The Daily Blog Open Mic – Friday – 29th May 2020

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6 COMMENTS

  1. New Covid-19 antibody blood test to check for undetected cases in Southern Region
    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/417821/new-covid-19-antibody-blood-test-to-check-for-undetected-cases-in-southern-region

    NEW ZEALAND COVID-19
    9:05 am today
    New Covid-19 antibody blood test to check for undetected cases in Southern Region
    9:05 am today
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    Charlotte Cook, Journalist
    @charlottecooknz charlotte.cook@rnz.co.nz
    The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases across New Zealand could rise – thanks to a new blood test.

    (File image). Photo: 123rf.com
    Scientists expect the test to reveal some cases of Covid-19 that were missed because of initial rules around swab testing, and potential community transmission.
    The study will target healthcare workers, close contacts of confirmed cases or those considered at “higher-risk” of contracting the virus across hotspots in the Southern Region.
    The research by Southern Community Labs alongside Southern District Health Board, and Auckland and Otago universities uses a new test to see if a person was infected with Covid-19 but was missed during swab testing.
    The test – named the Abbott antibody test – can check for past exposure of Covid-19 by indicating if a person has antibodies to the virus from previous infection.
    While the test is not useful for diagnosis of active cases, it shows whether someone has been exposed to the virus previously.
    The research is the first of its kind in New Zealand and could provide vital information about community spread and how to manage if a second wave hits.
    A clinical microbiologist leading the study, Dr Arlo Upton, said the Southern DHB region was specifically chosen because of its high infection rate per population.
    • Follow our live blog for all the latest coronavirus updates
    She said they were targeting people who had already been tested rather than randomly sampling the region’s population.
    “We’re going to look at the people who were known cases and the probable cases and their household contacts and also their broader contacts in the community, as well as high risk people defined by being healthcare workers, as well as tourism workers around Central Otago, and offer those people to enroll in the study to have antibody testing for Covid-19.”
    Dr Upton said the research could give a more accurate picture of the spread of the virus in the region.
    She expected there would be additional cases found in people who were not able to get tested under earlier case definitions – the threshold at which people would have been tested.
    “I’m expecting to find that we will see, possibly, some limited seropositivity suggesting limited spread in our community, but I’m not expecting to see anything as high as what some of the seroprevalence studies have found in other parts of the world.”
    Clinical microbiologist and associate professor at the University of Otago James Ussher agreed there was likely more cases to be found.
    “I think we will see some additional spread, but I think that will largely be restricted to close contacts and among some of the probable cases I think will be confirmed by this. Although, we can’t technically confirm them from a public health perspective.”
    However, Dr Ussher said he did not expect to see an increase in cases from healthworkers.
    The goal of the study is to validate the Abbott test, to show it works how it should, to get a clearer picture on the virus spread, and to better understand how the body’s immune system responds to the virus.
    Dr Upton and Dr Ussher said the test was not designed to show someone’s immunity to Covid-19.
    The use of serology testing is increasing internationally to understand the true infection rate over the pandemic.
    Auckland University’s senior lecturer in immunology Nikki Moreland said in a country like New Zealand, where the virus was not widespread, there were concerns about false positives which could cause problems.
    To combat this, she would use a different test she had developed with colleagues to double check every positive result found by the Abbott test.
    That test looks for different antibodies connected to the virus than the Abbott one – allowing a second check of the initial results for accuracy.
    “It is particularly important in New Zealand, because of our low prevalence at the moment and there’s always a chance of false positives, but by double checking all the positive results on another test, we can minimise the risk of false positives,” Moreland said.
    Dr Upton said the results of this study could either undermine or give confidence to New Zealand’s eradication strategy.

    • CG
      I am assuming that Moreland is using the Roche test for verification (unstated). This is a over a week old now, but gives more ground for concern of; false negatives, than false positives:

      https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-phe-laboratory-evaluations-of-roche-and-abbott-antibody-tests/

      16% Roche vs 6% Abbott false negatives in an admittedly rather small sample (& 95% CI, hopefully this NZ study will help refine that range on global meta). So the Abbott test does seem to be the better choice. Also, with anti-body tests; time since infection is also a factor, but that should hopefully be less of an issue in this country.

      • Forget now;

        We do prefer the ‘Abbott test’.

        But the ‘Roche test’ is now even more exact to use with over 90% accuracy. as a serology blood antibody test.

        see here.
        https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO2005/S00171/ceac-wants-ministry-of-health-adopt-998-accurate-antibody-virus-test.htm

        CEAC Wants Ministry Of Health Adopt 99.8% Accurate Antibody Virus Test.
        Wednesday, 13 May 2020, 4:59 pm
        Press Release: Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre
        As the FDA OKs Roche’s coronavirus antibody test – CEAC wants Ministry of Health adopt 99.8% this accurate antibody virus test.

        https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fda-approves-roche-for-covid-19-antibody-test/ar-BB13AQ5G

        QUOTE; Swiss biotech company Roche Holdings said it has devised a test that is 100% accurate at detecting coronavirus antibodies and 99.8% accurate at ruling them out.

        Roche expects to be producing millions of the tests this month and 100 million a month later this year, the company said Sunday. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the diagnostic tool for use. The antibody test, Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2, produces a false positive in only one in 500 tests, according to Roche. The test runs on an instrument that can create a single result in 18 minutes and up to 300 in an hour.

        FDA approves emergency use of new coronavirus antibody test

        The FDA on Monday said companies making COVID-19 antibody tests must apply for authorization by the agency within 10 days of releasing their products. It also specified what’s needed for tests to receive regulatory clearance.

        Roche said serology tests can determine whether a person has gained immunity against a pathogen such as the coronavirus. Of the more than 200 antibody tests that have flooded the market, the FDA has granted emergency use authorization to only 12 tests. Most tests now in use were not reviewed by the agency.

        “We unfortunately see unscrupulous actors marketing fraudulent test kits and using the pandemic as an opportunity to take advantage of Americans’ anxiety,” the FDA said in a statement.

        The tests are viewed as a crucial part of reopening the economy, but some have been troubled by accuracy concerns in the rush to get to market. The White House last week acknowledged the issue, advising that multiple antibody tests should be used to access the spread of the virus, which has infected more than a million Americans and killed nearly 69,000. UN-QUOTE.

        Making our ‘fight against COVID 19’ a gold world standard as the Ministry of Health has assured us are doing, we must use the most accurate test now available around the world to assure us to make us secure and safe for our future.

    • Greywarbler Bloody well agreed with you there.

      So I will repost this recent press release we made on the subject for a “refresher”

      This one was one of our recent articles for decardonizing our environment.
      https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO2004/S00119/ceac-rail-not-road-for-lowered-air-pollution.htm

      CEAC – ”Rail Not Road For Lowered Air Pollution”
      Wednesday, 15 April 2020, 10:06 am
      Press Release: Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre
      https://www.news18.com/news/world/new-research-links-air-pollution-to-higher-coronavirus-death-rates-2569253.html

      This Harvard analysis is the first nationwide study to show a statistical link, revealing a ‘large overlap’ between COVID-19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to air pollution of fine particulate matter.

      QUOTE;
      Coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die from the infection than patients in cleaner parts of the country, according to a new nationwide study that offers the first clear link between long-term exposure to pollution and COVID-19 death rates.

      In an analysis of 3,080 U.S. counties, researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease.

      For weeks, public health officials have surmised a link between dirty air and death or serious illness from COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus. The Harvard analysis is the first nationwide study to show a statistical link, revealing a “large overlap” between COVID-19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to fine particulate matter.

      “The results of this paper suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe COVID-19 outcomes,” the authors wrote.

      UNQUOTE;

      This evidence is yet another case for increasing the use of rail freight over road freight;
      To lower air pollution particulates ‘save public health’ in this new Harvard study.
      New Harvard study shows heavy traffic particulate air pollution exposure through Cities with Ports has the potential for a public health threat to those who suffer Covid 19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to air pollution from ‘fine particulate matter’.

      More evidence;
      Diesel engine exhaust air pollution is causing most of the city air pollution is studies such as this statement from “The union of concerned scientists” https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/diesel-engines-public-health

      Quote from; Health impacts of diesel pollution
      Diesel-powered vehicles and equipment account for nearly half of all nitrogen oxides (NOx) and more than two-thirds of all particulate matter (PM) emissions from US transportation sources.

      Particulate matter or soot is created during the incomplete combustion of diesel fuel. Its composition often includes hundreds of chemical elements, including sulfates, ammonium, nitrates, elemental carbon, condensed organic compounds, and even carcinogenic compounds and heavy metals such as arsenic, selenium, cadmium and zinc.¹ Though just a fraction of the width of a human hair, particulate matter varies in size from coarse particulates (less than 10 microns in diameter) to fine particulates (less than 2.5 microns) to ultrafine particulates (less than 0.1 microns). Ultrafine particulates, which are small enough to penetrate the cells of the lungs, make up 80-95% of diesel soot pollution.

      Particulate matter irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and even premature death. Although everyone is susceptible to diesel soot pollution, children, the elderly, and individuals with preexisting respiratory conditions are the most vulnerable. Researchers estimate that, nationwide, tens of thousands of people die prematurely each year as a result of particulate pollution. Diesel engines contribute to the problem by releasing particulates directly into the air and by emitting nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides, which transform into “secondary” particulates in the atmosphere.

      Diesel emissions of nitrogen oxides contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, which irritates the respiratory system, causing coughing, choking, and reduced lung capacity. Ground level ozone pollution, formed when nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon emissions combine in the presence of sunlight, presents a hazard for both healthy adults and individuals suffering from respiratory problems. Urban ozone pollution has been linked to increased hospital admissions for respiratory problems such as asthma, even at levels below the federal standards for ozone.

      Diesel exhaust has been classified a potential human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Exposure to high levels of diesel exhaust has been shown to cause lung tumors in rats, and studies of humans routinely exposed to diesel fumes indicate a greater risk of lung cancer. For example, occupational health studies of railroad, dock, trucking, and bus garage workers exposed to high levels of diesel exhaust over many years consistently demonstrate a 20 to 50 percent increase in the risk of lung cancer or mortality.²

      Unquote;

      Fact;
      We need regional NZ rail to reduce the alarming increasing rate of truck freight emissions & diesel particulate air pollution as road freight transport is a large use of fuel and emitter of carbon emissions & air pollution confirmed by these studies.

  2. CEAC – NZ should be ahead of Canada for a ‘‘public antibody test”.
    Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre. Public Health press release.
    29th May 2010
    While University of Otago in NZ is finally testing the New Covid-19 using ‘antibody blood test’ on some ‘southern Otago Covid 19 clusters’ checking for undetected cases – Canada 12/5/20 has already authorised it on 1 million people in their community, – wake up NZ Health Department.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/covid-19-coronavirus-serological-test-1.5567243
    Health Canada authorizes serological test for COVID-19 antibodies
    Blood of 1 million Canadians to be tested over next 2 years

    Health Professionals in Canada are saying this antibody test is a potential game changer,
    quote; Dr. Samir Gupta, a respirologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto who isn’t involved in the rollout, called antibody tests a potential game-changer.
    Unquote.
    Health Canada says it has authorized the first COVID-19 serological test for use in the country to detect antibodies specific to the virus.
    • DiaSorin, an Italian multinational biotechnology company, had developed the LIAISON test that was also recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
    • In a statement Tuesday, Health Canada said it will be used in Canadian laboratories to detect COVID-19 antibodies and help contribute to a better understanding of whether people who have been infected are immune to the virus.
    • Health Canada says further research will also help understand the relationship between positive antibody tests and protection against reinfection.
    • The Canadian agency says at least one million Canadian blood samples will be collected and tested over the next two years to track the virus in the general population and in specific groups at greater risk of having been infected, including health-care workers and seniors.
    CEAC says; while being enthusiastically supportive of the small study being planned at the University of Otago good on them we feel this is time to do the wider population, as time has shown we need to be well ahead of a curve not behind it.
    So, we need a wider more complete test using the antibody test to spread over most of our smaller population groups.
    Canada is embarking upon a much smarter wider test spread then, where they are to get the complete set of data before another wave or second spike comes along to be ready for it.
    We don’t want to be left behind the wave here, for our health’s sake..
    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/417821/new-covid-19-antibody-blood-test-to-check-for-undetected-cases-in-southern-region

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