed whether this immune memory reactivity influences clinical outcomes and translates into some degrees of protection from more severe disease.”

Just because you have had severe colds in your life does not mean you cannot become plenty sick from COVID-19. David notes: “My brother had all kinds of colds as we grew up, but my brother became quite sick from COVID-19. And then my sister-in-law, who had experienced her share of colds, got very seriously sick with COVID-19 and spent four days in the hospital and came within a day of needing to go to the ICU.”

It is also true that in May we wrote (JJ June 11) noting the available evidence so far of cross-reactivity of the off the shelf MMR vaccine to COVID-19. It led each of us to go ahead and get both courses of that vaccine -- even in advance of final proof the theory is correct given the risks the virus poses. (We anxiously await to see if such proof exists from the promising primate studies on the MMR ongoing at Tulane and LSU). As we said though, we recognize that cross-reactivity from the MMR, possibly lowering our risks for the severity or longevity of the disease, does not mean we could not become infected and sick. Cross-reactivity is not full immunity. Only a vaccine can provide that. If we get the virus, also we could still pass it on. As we said, we will continue to wear our masks until we each get the vaccine.

And to commenters who posit the C-19 virus is just another flu, think again. If the virus sets off a cascade of immune-related problems, the patient will end up in the ICU. Dr. Jeffrey Laurence at the Weill Cornell Medical Center notes: “Many COVID-19 patients in the ICU are developing blood clots, including clots in small vessels, deep vein thromboses in the legs, clots in the lungs, and stroke-causing clots in cerebral arteries. This has been happening even though these patients, in accordance with standard intensive care practice, are put on blood thinner drugs such as heparin to prevent clots as soon as they come to the ICU.” No little flu that one to roll the dice with.

We believe there is no miracle that will allow anyone to let their guard down absent the wide-scale deployment of a safe effective and reliable vaccine. We may well be within five months or so of that goal. Until at least that blessed day, though, we do not believe any of us can drop our masks. For, as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote recently, in response to the virus the watchwords are: “Respect nature, respect science, and respect each other.”


Anonymous said...

Get on twitter and check out EthicalSkeptic. Very good stuff. He's been on several national radio shows also.

Anonymous said...

Tough to believe that people are still calling this a hoax. The GOP and their leader should be ashamed, but unfortunately for us they have no shame.

Anonymous said...

Mask until vaccine? I don't think so. Mississippi's cases peaked on July 21st with a 7 day rolling average of 1177 positives. That was two weeks before the Gov's statewide mask mandate on August 4th when the 7 day rolling average was down to 912. It has been in a steady decline since then. Its almost like the cases are following a Gompertz Curve. Have we reached herd immunity? Not at all. Has the virus hit the burnout threshold? More than likely. Virus going to virus. Stay in if you are sick, cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze, wash your hands, and don't touch your face.

Anonymous said...

KF, 9:29 is posting deliberate COVID Disinformation. There is NO Rep. Steven Smith.

He's posted a clip from a "parody" account, posing as anti mask "science" on COVID without labeling it as such. This is what the Covidiots do and retweet all day long.

This is what I am talking about on disinformation campaigns. Within minutes of any legit COVID posting, the troll is alerted and posts Disinformation.

In politics, that might be juvenile fun. In a pandemic, it's pathetic.

"The Internet’s Favorite Congressman Is A Joke
Rep. Steven Smith of Georgia’s 15th District was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump and has been a vocal advocate for the candidate on Twitter. Two things, though: Georgia doesn’t have a 15th District and there’s no such congressman named Steven Smith. Meet the man behind the myth."

Anonymous said...

According to worldometer as of this AM:

Mortality rate is 2.9% and dropping. Mortality rate is 0.6/1000 population and going up very slowly.

The data is flawed, very flawed and much of the preconceptions are not holding up to rigorous inspection eg use of ventilators, efficacy of pharmaceutical treatments except steroids, use of preventative measures such as masks, social isolation, yada yada. If you thing you are going to have a safe or effective vaccine in another year, you are incorrect even though you want it. The flu vaccine after years of research is at best under 50% effective although at least it's safe. (CDC)

Wearing a mask makes everyone think they're contributing to the drop in patients or mortality and that is nice but incorrect. If you think that by not wearing a mask the individual is a criminal then you are being a jerk.
Big crowds of any sort will pass the virus. Strict quarantine of all at risk individuals is probably the best we can do.

PS schools are safe...will some children get infected yes. Will some teachers get infected yes Think what will happen if you don't open schools and then think what would happen if you don't open the schools and children and teachers get infected anyway.

Get grip.... I'm out.

Anonymous said...

Disinformation? I am wondering if the authors also weigh in on physics issues involving the Higgs boson?

This is a scientific question (masks/no masks) and there is no definitive answer. To claim there is with anecdote and a few studies is misinformation. It may appear commonsense to use a mask but no definitive study has been done.

A Danish RCT may inform. The study closed in July and the results will be published. Expect it soon.

In an area where science does not provide an answer, it is shabby to claim you have the answer. Hubris.

Anonymous said...

"Wide-scale deployment of a vaccine" is the reason this whole pandemic was created in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Now we have a lawyer leading us through this pandemic. What do the law schools infect these lawyers with that convinces them they are all knowing and are credible? Just another egotistical attorney much like the pre reported one suing over the lose of a stock purchase.

Author unknown said...

...Trust the experts. No, not those experts. Don’t wear masks ... wear masks, but only good ones. Wait, don’t wear masks, wear anything as a mask. Never mind on the masks. Not sure, but if you don’t, you hate people because you could be an asymptomatic spreader. Wait. That's not a thing anymore?

For 3 months, NOTHING was more important than social distance. In fact, we gave up all of our liberties for it. We canceled schools, medical and dental procedures, yet allowed the murder of babies, canceled activities, closed businesses, eliminated every spring rite of passage from prom to graduation, denied people funerals, even at Arlington, and we wrecked the economy for it. Then came social justice, and social distance was no more. Now things are more cut and dried though. A thousand people at three memorials for someone they never even met. It's a matter of "respect." But you can only assemble 100 or less people.

I’m really confused now. Look at the data, NO, not that data. Do the math. No, you can’t do the math like that. Only the experts can understand the data and math. What do you mean other cities/states/governors are interpreting the data differently? Pools are safe in Indiana, but not Michigan? Playgrounds are safe in your town but not mine? Amusement parks are safe in Florida but not Ohio, nor Michigan.

Anonymous said...

The authors fail to distinguish between the danger of COVID to the elderly (severe) and the young (non-existent). Making children wear masks in school is simply asinine and has no basis in science or logic.

They may as well tell us we all have to do our part to stop the spread of sickle-cell anemia, knowing white people can't possibly contract or spread it.

Anonymous said...

Since we were kids we’ve been told, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. We did it without requiring a textbook of science to understand why. That was pre covid. Now we just simply ask you to cover your mouth and nose, wash your hands and keep a distance from people. It’s just plain old common sense that no one needs to turn into anything else. Get a grip people.

Anonymous said...

I’d tell y’all a COVID joke but there’s only a .03% chance you’d get it

Anonymous said...

This shows how sheep like we have become. Oh well, I already had it (literally cold symptoms) so I don't give a shit anymore.

Anonymous said...

Countering “myths” by spewing liberal propaganda. Nice. Just call this article what it is... one persons misguided opinion.

Anonymous said...

Bravo 5:16 pm. Someone in this deal has a perverse incentive as described by Dr. Robert Redfield in his congressional testimony. Look it up. The financial incentive offered is too enticing for the majority of the doctor/hospital partnerships to even want an end to this madness. The vulnerable should take precautions. The healthy should have been 'allowed' to live their lives, support their families and pay their bills. We have become a nation of sheep idolizing a medical system that is the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA. Look it up. BMJ. The fiasco started with the Imperial College prediction (Neil Ferguson) and it could not be duplicated. Bill Gates entered the picture with his garbage from the Univ of Washington - the department he funds. Fauci testified before congress that the shortest time period a vaccine has ever been released is 7 years. Not a few months. The Astra Zenica trial was canceled due to adverse reaction (serious) in a volunteer. The CDC now admits that only 6% of the deaths reported died from covid alone. The other 94% had 2.6 or more serious medical problems. Some had motorcycle wrecks as we have seen on the news out of Florida.

My health is my business. Not Tater's or his cronies. Anyone calling for a vaccine at this stage of the game is either an idiot or so brainwashed they can't see straight. Y'all go ahead and be a guinea pig. The 'top infectious disease expert', Fauci, already testified that the average is 7 years to develop a vaccine. Also read up on the CRISPR technology used to alter RNA permanently. Read up on the digital ID trials being started in Africa. Read up on the China digital social system. That's where we are headed if people don't stand up for their rights. That includes medical freedom. Read up on the patents filed for covid-19 vaccines and the owners/investors.

Has anyone addressed false positives? Has anyone called for an audit of the medical system in Mississippi? Not all, but a large majority of it is corrupt to the core.

Thank the masks OFF our children. 99.6% survival rate. Cognitive dissonance abounds.

Anonymous said...

Dzielak is not a medical doctor. He has a PhD. It’s hard to take his opinion seriously when he comments on medical issues masquerading as a physician 😒

Anonymous said...

I attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this year in South Dakota along with my wife who flew in. With a wrecked immune system due to having no spleen (the flu nearly killed me in 2003) I knew this could be a defining moment with the largest gathering of people since this debacle started. We wore masks sometimes, sometimes not. We rode our Harley through the territory as did thousands of others. After riding back home and checking message boards you could see the fog lifting. No sickness or adverse effects. 460,000 people over large area, sometimes in large crowds. Then some college kids in San Diego who live in their parents basement created a totally mindless study based on “assumptions” and the left’s visceral hatred of this country. The CDC has spoken. How much longer do y’all want to participate?

Anonymous said...

"Just call this article what it is... one persons misguided opinion." Is this because he doesn't agree with you? Your credentials match his? Post them if so, but I'm betting most likely not.

"Dr. Dzielak received his Ph.D. degree in Pharmacology from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1982. He did a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Arthur Guyton (Stellar UMMC Faculty member )in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and in 1984 became a faculty member in that department.


Anonymous said...

I don't "do" social media, at all. But I DO stay current on Covid-19, reading and listening to REAL, respected epidemiologists and statisticians.

Sadly, I also, through research on another medical topic, have come to the realization that scientific "findings", today, are driven by industry imperatives (aka profit motives), more than by quests for truth, or by desire to help humanity.

Sorry, but having two more INDUSTRY SHILLS saying what they've BEEN TOLD TO, is not going to convince me of anything.

Anonymous said...


So how exactly does that make him an expert in epidemiology? Just another liberal doctor who knows nothing about infectious diseases fronting like he does.

Anonymous said...

And what makes you an expert. Experts seem to all over Mississippi and congregate right here. Show your credentials as suggested or shut up.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 9:04. Dr Dzielik's degree in pharmacology explains it all. He is profiting in some way. He must be reading from the script like Fauci and Birx. Drug company investments always show. With a 99.6% survival rate, only an idiot would stand in line for a vaccine. But we do have a lot of those. Scientists are as easy to buy as politicians. Maybe easier if they are in line for an FDA grant. Pharmakeia.

Anonymous said...

8:37am I'm happy for you. But, your anecdotal story is irrelevant.

I still am amazed at how few of you bother to keep up with recent research...or can't find it when it's not THAT hard.

That any of you expected the data in year 1 not to be indicative rather than dipositive with a new virus is stunning. That so many of you don't understand that some historic virus data is still the best we've got is amazing.

That some of you still think children are immune and can't spread is just deliberate ignorance.

That some of you don't know young people have died is deliberate ignorance.

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