Weekly Chart Update
Every Monday we begin the week with a new chart showing how our total weekly numbers compare to the previous total week numbers. As you can see from the above chart, 831 new infections were reported over the last 7 days. This is an 18.7% increase over last week’s total of 700. While it is never desirable to see this number increase, it’s important to remember that we saw occasional increases previously when the trend was still in overall decline. It’s also important to remember that 831 new cases is still a decline compared to the total 2 weeks prior, which was 889.
The above graph shows the difference in growth rate on a week to week basis, since the start of the resurgence in BC. Unfortunately, we can see that we returned to having a positive new case growth rate in the past week. The good news is that even a growth rate of ~20% implies that we are catching new cases and preventing secondary and tertiary transmissions quickly.
BC October Epidemiology – Report
Dr. Bonnie Henry gave an epidemiological report on COVID-19 in BC today. You can find the entire slideshow here. We will go over some of the slides below:
This slide shows us the epidemic curve for BC, and clearly illustrates our original wave and the current resurgence of the virus. Most importantly we can also see that the recent curve is beginning to flatten. These numbers are based on when the date of infection is reported to public health.
This slide shows the incredible work of our public health contact tracers. Nearly all the cases have been connected to known cases or clusters. This information is very encouraging because it means that most of the cases are being caught quickly and the chance for additional transmissions is being cut off.
The above slides all relate to hospitalization numbers. It will come as no surprise that we have seen an increase in hospitalizations throughout the resurgence, but our numbers remain roughly half or lower than what they were in March and April. In terms of the age range, a disproportionate number of people in their 20’s and 30’s have been testing positive for COVID-19, and this is a relatively recent occurrence. Hospitalizations, ICU, and deaths increase significantly with age, however, 3 people in their 40’s have now died from COVID-19. Severe outcomes are uncommon in children. The hospitalization risk for those aged 0-19 years is less than 1%. The hospitalization risk for people age 20-59 is less than 4%.
These 3 slides show us the estimated reproduction rate of the virus in BC, as well as modelling for growth rate scenarios. Fortunately, they report that the average number of infections per new infection is steady at less than 1. This means that our new infection should generally trend lower, and our number of active cases should continue to decline. The last slide also tells us that our infectious contact rate is sitting around 45% right now, and modelling suggests that at this rate, we should continue to see a downward trend in new cases.
BC October Epidemiology in Schools – Report
This slide shows us that despite a dramatic increase in testing for school-age children, test positive rates for students have remained very low. Only 7 out of every 1000 COVID-19 tests come back positive.
This slide shows us the breakdown of exposure events at schools since re-opening roughly 1 month ago. There is almost an even split between elementary and secondary schools, with elementary being slightly more likely to have an exposure event. The majority of outbreaks have been happening within the Fraser Health Authority area. Vancouver Island, however, has not seen even a single school exposure event.
These 2 slides show us that the number of new COVID-19 cases has increased in school-age children, however, the proportion of cases for these age ranges has not varied significantly. This tells us that the increase in cases in students is in line with the increase in cases for everyone else, and confirms that we are not seeing skyrocketing infection numbers in our children.
Can Sea Mist Prevent Transmission?
Sensory Cloud is a company started by a former Harvard Professor, who hired a team of doctors and scientists to assist him in creating an aerosolized solution (effectively a nose spray) called Fend. Fend is a very simple solution made up exclusively of calcium, salt, and distilled water, but in ratios specific to the product. The goal of the product is to affect the permeability of your nasal mucus so that fewer particles can either enter or leave your nasopharynx area through your nose. The “captured” particles then follow a natural process which leads to their digestion (don’t think about this part too much), which should not lead to viral replication.
The above graphs are taken from a recent study done on the Fend product (performed almost exclusively by people who own or work for Sensory Cloud) and imply some very noteworthy results. To start with, the data presented reinforces the 20/80 rule that 20% of the population is responsible for 80% of the transmissions of many infectious diseases. People in this 20% grouping are called super-spreaders, and in the context of this study represent people who on average expel 250 particles per litre of breath or more. It was in this group of super-spreaders that the most dramatic change was seen when Fend was administered. In these 14 people, expelled particles dropped an average of 78%. The results from the test conducted on regular spreaders were less impressive, although generally still reduced particle expulsion effectively, in some cases, the numbers increased after Fend was used.
There is a lot we can take away from this study (click here to read it). Perhaps first and foremost we need more information about what makes a person a super-spreader. If we could identify these people in advance, perhaps we could find ways to decrease their viral transmission rate. Secondly, while the study did include data from a single COVID-19 positive participant, further testing should be done to determine how consistent the results are. Finally, while there are many vaccine candidates in development, and also many potential treatments being worked on, this study shows us that there is still much we can learn and accomplish in the area of preventing transmission; with COVID-19 and hopefully many other viruses as well.
Despite all of the above, however, it is still hard to understand why a person would spend $50-60 USD for about 30ml of calcified saltwater.
Delta Hospital Closes Due to Outbreak
An active outbreak at Delta Hospital has forced its closure to new patients effective today. The outbreak was declared Sept 16th, and since that point, 17 staff have tested positive for COVID-19, plus an additional 18 of the hospital’s patients, 7 of which have died. The emergency room remains open, and scheduled surgeries are continuing as planned. Any other patients will be redirected to different hospitals within the Fraser Health network.
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That’s all for now, stay safe everyone!