Finds Study

Study finds higher viral load in young children, raising questions about how likely they are to transmit the coronavirus – CNN

(CNN)Children younger than 5 have between 10 and 100 times more genetic material from the novel coronavirus in their noses compared to older children and to adults, according to a small study published Thursday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

While the study didn’t measure transmissibility, it raises questions — just as schools start to reopen — about how easily the new coronavirus may be spread by the under-5 set.
“We had just noticed that some of the children that we were testing for SARS CoV-2 that were positive, the youngest children seemed to have a high amount of the viral nucleic acid — a high viral load in their nose — compared to some of our older children and adults,” lead author Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, told CNN. “And so when we … actually ran the numbers, controlled for a few things, we found that there was actually a statistically significant higher amount of the genes that are encoded by SARS, which usually correlates to more virus, in the nose of children less than five years old, compared to older children and adults.”
Heald-Sargent and her team analyzed 145 swab samples collected from patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 within a week of symptom onset; 46 of them were from children under 5, 51 were from 5- to 17-year-olds, and 48 were from adults between 18 and 65. The samples were collected between the end of March and the end of April from various inpatient, outpatient, emergency department and drive-through testing sites at a pediatric tertiary medical center in Chicago.
They found that those under 5 had a statistically significant greater amount of virus particles in the nose correlating to “a 10-fold to 100-fold greater amount of the coronavirus in the upper respiratory tract … ” the researchers wrote in their paper.
Heald-Sargent says more studies need to look at transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 in children. “So far this transmission doesn’t seem to be primarily coming from children,” said Heald-Sargent.
But her team noted in the paper that because of the stay-at-home measures implemented in mid-March, many young children had fewer opportunities to transmit.
“The question was still out there: Could it be possibly transmitted from kids?” she said, noting that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
If other respiratory viruses are any indication, she said, the answer may very well be yes.
“Any grade-school teacher or pediatrician will tell you, [young children] are pretty effective little vectors of virus transmission, because we get sick a lot in the winter from these kids,” she said. “I think looking at other viruses that are similar …it would seem more likely that kids will be transmitting.”
Other experts say that while they’re not surprised by the findings, it’s good to have the study.
“The data in pediatrics has not been as robust as adults with Covid-19 so it’s really nice to have additional virologic data in pediatric patients,” said Dr. Alpana Waghmare of Seattle Children’s.
“The authors did a nice job comparing a fairly robust sample size of subjects across different age ranges and using a pretty straightforward research design to look at the differences in viral load across these age groups,” said Waghmare, who is an assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Washington.
Waghmare said that the findings are consistent with other published studies looking at viral loads across a spectrum of respiratory viruses in pediatric populations. “It’s not surprising to find higher viral loads in children. I think the question of what that exactly means for transmission is still not clear,” she said.
Dr. Michael Smit, a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles agrees — and then some.
“We’ve known for quite a while that for certain respiratory viruses, younger children are the breeding ground and they’re the part of the population that spreads it to the rest of the community,” said Smit, who is also the hospital’s epidemiologist and the medical director for infection prevention and control.
Smit said it has been demonstrated before with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and his own group’s research, published as a research letter in JAMA Network Open in mid-May, showed the same thing with the seasonal coronaviruses. “So, it’s a known phenomenon in pediatrics that the younger children can be the main drivers of spread of disease and communities.”
There are still questions about the new coronavirus, though. One recent study in South Korea found young people ages 10 to 19 transmitted Covid-19 within households just as much as adults, but children 9 and younger transmitted the virus at rates far lower.
The issue remains, what can you do about it?
“Once you figure out kind of the dynamics of how much virus is there and what age groups it tends to be greater in and lesser in, then that can help us form strategies for surveillance, for testing, for isolation,” he said.
Heald-Sargent said the “behavioral habits” of very young children — for example, the lack of awareness of personal space and personal hygiene, all the fidgeting, hands-on play, and wiping of eyes and noses — make it hard to control any potential spread, but it’s important to try.
“It’s a struggle to get them to wear their masks and to wash their hands and to not put everything in their mouth and their nose,” she said.
“Having adults model good behavior, having them encourage their children to wash their hands and to wear their mask as much as possible, cleaning high touch areas, being careful with diapers” are all good practices, she said, adding that small children usually want to please their parents.
At a societal level, she said it will also be important to implement infection control practices such as contact tracing, and take steps at school, such as keeping children within the same small groups, to limit the spread.

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Finds Record

Poll Finds Record Number Of Americans Are Wearing Masks – Forbes


A record number of Americans say they are wearing face masks, and, for the first time, a majority of U.S. citizens say they are concerned about a perceived lack of social distancing, according to the latest Gallup poll.

A couple wearing face masks sit at the Daytona Beach pier.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – 2020/07/03: A couple wearing face masks sit at the Daytona … [+] Beach pier. As the number of Covid-19 cases in Florida hit record highs, few people ventured to the beach due to the threat of Covid-19 compounded by intermittent rain storms. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


86% of U.S. adults said they had worn a mask in public in the past seven days.

That represents a record high and is dramatically higher than the 51% of respondents who said they were wearing a mask in early April.

The level of concern had dipped to a low of 41% in late May, and last week was the first time Gallup has found a majority consensus on this issue.

The poll, conducted June 22 through 28, was released Monday, amid an ever-rising number of coronavirus cases and subsequent hospitalizations in the U.S.

Respondents remain sharply divided along political lines: 98% of Democrats say they have worn a mask in public in the past week, versus just 66% of Republicans and 85% of Independents.

Key Background:

Differing approaches to confronting the coronavirus pandemic, particularly related to mask-wearing, remain a politically charged topic in America. Although several prominent Republicans and members of conservative media have changed their tune on the importance of face coverings, with some encouraging President Trump to start setting an example, the president has resisted. Last month, Joe Biden said that if he’s elected president in November, he’ll attempt to use federal power to require all Americans to wear masks in public places. On Monday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that a national mandate requiring Americans to wear masks was “not in order” and that the decision to require face coverings was a “state-to-state issue.”

Big Number:

$1 trillion: Without a nationwide mask mandate, economic damage inflicted by future lockdowns could trim up to $1 trillion off the U.S. GDP, according to Goldman Sachs analysts. 


In a separate Gallup poll released on Monday, 91% of Republicans currently approve of the job President Trump is doing, while just 2% of Democrats agree. According to Gallup, the 89-point difference between Republicans’ and Democrats’ approval ratings of Trump is the most substantial partisan gap the pollster has ever measured for a presidential approval rating in a single survey.

Further Reading:

Fox News Hosts And Prominent Republicans—Including His Own Son—Urge Trump To Put On A Mask (Forbes) 

More Mask Use, Worry About Lack of Social Distancing in U.S. (Gallup) 

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Finds Study

Study finds face masks ‘critical’ for individual COVID-19 protection – SlashGear

If you’ve been refusing to wear a face mask in public, now is the time to start. A new study out of Texas A&M University has found that failing to wear a face mask puts a person at dramatic risk of contracting the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — and it also increases their odds of spreading it to other people. Face masks alone aren’t enough to prevent the virus, but they are an important tool.

In some countries, including the US, wearing face masks while in public is controversial — a combination of misinformation and general stubbornness has fueled a backlash against mask recommendations, resulting in many people who are visiting stores and generally being close to strangers without this form of protection.

According to the study out of A&M, the use of face masks in New York, Italy, and China prevented tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases in only a few weeks. Respiratory aerosol particles are named the ‘dominant’ way that the novel coronavirus spreads and face masks were shown as effective for protecting against this on an individual person-to-person level.

Of course, social distancing and other practices, like frequently sanitizing one’s hands and avoiding touching one’s face, are also important and necessary for helping protect against the virus. Ultimately, though, face masks are described as a cheap and highly effective way to protect someone at the individual level.

Study co-author Professor Mario Molina of the University of California-San Diego said:

Our study establishes very clearly that using a face mask is not only useful to prevent infected coughing droplets from reaching uninfected persons, but is also crucial for these uninfected persons to avoid breathing the minute atmospheric particles (aerosols) that infected people emit when talking and that can remain in the atmosphere tens of minutes and can travel tens of feet.

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Finds Polls

CNN Poll of Polls finds Biden leading Trump – CNN

(CNN)A new CNN Poll of Polls shows 51% of registered voters nationwide back former Vice President Joe Biden, while 41% support President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race.

The poll of polls includes the five most recent national telephone polls measuring the views of registered voters.
The new numbers represent a shift in Biden’s favor since April, when the CNN Poll of Polls found support for Biden averaging 48%, while Trump averaged 43% support.
Three of the polls were conducted after the killing of George Floyd, which has sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the US over police brutality and racism against black Americans. The other two polls were conducted in May, as the country struggled with the coronavirus pandemic and debated whether the country should stay closed for the sake of the public health or reopen to boost the economy.
The ABC News/Washington Post poll found a decline in approval over how Trump is handling the coronavirus. In March, 51% approved while 45% disapprove. Now, 46% approve and 53% disapprove.
A new poll out from NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist College on Friday found most Americans (67%) think Trump’s response to the demonstrations has increased tensions, while 18% think he has helped decrease them.
Most Democrats (92%) and independents (73%) say that Trump’s response has largely inflamed tensions rather than soothed them. Republicans, for their part, don’t uniformly see the President as someone who has decreased tensions. A plurality of Republicans (41%) say the President has done so, but 29% say he has increased tensions and 30% say they’re just not sure what his response has done.
A Monmouth University national poll, out Wednesday and included in the Poll of Polls, found more voters trust Biden to handle race relations over Trump. A majority of registered voters (52%) said they had a great deal or some confidence in Biden to handle race relations while 40% said the same of Trump.
However, almost half (49%) of voters reported race relations wouldn’t be a factor in their vote for president this year — with 33% saying it would be a major factor and 17% a minor factor.
The CNN Poll of Polls is an average of the five most recent non-partisan, live-operator, national surveys on the general election matchup between Biden and Trump among registered voters. The Poll of Polls includes results from the NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist College poll conducted June 2 and 3, the Monmouth University poll conducted May 28 to June 1, the ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted May 25 to 28, the Fox News poll conducted May 17 to 20 and the Quinnipiac University poll conducted May 14 to 18. The Poll of Polls does not have a margin of sampling error.
This story has been updated to include the PBS Newshour/Marist College poll.

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Finds Study

Study finds only half of Americans would get coronavirus vaccine, far below herd immunity levels – Salon

Medicine bottle with syringe and needle for immunization (Getty Images)

Scientists believe roughly 70 percent of the population would need vaccination to achieve herd immunity

Matthew Rozsa
May 27, 2020 11:02PM (UTC)

A new study reveals that roughly half of Americans either would not get a coronavirus vaccine if scientists succeed in creating one, or have not made up their minds about whether they would do so.

The survey, which was taken by The Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and released Wednesday, found that 49 percent of respondents would get vaccinated, 31 percent are not sure and 20 percent absolutely would not do so if a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public. Seventy-nine percent of the respondents said that the presence of a vaccine is important in determining whether businesses and activities should resume in their communities; within that group, 65 percent said they would get immunized when a vaccine becomes available.

“We very clearly know that, if we don’t get 70-something percent of the population covered, we will probably not get to herd immunity,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told Salon. “There are some people that think that, with this virus, we might be able to achieve it with 50 percent, so that’s not 100 percent. But I’m thinking that 70-something percent is about where we need to be, and it’s because I’ve looked at some of the data. We may achieve it with 50 percent, but the bottom line is if we’d run the risk of not getting herd immunity with the vaccine.”

Benjamin’s concerns were echoed by Dr. Russell Medford, Chairman of the Center for Global Health Innovation and Global Health Crisis Coordination Center.

“By most estimates, at least 70% or more Americans need to be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 to develop effective herd immunity and to eliminate the virus in the US population,” Medford told Salon. “A vaccination rate of 50% will not achieve this.”


Dr. William Haseltine, a biologist renowned for his work in confronting the HIV/AIDS epidemic, for fighting anthrax and for advancing our knowledge of the human genome, emphasized to Salon that much of the population would not be able to be vaccinated.

“There are a number of people who — because they’re immunosuppressed, because they’re very old and for other reasons — are not included in the population which can reasonably be vaccinated,” Haseltine explained. Taking that into account, Haseltine echoed Benjamin and Medford in observing that “I think the best calculations of those who look at what the level of vaccination has to be to provide a protection for our population is considerably in excess of 50 percent … So it [half the population refusing to be vaccinated] would be a very disappointing result and could lead to continued spread of the infection and disease, if that were the only public health measure taken.”

He added, “That’s the caveat because certainly in many countries, should the virus reappear, there’ll be sufficient self-isolation, contact tracing and mandatory isolation.”

Among the Americans who said they absolutely would not get vaccinated, 70 percent said it was because they would be concerned about potential side effects, 42 percent said they were worried they’d be infected with the coronavirus, 31 percent said they are not concerned about getting seriously ill from the coronavirus and 30 percent said they don’t believe vaccines work.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

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Al-Qaida Finds

FBI Finds Al-Qaida Links In Deadly Attack On Pensacola Base – NPR

The U.S. Department of Justice building.

Alastair Pike /AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice building.

Alastair Pike /AFP via Getty Images

Updated at 9:26 p.m. ET

During his rampage last December at a U.S. military base in Florida, the shooter paused to try to destroy his iPhone — a sign, authorities said, that the device held important clues.

The problem was, the FBI didn’t have the password — not for that phone or a second, badly damaged one found later. And Apple wouldn’t unlock them. The case quickly became part of a thorny, longstanding dispute that pits the requests of federal investigators against the privacy and security expectations of hundreds of millions of Apple customers.

More than four months later, U.S. authorities said Monday that they had cracked into the iPhones — without Apple’s help — and had uncovered new evidence of the shooter’s links to Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen. At a joint news conference, Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray said their investigation was hampered by not having access to the phones earlier, and that the workaround in the Pensacola case was a one-off that didn’t solve the impasse with Apple.

“We did it ourselves,” Wray said. “Unfortunately, the technique that we developed is not a fix for our broader Apple problem. It’s of pretty limited application. But it has made a huge difference in this investigation.”

FBI Is Investigating Pensacola Shooting As Terrorism

Wray said investigators recovered a trove of evidence from the phones belonging to 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old Saudi Air Force cadet who was part of a training program at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Wray said the information is helping authorities understand the scope of the gunman’s ties to Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group’s affiliate in Yemen. He described the connections as significant but stopped short of saying the group “directed” the attack.

“It is certainly more than just inspired,” Wray said. “We know, for example, that he was sharing plans and tactics with them. We know that he was coordinating with them and providing an opportunity for them to take credit.”

Wray said Alshamrani was radicalized as far back as 2015 and stayed in touch with militants after moving to the United States. He said Alshamrani was a “meticulous” planner — the cadet took video while “casing” buildings on base in preparation for the attack, which killed three sailors and wounded eight other people.

Authorities say Alshamrani wrote a will that he shared with Al-Qaida associates so that they could claim credit. Weeks after the attack, the leader of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula released an audiotape saying the group had directed the attack; the group had a copy of the will and purported correspondence with Alshamrani.

Neither Wray nor Barr detailed how investigators finally got into the phones. But they said the technique was no substitute for better cooperation from Apple.

“Apple’s decision has dangerous consequences for public safety and national security and is, in my judgment, unacceptable,” Barr said.

Apple has previously disputed the Justice Department’s claims, saying in a statement in January that it had turned over “many gigabytes” of information related to the Pensacola shooter. Apple said authorities waited a month after the attack before contacting the company about the existence of the second phone and the FBI’s inability to access either of the two devices.

“We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers,” Apple said in the statement. “Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations.”

Civil liberties groups and others who support Apple’s stance note that this isn’t the first time authorities have broken into devices after Apple refused to budge. The ACLU — American Civil Liberties Union — issued a statement saying the innovations show that federal agencies don’t need the “backdoor” they’ve asked tech companies to engineer for years.

“Every time there’s a traumatic event requiring investigation into digital devices,” said the ACLU’s Brett Max Kaufman, “the Justice Department loudly claims that it needs backdoors to encryption and then quietly announces it actually found a way to access information without threatening the security and privacy of the entire world.”

In a statement Monday evening, the Saudi embassy said “Saudi Arabia has fully cooperated with U.S. law enforcement on the investigation, and we are continuing to provide full support to our American counterparts.”

“Saudi Arabia will continue to use every means at our disposal to counter the men, mindset and money of terrorism that enables [al Qaeda] and others to recruit followers and threaten communities, or even entire nations.”

The Embassy also touted the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia as “one of the primary pillars of the global effort to dismantle and defeat terrorist networks.”

“Our two countries will maintain our unbreakable commitment to combat the forces of evil, wherever they exist,” the statement continued.

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