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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.
If Brauner et al. are right, one of their main results shows that wearing masks is utterly useless and bears no effect at all. That may be so, but like everybody else they are hampered by the fact that everybody introduced nearly the same measures at nearly the same time, making meaningful comparisons impossible or at least very difficult. As their figure 4 clearly shows they could only evaluate masks as a last and final measure with seven others already in place. As masks cause the least disruption on economy and commerce the important question is what they can do on their own with no or few other restrictions. That question is not answered here.
After months of blanket closures of everything and all the economic burdens and disruptions that come with them Chang et al. finally offer the first (to my knowledge) comparison of what works and what doesn’t. The preprint of this article has been out in early November. Government politicians spend lots of taxpayers’ money on a large staff of scientific advisers. Why have these important results not long been taken up and acted on?
The same goes for Chen et al., although that article has only been published after the Christmas holidays. The bulk of all Covid deaths occur in nursing homes and they finally demonstrate exactly what causes them and how they can be effectively prevented. I’ve not yet seen that acted on either. Why not?
As Contreras et al.’s premises are wrong, their conclusion is at least highly suspect. They state:
“[A] stable equilibrium at low case numbers, where test-trace-and-isolate policies partially compensate for local spreading events, and only moderate contact restrictions remain necessary. Across wide parameter ranges of our complementary compartmental model, the equilibrium is reached at or below 10 daily new cases per million people. Such low levels had been maintained over months in most European countries.” At least in Germany an inexorable exponential rise in case numbers with a doubling time of around 25 days commenced the moment the restrictions having driven the numbers from a high of early April were lifted in May. Of course the numbers stayed low in absolute terms for quite some time and obscured the rise for all who failed to look closely, but still the facts are the exact opposite of Contreras et al.’s claim.
In spite of not mandating strong restrictions and contrary to prevailing propaganda Sweden has done more or less exactly the same as all other European countries. That conundrum is partially explained by Schmelz who confirms what many had long suspected.
Trying to summarize Hutchinson all you can say is, the marine reservoir effect exists, it varies widely between about zero and 500 years and trying to predict it any more precisely than that is useless. Yes, he does get a correlation and the slope of the regression is not zero – it never is. The amount of correction this can add is tiny compared to the internal variation and the latter is low for only those regions or times, where only one or very few measurements exist. Prediction under those circumstances is futile and the limitation of his result to the last two millenia means it’s irrelevant to most practitioners in the field anyway.
That emphatically does not mean this is an unimportant or useless study, quite the opposite. But why does no one ever have the honesty openly to say
“it was a sensible idea and well worth the effort to look, but in the outcome we did not find anything”?
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