Asymptomatic spread

The competition has been won 🙂 It was indeed, 10cc, Wall Street Shuffle, 1974. I’ll have to get more obscure in future. Oh, and this packrat still has their first album on vinyl.

So. Lets have some good news first although it seems hardly anyone wants that these days. Asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is not a thing. At all. I could link to a number of newspaper articles but you might prefer the original paper in the British Medical Journal.

So why were we even concerned with this? Well, it does happen. It’s now demonstrated that it doesn’t happen with COVID-19 but it has happened with other pathogens. HIV is a case in point, the virus can be slowly active and spreading for a long time before the spreader shows symptoms. So it was an error on the side of caution, now demonstrated to be unneccesary in this case. I bet many of you won’t give up your masks though.

Some might remember the story of Typhoid Mary. Salmonella typhi is a bacterium, not a virus. Asymptomatic spread is rather more common in bacterial infections. Typhoid Mary, certainly at first, had no idea she was carrying the disease. She showed no symptoms at all, but everywhere she went, the disease followed. Asymptomatic spread is a real thing with some diseases. It has been shown that COVID-19 is not one of those diseases. And nobody wants to believe that. I wonder why?

Cross-species spread is much more common than within-species spread. Escherichia coli O157, the terror of a few decades ago, has no effect on cows. It lives quite benignly in their guts. Humans getting it can experience very severe disease. The cow experiences nothing at all.

Incidentally, this sparked a terror of E. coli overall. Look at a culture collection catalogue. Page after page of E. coli variants, almost all of them harmless to humans. The harmless ones are in your gut right now. Yes, every one of you. A few, including the K88 variant, is harmless to humans but turns pigs into faecal power squirters. It all depends on the interactions with other species inside you.

That part is critical. We are not all the same. The British Standard Human does not exist. Typhoid Mary was not really ‘immune’ to S. typhi. She was more accurately described as unaffected by it. It settled into her internal microflora as a benign aspect, but in anyone else, it was blowout time.

Salmonella pullorum used to cause a lot of problems in farmed chickens. It made chickens ill, not people. A lot of effort went in to eradicating it. It worked, mostly. It hasn’t completely gone. However, the chicken gut merely replaced it with a species harmless to chickens. S. enteritidis. Unfortunately this one made humans shit through every orifice so now farmed chickens are routinely vaccinated (through drinking water) to try to cut down on their Salmonella load. It’s not perfect but it works.

Salmonella needs to get into you mob-handed. A hundred of them is not enough. You need to take in several thousand at once. Sounds a lot, but it really isn’t. Several thousand bacteria in a 100 ml glass of water won’t even make it look cloudy. Less than that and the gut bacteria will beat the crap out of them before they get a chance to beat the crap out of you. You need a seriously big dose at once to get sick. Since they will only be on the outside of the chicken (the outside includes the body cavity) cooking will kill them. It’s true they are also in eggs – they get into the ovaries – but usually in small numbers, too low to be a problem.

If you are worried about eggs, float test them in a jug of water. If they sink they are fine. If they float at the surface throw them away. Floating means a gas buildup due to bacterial activity. If they sink but sit upright, hard boil them right away. You can still fridge them and eat them later (let them go cold before fridging them or the yolk will turn green) because hard boiling will kill any bacteria. Mostly though, the Salmonella load in eggs is too low to be concerned about. It’s only a problem if you keep then too long and let the buggers grow. Oh, and cooking kills them.

Another one that doesn’t bother chickens but will ruin your month is Campylobacter. This hasn’t been eradicated from poultry but there are many people trying to do that (including me before I retired and no I didn’t succeed either). This one manages to get deep into the actual musculature of the bird, which is why I insist on chicken being well cooked all the way through. It makes you shit water and can do worse – it can set off autoimmune diseases that might never go away. If I were you I’d be a lot more worried about undercooked chicken than COVID-19. You think the weeks of fatigue and headache of ‘long covid’ (actually post-viral syndrome) is bad? Try permanent paralysis from a pink chicken sandwich.

Asymptomatic spread from animals to humans happens a lot. We call them ‘zoonoses’. The microbe in question has no effect on the animal but can be devastating in humans. It works the other way too. Asymptomatic spread between humans is far less common but does happen. So it was sensible at first to assume this might happen with COVID-19. We had little information at first, we have much more now and we now know it does not happen.

Still, it it is good to know that COVID-19 does not do this. If someone has no symptoms they are not spreading it. This has now been demonstrated. Every government knows this and has known this for some weeks at least.

So the masks are not about a virus.

31 thoughts on “Asymptomatic spread

  1. That is a very iffy BMJ report! Anything from China I would take with a large pinch of salt! I don’t think you made your case.

    However, other stuff you said is very comforting. About Chickens and eggs etc.

    In Africa, we had septic tanks. I taught English from home. One week, two of my students never arrived. My husband had had to rod out our septic tank that week and it was a rather splashy job. Just before lesson time, someone phoned in to say the two missing students were down with Cholera or Typhoid I can’t remember which.. All my students had used our loo, the week before. Outbreaks were pretty common in rural villages in those days, and probably still are.

    Africa had some nasty things. You spoke about getting a rabies vaccination. We had to be vary careful of that. Every strange dog was a possible. Every bush or tree might contain a snake. Every rock or log might house a scorpion.

    I am very grateful we find none of those dangers here.

    Wearing a mask is a breeze! It covers my wrinkles. And we all need uplifting at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In Scotland, the worst thing we have are the ticks. They can infect you but they aren’t very likely to kill you. No tigers, no deadly spiders, we shipped all those off to Australia with the convicts 😉
      Cholera is a bacterium (Vibrio cholerae) that lives quite happily in water. It doesn’t need a host, and it’s a lousy parasite. It makes far too much of a mess of anyone whose gut it gets into. Fortunately we don’t have that in the UK at the moment – or if we do, our water treatments are working well. As I said, it could be living quite happily in streams and rivers here – it might even be in my septic tank! It won’t get into the water supply though, the well is uphill from the house, the tank is downhill. Also the water is thoroughly filtered and UV treated. No chemicals needed.
      In some waters, particularly in the south of the UK, there’s a protozoan i some waters called Cryptosporidium that can make you shit through a sieve. The worst part of that one is that, unlike cholera, its infective dose is… one. Basically, swallow just one of these and you’re going to have a bad time. You need repeated or large doses of cholera-laden water to set up an infection. But if you don’t know it’s there, well it’ll get you in the end.
      I know masks do nothing but I wear one if I have to go to the shop. I’m not getting into a big argument when I just want some milk and bread. Lately I’ve been wearing the Grinch because it’s Christmas 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s interesting about campylobacter as I had a bout of water shitting when I was 8/9. I laughed and water would come out. Even now Im suffering with chronic fatigue etc. Gluten intolerant. The psoriasis started not long after I would say.

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    • It can indeed set off other autoimmune effects. The interesting thing is that it appears in the chicks at about three weeks of age and to this day, nobody can figure out where it comes from. My best guess would be wild birds or rodents but that’s a pure guess. I no longer have the facilities to research it. Until we know where it comes from we can’t stop it getting in.

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  3. I have read some of that BMJ paper, and with my nit-picking brain engaged I think your interpretation of it is different to mine.

    You seem to be saying that an asymptomatic case is one where a patient has an infection of covid-19 where the virus is active and multiplying, but is not producing any symptoms in the patient (or insufficient to be noticed).

    The BMJ paper says that asymptomatic cases are those where the PCR test showed that there was viral RNA present, but no symptoms of covid-19. The paper also goes on to say that the researchers could not find any viable virus in these patients, but could find antibodies against the virus in these patients.

    What is probably going on is that the severity of a covid-19 infection is dependent on the initial dose of infective virus. Even when a virus is as infectious as it could possibly be and one virus particle always causes an infection, this infection is always going to be limited by how much (how little) RNA is in the initial cell, and how fast the infected cell’s metabolism goes. An infection only has three days or so from when your immune system spots it to when a full-on targeted response is being raised, so if that initial infection is tiny, it isn’t going to get big enough to cause symptoms.

    It also isn’t going to be releasing very much infectious virus, but it will be releasing some. Asymptomatic cases are thus not very infectious, but then we already knew this. Most covid-19 cases come from rare super-spreader individuals, and this is why the governments are pursuing lock-downs. If you prevent super-spreader events, you prevent the spread of a virus that relies on these.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The PCR test is the problem. 45 cycles can amplify a tiny amount of initial sample into a detectable positive – even if all that’s left is a few fragments of dead virus that the immune system has dealt with, or is in the process of dealing with. That then gets called an ‘asymptomatic case’. As you say, if ten viral particles get into me, they might reach a few million before the immune system manages to stamp on them but I’m not likely to even notice that. If I am shedding virus for a few days, I’m just giving out tiny doses to people whose immune systems will then do the same thing. These asymptomatic ‘spreaders’ might actually be spreading a vaccine. As long as they stay away from anyone immunocompromised.

      Of course, I can’t definitively say that there won’t be a couple of ‘Typhoid Mary’ equivalents out there, looking well but pumping out clouds of virus. That’s always possible. If they are there, they’ll be hard to find and they’ll be lost in the PCR positives because PCR isn’t quantitative. They’ll be hidden among the asymptomatics.

      Well, I’m retired and my lab is entirely closed down so all I can offer are theories. I am not setting up my garage as a Category 4 lab! I’ve done my time working with dangerous things, I just want to make beer and wine now (having a garage full of fermentation gear is really good for that) 😉

      Maybe I’ll hit on something, maybe I’ll be entirely wrong, but in the absence of research facilities, I just put out ideas.

      And maybe try to spread a bit of good news to break the stranglehold of terror.

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  4. Leggy, I have a genuine question for you. If it is proven that sars-cov2 has never been isolated or properly sequenced (in other words, computer modeled from 37 fragments of random coronavirus strains), would it be fair to say that this virus does not exist, or at least, cannot be proven to exist?

    Proof of the computer modeling seems to be contained in a document accessible on the CDC site, I have lost the link but will try to find it again (the link was on Jon Rappaports blog – nomorefakenews,com on Oct 8th). Dr. Tom Cowan also supports this view. Meanwhile, here is an email exchange (FOI request) with the MHRA about the active ingredient of the Pfizer vaccine. They too, inadvertently admit that the virus is computer generated.

    https://hive.blog/worldnews/@francesleader/email-exchange-with-uk-mhra-exposing-the-genomic-sequence-of-sarscov2

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    • This is possibly the most confusing aspect of it. First off, does the virus exist? People are getting sick, some very sick, some are dying so yes, there is a virus.

      But what is it? I have not been able to find anything to say it’s been isolated or sequenced – but if that hasn’t happened, how do they know there are variants? If there is no identification of the initial virus, how can the variants be identified?

      This leaves me with two options. One, that they haven’t found out what this virus is and are just making shit up to keep people from panicking, in which case the vaccine is also just made up and won’t do anything or… Two, that they have isolated and sequenced it and are keeping the results secret. Two is actually the worse option because there’s only one reason to keep it secret.

      The only reason to keep it secret is that it was manufactured. If that were to get out, it could start a war. And nobody wants a bioweapon war.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I thought it had been sequenced right back in the beginning. The Chinese did it and it was available for all scientists right from the start. And confirmed by them.

        About Ivermectin, human dose was available here before Christmas from an online pharmacy bringing it in from the Netherlands. I know, because I went to buy some, but they were “sold out”.

        As a prophylactic you don’t need many pills because the dose is only one, and one more an month later The NHS prescribe them for various things- scabies, I think.
        People will be buying vetinary stuff probably.

        (Apologies for predictive text errors)

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  5. Dear Mr Legiron

    Something sure is killing folks. I’ve been plotting excess deaths compared with the average of the previous five years for England and Wales. It looks like this:

    ExcessDeaths2020w52v2

    I suspect the sharp uptick in deaths for week 52 ending Friday 25 December is partly a consequence of the previous years’ recording of death being delayed due to the Christmas period, and this year they have been more on top of the collection of data, for some reason.

    It’s another useful scare.

    So too is the fact that this year is a 53 week year, so we shall have an additional week’s worth of dead people – about 12,000 – with which to frighten the natives.

    There are about 3 to 4 times as many excess deaths this year compared with the equivalent excess in 2018. This means that there are a lot fewer oldies left to die in this flu season, since you can’t kill them again.

    Are Boris, Mssrs *hitty and Hancock et al going for a really, really tough lockup now followed by the vaccine rollout, so when the death figures dive next year they can claim: “We saved you!”, even though the number of deaths will simply be declining naturally?

    Or am I just being cynical?

    Hopefully WuWHO flu 2 won’t be let loose to boost the numbers.

    Keep up the good work.

    Hope you all have a good 2021.

    DP

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stop! Its not about deaths. Its about hospitalisations . Sars-COV-2 causes a nasty condition called Covid-19 which, for many, requires hospital treatment, more than just flu. Treatment is getting better. There will be less deaths. The ONLY thing to track is hospitalisations. Nothing else. This years’ flu is Sars-COV-2, because it is dominant. Old people have always died in the winter from old age and it’s put down to ‘the flu’. If someone dies with Covid-19, there is no way of knowing how it precipitated the death, just like in the old days before Covid-19 when doctors logged that the patient died of ‘flu’. The hysteria about it all is very sad. And it comes mostly from those who have not suffered bad Covid-19 or it’s aftermath, or personally watched anyone with it.

      Its about sufferings, not death.

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      • Stop! Its not about deaths. Its about hospitalisations

        Hmm.
        Then why does the government keep trotting out the death figures to try and scare the sheeple?
        Why do they keep going on about saving lives and excess deaths?

        It’s very much about deaths. As well as hospitalisations. And civil liberties. And what sort of society we want to be/have become.

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        • You would be screaming corruption if no deaths were reported. The Government would be accused of hiding stuff. They collect stats from information most people do not have access to. We can’t know so their stats are all we have. It’s a guide.

          I think a Government is always concerned about its reputation. Not to acknowledge deaths is crass for anyone. At the other end of a death, there are many real people that you and I don’t know. Citizens.

          And many many survivors of a really nasty disease. And staff struggling to cope in a frightening situation. Citizens.

          If we don’t crowd the hospitals with Covid patients, they can be used for what they are meant to be, hospitals to treat the sick. It’s quite logical to my mind. Not klaating up hospitals with infectious people seems a good goal to aim for.

          I can understand why the Government might constantly harangue people about the dangers of this situation. There are so many that are still in a state of denial. Or feel any rules do not apply to them. Or, astonishingly, know better! That’s a real pity to me.

          As for our civil liberties, the situation is not going to last for the rest of our lives. It is temporary.

          Our government is no different from any other. And the complaints against them, the same.

          Thanks for your comment on my comment. I think this thread is tooooo long, so I won’t respond anymore. It’s been interesting!

          Thanks

          Like

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