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SAR CoV2 aka COVID-19: CDC and WHO cognitive commitments in relying on 90-year-old science — Respiratory droplet size vs Masks

See all COVID-19 posts.

If you do not measure something properly, or lack the imagination to consider what might be possible, declaring the science settled is the worst kind of anti-science.

Yet this is precisely what the WHO and CDC did at the outset, and the WHO still sticks to its absurd position to this day.

Sciencemag.org: Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2

...a large proportion of the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) appears to be occurring through airborne transmission of aerosols produced by asymptomatic individuals during breathing and speaking (1–3). Aerosols can accumulate, remain infectious in indoor air for hours, and be easily inhaled deep into the lungs...

...In the case of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), it is possible that submicron virus-containing aerosols are being transferred deep into the alveolar region of the lungs, where immune responses seem to be temporarily bypassed. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to replicate three times faster than SARS-CoV-1 and thus can rapidly spread to the pharynx from which it can be shed before the innate immune response becomes activated and produces symptoms (6). By the time symptoms occur, the patient has transmitted the virus without knowing.

... In Wuhan, China, it has been estimated that undiagnosed cases of COVID-19 infection, who were presumably asymptomatic, were responsible for up to 79% of viral infections (3).

...The World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for social distancing of 6 ft and hand washing to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 are based on studies of respiratory droplets carried out in the 1930s. These studies showed that large, ~100 μm droplets produced in coughs and sneezes quickly underwent gravitational settling (1). However, when these studies were conducted, the technology did not exist for detecting submicron aerosols. As a comparison, calculations predict that in still air, a 100-μm droplet will settle to the ground from 8 ft in 4.6 s whereas a 1-μm aerosol particle will take 12.4 hours (4). Measurements now show that intense coughs and sneezes that propel larger droplets more than 20 ft can also create thousands of aerosols that can travel even further (1). Increasing evidence for SARS-CoV-2 suggests the 6 ft WHO recommendation is likely not enough under many indoor conditions where aerosols can remain airborne for hours, accumulate over time, and follow air flows over distances further than 6 ft (5, 10).

...Given how little is known about the production and airborne behavior of infectious respiratory droplets, it is difficult to define a safe distance for social distancing... Ultimately, the amount of ventilation, number of people, how long one visits an indoor facility, and activities that affect air flow will all modulate viral transmission pathways and exposure (10). For these reasons, it is important to wear properly fitted masks indoors even when 6 ft apart. Airborne transmission could account, in part, for the high secondary transmission rates to medical staff, as well as major outbreaks in nursing facilities

...Masks also protect uninfected individuals from SARS-CoV-2 aerosols...

...From epidemiological data, countries that have been most effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 have implemented universal masking...

WIND: the WHO and CDC and Surgeon General in effect caused the suffering and death of tens of thousands of people, based on the primitive mask science of 90 years ago. Not unlike the practice of modern medicine in every other area—dogmatic and unreceptive to contrary evidence.

What were these “experts” doing to understand droplet transmission in all the years since SARS/MERS broke out? It looks like cognitive bias including confirmation bias, cognitive commitments and rationalizations apply at least as much in the medical field as any other.

Wrecking ball policies have achieved little

So far we have destroyed the livelihood of 30 million or so people in the USA so that COVID-19 can remain a viable deadly threat to high-risk individuals. We now know that the death rate is a tiny fraction of what was assumed.

My prediction is that within a year or two more people will die because of misguided policies on COVID-19 than those infected by it. Lack of medical care for other things, lack of early detection, delays in surgery, spikes in suicide, deaths from mass economic damage, etc. And that is ignoring other needless suffering spawned by bad policy that does not result in death.

So we are kicking the can down the road on national and world policy when what we need to start doing is encouraging low risk people to get infected, while implementing considerably more efforts to protect high-risk people. COVID-19 will remain a serious hazard so long as most of the population can be infected semi-randomly according to risk. Leaders who are adults realize that risk assessment can call for tough decisions across multiple disciplines (far more than medical), which is why these medical organizations have no business declaring policy.

Economic carnage

A government-created split of “haves” and “have nots”: those who have maintained their income and those who have been reduced to poverty. This is not a “shared sacrifice”, but an immolation of an entire class of citizens while another class is either not affected financially or might even gain from it. Worst of all, minimally or entirely untouched salaries and benefits in the public sector are paid for by taxes taken from victims forbidden to work at the implicit point of a gun. That has been unspeakably regressively vicious. How will these people ever be fairly compensated?

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