Were they even talking about the Covid-19 virus?

Yesterday I heard the RIVM briefing and then I followed the debate in parliament. And I wondered if they were talking about the Covid-19 virus. So much more is known by research, but at no time did I hear that back yesterday. Really from no one.

In Dutch politics and in the media, the latest research findings play virtually no role. On the one hand this is because so little research is done in the Netherlands itself, while on the other hand, research from abroad is hardly picked up in the Netherlands. Not even if it is carried out a stone’s throw away from our borders (in Gangelt).

If you do follow those studies, then the discussions within Dutch politics – like yesterday in Parliament – and the interviews with experts in talk shows, to put it very kindly, are astonishing. As if it were a totally different virus.

First a few important issues regarding the virus, on which there is now quite some international consensus, and then some recent information:

  • Transmitting an infection with Covid-19 by touching objects does not happen. I repeat: does not take place.
  • Everything we do to prevent contamination by touching objects is of no value.
  • The chance of being infected with Covid-19 in the open air is very, very small. Especially when the sun is shining.

Unfortunately, no contact studies have been published in the Netherlands (they have barely been carried out). So we are investigating the contacts of infected people with those around us. Fortunately, abroad they do. There are studies from China, South Korea, the USA and Germany.

From these, the same picture emerges:

  1. Infection takes place through close and prolonged contact within confined spaces, but not through incidental and brief contact. So if you are close to an infected person for a while (in the first 5 days of his symptoms) then you are most likely to be infected. So the time factor is important. (The time is not specified in the examinations, but it is more a haf hour than 5 minutes).

The image that you get infected because you are near an infected person for a short period of time, from which you “catch” a drop, is completely misplaced.

  1. The longer you are in a place where you get the virus, the more severe the symptoms are on average, the sicker you become.
  2. Roommates of an infected person do not get infected nearly as often as was thought. Percentages that have been established are between 5 and 25%. The vast majority of household members are not infected. Even those who are infected are usually (much) less sick than if they were infected during a super spreading event.
  3. In places where there are many people and the aerosols can remain floating with the virus, many people can be infected at the same time. The time you spend in that room and the number of aerosols with the virus in the air play an important role in the extent to which you become ill. (These are the super spreading events)
  4. The effects of aerosols are reduced by good ventilation and a humidity of 6gr/Kg.
  5. The exponential growth in the number of infected persons is caused by super spreading events and not by direct contact between an infected person and non-infected persons.
  6. The risks of infection are greatest in places where you are in the same room with an infected person for a long time. These include households, public transport, offices and restaurants. Places where many people speak/shout/song are a clear risk that many of those present will become infected.

It would be nice if all those involved in the political and public debate were aware of these international research results. So that discussions can be held in a meaningful way and decisions can be taken on a sound basis. Now it seems that people are not even heading for 50% of the knowledge.

It also prevents many Dutch people from thinking that their chance of being infected is many times higher than it really is. In this way they worry too much and limit their behaviour (much) too much.

9 antwoorden
  1. Lie
    Lie zegt:

    In North America we have quite a few super-spread events at worksites especially the meat industry, I’m quite familiar with the PPE the staff wears normally on the work floor already per regular hygienic regulations before COVID came in the picture (gloves and face covering at the large facilities are standard),however the staff does work in close proximity to each other. I’m quite interested to hear your opinion as where you think most likely the transfer of the infection would be taking place, during breaks or on the work floor.

  2. Hans
    Hans zegt:

    Maurice – thanks for your latest blog

    Regarding your 3 points:
    1) Transmitting an infection with Covid-19 by touching objects does not happen. I repeat: does not take place.
    2) Everything we do to prevent contamination by touching objects is of no value.
    3) The chance of being infected with Covid-19 in the open air is very, very small. Especially when the sun is shining.

    please watch this interview – https://youtu.be/jwuNglv8PLA – and check out the interviewee gentleman on the web – I think he knows his stuff and would rather trust him than you on point 1 and 2

  3. Eric Hendriks
    Eric Hendriks zegt:

    Dear Maurice, I think you have done excellent work and the analysis deserves attention from the outbrea managament team here in the Netherlands. However, by using expressions such as “outdated mantras” you are not using an appropriate style if you really want to have influence. It is after dependent on a good assesment of what are the main routes of transmission and nobody can claim absolute wisdom about that. I really advise you to get it publsihed in a proper scientific journal. The media should not be the main, certainly not be the only place for a scientific discussion. There is way to much crackpot stuff going on there.

  4. Maurice van Ulden
    Maurice van Ulden zegt:

    Dear mister de Hond and other readers,

    It’s fantastic that new knowledge could lead to get in control of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But reducing the spread significantly seems to be difficult. On the 8th of may I read in an article in a Belgium newspaper (demorgen) that bloodresearch on antibodies suggests that the spreading of the coronavirus seems to seriously continue even in the lockdown, Possibly with a speed of more than 1% of the population per week.

    Absolutely mind-boggling news came to me when seeing a vlog on Youtube made by Dr Campbell on the 5th of may: the first retrospective study which determines the association of Vitamin D status and COVID-19 mortality outcome. Result: Chances to die from COVID-19 seems to be 10 times higher (!) with a Vitamin D insufficiency.

    Howcome that in Belgium, and probably is many countries, less and less people become seriously ill while the virus still seems to be spreading? Rising vitamin D levels due to increasing sunlight intensity?…

    But in for instance in sunny Brazil there was an outbreak as well? There is al lot of sun there? Reseach seems to show that there are vitamine D insufficincies in Brazil as well..

    Maybe restoring vitamin D levels would be one of the most important parts of a strategy to cope with the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus.

    Thank you.

    Dr Campbel on Vitamin D:
    https://youtu.be/K-mHCn74E5o (from 18:00 minutes)

    The vitamin D study:

    Vitamin D infsufficiency in Brazli:

  5. Hans
    Hans zegt:

    Maurice de Hond – sociaal geograaf:

    “1) Transmitting an infection with Covid-19 by touching objects does not happen. I repeat: does not take place. 2) Everything we do to prevent contamination by touching objects is of no value”

    Erin Bromage – Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

    “While I have focused on respiratory exposure here, please don’t forget surfaces. Those infected respiratory droplets land somewhere. Wash your hands often and stop touching your face!”

    Dr. Bromage graduated from the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences James Cook University, Australia where his research focused on the epidemiology of, and immunity to, infectious disease in animals. His Post-Doctoral training was at the College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science in the Comparative Immunology Laboratory of late Dr. Stephen Kaattari. Dr. Bromage’s research focuses on the evolution of the immune system, the immunological mechanisms responsible for protection from infectious disease, and the design and use of vaccines to control infectious disease in animals. He also focuses on designing diagnostic tools to detect biological and chemical threats in the environment in real-time
    Dr. Bromage joined the Faculty of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2007 where he teaches courses in Immunology and Infectious disease, including a course this semester on the Ecology of Infectious Disease which focused on the emerging SARS-CoV2 outbreak in China.

    See https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

  6. Robbie K
    Robbie K zegt:

    it makes sense to listen to the Chinese on SARS-CoV-2 because they have experience.

    Prof from Tongji University:
    – Home quarantine doesn’t work. 83% of those who got sick in China were infected from in the home by relatives. A better practice would be to stay in a converted temporary quarantine shelter until you’re better.
    – Everyone needs to wear a mask. And especially inside buildings.
    – Windows need to be opened in buildings (but many US buildings don’t have operable windows).
    – Toilets play a big role. Field measurements in Wuhan have shown that airborne coronavirus concentration is highest in the bathrooms (both public bathrooms in a mobile cabin hospital and in ICU private bathrooms), so the recommendation is to use a private toilet and to limit the usage of public toilets to the public.
    – Unhealthy individuals need to be kept out of buildings. how can we do this? It’s important to check temperatures. Granted younger people don’t often present with elevated temperatures, but this could keep at least 50% of unhealthy people out of buildings where transmission is more likely to occur. Also, it would be good to have a way to check whether the person has been exposed – contact tracing would do this, maybe with an app.
    – Fan filter units, such as a HEPA recirculating portable air cleaner, are important to use in high risk or high-profile areas such as crucial offices. They must be sized appropriately.
    In buildings, turn off the return fan, or use a MERV 16 or higher in the return.
    – Note that 3,062 doctors and nurses were infected in Wuhan. However, most of them were from local hospitals because they did not have adequate PPE at the beginning. During the outbreak an additional 42,600 doctors and nurses were sent from other provinces to help Wuhan, and none of them got infected because of the excellent PPE they were wearing.
    – Where are you take off your PPE and how is important. This activity has a very high rate of virus shedding so spray the PPE swith alcohol before taking them off.

    source https://shellym80304.com/2020/05/07/some-recommendations-for-buildings-in-the-era-of-covid-a-conversation-with-dr-peng-xu/

  7. Robbert
    Robbert zegt:

    Related to the circulation of fresh air in public buildings, offices etc. In most buidings the air is not circulated but. A separate inlet and outlet exists. But the air which comes in in an office or room passes other rooms and might transport aerosols. Open windows of other ways of ventilation is not provided and cannot me made according to landlords. I think it needs attention related to the gouvernamental rules for Covid-19


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