back to article COVID-19 infection surge detected in wastewater, signals potential new wave

US President Joe Biden declared the pandemic over in September 2022. Weeks into 2024, however, global data points to a surge in infections. While vaccine programs have stabilized the number of hospitalizations, experts warn that authorities may be slow to react to the significant dangers that lie ahead. Sounding the most …

  1. Catkin Silver badge
    Alert

    I'm not a doctor

    But, based on these findings, it doesn't seem like a good idea to drink untreated wastewater at the current time.

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: I'm not a doctor

      Has anyone told Thames Water?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: I'm not a doctor

        Eh, they're just taking the piss.

        (Astonished this obvious joke does not appear on the first page of the comments. What has the Reg Commentariat come to?)

  2. LogicGate Silver badge

    Good thing that all water companies are required by law to treat waste water before releasing it. Isn't it?

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      I think the point is more that the presence in wastewater is a sign of increased presence in the population, rather than something dangerous in itself.

      1. LogicGate Silver badge

        Off course, but would you want to swim it, risk of covid or not?

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "the UK no longer collects the data"

    Not is Palantir's skill set, I suppose.

    1. MonkeyJuice

      Re: "the UK no longer collects the data"

      Oh they'll probably collect it but it'll be classed OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE.

  4. Jeff Smith

    Given that Covid isn’t ever going away the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations. So long as these aren’t getting dangerously high there’s absolutely no point spending energy worrying about it for most people.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

      Not entirely. Long term incapacitation can result from the after effects ('long covid') of sub-critical covid infection that may not even present with more than 'flu-like symptoms. An acquaintance lost an entire year to immobilising muscle pain, severe headaches and impaired thought processes after a very minor bout of covid. There's some evidence emerging that such effects may actually be due to over-active covid antibodies attacking the nervous system, which might explain to some extent why they can occur after symtomatically mild covid instances.

      1. Jeff Smith

        Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

        I’m very sorry to hear that and it’s awful, however for the majority of people it is counterproductive to live in a constant state of anxiety about the latest covid variant.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

          Complacency is also counterproductive.

          Virus in sewage is taken as an early warnings of possible hospitalisations to come.

          1. Jeff Smith

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            Of course, but we the public needn’t lose any sleep about it until it’s confirmed to definitely be A Problem.

            1. Korev Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              > Of course, but we the public needn’t lose any sleep about it until it’s confirmed to definitely be A Problem.

              We know that it takes a few days of infection before symptoms appear (it's detectable by PCR at this point though) and then those who get really ill do so about a week later. The wastewater tests give hospitals some warning so they can plan bed allocation etc better.

            2. Lyndication

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              Hey I've seen this one before. February 2020 vintage, right?

            3. heyrick Silver badge

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              "but we the public needn’t lose any sleep about it until it’s confirmed to definitely be A Problem"

              And look how long it took until anybody "in power" took it seriously, and the harsh lockdowns that were introduced because, well, so many people in officialdom sat on their arses for far too long.

              I think France was heading into its second lockdown before it became a requirement to wear masks in public. Now, you can argue whether or not they were actually effective, but I'd counterargue that maybe they'd have been more effective a couple of months sooner?

              So, there's no need to panic, but this would be a good time to check you have stocks of that hand wash gel stuff and so on just in case.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            I see the bed wetters are out in force. COVID isn't going anywhere. It will keep evolving and keep returning, just like the flu has. There's no need for the majority to keep getting jabbed, other than to boost Big-Pharma's profits, as the jab has been shown to have negative efficacy in the 3-7 month range. That people in the UK keep hanging off of this sh*t just shows how weak society has really become. Move on

        2. Blank Reg

          Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

          There is a strong indication that each subsequent covid infection increases your risk of long covid, so not taking some simple precautions is just stupid

          1. Jeff Smith

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            Respectfully, choosing not to be wracked with anxiety every time there's a wave of covid is most certainly not stupid. If anything it's pragmatic. This will be far from the last covid wave, and we'll all catch it numerous times over the course of our lives. Unfortunately with that will come a small chance of developing long covid (and the figures show it's a far smaller chance now than in the original wave). It's for each of us to decide our own balance of risk with regard to that, with the other side of said balance being the restrictions you're willing to place on your daily life in order to slightly reduce that risk.

            I encountered anxiety in a big way in 2020 which was partly due to fear of catching the disease, but mainly due to fear of my way of life being gone forever. It's taken a good while to be free of that anxiety and I'm not going to let back in. I appreciate that many will never be free of it their covid anxieties and I emphasise hugely, however I have one life and I intend to live it. If you think that makes me stupid then so be it, and I've got nothing for you but to wish you well.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              > I encountered anxiety in a big way in 2020 which was partly due to fear of catching the disease, but mainly due to fear of my way of life being gone forever. It's taken a good while to be free of that anxiety and I'm not going to let back in.

              Good for you, but this really does make it sound more obviously as if you are projecting your own initial anxiety- and what it took to get over that- onto everyone else. We don't all fit into that boat.

              If adopting the opposite position with the zealotry of a convert for fear of letting it back in was necessary for you personally to get over your anxiety, fair enough, it worked for you. However, not everyone fits- or needs to fit- that one-or-the-other/see-the-light narrative.

              I mean, I wouldn't have described myself as overly anxious about Covid back then, and I still wouldn't, but I like to think I was sensibly cautious where necessary. And that's still the case, hopefully.

        3. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

          Living “in a state of anxiety” is stupid. Especially when you realise that anxiety is what motivates anti-vaxxers and the “it’s just a cold” brigade.

          But being aware how much or how little you are at risk lets you make the right decisions in life. For me it’s getting vaccinated regularly, Covid risk is not high enough for me at the moment to make lifestyle changes, but high enough to get vaccinated. Not doing so would be stupid.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            Living “in a state of anxiety” is stupid.

            Not really. It depends what you're anxious about, and what you can do to alleviate those anxieties.

            Especially when you realise that anxiety is what motivates anti-vaxxers and the “it’s just a cold” brigade.

            Err, actually probably the reverse. Anxiety is what helped sell billions of patented remedies and had people queueing up to become guinea pigs. The sales drive was of course supported by a gullible media who ran daily death counts and forecasts to help drive that fear and anxiety. It's much the same marketing strategy as the people flogging 'Green' stuff. Do this now, don't worry about the cost, you're saving lives and the planet. Both even relied on garbage models to produce marketing literatue with Prof Fergusons model demonstrating the GIGO principle in spades and costing the UK billions.

            Meanwhile, the 'vaccine hesitant' didn't panic as much because they may have performed their own more rational risk assessment.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              Anxiety is what helped snake oil salespeople sell billions of fake remedies. With even the orange one getting in on the fake remedy act.

          2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            The chance of harm from having the disease has to be balanced against the harms of isolation and vaccination.

            None of these have zero risk. Hitherto the risk assigned to isolation and vaccination has been declared to be zero. Now we know the risks are not zero, we need to take a balanced approach to the risks associated with infection.

            However, the danger is that the Usual Suspects will announce "Covid Crisis" and we are back to the Eternal March 2019.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              > and we are back to the Eternal March 2019

              What happened in March 2019 then?

      2. RedGreen925

        Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

        "There's some evidence emerging that such effects may actually be due to over-active covid antibodies attacking the nervous system, which might explain to some extent why they can occur after symtomatically mild covid instances."

        Pathetic these fucking lies get upvotes, yet another attempt by some slimy bastard to get more people infected and killed by spreading this trash. Hopefully it catches up with your unvaccinated ass and rids the world of another piece of garbage.

      3. TheMeerkat

        Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

        At this point Covid has already became just another flu-like decease. It is here to stay and it is as danegerous as flu.

        As for “long Covid” - there is “long flu” as well (post-viral syndrome), just that it never got the same publicity and hence its numbers were not considerably enhanced by psycho-somatic cases.

        1. Mooseman Silver badge

          Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

          "It is here to stay and it is as danegerous as flu."

          I have never known anyone to die of flu. Or lose limbs. Or get heart attacks. Post viral symptoms are known, and relatively rare, but there is growing evidence that "long covid" can create severe long term post viral conditions.

          It's like flu *at the moment*.

          1. Zolko Silver badge

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            And I have never known anyone dying from covid-19. Not even being hospitalised. Not.one.single.person. Not even relatives of relatives, nada. The worst I heard was of someone who got it for 10 days, at home, and this person is quite overweight. All others had 2-3 days of fever and that was it.

            I never understood what it was all about. Apart from some conspiracies, I don't know of any rational explanation of this panic

            1. Lurko

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              And I have never known anyone dying from covid-19.

              Neither do I, personally. But that doesn't mean it isn't wasn't and isn't a serious risk at a population level. There's ample public health data showing the huge toll of excess deaths during the various stages of the pandemic. Credible recent analyses calculate the global excess deaths during the pandemic were around 15m people.

            2. snowpages

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              Two Aunts and one Uncle for sure. Plus another "possible" from early in the pandemic before testing was widespread enough.

              They were all old.

            3. heyrick Silver badge

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              "And I have never known anyone dying from covid-19."

              I'm sure there are people who don't know anybody who suffered from Covid. Doesn't mean it was "meh".

              For my part, I know...

              One middle aged person who got Covid three times (despite vaccination), the third time wiped him out for a month and a half, that he basically stayed in bed and had a community nurse feeding him as the one time he tried to do it himself he passed out halfway down the stairs.

              One older person (refused vaccination), chain smoker, that had flu like symptoms that turned into pneumonia like symptoms that turned into a coffin.

              And somebody in their mid twenties that exercised and kept themselves in good shape. Unable to be vaccinated (at the time it was only for "at risk" people), it went as above in a little over a week - somebody said he was basically drowning in lung secretions (WTF!?). Suffice to say his sister lost her marbles over how quickly he went from fit and happy to a burial service.

              (oddly, everybody I know who suffered/died has been male)

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

                > (oddly, everybody I know who suffered/died has been male)

                Same here, although all were active 30~50 yo men. By active I mean they did half marathons, cycle races, etc.

            4. Mooseman Silver badge

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              "And I have never known anyone dying from covid-19. Not even being hospitalised. Not.one.single.person. Not even relatives of relatives,"

              Then you're very fortunate. I assume you're one of the flurry of downvoters on my post about covid not being flu. I knew 2 people that died, one was elderly the other was my age. I know someone who lost all four limbs. I know people who lost kidney function, had heart attacks.

              But I'm sure its just a conspiracy designed to mildly inconvenience you. Idiot.

          2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            It is like flu *now*. It is true that the Alpha variant was nasty, and killed people. Subsequent strains followed the usual pattern for these viruses and became less dangerous.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              It did appear that the treatment early on was also doing some damage. The calls from the WHO for early intervention with ventilators that damaged lungs, remdesivir that shut down your kidneys, antibiotics that did nothing... Usually in the case of strange new diseases doctors get to throw the kitchen sink at it and see if anything works but for some reason doctors were restricted in what they could do and had to follow what the WHO was allowing and nothing else.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

                It did appear that the treatment early on was also doing some damage. The calls from the WHO for early intervention with ventilators that damaged lungs, remdesivir that shut down your kidneys, antibiotics that did nothing..

                Yep. But the Balm of Gilead was just one example of drug dealers looking for a massive pay day. Remdesivir was expensive to develop and manufacture, but never seemed to do anything useful. It's approved for Covid, and is reassuringly expensive. Whether it's really effective is anybody's guess.

                Usually in the case of strange new diseases doctors get to throw the kitchen sink at it and see if anything works but for some reason doctors were restricted in what they could do and had to follow what the WHO was allowing and nothing else.

                See also Ivermectin. Still curious whether that was effective or not, but for some reason health services went to great lengths to convince people it couldn't possibly be. Including reminding people they weren't horses, even though Ivermectin has been highly successful in treating humans in the application it was intended for.

                But now the FUD has mostly settled, scientists are quietly getting on with their jobs. One of my relatives is a medical statistician poring over huge amounts of data to see what conclusions can be drawn. They're constantly being pestered by politicians and the media for results, despite telling them repeatedly that it's too early to draw definitive conclusions. But this has been part of the problem. When the panicdemic started, nobody really knew the scale of the problem, our the outcomes. Some time later, we have a better idea of the effects, who are the most vulnerable, and how to treat it. But the hype is still present.

                So the good'ol Epoch Times has jumped on a Lancet paper that claimed higher than normal rates of kidney damage, potentially implicating covid, vaccines or both. The paper has since been withdrawn. So conspiracy theorists cry 'cover up'. Or it could just be a problem with the data or methodology that's lead to it being retracted. If that's the case, then a retraction should appear in due course. But because of the hype, people want answers NOW!.. Which isn't really the way science works, or is supposed to work. Getting it right takes time, even though there can be a lot of pressure to publish. Publish incorrect science, and obviously trust in science declines even further.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

                  "Ivermectin isn't an anti-viral so must not be used!!1" But it did appear to have some effect on stopping the blood from turning to jelly and killing you.

                  Sadly the WHO, CDC, NIH etc are up to their eyeballs in big pharma money and a revolving door of people going from pharma companies to govt and back again. All they care about is stock prices and their bonus.

                  Statistics can be made to show pretty much anything, just look at TFL.

                2. Mooseman Silver badge

                  Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

                  "Ivermectin has been highly successful in treating humans in the application it was intended for."

                  Yes, as a dewormer. Not an antivirus.

            2. TheFifth

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              It is like flu *now*. It is true that the Alpha variant was nasty, and killed people. Subsequent strains followed the usual pattern for these viruses and became less dangerous.

              It was the Delta variant that led to the most severe disease, so it's not always a downward trend towards less dangerous. Initially Covid became more virulent and more contagious as it mutated. It was Delta that led to scenes of scores of people dying in the streets outside of hospitals in India.

              Although it's true that the trend is generally downwards, it's not impossible that we could be unlucky and a mutation that increases virulence could occur again. Hence why monitoring is likely still a good idea.

              And unfortunately I know two people who died of Covid and also someone who has life changing issues after being in hospital with Covid for several weeks. He's not what I would call old either, only in his early 50s.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

                It was the Delta variant that led to the most severe disease, so it's not always a downward trend towards less dangerous.

                Could be less dangerous but more virulent, in which case you're looking at probability of infection * seriousness i.e. more deadly but less contagious vs less deadly but highly contagious. In this case the highly contagious can win out on the deaths front despite being less deadly per se due to the shear number of infections and difficulty in containing it. As more people in society get infected the virus will encounter more of the weak and incapable immune systems and those people are, unfortunately, f*cked. This is the key difference between alpha and delta.

          3. Lurko

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            Mooseman: "I have never known anyone to die of flu."

            Neither have I, but every year several hundred thousand people die globally from influenza. It's a nasty virus and the risk gets greater the older you are. Whilst pertaining to 2020 rather than current mortality figures, you can compare UK experience of Covid and flu, by age group in figure 5 here:

            https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsduetocoronaviruscovid19comparedwithdeathsfrominfluenzaandpneumoniaenglandandwales/deathsoccurringbetween1januaryand31august2020

            1. Mooseman Silver badge

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              "several hundred thousand people die globally from influenza"

              Dont forget the government figures for flu deaths were actually wildly inaccurate, and were widely seen as a reason not to worry about covid by the conspiracists and deniers.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            I have never known anyone to die of flu.

            The 25+ million people who died of it in 1918 may have been before your time, but they're no less dead.

            1. Mooseman Silver badge

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              "The 25+ million people who died of it in 1918"

              A good example of a usually non-serious virus mutating into something far worse. Rather backs up the concern for covid mutations.

      4. Lusty

        Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

        "Long term incapacitation can result from the after effects ('long covid') of sub-critical covid infection"

        The data would seem to suggest the same of lock down measures. Excess deaths without Covid are higher than usual and it's expected this will continue into the future as three years of extremely unhealthy lifestyle takes its toll.

        Meanwhile, yes, some people are still getting a grade three/four* cold.

        *There is some debate as to the grading system and whether "man flu" is a real grade or just due to men being better at handling real flu or worse at handling the sniffles. Either way, Covid is top grade cold right now and calling in sick is probably usually required.

        Grade 1 - A case of the sniffles

        Grade 2 - man flu

        Grade 3 - actual flu

        Grade 4 - Covid

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

          *There is some debate as to the grading system and whether "man flu" is a real grade or just due to men being better at handling real flu or worse at handling the sniffles. Either way, Covid is top grade cold right now and calling in sick is probably usually required.

          Calling in sick when people have the flu or a bad cold should always be required, especially if people can work from home. Some things just aren't good to share around the office.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            I fully agree on the calling in sick thing. Unfortunately, over here (France), doctors are more than willing to sign people off work for three days because the typical unimportant employee does not get any sick benefit until after three days have elapsed.

            This leads to two things:

            1, people who routinely get signed off for three days at a time (like, I've worked Monday and Tuesday, time for weekend). The state does not bother to check up on these absentee employees because they're just not paid and they can't be fired because a doctor signed them off, but... you know "oh, my dick hurts, I need some time off", here you go...

            2, the lack of payment for the three days tends to mean that genuinely ill people living in more precarious situations simply cannot afford to miss the time. At minimum wage it's something like 3 x €65 (net) which isn't a trivial amount of money if you're living from paycheque to paycheque. So they come to work looking deader than an actual zombie, and kindly pass the bugs around. It's always a horror show after the holidays when all the kids mix in the enclosed germ incubator known as "school". Kids get sick, then the parents get sick, then all the rest of us. Thanks.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              It's always a horror show after the holidays when all the kids mix in the enclosed germ incubator known as "school". Kids get sick, then the parents get sick, then all the rest of us. Thanks.

              Bug magnets, the lot of them! Then add commuting and we've got a perfect incubation and distribution method. But my positioned hardened after everything loosened following a norovirus outbreak at work. First 1 person off, then pretty much the whole company shut down. And that's not a virus I want ever again. But there's also a bunch of HR, legal and insurance issues around sick people at work that make policy complicated. In my own, I've tried to adopt a simple approach, like if you feel sick, but can work, WFH. If you can't work, let us know. If you're really sick, see the doc. Oh, and finding the tax guidance for expensing sick notes is fun, and I've already forgotten what that was.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            Calling in sick when people have the flu or a bad cold should always be required, especially if people can work from home. Some things just aren't good to share around the office.

            I get where you're coming from but, ironically, the locking down and shielding from the spread of viruses is what has caused other virus results to be way worse than normal after those lockdowns - flu, RSV etc and various infections kids would normally shrug off having more potent effects. Your immune system has to keep up with its training else it ends up like the fat middle-aged guy who suddenly thinks he's getting back into distance running.

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            "Calling in sick when people have the flu or a bad cold should always be required, especially if people can work from home. Some things just aren't good to share around the office."

            There was a tv program about meat packing plants that were having issues since it's an industry with low wages, mostly immigrant labor and hard physical work. The immigrants weren't very highly educated so pamphlets and posters at the workplace didn't do much and they might have had no sick days remaining so had to come in to work regardless of their health or risk not being able to pay rent and meet their other bills. This is often called "presentism".

            I don't often get sick but, I get my money's worth when I do. I've learned that regardless of how much I need to get done at work, I'd call in sick until I was well enough to come back in. Since I'm self-employed now, I'll tell my customers that I'm unavailable for field work and might be able to accomplish some office work if I felt up to it. When I've tried to push through, my colleagues got what I had and I tacked on another week of being miserable. Rest, chicken soup and listening to what my body is demanding is what shortens how long I'm down. As far as Covid goes, my doctor doesn't even test for it anymore. Just about everybody is testing positive and it rarely makes any difference in the care he provides or recommends so he doesn't see any point.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

          >” it's expected this will continue into the future as three years of extremely unhealthy lifestyle takes its toll.”

          You mean commuting and working in an office is healthy? Becareful, it will be taken up by the “Return to the Office” brigade….

          BTW the unhealthy lifestyle was personal choice.

          > “some people are still getting a grade three/four* cold.”

          The trouble is, here in the UK we have no handle on whether “some” is few or many. Indicators for elsewhere would indicate we are trending towards many, it as we don’t monitor, it can be brushed under the carpet…

          1. Lusty

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            "BTW the unhealthy lifestyle was personal choice."

            No it wasn't, it was government mandated lockdown for a very large part of it. Working in an office and commuting isn't healthy but it's a huge step up from being locked indoors for months on end without exercise.

            1. Blitheringeejit

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              Surely that depends on where you live. I live in a house in a small town, so it was easy for me to get outside and exercise without getting too close to other humans. Folks living in tower blocks in cities - not so much.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

                So you broke the law then. Smashing.

                1. tip pc Silver badge

                  Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

                  what law

          2. Lurko

            Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

            Roland6: "The trouble is, here in the UK we have no handle on whether “some” is few or many. Indicators for elsewhere would indicate we are trending towards many, it as we don’t monitor, it can be brushed under the carpet…"

            Well, we do quite of lot of monitoring*, even if it doesn't involve having convicts drink raw sewage to see what they catch**.

            * https://www.gov.uk/government/news/flu-and-covid-19-surveillance-report-published

            ** I've no problem with this technology - simple, reliable, no downsides.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

              Suggest reading:

              https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sources-of-surveillance-data-for-influenza-covid-19-and-other-respiratory-viruses/sources-of-surveillance-data-for-influenza-covid-19-and-other-respiratory-viruses

              It gives a better insight into the data monitoring, basically it seems there is no community ( general population) monitoring, only review of hospital and doctor data.

              It is useful reading the scientific reports about the Chinese monitoring system, which was able to rapidly pick up the Wuhan outbreak of an unknown disease; even though the Chinese authorities might have been slow to communicate to the wider world.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This appears to be old news, the country where I live had already reported this from sewage testing last month. The expert opinion being that hospitalisations weren't going up to problem levels and while general doctors were seeing more patients it wasn't becoming a burden.

      We did, however, like many countries re-vaccinate the elderly an vulnerable before winter so perhaps that helped.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or perhaps it didn't help. Hard to know really.

    3. Steve Button Silver badge

      El Reg have really jumped the shark with this one. I'll be removing them from my bookmarks (again) shortly.

      This whole article is either sponsored by Chicken Little or Pfizer.

      Last last few years have been absolute hell for many people, because of the effects of lockdowns and media misinformation. That's what's put us into this current financial crisis, and the one that's about to happen due to commercial real estate prices. A lot of people's pensions are going to suffer.

      The whole tone of the article seems to be that we should be putting in some measures. Do "something"? It's not clear what that something should be though. But whatever it is, the government aren't doing enough of it.

      Everyone should get boosted, even though it doesn't seem to actually do very much to help. Is that because Pfizer profits are way down? It was supposed to be 96% "effective", but that seems to have dropped off the marketing. People seem very reluctant to admit they were fooled, but that's exactly how I feel. I guess as such a tiny number of USA citizens are taking up the offer many of them are actually secretly admitting that they were fooled? Or perhaps they just haven't got around to it yet?

      Should you start wearing masks again? Not if Cochrane is to be believed, and they were widely considered the best science we had prior to this. I never did wear one anyway, as I'm exempt.

      Should we treat people who wear them to the supermarket with respect? About the same respect as someone who wears healing crystals or a talisman, or takes homeopathic remedies. I'm not going to directly mock you for it, but I'll secretly think you are a bit hard of thinking.

      Should we stay at home if we're feeling ill? Of course! Same as it ever was.

      Should we stay at home "just in case"... I guess if you really like staying at home all the time, but for me and most other people it's pretty essential to get out and about. It's not living, it's just existing. A kind of prison. A living hell. I'm not going back to that (unless there's an airborne Ebola, or something really scary - in which case pretty much everyone will stay home).

      So, I'm not going to be panicked into doing anything differently. Especially when the things that are being suggested aren't actually going to do anything much, on balance.

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        "same respect as someone who wears healing crystals or a talisman, or takes homeopathic remedies. I'm not going to directly mock you for it, but I'll secretly think you are a bit hard of thinking."

        Tell me you dont know what masks are for without saying you dont know what masks are for....

        1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

          Selfish, ignorant and entitled people do selfish, ignorant and entitled things... They only care about themselves, they lack the cognitive ability to be able to understand how these things spread and what can be done to mitigate it.

          Ironically... covid has been proven to affect cognitive ability thus compounding the problem in those who have had it, more than once or even suffer with long covid.

          People like this always remind me of the saying... some people are too stupid to know how stupid they are, and thus display supreme confidence and arrogance about their assumed superiority on everything.

          1. Steve Button Silver badge

            That's a pretty nasty comment.

            Please help me to "understand how these things spread and what can be done to mitigate it." ... because I've yet to see anyone successfully mitigate it yet. Perhaps Australia and NZ delayed things by a bit. Perhaps China slowed things down, but with some pretty severe consequences.

            What exactly are you suggesting that should be done, and does it have any better demonstrated outcomes than healing crystals?

            I'm not a selfish person, if I thought there was something I could do to help, then I would do it. I work for three charities in my spare time, for no benefit to myself. I don't want to see people get ill or die if it can be avoided. I'm just not convinced it CAN be avoided. If we're going to try to avoid all illnesses then I guess everyone should stay at home from now on, and get our shopping delivered by someone in a hazmat suit. Would that be enough mitigation for you, or would that not go far enough?

            1. Blitheringeejit

              Mass vaccination and everyone shopping via hazmat are not the same thing

              I take issue with your premise that vaccines are a rip-off and are no more effective than crystals. I just had my first bout of covid only 3 weeks after a booster, but I don't feel that I was fooled - on the contrary, I think the very fact that this was my first bout of covid probably has a lot to do with my getting vaccinated and boosted at every opportunity.

              I agree that some infection can't be avoided, and that everybody going back to full lockdown isn't sensible because we all need a life. But unless you have a control you which wasn't vaccinated and didn't get any more ill any more often than the you that was vaccinated, your dissing of the vaccines is unjustified.

              1. Steve Button Silver badge

                Re: Mass vaccination and everyone shopping via hazmat are not the same thing

                It's the masks which are no more effective than crystals.

                I think the vaccines probably had some efficacy against getting seriously ill. Although there's always the problem or Original Antigenic Fixation, where you develop antibodies against the original (Wuhan) strain, and by the time you've caught Omicron (or whatever) that can actually make your illness worse. This is a well known and recognised biological phenomena, since long before Covid. There's also the problem with having to take them every six months or less if you want to benefit from that limited efficacy. And each time you take one you are increasing your risk of "rare" side effects.

                Anecdotally, I've heard about plenty of people who have got a pretty bad case even after having the vaccine.

                I really don't trust Big Pharma any more. I kind of didn't trust them anyway, but since Covid I really don't trust them, having looked at the shenanigans they got up to in the past. Also, things that were hidden during the trials of the Covid vaccines, such as people in Argentina dying after a first dose and then being put into the "unvaccinated" arm, as they failed to take the 2nd dose. Perhaps it's all lies by those horrid "anti-vaxxers"? But you've got to ask what's in it for them, and what's in it for Pfizer? Follow the money.

                So, I kinda feel that dissing these particular vaccines is justified. They did not deliver what was promised.

                However as you imply, we'll never really know. If I get sick in the next few weeks having declined all the boosters (or not being offered) would I have been less sick if I'd had the vaccine? I'm not sure, and I don't know who to trust to tell me.

                You aren't suggesting lockdown or hazmat suited deliveries, but are you now advocating for the re-introduction of mass vaccination? vaccine passports? Mandatory vaccination? In the UK you have to be 70+ or vulnerable to even be offered one, whereas in the USA it's 6 months. How can both of those things be right at the same time? Which country has got it right? Is the UK suffering way worse than the USA?

                Also, how come Australia and NZ didn't come out of it with dramatically lower mortality having vaccinated most of their population BEFORE Covid hit their shores in anger?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Mass vaccination and everyone shopping via hazmat are not the same thing

                  Steve Button: "Also, how come Australia and NZ didn't come out of it with dramatically lower mortality having vaccinated most of their population BEFORE Covid hit their shores in anger?"

                  See this:

                  https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality

                  Took me less than fifteen seconds to find, what's your excuse?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Mass vaccination and everyone shopping via hazmat are not the same thing

                    I believe, to date, Sweden has performed the best even though everyone mocked them at the time for their strategy even though it was the commonly agreed "response to a pandemic" strategy that everyone threw out the window in panic.

            2. heyrick Silver badge

              "and does it have any better demonstrated outcomes than healing crystals?"

              Covid did the rounds. Some people at work had it. I spoke with a social worker who phoned me in a bit of a panic because she felt awful (and tested positive) the next morning.

              I vaccinated as and when it was available (actually, had my Covid and flu a couple of months ago) as it was important to me because I don't think my lungs would cope.

              I never, to my knowledge, got Covid.

              Now, maybe I'm really lucky. Or maybe I'm one of the naturally immune. Or maybe Covid wandered into my body, said "it's life, Jim, but not as we know it" and buggered off again.

              Or maybe it was the vaccination.

              As a person who groks science, I'd rather put my trust in research and development than a bunch of woowoo nonsense like healing crystals.

              There is a reason the vaccine works like it does, there is a specific purpose to how it works (and why it targets the so-called spike protein (which, annoyingly, mutates...)), just like there is a rather nifty reason why soap destroys (disassembles) the virus.

              Explain, then, the actual process by which dangling an amethyst (or whatever) in proximity to chakra points is supposed to elicit any reaction beyond "ooh, pretty!".

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                You've definitely had COVID, it's just the nature of "had" in your case - low to no symptoms etc.

          2. Mooseman Silver badge

            Theres clearly something wrong with the way we deal with disease in the UK. Take a look at the excess death figures for places like New Zealand etc and you'll see that their excess deaths were far far lower as a percentage than ours. Sweden, touted as the gotcha for the anti lockdowners, has a high ED rating.

            Complaining of a nasty comment when comparing masks to healing crystals is funny.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        >” Do "something"? It's not clear what that something should be though.”

        The government actually enacting the expert advice and resume waste water monitoring for CoViD and other virus’s of note.

        Obviously, this monitoring just becomes like the pollen monitoring, part of the weather forecast, until such time as it shows a storm is approaching and it’s time to batten down.

        1. Steve Button Silver badge

          Please define "batten down"? What mitigations should we put in place if there's a large surge? Another lockdown?

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            "What mitigations should we put in place if there's a large surge? Another lockdown?"

            The mitigations put in place depend upon the severity of the outbreak, specifically the virulence and number of people needing intensive care as a result of catching it. And, yes, they will need to consider the economic cost as well. And if in the UK, expect to be a sacrificial lamb if you're a pensioner...

            So, what mitigations are put in place depends upon what situation they're looking at. But, you know, you buy a fire extinguisher for your kitchen as a precaution in case there's a fire, you don't wait until there is and then think "shit, I needed one of those". Planning what to do and having potential options backed by experts (doctors, economists, whatever) is a valuable thing to do, given that the main takeaways from the UK Covid enquiry are that there was no plan, no clue, and the PM was basically running on a wing and a prayer.

            I hope, for the shonky state of the economy, that the lockdowns are behind us [*], but if such a thing should be necessary, then perhaps that is what should happen. At the very least, plan for the worst and hope for the best.

            * - I'm very introvert, so the way we all lived in lockdown is "just a regular Tuesday" for me. However the inflation and spiralling cost of everything hasn't escaped my attention, and there's only so much they can blame on Russia...

      3. Brian 3

        I sincerely hope you get the 4 weeks in bed infection like my wife got. Maybe then you'll "believe" in infectious disease.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "That's what's put us into this current financial crisis, and the one that's about to happen due to commercial real estate prices. A lot of people's pensions are going to suffer."

        It's done nothing be good for me. Ok, business has been slower, but that's ok. What's better is that I have put more time into relearning all of the home economics stuff from when I was young. I'm back to sewing (bought 2 machines for less than $30 total and a load of supplies included). What my gran taught me about canning is coming back and good bog there's enormous numbers of cooking tutorials on YouTube from boiling water to Cordon Bleu. I just made a lentil based cottage pie from a Mary Berry recipe that was scrummy and super inexpensive. Rising prices has made me think more about the three R's (reduce, reuse, recycle). People used to buy food in-season but now just pay higher prices to have imported foods no matter the time of year. I just saw strawberries at the store for $4.95/lb. The last ones I bought at peak were $.94/lb and I bought loads. Of course the fresh ones are gone, but there's jars of jam in the pantry that isn't going to make it to strawberry season again, but I tried. The zucchini chips aren't lasting either and I thought the garden produced more than I could eat for several years. Only two jars of bread and butter pickles left. All of that homemade stuff was 'dirt' cheap compared to store bought. Mince pasties are being made tonight that should last 3-4 days and cost about $1ea or so.

        If you have a pension, see what you can do to get out of it if it's your money being put in. Buying a home can be a much better investment. It's also something you have control over. Not the market price, but how well it's kept. If you have a pension that's still heavily invested in commercial real estate (offices), there's not much you can do about it unless the fund managers will listen to you.

    4. Dr Fidget

      Well, sod you lot.

      Must be nice to be young, healthy without any aged relatives in care homes or other friends or relatives who are at risk.

      I do hope you get a nice strong dose of long Covid and then try and get a bed in the overcrowded NHS hospital - or are you in the 1% and can afford private care and you don't give a f*ck about anybody else?

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Well, sod you lot.

        I do hope you get a nice strong dose of long Covid and then try and get a bed in the overcrowded NHS hospital - or are you in the 1% and can afford private care and you don't give a f*ck about anybody else?

        Trying to get a bed in an overcrowded hospital may just be a consequence of the panicdemic and lockdowns. Massive waiting lists and probably excess mortality as a consequence of people going undiagnosed and untreated while the cough was the priority.

        1. Lurko

          Re: Well, sod you lot.

          "Trying to get a bed in an overcrowded hospital may just be a consequence of the panicdemic and lockdowns. "

          Only in very small part. The biggest contributors are that the UK has amongst the lowest ratio of hospital beds to population in the civilised world*, over the past thirty years we've halved the number of available beds** during a period when the population has increased by 20%***, and life expectancy has increased by around six years****.

          * https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/nhs-delivery-and-workforce/pressures/nhs-hospital-beds-data-analysis

          ** Fig 4: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/nhs-hospital-bed-numbers

          *** https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates - note stats are quite dated, 2028 estimates are the wrong side of 68m

          **** https://www.insurancehero.org.uk/news/new-stats-reveal-british-life-expectancy-extended.html

  5. grumpyoldeyore
    FAIL

    Testing and Recording

    I caught Covid for the first time at the end of March 2023. This was six months after my last booster. I didn't realise it was Covid at first but took a test which came back positive. I tried to log it on the NHS website but I wasn't allowed to because it was a test I'd bought and paid for. At that point, the website informed me, "only results from test kits supplied by the NHS to eligible people can be registered on this website" .

    1. Catkin Silver badge

      Re: Testing and Recording

      The NHS is uninterested in your private test because it's unvalidated (by them) and lacks traceability. It may well work but they can't distinguish it from the negative result of the pregnancy test someone else pissed on in the mistaken belief that one line means no Covid.

  6. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Stop

    It is only Covid if you take a test

    Otherwise it is just a bad cold.

    1. LogicGate Silver badge

      Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

      Having avoided the infection throughout the pandemic, I finally got covid shortly before last Christmas.

      The source was a school where "covid is just another bad cold" was the way of thinking.

      The thing took 2 weeks to clear, and it flattened me in a way I have never seen a common cold do. Just sitting still and thinking / concentrating for 15 minutes left me tired to the bone.

      Your common cold goes for the respiratory system. This virus goes for the nervous system as well.

      While we can not afford to aim for a 0-covid solution, the bugger should be treated with more respect than the "common cold", and actively telling covid positives to return to work / school while still virulent is, in my opinion, a BAD idea.

      1. Tron Silver badge

        Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

        AFAIK official advice is to not go to work or school if you are obviously infectious from any bug, as it would just spread it. That has always been good advice and still is. Nobody is stopping folk from wearing a mask if they feel they need to. My mother wears one every time she goes shopping. I wear one when I answer the door to couriers. Definitely wear one in any medical environment to protect yourself.

        A return to lockdown is not a viable option in the UK after partygate.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

          > A return to lockdown is not a viable option in the UK after partygate.

          The ramifications of partygate will cast a long shadow over any future lockdown whether it is caused by CoViD or Disease X…

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

        > "covid is just another bad cold" was the way of thinking.

        But this is the way the UK government is thinking. ( I suspect if a couple of Conservative MPs had died from CoViD they would think differently.)

        initial CoViD symptoms are very similar to a cold or flu.

        Testing is the easiest way to determine whether you have CoViD or not, and done sufficiently early can minimise you infecting others.

        However, getting hold of testing kits isn’t easy, similarly no longer having the app and being able to report positive tests to the NHS, and so opening yourself to a possible follow up phone call, downgrades the seriousness of CoViD.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

          > I suspect if a couple of Conservative MPs had died from CoViD they would think differently

          Well Boris was ill enough with it to require intensive care and it didn't stop the parties...

          1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

            Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

            If someone made a TV programme about it and then maybe MPs will get interested.

          2. Mooseman Silver badge

            Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

            "Well Boris was ill enough with it to require intensive care "

            Allegedly

          3. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

            Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

            Was he ever actually in intensive care? I can't recall now as it's been long overshadow by his constant lies, deceit and corruption... so anything he says can easily be assumed to be utter bollocks... and whilst he was slinging praise at the NHS for his care in a nice private room... he was also laundering about 1 billion pounds through the NHS to friends and crones for defective PPE.

          4. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

            "Well Boris was ill enough with it to require intensive care"

            He was pretty ill, but do note that he spent three days in ICU but was never ventilated. He was there as a precautionary measure in case it got worse (which sucks for anybody that actually needed an ICU bed...).

      3. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

        COVID is a common cold. It's common, and it's a COronaVIrus Disease. There are other common kinds of common cold: as well as coronaviruses there are common rhinoviruses, adenoviruses and enteroviruses. And actually, there are Influenza colds as well: the common diagnostic for flu was "serious illness", so if you didn't get "serious illness", it wasn't diagnosed as Influenza. But actually, like Coronavirus diseases, Influenza "colds" are common in the community. And infulenza often appears as an intestinal infection: since Influenza intestinal infection doesn't lead to death by subsequent bacterial pneumonia (the most common fatal outcome of influenza infection), it's very little studied and very rarely reported.

        The natural progression of infectious diseases is to become more pathogenetic and less virulent. SARS-CoV-2 is demonstrating the expected progression. It is well on the way to being endemic in childhood, like other common colds, and like other common colds will continue to cause Non-specific Multisystem Post-Viral Symptoms, including Chronic Fatigue, as well as specific system post-viral conditions like Arthralgia and Post-viral Cerebellar Ataxia.

        1. mantavani

          Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

          The common cold viral complex has hundreds of representatives of various species, many of which are poorly understood. Four principle coronavirus species were previously known to infect humans, hence 'novel coronavirus', then 'Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus SARS-CoV-2'. It's misleading to group it/the subsequent variants together with the common cold viruses. Whales and kangaroos* are both mammals, but a marine biologist isn't going to be all that interested in the latter. Well, maybe if one unexpectedly turned up at sea.

          I should be very careful with the blanket claim that infectious agents tend to evolve towards reduced virulence. It was a reasonable hypothesis when suggested in the early 1900s, and it has been shown to be so in a limited number of cases such as myxomatosis in wild rabbits, but it rests on a number of assumptions that either don't at all, or don't necessarily hold true for covid-19. Rather than me drone on, have a look at the open access paper below.

          Essentially, 'endemic' doesn't mean what people would very much like it to mean.

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10066022/

          Kun Á, Hubai AG, Král A, Mokos J, Mikulecz BÁ, Radványi Á. Do pathogens always evolve to be less virulent? The virulence-transmission trade-off in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Biol Futur. 2023 Jun;74(1-2):69-80. doi: 10.1007/s42977-023-00159-2. Epub 2023 Mar 31. PMID: 37002448; PMCID: PMC10066022.

          *despite what Stephen Fry said in that episode of QI, grrr.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

            I think the statement of viruses becoming less virulent over time is a brief way of stating that... whilst mutations would be reasonable random in nature the dominance of those mutations will tend towards the less virulent variation due to its inherent survivability - you're not going to become the dominant strain throughout time by constantly killing your host. Dead host -> less chance to transmit. So whilst more virulent strains can and will occur they will generally be overcome by the less virulent ones.

            This is what we've seen with Alpha -> Delta -> Omicron etc. It's not stating that the deadly mutations can't occur just that they won't survive long term.

        2. Dr Dan Holdsworth
          Boffin

          Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

          COVID-19 is not a common cold.

          The major difference is that covid uses the angiotensin-2 enzyme/receptor to get into cells, and in doing so it can interfere with this sub-system. Angiotensin regulates blood pressure and wound healing; if lots of angiotensin-2 (ACE-2) receptors get clogged up with virus then your body interprets the sudden superabundance of angiotensin-2 hormone as news that something's very wrong.

          Specifically, lots of angiotensin-2 hormone means that blood pressure is low and there is a wound somewhere. This makes your body alter blood chemistry to make the blood extra-sticky and much more likely to clot, and activates the smooth muscle in your arteries to try to seal off any holes. There's no feedback loop here either; as long as angiotensin-2 levels are high, your blood remains set to clot at the slightest provocation.

          That system is what caused deaths from covid-19. Super-sticky blood clotted everywhere, bunged up lung function and even brain function. That's what the vaccines were aimed at: not entirely stopping the disease but merely stopping it going systemic and hospitalising the patient.

      4. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

        Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

        I thought I'd finally got it just before xmas. My mum came down with something and I caught it a few days later. But she tested after she'd been ill for 4 days and got a negative test. My brother in law caught it from her too and he tested negative.

        Whatever it was, it mirrored some covid symptoms and wiped everyone out for the better part of 3-4 weeks. Started with a cough and sore throat, then headaches and extreme tiredness... after about 10-12 days it turned into a nasty cold for a further 10-12 days.

        Seems there's some viral thing going about this winter that's not covid but it really contagious. My whole family has had it, as have friends and not one of them has tested positive for covid.

        1. LogicGate Silver badge

          Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

          Antigen test or PCR?

          I believe in a positive antigen test, but I do not fully trust a negative antigen test.

          What you describe is really close to my experience.

          The last trace of a second red stripe only disappeared after 14 days, the exhaustion continued, tapering off slowly.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

            >” I believe in a positive antigen test, but I do not fully trust a negative antigen test.”

            Agree, particularly if you have been vaccinated.

            From the research project we got involved in, it can be hit an miss whether you get a positive test or not. First thing in the morning tend to be a good time to get a positive test, as does testing early ie. When you feel you are going down with cold/flu rather than once you have full blown cold. Hence why doing away with easy and cheap/free access to testing kits was a bit daft.

            From the couple of times I’ve had Covid, the most pronounced confirming feature was the loss of taste and/metallic taste - Tabasco source on chips was quite nice! Followed by the few weeks of weird energy levels before things finally return to normal.

            1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

              Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

              I am pretty certain it evolved to evade testing. Since a positive test causes you to isolate, we are selecting for strains that do not give a positive test.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

                The law of unintentional consequences.. :)

        2. heyrick Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

          "Seems there's some viral thing going about this winter that's not covid but it really contagious."

          This year, it seems there's Covid, RSV, and a rather unpleasant strain of flu doing the rounds at the same time.

          Oh, joy. (see icon)

    2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

      The time I caught COVID (back in 2022) was when a friend of mine thought she just had a sinus infection and only tested when her symptoms became more pronounced. In the interim, she interacted heavily with a bunch of elderly folks and her own immunocompromised partner. I'm not sure what the overall fallout was.

    3. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

      Either way bloody well keep it to yourself once you know you have it. First thing we should all have learned but haven't.

      Second thing is, we should be drafting public health regs concerning ventilation of public and work spaces. Using CO2 levels as a proxy measure.

      Both of those will reduce the misery and time lost to colds, flu and any future surprises as well.

      1. Tron Silver badge

        Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

        ventilation of public and work spaces?

        We don't even have air con in most of the UK. If we did, we wouldn't have enough electricity. It's near freezing here today - opening the windows may result in personal injury. Heating costs are already high enough.

        1. Blank Reg

          Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

          That is what heat recovery ventilation is for. bring in fresh air, transfer heat from outgoing air to the incoming air

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

            a technology that has been around for decades

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

              a technology that has been around for decades

              With potential risks.. So apparently a lot of heat pump systems require a 'well insulated' building that can pass a pressure test to ensure no leaks. Which means the only ventilation is from the AC system. Conversely, one of the best office environments I've worked in had windows that automatically opened and let fresh air in whenever it got stuffy. Germany also discovered the downside to energy efficiency and superinsulating homes, namely an increase in black molds.

              One thing I've been curious about is if there's any correlation between poor ventilation, obsessive 'hygiene' and increased senstivity to respiratory problems. If people are exposing themselves to solvents and other chemicals from 'hygiene' products and molds from poor ventilation, maybe that's compromising or weakening people's immune systems. I think I was lucky as a kid that I was outdoors playing most of the time and developed a decent immune system.

              1. Dr Dan Holdsworth
                Thumb Up

                Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

                And so we come back to heat recovery ventilation once more.

                Take one well-insulated building that is also well sealed. Put some humans in it. Watch as the exhaled moist air causes the humidity to rise rapidly and the fungal spores start to germinate.

                Heat recovery ventilation is the answer. You use a little bit of power to push outside air into the building over a heat exchanger and to pull inside air out, again over a heat exchanger. The result is lots of lovely warm outside air in your building and no fungus problems to speak of.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: It is only Covid if you take a test

          > It's near freezing here today - opening the windows may result in personal injury.

          Try infra red heaters. Okay best to have the windows baffled so the gales don’t blow straight through but you can be pleasantly warm relatively cheaply.

  7. tip pc Silver badge

    Why did everyone get vaccinated?

    They said it was safe, effective & would stop you catching or spreading Covid.

    Everyone I know has had at least 2 jabs plus boosters so why is Covid so prevalent now?

    Either they got it wrong or lied.

    1. Jeff Smith

      Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

      Perhaps you just misunderstood.

      1. jmch Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

        No misunderstanding at all, the way it was initially marketed was:

        "1 or 2 jabs (depending on variant) and you're done"

        "even if you're not a high-risk group you have to take it because 'herd immunity' "

        "This has been very highly tested and we know it's safe and effective"

        The reality turned out to be:

        "this only lasts 6 months tops and you'll have to keep taking it again"

        "actually, vaccinated people can spread Covid just as well as unvaccinated ones, they just won't have symptoms, so herd immunity is off the cards anyway"

        "We tested this over 3 months on a group of a few thousand, we sort of think it's just about safe enough and effective enough to make a difference".

        To be fair, in the middle of what was a giant emergency, the vaccines worked 'well enough' for enough people to bring the pandemic under control, but let's not pretend that they were even close to what they were marketed as at launch

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

          "they were even close to what they were marketed as at launch"

          I'm not sure what marketing claims you saw, but the stuff I saw made it clear they didn't yet know how long "immunity"[*] would last. It was made clear quite early on that this would like the 'flu jab, a yearly, at least, occurrence as it mutated, unlike measles etc type vaccine which pretty much last a lifetime as they don't mutate much, if at all.

          They never actually said the word "immunity", since that's not how vaccines work.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

            We were told by the media, Govt officials and people like Fauci and the CDC director that the vaccine stops the virus in its tracks.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6On1yFm2pg&t=92s

            Fauci uses the word immunity.

            And yes, it is how vaccines did work until they changed the dictionary definition. I have immunity from polio, mumps, measles and rubella.

            1. Adair Silver badge

              Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

              If only reality ran in black or white—no shades of grey—how simple life would be.

            2. Jeff Smith

              Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

              You might not have immunity to any of those things, their vaccines are not 100% perfect. What you do have is herd immunity, as the vaccines are effective in enough people to prevent the diseases from spreading given thier r0 (provided enough people take the vaccine).

              The covid vaccines originally had the potential to achieve similar with a high enough uptake, however the virus quite quickly evolved to become far more infectious and spoiled the party for everyone. Certainly the figures on the efficacy early doors looked very promising indeed, and you could see the real world effects in countries with a head start (things in the UK were looking quite rosy at one point).

              Despite the lack of herd immunity what the covid vaccine certainly provided many people with is a layer of protection against serious illness, and enough people took it to keep the hospital admissions low enough to be manageable, thus freeing us from a longer period of lockdowns and countless more deaths.

              So that’s nice.

              But oh no wait maybe it’s all a conspiracy in order to somethingsomething

            3. jmch Silver badge

              Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

              "Fauci uses the word immunity."

              Not only that, he says "I wouldn't be surprised if it gives lifelong immunity".

              So, OK maybe there were other sources saying it might be yearly like the flu one, but this was supposedly the single most prominent health authority in the world at the peak on the pandemic, and he's saying *lifelong immunity* to answer a direct question asking if it would need to be taken yearly. It's not something misunderstood or taken out of context.

            4. Filippo Silver badge

              Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

              >I have immunity from polio, mumps, measles and rubella.

              Not necessarily. None of those vaccines are 100% effective. Their protection is also not necessarily lifelong. They are effective enough to create herd immunity, which can drive case count to near zero even when the vaccine is a few points short of 100%. Those individuals who do not have immunity, which might well include yourself, still don't get the disease because nobody they encounter has it.

              Also, we've always had many vaccines that are not only not 100% effective, but pretty far from it. Flu vaccines have never been very effective, for example. That wasn't a different "dictionary definition"; they were still vaccines. We still gave them to vulnerable people, and sometimes to the general population, and it was still a good idea to do so.

              Generally speaking, in medicine nothing is ever 100% effective, nor 100% safe; when doctors say "immunity" or "it's safe" or "has few side effects", it's always implied "...unless you're unlucky".

              All of that used to be understood by everyone, up until COVID. With COVID, for whatever reason, suddenly it appears that, for many people, either a drug works 100% with zero side effects, or it's a hoax and/or poison.

              I'll grant that the communication could've been done better. But that's a problem with communication, not with the science itself. Some officials tried to chase after the "it must be 100% effective or it's a hoax" crowd by trying to suggest 100% effectivness, which I think they shouldn't have done. You can't really persuade that kind of mind anyway.

              I got good results by running some math and then pointing out to a friend who's into D&D that getting the COVID vaccine is roughly the same as getting a +6 to your saving throw vs. the disease. He understood "highly effective, easily worth having, still not guaranteed success, still good idea to avoid having to roll" much better that way.

            5. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

              I have immunity from polio, mumps, measles and rubella.

              That doesn't mean you won't catch them, briefly, it means they won't make you sick.

            6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

              "We were told by the media, Govt officials and people like Fauci and the CDC director that the vaccine stops the virus in its tracks."

              Ah., ok then. Coverage and statements may well have been different in the US to what I heard/saw here, which at least partly explains why we differ in our opinions. From what I saw of US coverage, it seemed to be a lot more shouty with demands for answers "now" from the media so that may well have lead to people taking the wrong impressions as "spokes people" were put on the spot in high pressure situations, or maybe felt the need to sound re-assuring while grabbing their 5 minutes of fame.

              Sadly, all that happens here too, but on a much smaller scale as we follow the lead of the US media industry and/or our media get bought up/invested in by US based media. I find it best to try to sit in the middle and take in media from various sources and not just stick with those which reinforce my perceptions.

      2. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

        Yes I must have misunderstood all the top officials across the globe when they said we’d not catch covid or spread it if we were all vaccinated.

        A compilation (not by me) of the messages I heard and understood.

        https://x.com/0rf/status/1660067082220838916

        Would love to know what everyone who says I misunderstood or didn’t understand, understood from the constant and widely distributed official messaging as they were all very clear.

        Another compilation

        https://youtu.be/cMaHKykfdcQ

    2. harmjschoonhoven
      Boffin

      Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

      It is called evolution of viruses by means of natural selection.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

        "Think of it as evolution in action"

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

          For some people thinking of evolution is hard if not proscribed.

    3. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

      Not stop, but reduce the probability of catching it and the severity if you do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

        Certain politicians and health chiefs even claimed that the vaccine prevented transmission, thereby protecting others, which was the biggest load of absolute bullshit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

          prevented transmission, thereby protecting others, which was the biggest load of absolute bullshit.

          Collectively-speaking it's true. The fewer people in a community who are contagious, the lower the rate of transmission will be. It just doesn't apply directly to any one individual.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

            But it was revealed that those who had been vaxxed had very similar viral loads to those who had not. The vaccines pushed by US/EU/UK were all aimed at the systemic phase of covid and not the initial phase where it replicates in your respiratory tract and it is this initial phase where you spread it around.

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

      They said it was safe, effective & would stop you catching or spreading Covid.

      No, they said it was safe, effective, and would limit the severity of the effects if you caught it, and reduce your chances of spreading it. All true.

      No vaccine can ever stop you catching or spreading any virus, that's not how they work and no reputable doctor would make such a claim. Vaccines simply prime your immune system so that it jumps on a virus more quickly if you do get infected, hence limiting the severity.

      In the UK this winter, fewer people are being vaccinated (I'm no longer in the 'right' category for a booster vaccination, I was last year) apparently because most people have already built up immunity. Whether that's correct remains to be seen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

        "No, they said it was safe, effective, and would limit the severity of the effects if you caught it, and reduce your chances of spreading it. All true."

        The Pfizer shot was never tested for transmission and tests showed that vaxxed people carried the same viral load as unvaxxed.

        "No vaccine can ever stop you catching or spreading any virus"

        Smallpox, polio, mumps, measles, rubella, HPV. Pretty sure these stop you catching and spreading those viruses.

        One of the reasons covid mutated so much was down to the leaky 'vaccine'.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

          "Smallpox, polio, mumps, measles, rubella, HPV. Pretty sure these stop you catching and spreading those viruses."

          Different viruses mutate in different ways and at different rate. All those you just mentioned are very stable, so a single injection, or maybe one more booster, can be enough for a lifetime. COVID is more like 'flu, hence why 'flu vaccines are continually being developed in time for the next wave. You need to read more instead of denying. This is "done" science" and has been known for years.

          1. david 12 Silver badge

            Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

            Different viruses mutate in different ways and at different rate

            5 years ago, coronavirus were known/thought to have very low mutation rates: the crowns were known/thought to be very stable and strongly conserved, and there was an expectation/hope that a coronavirus vaccine might also be very long-lasting.

            I don't know if the thinking about coronaviruses has changed, or if it is just that COVID-19 presently has such a vast reservoir of infected hosts in which mutation and exchange is occurring.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

          Smallpox, polio, mumps, measles, rubella, HPV. Pretty sure these stop you catching and spreading those viruses.

          Nope, how could they? All any vaccine can do is make sure that your immune system reacts quickly when you do catch a virus. Ideally that should be so rapid that you never feel too ill.

          Collectively vaccines can stop a population from catching and spreading a virus, because an individual rapid response prevents it becoming widespread in the population. They can't stop an individual from being infected.

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

          >” One of the reasons covid mutated so much was down to the leaky 'vaccine'.”

          CoViD was merrily mutating before any vaccine existed…

          >” Smallpox, polio, mumps, measles, rubella, HPV. Pretty sure these stop you catching and spreading those viruses.”

          These virus’s are different to CoViD in that they take longer to establish and reproduce, giving the immune system a chance to neutralise before they do much damage or become infectious. CoViD seems to be more about spreading to another host before the current hosts immune system kicks in.

    5. Mooseman Silver badge

      Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

      "They said it was safe, effective & would stop you catching or spreading Covid."

      No, you were told it was safe (it is) and would reduce your chances of getting covid, and would reduce the chances of getting a severe infection.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why did everyone get vaccinated?

        In Australia we were certainly told by various politicians and health chiefs it would prevent the spread, which is bollocks.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Four vacinations and I still caught Covid

    Four vaccinations and I still caught Covid. Never again.

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Re: Four vacinations and I still caught Covid

      COVID vaccines don't stop you catching COVID.

      Flu vaccines don't stop you catching flu.

      They both mitigate severity of symptoms, and to some extent reduce transmission, for the vast majority of people who receive the vaccine.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Four vacinations and I still caught Covid

        The flu vaccine does stop you getting the particular strain you've been vaccinated against. There are just lots of flu strains.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Four vacinations and I still caught Covid

      No vaccinations and I never caught covid, except possibly once, in Oxford, before tests existed, in mid-February 2020.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Four vacinations and I still caught Covid

        Catching it has essentially the same protective effect as being vaccinated, at least for that strain. It's just a riskier approach.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Four vacinations and I still caught Covid

          Only riskier depending on the demographic and your own history of illness.

          The stats still show that median age at death was 80+ and median number of co-morbidities is 2+ meaning your typical person is simply not likely to die from it. Similar for hospitalisations. Therefore the only risk is, if I'm not in that group, how much of a sick-note am I i.e. how strong is my immune system. If you're regularly knocked over by seasonal colds then your profile and behaviour will be different from someone who seldom gets ill.

          I've never been jabbed and never been ill from it or any other cold in the period late-2019 until now. This wasn't a risky choice. I have a very good immune system, exercise regularly and I'm not chronically overweight. I was one of those kids where the mothers almost arranged play-dates when someone got sick. As a kid I've had mumps, rubella, and chickenpox (no vax schedule back then). As a teenager/young adult I've had measles and glandular fever etc. All without much issue. I seldom get colds. For me it was a no-brainer. For others, you need to look rationally at your own circumstances rather than submit to hysteria.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Four vacinations and I still caught Covid

            I've never been jabbed and never been ill from it or any other cold in the period late-2019 until now. This wasn't a risky choice. I have a very good immune system, exercise regularly and I'm not chronically overweight.

            But that may also be a risky choice. One aspect that's being studied is the risk factors, and why fit & healthy people sometimes died of/with covid, or following vaccination. With some diseases, a healthy or overactive immune system can make things worse.

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Four vacinations and I still caught Covid

      I might have caught Covid when it first appeared. before any testing was available in the USA so I have no proof what happened, but I've always been happy to be vaccinated for about 40 years now and even though most of the people I work eventually got Covid infections, I've not had any issues at all.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sooo,,,

    and they testing for Strains of Covid, or just Covid (which includes the common cold)?

    My trust of financially motivated medical companies and politicians, has been burned to the ground by the BS the tossed at everyone.

    I've survived 3 variation well, Know dozens that got the vax and were fine, then there is still the fact the vax (one of the hundreds of variations) put my bother and a neighbor in the hospital with heart issues and killed a close friends wife. There is no trust left.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: sooo,,,

      and they testing for Strains of Covid, or just Covid (which includes the common cold)?

      They can test sewer water for all sorts of things from covid to cocaine and crocodiles.

      My trust of financially motivated medical companies and politicians, has been burned to the ground by the BS the tossed at everyone.

      Yes, well, that was the panicdemic for you. Perhaps it's time for the Bbc to dig out the code for fantasy death league again? Perhaps Pfizer and Moderna need a shot in the arm after profits fell after governments stopped panic buying billions of doses of vaccines. Even after including free samples of simian DNA in a lot of them. Poor drug dealers, they were hoping for a larger percentage of those customers becoming addicted. Or perhaps politicians are hoping to order their subjects into lockdowns and mask wearing again. Elections coming up in the UK, US and Europe, so perhaps they're going to try more exciting forms of 'democracy' to retain control.

      But such is politics. A strange and unholy blend of conspiracy theory and fact, where figuring out which is which is becoming every harder thanks to managed disinformation. But an unfortunate side-effect of the panicdemic was to increase the number of 'vaccine hesitant'. This could be bad, should someone develop a nastier strain of covid.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: sooo,,,

        Hard to keep crocodiles still on the microscope slide. They tend to break the glass.

      2. W.S.Gosset

        Re: sooo,,,

        Minor correction:

        >simian DNA in a lot of them

        A/ bacterial DNA, not simian. E.coli, IIRC. Vaccines are farmed, not manufactured, and the shots via un-regulated Process 2 (ie, all non-trial ones) contained chopped up bits of the growth DNA, 30%+ by volume (for Pfizer; Moderna is lower). Equivalent to eating a serving of mashed potato but it's one-third soil+manure, all mixed thru homogeneously. Confirmed widely, including by Canada's regulator. 100 billion+ fragments of plasmid DNA per dose, 7% of which will be integrated into cells' own DNA as a viable replicating mutant, per empirical testing. (~20% integrate but most aren't viable.) Every mRNA recipient is now a chimera.

        If you're British you don't need to worry about it, though. The Brit regulator has stated that it hasn't tested for it, that it will never test the Covid vaccines for it, and that in fact they've never tested ANY vaccine EVER for any non-payload constituents. So you can relax.

        ...

        B/ All of them, not some.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: sooo,,,

          A/ bacterial DNA, not simian. E.coli, IIRC. Vaccines are farmed, not manufactured, and the shots via un-regulated Process 2 (ie, all non-trial ones) contained chopped up bits of the growth DNA, 30%+ by volume (for Pfizer; Moderna is lower)

          Aha, but..

          https://factcheck.afp.com/doc.afp.com.33ZK3GM

          "The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine does not contain simian virus 40 (SV40)," Health Canada told AFP in an October 27 statement. "The presence of the SV40 promoter enhancer sequence is not the same as the presence of the whole virus itself."... Michael Imperiale, a virologist at the University of Michigan, put it this way: "To make mRNA, you need DNA."

          And of course this is fine. Maybe. We are after all walking collections of junk DNA & RNA that we've picked up along the way on our evolutionary adventures. It is possible that we could add the SV40 sequence to our collection, because that's just what DNA fragments do. Also why people working with DNA have to be rather careful.

          Every mRNA recipient is now a chimera.

          Yep. It's been a massive public health experiment, with very lax safeguards. When the panicdemic started and everyone started trying to flog patent remedies, I did some quick research. mRNA wasn't a new thing, but it was a thing that had previously been considered rather risky due to those chimeric effects. And then to address those concerns, we had official misinformation trying to convince people that the vaccine wouldn't alter cells.. Except that's how they work, altering our cells to produce those spike proteins. I may be fortunate in being a proud Z28.310 and member of the control group, unless the presence of that code in my medical records might lead to refusal of treatment.. As some 'health' fascists demanded. No experimental vaccine? No treatment, no job, no travel..

          Obey citizen, trust in your government

  10. jonfr

    One of the last waves of the pandemic

    Based on what happened in 1889 to 1890 (1889 to 1895), what was possibly a coronavirus outbreak at the time. This is might be one of the last infection waves, before the covid-19 turns into just normal cold. It might however take a while longer compared to 19th century.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1889%E2%80%931890_pandemic

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One of the last waves of the pandemic

      "common cold" is rhinoviruses

      1. jonfr

        Re: One of the last waves of the pandemic

        This might have been Human coronavirus OC43. Scientists that are experts in this are still trying to figure out what happened in 1889, that's going to take a while longer until some answers is found.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_coronavirus_OC43

      2. W.S.Gosset

        Re: One of the last waves of the pandemic

        >"common cold" is rhinoviruses

        Actually it's a whole fleet of viruses: it's a catch-all term for symptoms, not cause. IIRC typically rhinoviruses are about 40% of colds, coronaviruses about 20%.

  11. Grogan Silver badge

    It's not over yet... we need new testing kits for the new variants too. People like to stick their fingers in their ears because they don't like isolating or losing money, but it's no more safe now than it was 3 years ago, even with vaccines. They don't work 100% and even 0% in some cases. Some people do not get any protection at all because they don't make the antibodies.

    You STILL have to be careful where you go, and take precautions. Not everybody can stand wearing a mask, so perhaps you won't, but you still have to keep in mind that it's both airborne and tactile. You can't stop breathing the air, but you can wash your hands. And stay the fuck home if you're sick.

    My fully vaccinated mother (83 years old) got it from ONE trip to the grocery store last year back when everybody thought it was going away. It's not usually her that goes (and she seldom goes out), but that one time... It was the only place she'd been in the previous 2 weeks. Nobody else in the family got it (and we all tested even though asymptomatic... she was the only one testing positive. For about a week then the tests started showing as negative while she still had after effects)

    1. Grogan Silver badge

      Boo hisss... downvotes. You people will be smug right up to intubation when you realize it's not just a little flu. It doesn't only happen to the weak either.

      Go look up superantigens.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Best change those bed sheets dude, the stench of piss is overwhelming.

  12. ecofeco Silver badge

    This is old news

    Well not that old, but this has been known for almost two weeks.

    But potential new wave? Quite a few hospitals around the world have gone back to turning patients away due to overcrowding. More like kinetic.

  13. Cucumber C Face

    You only die once

    Often neglected is all discussion of natural selection and epidemiology of Covid is the selection drive on the human population. There is and was a huge range of responses to infection - from totally asymptomatic through to catastrophic multiple organ failure. This diversity must be down to human biological variation.

    Most people alive on Earth have now met COVID at least once. They are proven survivors!

    To put it somewhat indelicately, the no 'underlying condition' fit 25 year old marathon runners who sadly went down in 2020-21 can't die a second time!

    There will always be new elderly and immunocompromised people coming along, but even they have got through so far, and mostly have some immunological experience of the virus. They will likely do far better than the 'underlying condition' folk in the first wave.

  14. TM™

    I took the vaccine because I trusted the virus 0% and the powers that be 1%

    From what I've learnt in the intervening two years, that 1% may have been misplaced.

    P.s. I am a scientist.

  15. Ordinary Donkey

    Had it

    The notable thing in this wave is everyone I know who got it got pretty bad brain fog. So if coworkers are being particularly stupid you now have a medical reason to shun them.

  16. richdin

    Fallback plan

    The US election cycle has kicked into high gear heading towards November. Having a renewed pandemic break out in time to justify having everyone mail in their ballots instead of voting in-person is a repeat of 2020. My parents were Republican voters their entire lives. Ever since they passed away, they have been voting Democrat.

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: Fallback plan

      Yes, that probably. Also, the war in Ukraine is going badly, the war in Gaza is showing that Israel is doing an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population, so something must be found to deflect the public attention. Reading the comments here, this plan seems to – still – work.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uses RT/PCR test so just more worthless "data"

    What the story actually is -

    We used a test in a manner that the inventor of the process said it should be never be used for.

    We used reagents that were certified by a regulatory process has a huge logical flaw at its center.

    Or that trace material in the environment might have any correlational to symptomatic infection rates etc in the general population. Its a non-viable proxy. This is very basic Stats 101 stuff.

    And just because we got a positive marker result has absolutely no correlation with whether the genetic material was viable and in a form that was actually infectious. When airborne.

    A quick look at the methodology used and results for research papers on formite transmission of influenza done over the years shows that there is almost zero correlation between a positive detection of the target materiel and an active viable virus that can be successfully cultured. Almost none of the positive results were in a viable form at a plausibly density

    And that's why you should always read the original papers. With a very skeptical view. For a start the authors are usually not the best at math. So the strength of the conclusion rarely matches the actual data presented. Thats always the first thing to look at. Abstract. Conclusion. Then body of paper. Usually in the first few paragraphs its obvious when the data does not match the conclusion. The Confidence Interval ranges and sample size / non-representational sample data are usually the first sign of trouble. The time to stop reading the paper and dismiss it as just more junk science.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uses RT/PCR test so just more worthless "data"

      I know someone, a stats lecturer, that did consultancy stints working with scientists on their research and analysis. Mainly in the bio-research arena. They said these people were some of the worst they had ever witnessed when it came to statistical analysis and inferencing, and their conclusions just did not hold up to mathematical analysis by someone who knew what they were doing. I would hope more prominent papers and research work gets such oversight but, from your comment, it may not be the case.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Uses RT/PCR test so just more worthless "data"..its that bad

        I've read many bio-science and medical papers / reference books over the decades (personal / family medical conditions) and at a rough estimate 95%+ have serious / fatal mathematical, methodological or logical errors. Usually very basic stuff. The authors might have passed a class as undergrads but had no actual understanding of the math they were using. Just mechanically using formulas or procedures they leaned without understanding limitations etc.

        Like the math that works for a experiment done with genetically homogeneous mice in very controlled environment under very controlled conditions does not apply when dealing with a non representational sample of patients in a very uncontrolled environment. The math of most FDA clinical trials is also very suspect. The efficacy / confidence intervals in most cases do not reflect the actual data quality.

        And so on.

        There are some high quality bio science / medical papers. Where the conclusion match the data presented. But not many. So most papers can only be read as (maybe) interesting anecdotes with graphs. Hinting at something but they usually have to very carefully read for where they veer off into irrelevance. Or just simply worthless.

        A good personal example. Due to a serious anemia I have to take very high dose iron supplements and one of the recommendations is caffeine inhibits absorption. So dont drink tea / coffee etc. But when you do a deep dive through the published literature the only substantive paper involved feeding huge doses of caffeine to a very small sample of pigs and other lab animals. When you looked at the actual data and its quality, the study meant nothing. No reduction in iron bioavailability shown at typical levels in the human diet And no viable causal mechanism shown.

        So the old joke holds true. Those who are good at math go into physics, engineering etc. Those who are bad at math go into the bio-sciences. Or medicine. If you want to see bad math the efficacy against placebo quoted for most drugs recommended as treatments in the typical clinical differential diagnostics manual when weighed against side effect risks is a real eye opener. When the efficacy is not that strong in most cases. Over the counter drugs like aspirin or acetaminophen have far stronger efficacy numbers than most prescribed clinical therapeutics.

        So bio-science should be treated with the same degree of skepticism as economics. And medical people should be treated with the same degree of wariness as lawyers. Some can be useful. That is all.

        1. nonpc

          Re: Uses RT/PCR test so just more worthless "data"..its that bad

          I had the opposite problem. I was good at maths and would love to have done some biological science to add to my chemistry and physics, but due to timetable scheduling constraints at school the two subjects were mutually exclusive. Maybe based on subject success stats? btw I hated statistics!

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