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Pandemic Dust Up

Hey ho - Friendly Neighborhood Scientist here. I feel like we need another pandemic dust up, especially during our continuing hootenanny around politics in the USA (sigh).

Settle in with that cuppa (and I mean Lapsang Souchong not Lipton)--it's gonna be a bumpy ride!

1) Virus, pandemic, infection rates = same or going up in many countries, the US is among the highest it has been RIGHT NOW for infection and transmission rates in nearly every state.

2) No matter who wins as president, the virus is still the same, still dangerous, and all cautions and actions remain the same.

3) No matter who wins as president, we have until late January with this current administration telling us there is no virus and pish posh about safety. As I always recommend: don't listen to politicians. Listen to scientists and public health officials.

Answering some Qs:

Is there something I can do if I have symptoms?

YES. An MD I spoke with who had just come out of a COVID-19 ward said to take aspirin. Take one aspirin per day and be seen by your doctor immediately (baby or adult aspirin will depend on your health profile). ONLY take if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Before you take the aspirin: CALL YOUR DOCTOR FIRST. Depending on your health profile, taking an aspirin unadvised could be deadly.

Why take an aspirin right away?

COVID-19 is a circulatory disease. It's really good at binding up red blood cells throughout the body which can make clots. Clots that become unmoored in your veins can travel places you don't want them like your heart and brain. Talk to a doctor FIRST before taking aspirin (baby or adult).

Why are COVID-19 death rates lower?

Science and medicine have figured out some methods for controlling NOT CURING the virus, including ever-evolving protocols that seem to mitigate the very sick. There seem to be some treatments that are lessening the blow, if you will, but none are guaranteed. Death is still happening and very sick people are happening at alarming rates in this country. We mounted the highest single day positivity yesterday (Weds) with over 100,000 for the country.

What about antibody therapy?

This treatment is still being studied and is not widely available. It does show some aid to the patient if it is administered very early before major symptoms set in.

Is Trump immune?

Assuming he actually did have COVID-19 (even I get skeptical about our "wag the dog" government!) he was treated the minute he tested positive and showed mild symptoms because he is president. Do not count on this kind of "guns blazing" treatment for yourself or loved ones.

One discussion I had with an MD suggests that since he may not have had the virus very long in his system, he may not have mounted his own antibodies to it (or mounted very few). Since we are finding the antibody response for someone very ill with COVID-19 may only last four months or so before waning, having a low viral load means less antibodies, and likely less and shorter immune response. Being given antibodies typically does not make YOUR immune response make its own antibodies. It's like adding oil to water. Sure the water has oil in it, but the water molecules are not changed by the presence of oil. I suspect we will know more and learn more about antibody treatments and how to inform the public as it becomes more widely available (if it does).

Can Trump get COVID-19 again?

Yes. Yes he can (she says with some delight!).

What is happening with virus research?

1) US FEDERAL scientists have been on a blanket gag order to speak with the public since FEBRUARY. It is why you see poor Dr. Fauci all alone as the messenger for the pandemic on behalf of the Fed. The scientists have been doing break-neck work, but are not allowed to speak to the public to directly inform of new findings or health practices. They can publish their findings and inform governors, but cannot speak directly to the public on any platform.

2) FEDERAL RESEARCH MONEY FOR COVID-19 ENDS IN THE USA THIS WEEK. Scientists working on modeling, prevention, study of the virus, vaccine research and development that are federal employees loose their funding this week. This means scientists at CDC, national laboratories, and any institutions receiving FEDERAL funds. Private companies, Big Pharma, universities that have private donors should still be okay. Of course the scientists will continue working with or without pay because it is the right thing to do.

Why is the federal funding for COVID-19 research ending?

Because this admin tied the funds for federal research to the unpassed stimulus package and did not create a stand-alone emergency research response budget (imagine that!). If they do not include enough funds in the stimulus -- no research. The caveat is if Biden wins, then maybe by January it call all start up again, but this train is already driving off a cliff. We need all of the smart and capable people working on the pandemic as much as possible with full resources and without compromising their own families.

And BONUS! Because we are the version of USA right now that we are:

There is a new Executive Order (end of Oct signed) that allows the president to assign Federal workers with a new job "category" (Fed has different categories of employees on various schedules). This new one, "F" (appropriately) can now be assigned to career federal professionals (like Dr. Fauci) and any one else previously "immune" to being fired in the Fed. So yes, Trump can fire Dr. Fauci next week if he changes his federal job designation -- and he can fire my friends and family that are pandemic scientists working for the Fed. While I don't really believe this will happen, it is another demonstration of how this current administration works--and will continue to work--until January when hopefully we get to clear the lot out.

SO! Stop blaming whomever that they did a bad job with the virus and how they mislead us (blah blah). Much like the debate of whether humans influenced climate change or not--it is here and if we have the power to mitigate it, we should. Everyone knows how this virus behaves. Everyone knows how to be safe. Do it. Stop blaming and just do it. And if you chose not to? Don't blame anyone for your illness or your death.

The pandemic is definitely not going anywhere for the next year or so. Be patient. Be smart. Don't be afraid. We got this!

Thanks for letting me get this all out--time to get back in the forest (and you should too. Go outside and away from people. Go now!)

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