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Thread: The COVID-19 Discussion Thread (OTB)

  1. #271
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    Cure the Black Death using toad vomit, said Sir Isaac Newton! The morale of this story is, maybe you should stay in your lane.

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/17/us/ne...scn/index.html
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

  2. #272
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Cure the Black Death using toad vomit, said Sir Isaac Newton! The morale of this story is, maybe you should stay in your lane.

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/17/us/ne...scn/index.html
    The lanes were unmarked back in those days. A scholar was expected to be a Renaissance Man.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  3. #273
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    The lanes were also shorter and narrower--you could learn pretty much everything there was to know in a particular field of study, and still have lifetime left to take in a few other fields, too.

    But to be fair to Newton, he actually seemed to be writing a case report or case series, which is still how many medical hypotheses originate:
    Combining powdered toad with the excretions and serum made into lozenges and worn about the affected area, drove away the contagion and drew out the poison.
    It sounds like he was speaking from observation.
    Now, he obviously didn't have a grasp of confounding variables or sources of bias in this setting, but he did have the excuse that they hadn't actually been identified or codified in his day. That's an excuse not available to the hordes of non-specialists who are currently clogging up the medical preprint servers with their garbage at the moment.

    Grant Hutchison

  4. #274
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    And again in context effective medicine was known to come from plants and venoms as it still is today.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  5. #275
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    Keep in mind that Newton, though a polymath and innovator in several fields, was also a practicing alchemist and held certain unorthodox beliefs to be true.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  6. #276
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Keep in mind that Newton, though a polymath and innovator in several fields, was also a practicing alchemist and held certain unorthodox beliefs to be true.
    Were any of his "unorthodox" beliefs actually unorthodox by the standard of his day? My impression was that they fell within the range of acceptable discourse for natural philosophy at the time. They just seem incongruous to modern eyes.

    Grant Hutchison

  7. #277
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    I reread Newton on how a candle works, a lovely paper. Candles and similar flames had been in use for thousands of years but it took a certain kind of mind to wonder how one works. Same is true of cat flaps. ( I recall now, When interviewing for a job, I was asked if a candle would work in space, meaning in low gravity. It’s kind of a trick question my interviewers were wrong about.)
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  8. #278
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Were any of his "unorthodox" beliefs actually unorthodox by the standard of his day? My impression was that they fell within the range of acceptable discourse for natural philosophy at the time. They just seem incongruous to modern eyes.
    Oh, even by the standards of the time, Newton was very much outside the state of things. Alchemy the way he was doing it was on its way out.
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  9. #279
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    Oh, even by the standards of the time, Newton was very much outside the state of things. Alchemy the way he was doing it was on its way out.
    There are arguments, however, that Newton was "outside the state of things" in everything he did, and that his alchemical investigations were simply Newton being Newton in another field of endeavour--it just happens that on this occasion he went down what transpired to be an unfruitful avenue. That's the stance of people like William Newman and Lawrence Principe, for instance, if I understand them correctly--that it was all part of Newton's "Great Work" of systematic enquiry, and as such some of it fed directly into modern chemistry.

    ETA: I've just remembered that I'm on the Covid-19 thread. I'll shut up about Newton.

    Grant Hutchison

  10. #280
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    ETA: I've just remembered that I'm on the Covid-19 thread. I'll shut up about Newton. Grant Hutchison
    In all fairness, we've discussed the issue of whose commentary on COVID-19 and other major diseases has more worth or relevancy, those who know about diseases and study them or those who don't. Newton is simply a larger than life example of a person of great prescience who really knew nothing accurate or useful about disease prevention.
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

  11. #281
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    He might have even been onto something, depending on the toad. I don’t see it “drawing poisons out” though.

  12. #282
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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    He might have even been onto something, depending on the toad. I don’t see it “drawing poisons out” though.
    A salty poultice will draw water out by osmosis and with it pus and , for example, deep splinters. Newton was distancing by moving to Cambridge.��
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  13. #283
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    This morning I wore a face mask for the first time since the 99˘ Cent Store wouldn't let me shop there without one. They sold me a 10-pack for $3.99. It's not a very big mask. I suspect low quality. My breath coming out the top of it fogged my glasses.

  14. #284
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    A neighbor left a flyer at our door about an upcoming garage sale. They'll be social distancing and asked that shoppers wear masks.

    So the shoppers will wear masks while handling everything. I am NOT going! Unless they have some tools....
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  15. #285
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    This morning I wore a face mask for the first time since the 99˘ Cent Store wouldn't let me shop there without one. They sold me a 10-pack for $3.99. It's not a very big mask. I suspect low quality. My breath coming out the top of it fogged my glasses.
    Almost every review of masks available on Amazon has several people complaining that the mask is a decent size for a child, but too small for an average adult man. Typically there is no mention of mask dimensions and only one available size. Also many reviews discuss low quality, with breaking straps, useless thin nose wires and so forth.

    This is another reason why I consider masks (in general) a bit of a joke in regards to this disease. N95 and better masks have their place, but they aren’t available for general use and I consider social distancing to be far more important than typical masks. I will wear one if I’m in a place where it is required, but I won’t take them seriously.

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  16. #286
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    I wore my 99˘ Store mask at the supermarket even though it's not yet required. It looks like about ⅔ of the customers are wearing them there. I'm guessing it will be required everywhere soon

  17. #287
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    A neighbor left a flyer at our door about an upcoming garage sale. They'll be social distancing and asked that shoppers wear masks.

    So the shoppers will wear masks while handling everything. I am NOT going! Unless they have some tools....
    A friend sells for an MLM and has had almost all the events she sells at canceled. One hasn't. And claims they didn't get her cancellation paperwork on time. She has a newborn. A friend just offered to pay her vendor's fee so she doesn't lose anything by not going. Meanwhile, I'm holding off on my own planned yard sale until it feels safe to me.

    As for masks, studies thus far have shown that even a bad mask is better for you and those around you than no mask at all.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  18. #288
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    Re: masks. And I'm hoping that people are washing the darned things; I know I could do better.

  19. #289
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    As for masks, studies thus far have shown that even a bad mask is better for you and those around you than no mask at all.
    There's a stack of supposition connecting bad masks to worthwhile outcomes, but as far as I'm aware no actual studies of bad masks in the wild. but I'm sure one will be along in a minute, given the amount of improvised facewear that's on display in some countries.

    Grant Hutchison

  20. #290
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    Masks could be dangerous if people assume that they're more effective than they are and engage in riskier behavior.

    The 99˘ Store mask isn't as bad as I thought. It stretches and looks bigger on my face. I can tuck the top under my eyeglass frames to stop the upward air flow.

  21. #291
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    Masks could be dangerous if people assume that they're more effective than they are and engage in riskier behavior.
    Could be. But I think that's a big if. My own impression from watching people around me is that masks do not do that. People seem to be just as careful when they are wearing masks as without. Whenever a person is coughing on the train, for example, it seems that people will move away from them whether or not the coughing person is wearing a mask or not and whether or not the individual is wearing one or not. What makes it tricky, also, is that it seems that a lot of the worst behaviors, i.e. being in an enclosed space where people are speaking loudly, inherently take place in settings where people don't wear masks, like singing in a choir, going to a club, or eating in a crowded restaurant.

    I do see people, both masked and unmasked, who seem to be careless, like coming up behind me in the supermarket and getting too close, but I suspect those are people who just are insensitive anyway. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that wearing a mask may be more of a sign of a person who is cautious rather than something that makes people either more or less cautious.
    As above, so below

  22. #292
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    Since masks became compulsory on public transport in these parts, a couple of days ago, there's now a little drift of discarded paper masks lying in the gutter beside the bus stop at the end of our road, presumably chucked away by people getting off the bus. There should be a sign next to it saying, "Children! Get your Covid infection here!"

    Grant Hutchison

  23. #293
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Since masks became compulsory on public transport in these parts, a couple of days ago, there's now a little drift of discarded paper masks lying in the gutter beside the bus stop at the end of our road, presumably chucked away by people getting off the bus. There should be a sign next to it saying, "Children! Get your Covid infection here!"
    That reminds me of something that is probably not related at all. But I was in the UK in 2016 for a conference in Manchester, and I took the train from Manchester to Liverpool because there is a little-known band from Liverpool that I'm a fan of.

    Not that there are not bands from Manchester that I like as well.

    But anyway, when I was on the train, there was a family in the same car, and at one point the husband opened the window and tossed the garbage from their lunch out the window of the train, while it was moving. I was totally shocked.

    Nobody in Japan would ever think of discarding their mask at a bus stop...

    I think that's what makes it really hard to make comparisons between countries, based on whether they wear masks or whatever. There are just so many confounding factors, that any single thing is sure to fade into the total effect.
    As above, so below

  24. #294
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    But anyway, when I was on the train, there was a family in the same car, and at one point the husband opened the window and tossed the garbage from their lunch out the window of the train, while it was moving. I was totally shocked.
    I'd be shocked, too. I've never seen that. And I'd be even more amazed that they could get the train window open.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Nobody in Japan would ever think of discarding their mask at a bus stop...

    I think that's what makes it really hard to make comparisons between countries, based on whether they wear masks or whatever. There are just so many confounding factors, that any single thing is sure to fade into the total effect.
    Yes. On the other side of that coin, we had a news bulletin from South Korea on the television recently, and I was rather despondent to see that the South Koreans (the exemplary mask-wearing society we're all told we should be emulating) do exactly the same dumb things with their masks as people do in the UK--walking around with them under their chins, pulling them down to speak and then pulling them back up again, patting and poking them in place, and so on. (To be clear, the bulletin wasn't about that--it was about South Koreans being able to get home again after being stuck in various foreign countries. But there was a lot of mask action going on in the background.)
    And governments are generally putting in a raft of interventions at once, of which mask recommendations are only a small part. So it's confounders all the way down.

    And, of course, we have no good data from mass experiments with societies wearing improvised masks. There's sorta-kinda data from the Spanish flu of 1918-19, because we know when various cities introduced strict ordinances requiring face masks, generally towards the end of 1918. And we know that the flu was gone by the summer of 1919. So either masks were miraculous (completely eliminating the disease in six months) or they were essentially useless (because herd immunity was acquired in the space of six months). Or, I suppose, the virus did something odd and eliminated itself in a fit of microbial pique. But the muslin masks people adopted in those days are not the sort of masks people are wearing now, so the data (like so much of the data being deployed in decisions about masks) are not readily transferrable.

    Grant Hutchison

  25. #295
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    There's a stack of supposition connecting bad masks to worthwhile outcomes, but as far as I'm aware no actual studies of bad masks in the wild. but I'm sure one will be along in a minute, given the amount of improvised facewear that's on display in some countries.
    I'd have to look up details, but I am aware of one actual study. That is very clear that a bad mask is not as good as a good mask but better than no mask at all. The biggest problem as I understand it is that there's still uncertainty as to how much the virus is airborne, but bad masks stop spatter.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  26. #296
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    And a bad mask used properly, is probably better than a good mask used improperly.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  27. #297
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    I'd have to look up details, but I am aware of one actual study. That is very clear that a bad mask is not as good as a good mask but better than no mask at all. The biggest problem as I understand it is that there's still uncertainty as to how much the virus is airborne, but bad masks stop spatter.
    I'd be interested to see your reference. There are studies of "cloth masks", but these were the sort of reusable surgical masks we used in hospital before the switch to disposable "paper" masks.
    We also know, from long ago and rediscovered recently, that masks without a very tight seal on the face (so anything but a hospital respirator) can reduce forward droplet projection (when they're not damp), but at the expense of producing jets sideways (also downwards and upwards, which are perhaps less of an immediate worry). What happens to the person standing next to you when you cough wearing such a mask has not been clarified, as far as I'm aware, and the fact that there's some tiny evidence that the outside of the mask ends up more contaminated with viral RNA than the inside after a cough is an interesting datum, suggesting there's the potential of infective material being simply rerouted into the deflected airflow. It's not great evidence, but it would be nice if researchers stopped thinking only about how masks reduce forward flow and started wondering about what happens in the deflected flow.
    The R number for Covid suggests that it doesn't have significant community spread by airborne aerosols, which is in line with the transmission of other coronaviruses. There's sporadic anecdotal evidence of superspreader events (like the notorious choir practice) which could plausibly have been airborne, but the R in the community as a whole is more compatible with good old droplets.

    Grant Hutchison

  28. #298
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    Droplets make some sense of the outside contamination because surface tension generates capillary flow in the mask and a droplet will make a damp patch. Testing that situation has many variables! But supposedly the droplet has been stopped. Droplets in diverted flow might also be reduced in number when considering momentum. Aerosols would follow the airflow. Droplets carry on to the mask. I guess droplets start in the mouth cavity rather than in the lungs, ripped from the mucous surfaces by the high flow rate of a cough. Another variable there as to where the virus is concentrated in different phases of infection.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  29. #299
    Since the three maritime provinces are doing so well they agreed to open up their borders to travel without having to go into 14 day isolation, starting on July 3.
    From the wilderness into the cosmos.
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  30. #300
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Droplets make some sense of the outside contamination because surface tension generates capillary flow in the mask and a droplet will make a damp patch. Testing that situation has many variables! But supposedly the droplet has been stopped. Droplets in diverted flow might also be reduced in number when considering momentum. Aerosols would follow the airflow. Droplets carry on to the mask. I guess droplets start in the mouth cavity rather than in the lungs, ripped from the mucous surfaces by the high flow rate of a cough. Another variable there as to where the virus is concentrated in different phases of infection.
    The biophysics of respiratory droplet production is pretty complicated. (ETA: recent review here.) Probably three main sources, each with their own characteristic range of sizes. There are droplets of saliva, as you say, but also droplets from the vocal cords (produced by speech or coughing) and droplets from the small airways, which close and open cyclically during breathing, and produce transient regions of high shear as they do so. Add to that big droplets from nasal mucus if someone has an upper respiratory tract infection or allergy and is sneezing. There's also wide interindividual variation, and the whole is of course modulated by disease states.
    Transmission then depends on where the virus is being shed, what a person is doing, their current disease state, the virus's concentration in the droplets produced, how well it survives in the droplets, and how long it takes the droplets to fall out of the air (which depends on environmental factors), and what sort of surface it lands on. Infection of another person depends on how much viable virus reaches them, and where it lands.
    The epidemiological evidence seems to be that very small (less than 5 micron) aerosols are contributing to community transmission only to a minor extent (albeit with occasional superspreader events in which aerosols have been invoked), which would reduce the relevance of droplets from the small airways, which are typically very small. We're also seeing WHO now de-emphasizing the role of asymptomatic spreaders--reportedly from contact-tracing data--but then backtracking to say they don't yet have enough data to make a pronouncement on the role of asymptomatic transmission globally.

    So it's messy, and the real-world relevance of all these computer simulations of green miasma washing around a supermarket after someone coughs is not remotely clear at present.

    Grant Hutchison

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