The lyrics come from a very famous Fifth Dimension song, but this is not a post about music.
It’s a post about Covid-19 and an update on its spread, and how to live with it. And guess what? Sunshine really does make a difference, in ways that are not immediately obvious.
First up I’m going to start with some research conducted by the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, Geelong, VIC, Australia. As some of you know, my state of Victoria is at the centre of the largest outbreak in Australia. And we’re not over it [completely] yet.
What the Australian study did was to measure the infectiveness of the virus – ON SURFACES – in a rather unusual way. As the UV in light is known to kill viruses, the researchers conducted their study on the virus in the dark. They also controlled the temperature of the environment in which the virus was studied. Their results are interesting to say the least.
The following is a direct quote taken from those results :
‘viable virus was isolated for up to 28 days at 20 °C from common surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and both paper and polymer banknotes. Conversely, infectious virus survived less than 24 h at 40 °C on some surfaces.’
For a more in-depth explanation of the study and what it found, please check out Dr John’s video.
For me, personally, these results are both good news and bad because we’ve been ‘isolating’ dry goods bought from the supermarket in the boot of the Offspring’s car. As the boot is dark, I immediately worried about how effective this isolation had been, especially as it’s been a cold winter here in Melbourne.
Then I realised that as neither one of us has become sick, the decon in the boot probably worked. A little later I realised why. The car is parked in the open so, although dark, the temperature in the boot would probably drop to about 5C at night and heat up past 20C during most of the day [the virus dislikes extremes of heat and cold]. Phew. Plus…masks have been mandated for most of this second wave so the chance of someone sneezing on my shopping before it arrives is that much less.
Keep all of that in mind as I tell you about the pandemic in Japan. A study conducted on working people in Tokyo found that despite the tiny death toll – under 2000 for the whole of Japan – close to 50% of those tested may have already been infected by the virus. For more on this please see Dr John’s video here or you can go direct to the study here.
There’s a lot to explain so I’ll try to keep it to the most important details. Firstly, the study was conducted during the summer months and the low death rate is partially backed up by data from the Western world where infection rates have also increased but without a corresponding increase in the death rate.
Doesn’t make sense, or does it?
If dark and temperate conditions keep the virus alive, the conditions in summer would do the exact opposite because people spend much more time outdoors…in the sunshine…with good ventilation. So even when they are exposed to the virus, their VIRAL LOAD is likely to be much less. And viral load determines how sick you’re likely to get.
But still, even taking the sunshine and heat and ventilation and viral load into consideration, why would the Japanese results be so extremely good despite no major lockdowns?
In Japan, the answer seems to be mostly cultural:
Wearing masks is normal.
Bowing instead of hugging or shaking hands is normal.
Not shouting and speaking quietly is normal.
Opening windows [good ventilation] is normal.
Supervised 14 day quarantine is strictly enforced.
And finally, obesity is very low in Japan. Obesity has been shown to be a major co-morbidity with the virus – i.e. you’re likely to get much sicker if you get the virus and you’re obese.
Putting it all together, cultural good practice means that the viral load is kept very low. And that means that the people who are infected are far more likely to have few symptoms, or no symptoms at all. Thus, lots of spread, but most people do not actually get sick, and those who do are much less likely to die.
If this is all true, and I think it is, then we here in Australia are going to get a reprieve over the summer months. Unfortunately, it also means that the northern hemisphere is going to be hit hard, again, especially as Western cultural practices make the virus so happy.
I can’t do anything about the northern hemisphere, but I can ask the people here in Melbourne two very simple questions:
Even if you don’t believe the pandemic is real, would it really kill you to wear a mask? Not just now, when the State government has mandated that all of us must wear one in public, but after? Couldn’t you err on the side of caution, if not for yourself, then for the sick, the elderly and the disabled?
Could you really live with yourself if someone you loved died, or developed a long term health problem because you put your convenience ahead of everything and everyone else?
Wearing a mask is such a small thing when compared to the horror of watching someone die.
There was quite a bit of talk on Twitter yesterday about new research showing that children do get infected with Covid-19 and do infect others. For more information I went to Dr John Campbell’s Youtube channel and discovered a video addressing this very question:
During the video, Dr John looked at research submitted to the JAMA network. If you click on the JAMA network link and scroll down to the very bottom of the screen, you’ll discover that JAMA stands for the Journal of the American Medical Association:
So what’s the bottom line of this research? Basically it says that children over the age of 5 have the same viral load in their nasal swabs as adults and therefore have the same ability to infect as adults:
Children from 0 – 5 were found to have a much higher viral load, meaning that they were much more infectious:
To state the bleeding obvious, this means that kindergartens and pre-school childcare MUST be closed if we’re to stop the spread of the virus. It also means that school age children are spreaders of the virus too. Given how impossible it is to maintain social distancing in school settings, this means schools must be closed as well.
Finally, although children tend to suffer less from the virus, there hasn’t been enough research done on the effect of the virus on children with co-morbidities – such as auto immune diseases. In my world, this means keeping children with asthma etc., away from any setting where they’re likely to be infected with covid-19. Better safe than very, very sorry.
With so many countries re-opening after lockdown, the risk of a second wave grows every day, especially as research now shows that the standard social distancing recommendations are…far too optimistic.
The research, conducted in Japan, uses lasers and special cameras to capture how the virus is spread, and how far it goes. The video below has some English dubbing and/or English sub-titles. Although the whole, hour+ video is interesting, the segment about the actual research begins at 29:10 and ends at approximately 35:18:
The research shows that even speaking can spread the virus via both large droplets and tiny micro droplets. The large droplets fall to the ground fairly quickly, even in an enclosed space with little air circulation, but the micro droplets remain in the air for over 20 minutes. Because they’re so small, they also spread a great deal further than the recommended 1.5 or 2 metres.
The take home message is that confined spaces – like public transport, office buildings, shopping malls, supermarkets and classrooms – are the perfect breeding grounds for micro droplet borne virus particles.
The good news is that masks do reduce the distance that both large and small droplets can travel. And /that/ is why countries that mandate the wearing of masks in public have less viral transmission than Western countries in which people are ‘self conscious’ about wearing masks. Apparently it’s okay to become infected and infect others, but heaven forbid that we should look silly…
And now a word about the hypocrisy of my government in scolding protestors attending the Black Lives Matter demonstrations:
those protests ALL happened in the open air where normal air circulation [with or without wind] would have dispersed the droplets quickly,
this is in contrast to people returning to work – at the behest of this government – in confined spaces with air conditioning instead of natural ventilation. Does anyone else remember the legionnaire outbreaks caused by contaminated, commercial air conditioning units?
a great many of the protestors wore masks,
this compares to people travelling or working in confined spaces without masks.
the organisers of the protests, at least here in Australia, were handing out masks and hand sanitiser to help reduce the risk of infection,
I’m not aware of any public transport employee handing out masks or hand sanitiser to travellers. Ditto supermarkets. Office buildings etc etc etc.
It’s the height of hypocrisy to say that it’s okay to catch the virus from public transport, or offices, factories, shops, restaurants etc…to save jobs…and the economy…and the effing budget bottom line…but it’s not okay to catch it while protesting state sanctioned murder.
And we all nod wisely and say ‘tut tut’.
I find that more disturbing than I can say. When did we turn into such placid sheep?