Buckle up. In true 2020 fashion, several scientific developments popped up while I was on vacation…
1. Teachers’ and parents’ risk for severe COVID19
• 2.95 million teachers (50.6%) have risk factors for severe COVID19. This is mostly driven by obesity or heart conditions
• 37.7 million adults living with school-aged children (54%) have risk factors for severe COVID19. This is mostly driven by age, heart problems, or diabetes
• Risk is the same for those living with younger children compared to older children.
• So… what? “Without adequate safeguards, reopening schools could put millions of vulnerable adults at risk for severe COVID-19 illness”.
2. First global case of COVID19 re-infection
• In March, a 33-year-old man in Hong Kong was infected with COVID19. He had mild symptoms.
• Last week, he was infected with a different COVID19 strain and tested positive upon his arrival to Hong Kong from Spain. He is asymptomatic.
• After the first infection, he had no antibodies. But we already know that not everyone gets antibodies (especially mild symptoms; see my previous posts)
• After the second infection, he did produce antibodies. This is consistent with the immune system building stronger with each exposure to a pathogen, so second and third exposures may increase the chances to develop antibodies.
• In the words of immunologist Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, “This is no cause for alarm – this is a textbook example of how immunity should work.”
• Vaccination (and social distancing and masking) needs to be considered among people that have already been infected with COVID19
3. Wearing masks works (I feel like this is no duh, but in case you needed more ammunition)
• US states with high mask wearing compliance were more likely to have a R(t) less than 1 (control of community transmission)
• Mask wearing was higher among women, elderly, non-white or Hispanic, lower income people
• Mask wearing is highest along the coasts, southern border, and urban areas (see Figure)
• Mask wearing is even more important when (or if) social distancing is relaxed
4. Super-spreaders played a key role in MERS and Ebola. Their role in COVID19 was just revealed in Georgia:
• 2% of the population is responsible for 20% of infections• Super-spreaders likely explain major outbreaks in rural areas • Younger people are more likely to be super-spreaders