Avoiding a Second Wave

"Owing to the lack of effective therapeutics or vaccines, the best measures to control human coronaviruses remain a strong public health surveillance system coupled with rapid diagnostic testing and quarantine when necessary. For international outbreaks, cooperation of governmental entities, public health authorities and health care providers is critical."
– Fehr & Perlman, Methods in Molecular Biology, 2015

"Why containment is so important: This will become clearer in a matter of weeks, but given the reproductive rate of COVID-19, the only alternative to immunity is reduction by ~62% in the number of person-person contacts."
– John P. Hussman, Ph.D., Feb 28, 2020, 16 U.S. cases, 0 fatalities

"We’ve lost 100,000 Americans running a 5th grade science experiment to learn what science already knew."
– John P. Hussman, Ph.D., May 27, 2020

Quick note – I’m happy to share that my paper Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of COVID-19, and Potential Points of Therapeutic Intervention has been published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, the most-cited, peer-reviewed, open-access journal in the field. Emphatically, the paper is investigational, not prescriptive. It’s something of a beast, and it reflects an enormous labor of love. Most of my scientific publications and collaborations are in autism, neuroscience, statistical genetics, and molecular pathway analysis. I’m good at that, but I’ll emphasize that I’m a researcher, not a physician.

Please feel free to share the paper with physicians or researchers involved in the response to this epidemic. My hope is that it will contribute to their thinking about the mechanisms, rationale, and timing of various potential interventions.

Public health note

The way to create a second wave of an epidemic is to relax containment practices while there is still a large pool of active, infective cases.

About two-thirds of this month’s comment is about COVID-19 and the risk of a second wave. This is not only for the sake of public health, which would be enough, and not only to contribute to a better understanding of the epidemic. It’s also because there’s a growing likelihood that the remainder of the year – if we’re not careful – could bring far larger disruptions than most people seem to envision, and far greater risks than the pain-killing opiates of the Federal Reserve have allowed investors to perceive.

Heads up. I’m going to let my geek flag fly a bit here, because there’s an enormous amount of misinformation (and disinformation) circulating. You know my view on noise reduction: you get more reliable information by drawing on common signals from a wide range of independent sensors. My views reflect my best understanding of hundreds of studies and research papers on all this. Some of my views may prove incorrect, so I do read contradictory findings. But when someone claims that all of the scientific and clinical findings are wrong, the evidence should be compelling, and it should be possible for other researchers to corroborate the new hypothesis. For those who disagree with my perspectives, look, nobody is forcing anyone to read this. Hey, grab a comic book or watch a conspiracy video.