Cornwall’s had a low Covid rate throughout most of the pandemic, but it now has the fourth highest Covid growth rate in England. That’s not the highest number of overall cases–that’s still relatively low. It’s the rate of growth, which went from 12.2 cases per 100,000 people to 99.5 per 100,000.
Did that happen because the G7 met here? Or is it because the county’s a tourist center and we’re visitors have flooded in–more than usual, since going abroad’s a gamble just now? County councilors (which I initially misspelled as counselors, as noted in a comment; councilors is British for politicians, not for mental health professionals) are arguing both sides, but heavy Covid concentrations have shown up in Falmouth, St. Ives, and Newquay, where assorted people associated with the summit stayed, and in Carbis Bay, where the meetings were held
Most other parts of the county haven’t seen spikes. That argues for the G7 as a superspreader event.
On the other hand, the spikes started three weeks after what we’ve learned to call hospitality venues–those place we might once have called cafes and pubs and things like that–opened back up. Staffed heavily by young (by which you can understand largely unvaccinated) people, and customered at least in part by people visiting from parts of the country with higher Covid rates, many of them accompanied by children (by which you can understand smallish unvaccinated people).
Also on that second hand, some spikes point toward a local university campus at Penryn.
Those points argue for reopening hospitality venues as a superspreader idea.
The national government’s announced that the spikes have nothing to do with the G7. It’s also announced that it’s not about to publish its summit risk assessment and anyone getting themselves into a state about reading it should go have an ice cream cone and settle down.
Someone may manage to untangle the threads in the next week or three, but until then you can take your pick of the causes.
My small patch of the county is still fairly Covid free, but we’re full of visitors and the cafes, pubs, and restaurants are open. We’ll see what happens next.
A study of two Covid variants–the one first found in South Africa and the one first found in Britain–looked at why they’re more transmissible and found that the people they infect don’t have increased viral loads, which a person might logically think would be linked to high transmissibility. But nope, that doesn’t seem to be it.
People with the variants are less likely to have asymptomatic cases, though. And although they’re not more likely to die of Covid, they are more likely to be hospitalized.
I can’t draw any conclusions from that. All I can do is toss it on your doorstep and hope you find something useful to do with it.
Covid test effectiveness
Not long ago, the US FDA–that’s the Food and Drug Administration–urged the public to stop using the quick Covid tests that Britain relies on to test asymptomatic people. To which Britain said, “What do you know anyway?” and extended its emergency use approval.
One of the problems with the tests is that when the number of Covid cases drops below a certain point, they produce more false positives than genuine positives, turning them from a not terribly accurate but possibly useful tool to an outright pain in the neck. Other tests are available and better supported by test data. But we like our lateral flow tests and we’re not about to abandon them. I have no idea why.
Stay safe: avoid birthdays
A study in the US found a link between the spread of Covid and–guess what–birthdays. Yes indeed, gathering data from 45 weeks in 2020, a study found that in areas where Covid was circulating heavily, a birthday was 30% more likely to be followed by a Covid diagnosis in the household than a non-birthday. If it was a kid’s birthday, the rate was higher.
The study was designed to look at the impact of small gatherings in spreading the disease. It didn’t specifically look at whether the household had a party–it drew its information from insurance records–but it is suggestive.
But don’t worry. If you don’t have a birthday in any given year, you should be safe enough.