For months, Americans have been told that shelter-in-place orders would end and the economy would be allowed to restart when we “flattened the curve,” meaning the rate of newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases stabilized, and hospitals had the resources required to adequately respond to the crisis.
As weeks passed, hospitals were readied and the reported rates of infection stabilized in nearly all 50 states. But rather than lift lockdowns, state governors chose to move the goal posts. They not only extended lockdowns, they introduced a slew of new requirements for reopening that involved more than just the federally recommended face masks and social distancing.
Most governors now proclaim a flattened curve isn’t enough. It’s now about “crushing the curve,” meaning that the number of cases can’t just be leveling out. They needed to be declining for at least two consecutive weeks. Secondly, the rate of testing must dramatically increase. And third, states must have robust “contact tracing” operations in place, meaning Orwellian police-state spying and tattling programs.
The Lugenpresse in the last few days reported that nearly all states are now starting to ease lockdown measures to varying degrees and in painfully gradual phases. However, we could move backward in our anemic progress, governors warn, if rates of infection rise. They also say a “second wave” pandemic in the fall could require more draconian measures to contain.
It’s all about the data, governors say. The truth is in the data. Rates of infection, transmissibity, mortality. Decisions that affect people’s livelihoods and well being. Economic and social policy responses. Everything. It’s all based on data. Trust in the data, they say.
But anyone with critical thinking skills and average intelligence probably realizes that the data is bogus and subject to manipulation. Those who aren’t authoritarian followers or hypnotized by peddlers of group think undoubtedly also realize that the policy response and strategy is wrong as well.
Several states have presented COVID-19 data in ways “that might misrepresent their outbreaks and response efforts” as they attempt to reopen. Business Insider belatedly reported Thursday. Gee, ya think? Texas, Virginia and Vermont, for example, combined their tests results for active virus infections (diagnostic testing) and past cases (antibody testing), which inflated their data and make it look like a outbreak was growing.
Theoretically, ramped up testing of individuals over time will skew outcomes and can lead to false assumptions about community spread. For example, if you’re increasing testing by 10 percent each week, and each week the number of positive diagnoses are the same, then arguably the rate of spread is in decline. It’s a downward-bending curve, not flat.
But is testing really increasing?
Generally, you can get a COVID-19 test if you have cononavirus symptoms and either you or someone in close proximity to you is considered high risk. On-duty healthcare workers and member of the The Club can have almost instant tests as often as they like. But for most of us who are either feeling ill or are just curious, access varies widely and results can take days or weeks to obtain. Sometimes the wait is so long that it deems the results essentially meaningless.
It appears that heath care providers and insurers view immunity/antibody testing as an elective procedure. It can be done upon request, but you have to pay for it out of pocket. A couple weeks ago, a friend told me he and his girlfriend each paid $130 for the antibody test in northern California: $30 for the office visit/blood draw, and $100 for the lab test. The wait for results was four days.
Of course, the “contact tracing” protocols being implemented in many states — such as ID submitted to police, agents alerting everyone in contact, phone tracking of whereabouts — will create an enormous disincentive for people to subject themselves to any sort of COVID testing.
And just because someone gets negative test results this week doesn’t mean they’re actually positive or negative at the moment. They could have come in contact with the virus five minutes after their sample was drawn.
So it would seem that using the testing results of individuals to create policy responses for communities is problematic to say the least. Community testing on a daily or weekly basis would surely be better, especially if it’s not costly and doesn’t require Orwellian contact tracing. If only there were a way … Oh, wait. There is!
For decades, community wastewater treatment facilities have been testing sewage for pathogens, pharmaceutical drugs, narcotics and toxic waste. And it turns out that they can test for COVID-19, too. The earliest reports of wastewater surveillance testing for coronavirus date back to Wuhan in January. Since that time, it has been quietly deployed on a small scale around the world.
Spain, for example, deployed its coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) testing in late February, The Scientist reports. Now, months later, researchers say they’re ready to request funding for regular, biweekly testing of the Valencia region of 5 million residents:
Previously, Domingo-Calap and colleagues had reported the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 traces circulating in Valencian wastewater that had been sampled on February 24 — around the time the first COVID-19 cases were officially confirmed in mainland Spain. They published their findings in a preprint on medRxiv April 29. The samples used in that work came from three large water treatment plants serving around 1 million residents living in the city of Valencia.
“Now we’re going to monitor the full region,” says Domingo-Calap, pointing out that this will cover the provinces of Alicante, Castellón, and Valencia itself, once full funding for the project is confirmed.
Communities in some states in the U.S., Switzerland, France and the Netherlands are also doing surveillance testing of wastewater. The U.K. “is investigating” whether they want to do it. Australia is making it part of their country’s response to the pandemic, but the nation’s leaders are letting the heads of each state decide when to roll it out, ABC News Australia reports:
The Prime Minister yesterday outlined Australia’s coronavirus exit strategy, listing three conditions that needed to be met in order for its tight restrictions to be rolled back.
One of them was the ability to rapidly respond to local outbreaks or anticipate them, and Mr Hunt said sampling and testing wastewater was a big part of that.
He told Channel Seven that by keeping track of levels of coronavirus in sewage, governments could quickly adjust their response. …
“It provides government with an additional tool to go to and in its simplest form it can tell us if COVID-19 has infected a community or not,” he said.
“This provides an integrative community-level measurement, as opposed to individual testing that has been used so far.”
It turns out that people shed or excrete traces of COVID-19 viral material in feces up to four days before they get symptoms (if ever), according to research by the journal Nature Medicine. This means that through wastewater surveillance, governments could potentially identify COVID-19 hotspots before the people infected have even realized they’re sick and have a clearer understanding of whether there had been community transmission in an area.
In other words, we can use broad-based surveillance testing to quickly tailor a response to a specific community in an emerging medical crisis, rather than using tailored testing to create broad-based policy responses that waste resources and create unnecessary economic harm to entire states.
It’s not about whether the virus exists in the wastewater on Day 1 of testing, researchers said. It’s about the changes in levels over time. It can be helpful in determining sudden spikes in asymptomatic carriers and can determine if a community has no COVID present at all.
Samples gathered in the United States — some from as far away as Honolulu, Hawaii — are being sent to BioBot Analytics, a laboratory partnering with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Civil Beat reports. Before the pandemic, BioBot tested sewage to determine the levels of opioid use in a community.
Though wastewater surveillance could be a real game changer, it appears nobody in the broadcast fake news media is talking about it. Newspapers and journals aren’t making a big thing out of it, but there are reports to be found through simple searches online.
It’s amazing that testing for COVID-1984 infections and antibodies were approved and rolled out by biomedical companies within weeks of the scamdemic, but it has taken four months for western countries to start taking wastewater surveillance testing seriously. It’s equally unnerving and suspicious that the data is not being shared with the public.
Is the delay because BioBot and Harvard are waiting on a patent? Is the data being withheld because of the influence of Big Pharma? Politics? Is it the some sadistic desire by the government and institutions to continually traumatize mass populations and loot public coffers? Are they waiting until the public begs for contact tracing in order to return to some semblance of normalcy? You decide.