On the COVID front…

• I thought this was worth noting – The “T-Detect Covid” test uses T cell receptor matching comparisons to population based panels developed with the aid of machine learning to detect previous COVID-19 infection, supposedly with 97.1% sensitivity and 100% specificity. They (Adaptive Biotechnologies in a partnership with Microsoft – I have no financial interest in either) are continuing to refine their models as variants appear and hope to improve those numbers (and, I’m guessing, apply the same methodology to the diagnosis of other infections).
It will be interesting to learn what test results are in patients who have been vaccinated but not had actual disease, how long the positive result persists, and how well such a positive result correlates with immunity in comparison to more standard antibody tests.
• And Massachusetts, where I live, is finally implementing a preregistration system for COVID vaccinations (back ended by Google), a system that should help to alleviate the cutthroat (and inherently discriminatory), time-wasting and frustrating on-line angling for immunization appointments in the state. People will be able to register once, be automatically notified when they are eligible for vaccination, and then be notified and given an opportunity to book an appointment at one of the state’s seven mass vaccination sites when a slot for them opens up.  Over 2.3 million COVID vaccine doses have now been administered in the state, so we’re doing a lot better after a somewhat rocky start.

2021-03-10T20:20:40-05:00March 10th, 2021|Home, Musings|

Stimulus Bill Passes Congress, Republican Party Demonstrates Its Utter Lack of Empathy

The latest economic stimulus bill has officially made its way through Congress, and only awaits the President’s signature for passage. There were ZERO (yes, that’s 0) Republican votes for this measure in the House and Senate. “Handouts”were apparently OK when your party could claim credit, but not so much otherwise. Oh, and that spirit of bipartisanship present when Democrats voted for Republican sponsored stimulus bills? Gone…

2021-03-10T19:30:06-05:00March 10th, 2021|Home, Musings|

Spend prophylactically? Nah, too expensive…

From Ezra Klein’s “Texas Is a Rich State in a Rich Country, and Look What Happened” piece in the NYT:

Texas will not prove unique, or even all that bad, in terms of how fragile the assumptions beneath its critical infrastructure really were. Most of its mistakes are familiar to anyone who has ever covered the politics of infrastructure and disaster preparation. Shalini Vajjhala, who worked on climate resilience in the Obama administration and is now the chief executive of re:focus partners, a firm that helps cities prepare for climate change, put it sharply to me. “When I am successful, that means something hasn’t happened. That’s good policy, but it’s lousy politics. The first year, you’re applauded. The second year, your budget is cut. The third year, your staff goes away.”

Yes, indeed, the US approach to preventative maintenance encapsulated.  Respond to a crisis, decide whew, this is expensive, stick head in sand, underfund, eliminate, repeat.  Witness public health before the pandemic.  We’re not always particularly smart.

2021-02-25T16:47:28-05:00February 25th, 2021|Home, Musings|

More data suggesting that natural COVID19 infection provokes protective antibodies

In an cohort study published in JAMA Internal Medicine by Harvey, Rassen, Kabelac et al., the authors looked at more than 3.2 million US patients who obtained SARS-CoV-2  antibody tests and followed the group for results of subsequent nucleic acid testing for the virus.  The proportion of patients with positive PCR tests was initially higher in the group positive for antibodies, a result consistent with post-infection shedding, but then declined steadily over time and ended up being markedly reduced overall in the antibody positive group; after 90 days, 3% of the group without antibodies had a positive NAAT as opposed to only 0.3% of the antibody positive group, a 10-fold reduction.  This study did not go on long enough to help answer the question of how long the reduction in risk persists, but it does support other studies that have found similar decreases in the risk of subsequent SARS-CoV-2 infection following naturally acquired illness. We’ll need more time and data to help sort out how durable the protection from natural illness and vaccines will ultimately be, but these results help reinforce the notion that COVID antibodies can be protective.

Harvey RA, Rassen JA, Kabelac CA, et al. Association of SARS-CoV-2 Seropositive Antibody Test With Risk of Future Infection. JAMA Intern Med. Published online February 24, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.0366

2021-02-24T18:41:06-05:00February 24th, 2021|Home, Musings|

Annual Growth Rate Under Different Presidents

• David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez do an excellent job of laying out how much better economic gains have been historically under Democratic administrations, writing “Why Are Republican Presidents So Bad for the Economy?” in the NY Times.  Some excepts:

“Since 1933, the economy has grown at an annual average rate of 4.6 percent under Democratic presidents and 2.4 percent under Republicans, according to a Times analysis. In more concrete terms: The average income of Americans would be more than double its current level if the economy had somehow grown at the Democratic rate for all of the past nine decades.”


Annual Growth Rate Under Different Presidents

2021-02-03T21:24:29-05:00February 3rd, 2021|HomeRecommended|
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