Testing charts

The math of masks

Several people have written to me that they have a family member or friend who is skeptical about masks but willing to learn. Here’s a great little video to help them understand why masks are so important and how many people wearing masks can help stop a pandemic. There’s some math in it, but nothing too complicated. The math behind wearing masks.

Vaccines and phase III

Many people (not redditors, of course) have no idea how vaccines are developed or tested. The CDC has a page describing the process. In clinical development, there are three phases. The NIH has a more thorough explanation. There’s a very useful table there that shows a summary of each phase, how many people were involved, and relevant results for the vaccine for human-attenuated rotavirus.

The critical thing to understand today is Phase III, since that’s what all the news has been about. This phase involves thousands of people, “where participants are randomly allocated to receive either the investigational or the control vaccine (placebo, different vaccine, or nothing). A prospective RCT controls variables, prevents bias, and maximizes the chances of detecting a difference between the investigational vaccine and control.”

Paul Offit and Eric Topol explain why phase III takes so long:

Moncef Slaoui, who’s the head of Warp Speed, has, I think appropriately, said recently on a National Public Radio show that he thought a best-case scenario would be the end of the year, most likely the beginning of next year. I think that’s a more accurate representation.

As you said, you have to get 30,000 people to get dose 1 of placebo or vaccine. You have to wait a month, give 30,000 people dose 2 of placebo or vaccine, wait 2 weeks to full immunity, then you have to hope that about 150 or 160 people in your placebo group get sick. Not just infected, but sick. The clinical endpoint in these trials is moderate to severe disease.

Paul Offit’s Biggest Concern About COVID Vaccines

Phase III can’t be rushed. It is the critical piece in establishing the safety and efficacy of a vaccine. That said, I trust a vaccine that has gone through proper trials. No matter how much the process has been politicized, there is no evidence that I know of (yet) that the phase III process itself has been compromised. Most importantly, that process isn’t run by political appointees; it’s carried out by scientists.

There are some who say that any vaccine developed under Trump can’t be trusted. If there were evidence of tampering with the phase III trials, I would agree with this. But lacking this evidence, I can’t agree. If large numbers of people refuse to take a properly vetted vaccine, this will extend the pandemic just as surely as people refusing to wear masks.

One last caveat: a vaccine is not a magic potion that will suddenly erase the pandemic. Even if there is a good vaccine before the end of the year, hundreds of millions of doses have to be distributed. This is a process that will take months, meaning that even if everything goes perfectly, the pandemic won’t be in our rear view mirror until late 2021.

The hardest job in the world . . .

must be to be a true believer in trumpism, especially when the news is filled with Trump’s recordings, admitting that he knew very well how deadly covid-19 was, but that he decided to play down its danger. In his own words: “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” In public, though, he was telling the nation that it was no more dangerous than the flu, and that it would go away on its own.

Imagine the contortions of logic one has to go through to excuse this behavior, to pretend that everything is just peachy with your leader. It’s one thing for a paid liar like Kayleigh McEnany. It’s quite another if you’re just a regular citizen who likes to poke your stick in the eye of liberals.

Election Day is in 54 Days

Your vote counts, no matter where you live. Check your registration, make sure your family and friends do that, and motivate others to save our democracy. And don’t wait until the last minute to drop your ballot in the mail!

Have you completed your census form? If not, please DO IT!

Updated numbers available, even if not in this post

Interactive pages on zorgi.me:

Today’s charts

More charts on the three counties, with annotations. Today’s charts will cover positivity rates and testing. All the positivity charts from covidactnow.org have the following footer:

Last updated 9/9/2020. The World Health Organization recommends a positive test rate of less than 10%. The countries most successful in containing COVID have rates of 3% or less. We calculate the rate as a 7-day trailing average. Learn more about our methodology and our data sources.


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