On Herd Immunity: or Not

Path of least resistance AND looking at new ways of getting information (mostly for me) out of my “second brain” of Roam Research (“networked tool for thought) and into a place that has at least a weak possibility of finding its way into other minds and unlikely conversation:

So I will, from time to time, post stuff in this fashion. In this instance, all “highlights” are pulled directly from the long article to help me better understand the content. In future, at times, I will add my own commentary. FWIW.

â–ºMost important info here: learn about Rt versus R0 (R Nought) and what they mean with regard to COVID rise and fall.

In Roam, I will further digest such a piece via “progressive summarization” so that I have some level of mastery of the details. But enough, already.

Article:: Dangerous misunderstandings by [[Dr. Felicia Keesing]]

Dangerous misunderstandings | Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

  • Tags:: #roam_highlighter #pandemic #prevention
  • See also graphs by state of Rt Rt: Effective Reproduction Number
    • 📌FBF: this is really worth a look!
  • See also Herd immunity | Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
  • Highlights::
    • def: Rt, the effective reproduction number
    • What does it mean to say that Rt is less than one?
      • It means that if 10 people were infected, they’d infect only 9 others (in the case of Rt = 0.9) or 8 others (in the case of Rt = 0.8). Whenever Rt is less than one, there will be fewer and fewer infected people over time. The further Rt is below one, the faster this decline will happen.
      • Right now in the United States, most states have an estimated Rt of between 0.75 and 0.98. A handful of states have Rt above 1, but even the highest — Minnesota this week — is only at 1.05.
    • In most places, if we kept doing what we’ve been doing for long enough, the disease would slowly, slowly decline, potentially to zero
      • The three important points about this are these:
        1. The decline to zero would take a long time. Months and months. And months.
        1. Along the way, more and more people would be getting infected, and some of them would die. The total number of people infected at any one moment would be declining, but the actual people suffering would keep changing.
        1. As soon as we change what we’re doing about social distancing, hygiene, and quarantining, Rt will change as well, almost certainly by going up.
      • A problem for many of the reopening scenarios is that they assume that there is a threshold density below which students (or workers) returning to campuses (or offices) will be “safe” and above which they won’t be. But at least for now, there isn’t. For now, the less contact infected people have with others, the safer it will be[3]. It’s not a threshold. It’s a continuum.
    • If we want to reach the thresholds of *safe* or *normal*, we will need better solutions
      • For example, we could reopen higher-density settings, including campuses, (fairly) safely if we could test everyone daily, trace their contacts, and quarantine anyone who tests positive. But we can’t [4]. We could reach a threshold of something like normal if we had a safe, effective, and widely available vaccine. But we don’t.
    • As we plan the details of when and how to reopen more spaces and activities going forward, we face two critical issues.
      • How to lower the risks as much as possible
        • This involves
          • finding ways to maximize both hygiene (think masks, hand sanitizer, and extra cleanings) and distancing (think single-occupancy spaces, and socially-distant cafeterias).
          • We must also have a workable plan for what to do when people inevitably become sick. How do we detect infected people quickly, and how do we responsibly and efficiently identify their contacts? For colleges and universities, how do we quarantine sick students?
          • And how do we protect the most vulnerable?
      • Determining what level of risk is acceptable
        • With the tools we currently have, it’s not a question of whether creating lower-density campuses or businesses is safe. It’s a question of whether it’s safe enough. That’s not a scientific question, and it doesn’t have a scientific answer.
      • ❗R t versus R nought ❗
        • The effective reproduction number Rt is different from Ro (R-nought), though they’re related. Ro is the number of cases that would arise if an infected person was in a population in which everyone else was susceptible to infection. In theory at least, it’s an immutable property of a pathogen. In contrast, when some people are immune, through prior exposure or vaccination, or when people take active steps to reduce transmission (like washing hands or social-distancing or wearing masks), we need a different number. That’s Rt. It’s a measure of the number of new cases that are actually arising from each infected person, and it can change based on our behavior.

Global Worming

May be too graphic for small children or small adults. Statement that there is nothing we can do about Jumping Worms–not so! Go to the end of this blog post for hope!

The quotes below (and the title) were extracted from a nicely-illustrated Atlantic article entitled Cancel Earthworms by Julia Rosen.

There is, and has been, a subterranean invasion going on beneath our feet here in the American Northeast; and the invaders are worming their way across the rest of the continent with nothing to stop them.

Most folks are not aware that, where the glaciers prevailed long ago, the land was scoured to bedrock, and the native earthworms were wiped out. The ones that replaced them are European imports. Chief among them, night crawlers and Jumping Worms.

The latter were “Originally from Korea and Japan, they are also known as Alabama worms, snake worms, or crazy worms. And they have the potential to remake the once wormless forests of North America.”

While we have been brought to understand that the more worms in our gardens, yards and woodlands, the better, it ain’t necessarily so:

“The earthworms are in the soil because the soil is healthy,” one authority says. “They are not necessarily doing anything for it.

“Their burrows create channels that allow nutrients and pesticides to leak from fields into nearby waterways, and carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide to escape into the atmosphere. In fact, a 2013 review of recent research found that worms likely increase greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Leaf fall that builds up under a forest of hardwood trees deposits a wealth of soil-creating minerals and organic matter.

“But when (jumping) worms show up, they devour the litter within the space of a few years. All the nutrients that have been stored up over time are released in one giant burst, too quickly for most plants to capture. And without cover, the invertebrate population in the soil collapses.

As the surface of the forest goes, so goes the neighborhood.

“With their food and shelter gone, salamanders suffer and nesting birds find themselves dangerously exposed. Plants like trillium, lady’s slipper, and Canada mayflower vanish, too. This may be because the worms disrupt the networks of symbiotic fungus that many native plants depend on, or because worms directly consume the plants’ seeds.”

“Jumping worms take out all the understory plants, leaving nothing for deer to chew on but the young trees. And that could spell trouble for the region’s prized maple syrup industry.  “In 100 years’ time, maybe it’s going to be Aunt Jemima,” he says. “That’s a real bad horror story for people in Vermont.”

The take-home: there is little to be done. Experts recommend you purchse “only mulch and compost that have been treated to kill stowaways, and to avoid city compost made of leaves collected from sites all over town. He urges them to inspect potted plants for jumping worms and to buy bare-root varieties whenever possible.”

HINT: look for coffee-grounds looking worm casts. Find the whitish clitellum near the head vs toward the middle on night crawlers. And observe the much more frantic gyrations (too much coffee?)? See this website for a (non-claymation) short video and other information.

[su_note note_color=”#c39586″ text_color=”#49491a”]NEWS FLASH: We have just learned that all chickens over three months of age will be drafted into the newly-formed National Poultry Patrol. Hundreds of thousands will soon be airdropped into at-risk national forests and private woodlots in an attempt to control the spread of Jumping Worms. You heard it here first.[/su_note]

Here is a link to the claymation video for those reading Fragments via email subscription where the header image is missing.

One Word, Benjamin: Plastics

This advice was innocent enough, in a smarmy and ominously-prescient sort of way when the “the graduate” got this insider tip so many decades ago. It was certainly the way the world of profit and growth were going, even then, on our way to a shrink-wrapped future.

And woe to us, the tsunami of plastic has continued unabated ever since. From where you sit to read this, how many seconds does it take for you to find five objects made partly or entirely of plastic?

And now we have reaped the whirlwind of hormonal and other poorly-considered health issues from the biochemical to the biosphere level, as a consequence of so many Benjamins grabbing for the golden ring of plastics-for-profit.

It has been a wonderful-terrible answer to our problems of packaging and fabricating the temporary conveniences of our lives the last half of the last century. But by the middle of the present century, we must have broken our plastics addiction, for a vast number of reasons.

So now we can’t hope for a carbon-free future if it is not also plastics-free. We are overdue to find a replacement, while dedicating all manufacturing to “redesign plastics without harmful pollutants, reform regulation to account for low doses that may have harm, and recharge health advocates.”

If you have questions about what impact plastics are having on human and marine and any-other-biology or about what alternatives are currently being researched to help us break our plastics habit, you’re in luck.

The first Plastic Health Summit was held this year.

Snot Otters To Be Proud Of

Some 50-60 folks (mostly from nearby Blacksburg I think) gathered in the damp gloom of the Rising Silo Brewery in the rain for the first gathering of the “Tap into Science” group.

The focal point was the Eastern Hellbender (or Snot Otter or Old LasagnaSides, or…) as presented to the group by Dr. Bill Hopkins,  a principal researcher on this creature in the southeast.

I learned a lot, the most encouraging of which perhaps is that the abilities to monitor and track the lives and health of this creature has come a long way since I took herpetology just after the last ice age.

Artificial nesting boxes (in the second video) are being successfully placed, occupied and monitored and individual adults chip-tracked. We will hopefully learn much to reduce the discouraging current losses of these largest of amphibians due to habitat changes and other causes that are preventing young from thriving.

 

Monsanto and Bayer to Consummate Unholy Union

Big Pharma and Big Ag have a baby. Not done quite yet but the contractions are closer and closer, and the Agent Orange - tinged water is about to break.

Now, if these 5 billion pound gorillas could concoct a way to own all the the world’s topsoil and oxygen and sell it back to us, they’d be in high RoundUp-ready cotton.

Bayer, Monsanto to merge in mega-deal that could reshape world’s food supply – The Boston Globe

Bayer and Monsanto: A Merger of Two Evils: TruthOut

Bayer to Buy Monsanto Creating World’s Largest Seed and Pesticide Company: EcoWatch

Heroin, Nazis, and Agent Orange: Inside the $66 Billion Merger of the Year – Bloomberg

Why Bayer’s purchase of Monsanto is so controversial. | New Republic

Bayer’s Takeover of Monsanto Would Create the World’s Largest Agricultural Supplier | VICE News

“These are companies that are hell bent towards developing a highly chemical dependent, pesticide and herbicide-dependent agriculture.”