You may have already moved on from yesterday's controversy over masks. But given the surge pretty much everywhere, it's important for us all to understand what we know about masks' usefulness, and what we don't.

Here we go: 1/7

nytimes.com/article/corona…
First of all, among public health experts, there is near-unanimous endorsement of universal mask mandates to shield people from the virus and slow the pandemic. That's not in question. 2/7
But let's be precise about what we mean by masks, because they're not all equal. N95s are best, surgical masks are great, but the avg person doesn't need either. In fact, in some studies, well-made cloth masks did as well as surgical. Plus cloth masks are green/recyclable 3/7
No question masks protect people around an infected person--this is why surgeons have traditionally worn them to prevent their germs getting into patients. But for Covid, mask mandates have significantly slowed the virus in U.S. states and in health care settings. 4/7
The controversy, if you will, is over benefit to the wearer. This is hard to study, so scientists sometimes use mannequins. And yeah, the Danish study was a randomized control trial, but that kind of trial is not at all suited to behavioral non-pharmaceutical approaches 5/7
(Also that Danish study was hella flawed, as tons of people have pointed out). Bottomline: we don't know exactly how beneficial masks are to the wearer, but when everyone wears masks, the cumulative effect of masked wearer + masked people around = very effective 6/7
Please read the article for more details on what we know (and what we don't know) and how we know it and also *when* we knew it. 7/7

feat. John Brooks of @CDCgov (!), @Smogdr @linseymarr @DrLeanaWen and Julian Tang

nytimes.com/article/corona…

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More from @apoorva_nyc

17 Nov
THE GOOD NEWS: Immunity to the coronavirus might last years, maybe even decades, according to a new study — the most hopeful look yet at this issue. 1/x

nytimes.com/2020/11/17/hea…
What this means: Most people have been infected (more than 90% or so) will be protected from reinfections for a very long time. And vaccines — which generally provide stronger, longer-lasting protection — may do even better. 2/x
What it also means: We probably will not need to vaccinate people every year as we had feared, giving us a fighting chance to contain this pandemic once vaccines are distributed. 3/x
Read 8 tweets
13 Nov
NEW: Have you been wondering if the CDC has, in recent weeks, seemed to reclaim some measure of its independence?

You weren't wrong.

1/x
nytimes.com/2020/11/13/hea…
The CDC has been sidelined and silenced almost since the beginning of the pandemic. But something changed in the fall: The big fight about the administration's meddling in the prestigious MMWR reports, the election, and the dangerously rising case numbers 2/x
“We couldn’t allow ourselves to be politicized at this moment in time,” one senior CDC scientist told me. “We weren’t going to spend time licking wounds and worrying about the past." 3/x
Read 5 tweets
10 Nov
BREAKING: A new type of test detects immune (T) cell response to the coronavirus, and may be a better indicator of prior infection with the virus than antibodies. 1/6

nytimes.com/2020/11/10/hea…
As some studies recently suggested, antibody levels drop not long after the acute infection resolves. That doesn't mean immunity also wanes, but it does mean that antibody tests may not be the best indicator of exposure to the virus. 2/6

nytimes.com/2020/10/27/hea…
It's been increasingly obvious meantime that T cells play an important role in Covid-19. But whither the T cell tests? We've heard about antibody tests since early in the pandemic because they are easy to make. Looking at T cells, OTOH, sounds like a nightmare. 3/6
Read 6 tweets
5 Nov
NEW: We know children rarely get sick from the coronavirus. A new study shows that they make a less diverse and weaker set of antibodies than adults do, suggesting that they clear the virus much faster. 1/10

nytimes.com/2020/11/05/hea…
Why, you may ask, would weaker and narrower set of antibodies mean less severe infection? It seems counter-intuitive. But in fact, many studies have shown that the most severely infected people have much higher levels of antibodies. 2/10
In other words, a really strong immune response can be a sign that earlier immune defenses did not work, and can signal an immune system that is desperately trying to gain mastery over the virus — and sometimes failing. 3/10
Read 10 tweets
4 Nov
As of Oct 29, there were at least 835K children infected with the corionavirus (61K in that last week alone.)

That represents 11% of total infections, according to the @AmerAcadPeds
@AmerAcadPeds Latino children are 73% of infected children overall. Of the 1,100 kids with MISC, 41% of children are Latinx, 35% are Black. And this is probably undercounted.
@AmerAcadPeds OTOH, lots of stresses on children from the pandemic and from schools being closed.
Read 4 tweets
4 Nov
All right, here goes, with this latest round of papers and preprints. I don't vouch for the quality of any of them and certainly not the preprints, just noting some interesting and intriguing trends and findings.
1. First on the list is this preprint from many days ago that linked election rallies to an increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations, in one case by 15-fold

medrxiv.org/content/10.110…
2. This one's interesting. We know by now that fomites pose low risk of infection, but this suggests that monitoring surfaces can be a good indicator of level of community spread

medrxiv.org/content/10.110…
Read 11 tweets

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