Sunday, May 31, 2020

Publish and Perish?

As young scientists, my colleagues and I felt threatened by a sword of Damocles inscribed "publish or perish."

Drosten study on infectious children grossly wrong (©Bild)
Last week, reporter Filipp Piatov of the tabloid daily Bild tried to modify the threat to "publish and perish". He confronted Germany's Dr. Fauci, Professor Christian Drosten, with critical comments by medical peers on one of Drosten's preprints on the Corona contagiousness of children.

Virologist Christian Drosten was wrong with his study (©Bild)
A colleague from his own newspaper Bild interviewed Filipp Piatov "scientifically". Pistol made his request in an email without informing the authors of his sources. He presented Professor Drosten with an ultimatum to answer his queries within one hour.


Drosten published Piatov‘s impertinent email, commenting, "I have better things to do."


Applause came not only from Drosten's peers who distanced themselves from quotations of their words that, according to them, were taken out of context.


In a tweet, Professor Lauterbach supported Drosten, too, but could not hold back a small side blow, "There is also jealousy among colleagues."

The aim of the Bild reporter clearly was to destroy Drosten's reputation as a scientist and thus to diminish his influence on Germany's Corona policy.

Layman Filipp Piatov has no clue about scientific work. Unlike politicians, serious scientists will continuously question their level of knowledge, evaluate further findings, and draw new conclusions. What was right yesterday can be wrong today, and vice versa. This is how scientific progress is made.

All published results are subject to scrutiny by peer scientists. In case of doubt, results are checked by performing similar experiments.

In the meantime, the Twitter-fight between Drosten and Bild escalated in a new headline misleading the reader: "Schulen und Kitas wegen falscher Corona-Studie dicht" (Schools and Daycare Centers Closed Due to False Corona Study).

Sascha Lobo had the decisive argument. While schools and daycare centers were already closed on March 16, the preprint of Drosten's study was only published on April 29.

Dixit Lauterbach, ”If Drosten continues to be open, clear, and transparent with his scientific results without twisting them, he will survive. Because he is an honest person and a top-class scientist.”

Right or wrong. Too little is known about the Sars-CoV-2 virus. Presently only experience will show whether sending kids back to school will soon lead to new outbreaks of Covid-19. Better safe than sorry.


The Weatherman/woman Phenomenon


In comparing weather forecasts with the "actual" weather, Red Baron generally notes that the latter is nearly always better than the forecast so that weathermen/women are rarely criticized. In olden days bearers of bad tiding were often executed. Have weather-people kept this archaic instinct?

In the same boat with the political heavyweights:
Christian Drosten is approached in demos (©dpa/Christoph Schmidt)
Presently those who like to maintain or defend the restrictions during the Corona epidemic are being attacked by many people who cite the decreasing number of new infections.


Recently Professor Lauterbach criticized the rapid loosening of the rules in restaurants and pubs. Aerosols are created in closed rooms by breathing out and coughing. So sufficient air circulation must be provided.

Drink, and you will be immune.
In fact, both Drosten and Lauterbach received death threats.


Some Professors Tell Nonsense to the World


Drosten complains about the many contributions of experts in social media such as videos that have millions of hits and are full of nonsense. "Some of the authors are doctors and professors who are putting some nonsense into the world, who have never worked on these topics... but they regard themselves to be experts because of their academic grade."

He doesn't understand why researchers from other scientific fields do not stick to their areas of expertise, "I would never dare to reveal anything about bacteria with so much conviction." Although it is generally believed that viruses and bacteria are "almost the same thing," scientists know that this is not the case.

"These self-proclaimed experts spread generalities that do not go beyond the information level of college textbooks. This is how you bolster the really dangerous conspiracy theorists. I get their echo back in the form of accusations."


A New Song, a Better Song!


We Germans are a nation of thinkers and skeptics. Many Corona debates take a Romantic touch. Instead of basing our thinking on rational, scientific grounds, we place personal feelings and individual freedom in the foreground.

When Governor Bodo Ramelow proposed replacing the strict Corona rules in his state of Thuringia by a system of voluntary behavior, one columnist wrote, "Ramelow sounds like a verse from Heinrich Heine's Romantic epic poem 'Germany, a Winter's Tale'."

A new song, a better song!
It sounds like flutes and violins!
The misery is over,
The death bells are silent.
Ein neues Lied, ein besseres Lied!
Es klingt wie Flöten und Geigen!
Das Miserere ist vorbei,
Die Sterbeglocken schweigen.


Superspreader


Evolutionary biologist Jamie Lloyd-Smith of the University of California told the journal Science, "There are strong hints that the majority of those infected with Sars-CoV-2 do not infect anyone. Rather, a few probably infect a great many people."

To quantify this, we need a new parameter, the so-called dispersion factor k. The smaller k is, the more infections can be attributed to one person or a few people - the so-called superspreaders.

The factor k describes the frequency with which infections occur. The lower the number, the fewer people spread the pathogen. This means that the smaller the dispersion factor, the easier it is to control an epidemic. A dispersion factor of 0.1 means that nine out of ten patients only infect one person at a time, but every tenth person infects ten others. Therefore, the probability of an infected person triggering a superspreading event, in which many people are quickly infected, is one in ten. With such a low factor, an epidemic could even come to a standstill. Drosten claims, "Superspreaders played a decisive role in the 2002/2003 Sars pandemic because the dispersion factor k was about 0.1. Such a low value opens up opportunities for new strategies in fighting an epidemic."

Drosten continued, "With Sars-CoV-2, the initial opinion was that superspreaders played no or only a minor role since the upper airways are also affected, and patients are already contagious before the first symptoms appear. Recently, however, new preliminary studies strongly suggest that the dispersion factor might also be small to very small in the present pandemic."

Catholic or Protestant?
Drosten's colleague, Berlin virologist Alexander Kekulé contradicts him, "These new studies are based on a rather thin database; presumably k for Sars-CoV-2 is not as low as in the first Sars pandemic." Kekulé considers a Chinese preliminary study by Gabriel Leung to be very robust. The team from the University of Hong Kong has calculated that 20 cases are responsible for 80 percent of the infections. This corresponds to a dispersion factor as high as 0.45.


Drosten on Outdoor Areas


Outdoor areas of restaurants are relatively safe, and "a two-meter distance will probably not be necessary. What is spread via aerosols is blown away. The danger of infection is, therefore, largely eliminated. For indoor spaces, it is essential to open the windows."

For the creation of outdoor areas, Drosten suggests a bit less bureaucracy in these unusual times, "Why don't we allow proprietors to use the sidewalks? In these times, local authorities can make exceptions and say that the pubs will put their tables on the sidewalk - as long as they don't endanger passers-by."


Turning Parking Spaces into Parklets


©Joachim Röderer/BZ
Drosten's suggestion was well received in Freiburg, where the administration did not turn swords into plowshares but parking spaces into parklets. These are parking spaces being temporarily reconfigured, serving as extensions for outdoor areas of restaurants, ice-cream-parlors, or pubs.

Parklet test: On Friday evening Lord Mayor Martin Horn and mayors Stefan Breiter
 and Martin Haag in front of O’Kelly‘s on Sedanstraße (©Joachim Röderer/BZ)
Parklets, a strange new German word. Does it mean little parks? The more fitting Biergartenlets would be too long to become popular.


Corona Eyewash


Mass temperature checks on people are frequently used to filter out infected persons. 

Fever screening at Milan Airport (©BZ)
These tests are superficial and misleading, for many bearers of Covid-19 don't show increased body temperatures.

Cleaning the streets of Moscow (©ap)
They are mostly eyewash like the widespread cleaning of surfaces. Spreading of tons of disinfectant will harm the environment more than kill viruses.

Volunteers disinfecting a church in March in Mendota, Calif.
(©Max Whittaker for The New York Times)
Frequent hand washing will lead to skin damage. Hand washing is, according to Professor Drosten, probably of secondary importance. This, according to the latest data, at least as far as protection against Sars-CoV-2 is concerned. However, washing hands will significantly reduce the risk of other infections.


By Now It Is Fake News For The US


The WHO has a shattering corona prognosis, "The virus may never be defeated and will stay with us."

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Nightmare Dancers

It has become crystal clear that people are predominantly infected with SARS-CoV-2 when they are in closed spaces together with contagious persons, i.e., at home, in supermarkets, in restaurants and bars, as well as in public transport.

This was confirmed by the results of an extensive study in China, in which researchers traced hundreds of infections. All but one of them occurred indoors when during long exposures to contaminated aerosols, the respiratory tract will accumulate a viral load necessary and sufficient for a severe infection with Covid-19.


My Latest MNBs


This is why Red Baron always wears his mouth-nose-covers in closed spaces but never in Gottes freier Natur (God’s great nature).

In the background, an engraving showing Hamburg in 1700.
Here are my latest acquisitions sent directly from Hamburg, where I spent my high-school years.

In the background, you see an oil painting by my late wife.
"Moin Moin" is a common Frisian expression, "Moin" meaning "(Good) Day", and "Moin Moin" being an emphasis, i.e., "A Very Good Day", as I read on the Internet. This greeting is popular throughout northern Germany.

When I discussed the issue with people from Friesland, they told me that “Moin Moin” is the “official” greeting in the morning, meaning “Good Morning.” When you meet friends in the afternoon, you use the shortened form “Moin,”, thus making the word ambivalent for “Moin” then may mean Good Afternoon, Good Evening, or even Good Night.


Noms



Living his claustrophobia, Red Baron celebrated the opening of restaurants in the state of Baden-Württemberg last Monday at the Biergarten of “Der Kaiser, starting with Kaiser’s sparkling wine in Kaiserwetter! After 8 weeks of forced waiting, I had a Wiener Schnitzel in a charming company. Note: The mouth-nose-covers are removed, but are within easy reach.

The expression Kaiserwetter (Kaiser weather) dates back to the last German Kaiser Wilhelm II (2nd Reich), who liked to spend his time during war games in splendid sunshine.

However, the restaurant “Der Kaiser” (formerly “Der Deutsche Kaiser”) is named after the first son of Empress Maria-Theresa, Kaiser Joseph II (1st Reich), who visited Anterior Austria, the oldest patrimony of the All-Highest Archducal House, with its capital Freiburg in 1777.



Reunion with my daughter, who managed to cross the Swiss-German border on Tuesday, at the Biergarten of the restaurant Grüner Baum (Green Tree). That is where proprietor Richard Aubert originating from Corsica serves the best Piccata Milanese in Freiburg. Be sure to order the specialty with spaghetti aglio e olio. A delight.


The apotheosis of my noms trilogy: White asparagus al dente at the Oberkirch restaurant served with Kratzede*, Sauce Hollandaise. and a real Wiener Schnitzel. i.e., made from veal.
*a torn-up pancake


We sat outdoors (where else?) with the Minster church in view.


Präventionsparadox


The paradox of prevention means that you are always the loser. The Social Democrat member of the Bundestag (Germany’s House of Representatives) and epidemiologist Professor Karl Lauterbach sarcastically stated, “In Corona politics, you can choose how to fail. One could react too much or too little to a pandemic. In the first case, there will be economic losses, in the second case, more deaths. In any case, anyone who decides to do or fails to do something is considered a loser.”

It is true, however, that 80% of all Germans approve of the restrictive measures, although 30% obtain their information primarily "somewhere on the Internet". So for them, the pandemic is developing into an “infodemic”. In fact, agitators in major German cities are attempting to build up a protest backdrop that is being reinforced by the media.


Alptraumtänzer


©ntv
This time Sascha Lobo analyzed in his column the above table, “Since mid-May four countries have show the most corona-infected people worldwide. The four leaders of those countries, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Jair Bolsonaro, and Boris Johnson, form a men's team with many similarities.” 

Lobo continues, “It was obvious all along, but now it is measurable how little interest these powerful men have in the welfare of their people. It is unlikely that they will have to fear for their top positions in the Corona charts, but Brazil is likely to move up to second place (it has happened in the meantime). At least.”

“All of them have in part and at least temporarily:

- downplayed or even ignored the pandemic,

- considered the lives of vulnerable, elderly, sick people as disposable assets,

- decided according to their own political rather than scientific standards,

- given economic measures priority over health-related ones,

- and finally deceived their people against better judgment.”

“All four men of power are united by patriarchal self-righteousness and arrogance lacking in empathy. The consequences are a more or less pronounced resistance to scientific advice and the will to manipulate their audiences.“

“In the 20th century, a frequent swearword applied to leftists was ‘dream dancers.’ They were accused of fading out the harsh reality of the world and of clinging to (supposedly) unattainable visions. Dream dancing has become a real specialty in the 21st century, but now it has changed into a nightmare, a dance of the dead.”


The Numbers


©ntv
During the last week, the four- and seven-day reproduction rates remained below one.

©ntv
Many districts in Germany now report no new cases, i.e., are “free” of Corona, but the reduced number of cases cannot hide the fact that the risk of new infections still exists. The main problem for the local health authorities is the regional flare-up of new outbreaks.

In Lower Saxony, e.g., the authorities announced a new, local Coronavirus outbreak over the last weekend. In a restaurant in the Leer district, several guests became infected. The infections were reported to the authorities between Tuesday and Friday. As a precautionary measure, a domestic quarantine was ordered for at least 50 people.

Another local outbreak occurred in Hesse. More than 100 people became infected during a service in a Baptist congregation in Frankfurt. The head of the health department of the city of Frankfurt commented, "The vast majority of the people is not particularly ill."


Corona Remains an Existential Challenge


Instead of acknowledging the low number of Corona deaths in Germany so far, people are starting to criticize our government for having imposed excessive restrictions.

The governor of the most heavily hit state, Bavaria, Markus Söder, commented, "Corona remains an existential challenge. Our decision guidelines are caution, prudence, and good sense. We are sticking to them.”

©WDR
So what are the effects of the protective measures against Corona taken in Germany?

The graphic shows the importance of the timing of intervention
on the Corona epidemic, i.e., don’t be late with mitigation!
Here is a graphic from a scientific report by Jonas Dehning et al. published in Science: Inferring change points in the spread of COVID-19 reveals the effectiveness of interventions.


The Lombardy Nightmare


Red Baron just read an article about the consequences of the Corona wave that swept this Italian province last March. I am shocked.

Almost every family in Lombardy laments a victim of the epidemic, either a mortality or a “survivor”, while many of those recovered are now gravely ill.

One in four Covid-19 patients discharged from the intensive care unit as recovered has to undergo dialysis because his/her kidneys have failed. The lungs are permanently damaged in many cases. Being discharged as recovered from this disease is not the same as being healthy. Relatives and the health care system are facing a backlog of tens of thousands of severely disabled people.

This grim outlook will further complicate the futile discussions of numbers, i.e., who and how many people died of Covid-19.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Alltagssucht

According to Sacha Lobo, the "craving for everyday life" is a syndrome that people are developing in the Corona crisis during long isolation. When suffering from Alltagssucht, even rational-thinking persons fall for conspiracy theories.

Our "new normal" requires a new vocabulary. Already Goethe knew,

"Just where terms are missing,
A word comes up at the right time.
Words are a fine tool for arguments,
And are useful to create a system … "
"Denn eben wo Begriffe fehlen,
Da ſtellt ein Wort zur rechten Zeit ſich ein.
Mit Worten läßt ſich trefflich ſtreiten,
Mit Worten ein Syſtem bereiten ..."

The German language is known for its possibility to create new words. So be prepared to learn a couple of them.


Corona-Skeptiker, Corona-Kritiker, Corona-Gegner


Alltagssucht paired with Todessehnsucht (longing for death) (©Der Spiegel)
Corona skeptics, critics, and opponents are people who reject the measures taken to contain the pandemic. All these people could be condensed into corona resisters, but there are differences. So the above words are used in German texts.

In French, it sounds less offensive (©Der Spiegel)
Corona resisters need no masks, only their faithful cardboard shields, fighting Covid-19 with all the force of their anti-stance.

Spahn (Federal minister of health), Merkel, and Drosten (Germany's chief virologist)
sind nicht ganz bei Trost (are out of their minds) (©Name on the photo)
Corona-Skeptiker are ambivalent, for they could be either skeptical about the measures (okay) or belong to those questioning the existence of the virus (not okay).

All basic articles of our Grundgesetz (constitution) are mentioned,
although some of them Corona does not touch at all (©Name on the photo)
Corona-Kritiker either always vituperate about everything, or they keep harping on a specific anti-pandemic measure.

In front of the Brandenburg Gate: For fundamental rights (articles 1 to 19 of our constitution)
and a republic under the rule of law (©Name on the photo)
Finally, Corona-Gegner should not be confused with Corona deniers even though there may be some overlap. Deniers question, analogous to the equally misleading word "climate deniers", the existence of the virus itself.

Corona protest in front of the Reichstag building showing the UK, the US,
and the Imperial War Flag (1871 to 1918). Crazy.  (©Name on the photo)

Misconceived Terms


Writing in Der Spiegel, Samira El Ouassil went to court with the Corona vocabulary. Germany never practiced a Corona lockdown. The word adopted from the English is poorly understood, for it actually describes a lockdown of buildings and areas in the context of a rampage or a terrorist attack.

There was no Ausgangssperre (curfew) in Germany, either. They had it in Italy, Spain, and France, where you had to prove with certificates that you had a valid reason to leave the house.

In Germany, neither the federal government nor the states forbade that we leave the house for a walk, alone and even with another person keeping a distance of 1.5 meters.

We had Ausgangsbeschränkungen alright, and there are still some limitations of movement. We were just not allowed to go to places like restaurants, schools, theaters, playgrounds*.
*In Freiburg playgrounds are already open and restaurants will open tomorrow.

There is a big difference between Ausgangssperre and Ausgangsbeschränkung in legal ethics regarding mobility and freedom.

Red Baron has already criticized the notion of social distance. What is really meant is the physical distance, i.e., a ban on physical and not on social contacts.


Wutwelle


Another great new German word. While the wave of infection is running out, a "wave of anger" is on the rise in Germany. Protesters frequently disobey the distance rule. In shouting their slogans, they spread their aerosols. So when things go really bad, we will end up with both: a wave of anger and a new, i.e., second wave of infection.


Zwangsimpfung


Keep the distance to compulsory vaccination  (©Sachelle Babbar/ ddp/ZUMA)
That the German government will make vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 compulsory is the latest hoax. Although a vaccine is months if not years away, anti-vaxxers protest already against something most people would jump on if it existed. Forget about those naysayers. Don't worry, vaccinated humanity will reach immunity without those anti-vaxxers.

Minister of Health Jens Spahn modifying the infamous statement by Walter Ulbricht,
"No one intends to build a wall" (©Der Spiegel)

Hygienedemo


Keeping distance in protesting in Freiburg yesterday (©Benjamin Heim)
...is the short form for Corona resisters (see above) protesting in public places. T-Online editor-in-chief Florian Harms imagined what is going on in the heads of many of those people, "Maybe you didn't know it yet. Well, now, you know. You've been lied to. Systematically. For weeks. You shouldn't put up with that any longer. Wake up! Open your eyes and take a look at the Internet, the truth is everywhere: the Coronavirus was deliberately released, most likely by several governments who agreed at a Bilderberg conference. They are using it as an excuse to restrict our civil rights. This worked frighteningly well, although Covid-19 is actually no more dangerous than the flu."

Without translation  (©Der Spiegel)
"Billionaire Bill Gates also has his fingers in the pie. What he used to do with his Windows, he is now doing again: he is establishing a global monopoly, this time in the pharmaceutical industry. In this way, he is taking over the billion-dollar vaccine market and will make even more money. He has bought the World Health Organization (WHO) that has put pressure on governments to force everybody be vaccinated. You know, to make more money and..."


Producing Panic


This alliteration describes the situation of the German public perfectly when on May 9, the reproduction rate R increased above one, i.e., one infected gal or guy would statistically transmit Covid-19 to more than one other person. Were we on the rise again?

Development of Rold and Rnew over time.
Note that the value averaged over seven days (in red) has
a smaller uncertainty than the value averaged over four days (in gray), as it should be (©ntv)
The way the reproduction rate is calculated leads to fluctuations, which become even greater as the number of new Covid-19 cases decreases. This is why the RKI will introduce a new, "smoothed" R to avoid panic-inducing fluctuations but at the same time adding more confusion for the layperson.


Multi-Organ Virus


A study by the University Medical Center at Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) confirms that the new Coronavirus attacks not only the lungs but numerous other organs, too. "Sars-CoV-2 is a multi-organ virus," said Tobias Huber, head of the study. This was shown in studies of 27 patients who died from Covid-19. The second most frequently affected organ in this study was the kidneys, "often leading to total organ failure". Moreover, the pathogen was detected in the heart, liver, brain, and blood. However, the highest concentrations were still found in the cells of the respiratory tract.

And infectiologist Babak Javid from Cambridge University Hospital observed, "Someone falling seriously ill with Covid-19 can get problems with blood clots, which seem to occur more frequently than with other viruses. Compared to the flu, it is more likely that you will become very ill and die."


Snutenpulli


©Elbvertiefung
When entering a school in Hamburg, a pullover for the mouth is required written in the Lower German dialect. Togang is the equivalent of the High German word Zugang (access).

©ntv
Although frequently seen in public, covering the mouth is not sufficient, as we all know. Here is Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's federal president, setting a good example.

Seen at the Berlin demonstration:
Fearing that 5G radiation is causing the Coronavirus (©Christian Mang/Reuters)
During his visit to a new Corona emergency clinic in Berlin, Steinmeier admitted that he is a medical layman, "Nevertheless, I dare say that regarding virus protection, the sometimes uncomfortable and annoying mouth-nose-cover is more recommendable than the aluminum hat".

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Long Live Federalism!

A Corona blog eight weeks in a row? Isn't that too much? Let my readers be my judges.


The Situation in Germany


Number of new Corona infections in a given day
Last Wednesday, Angela Merkel held a teleconference with Germany's governors discussing further openings given the observed decrease in the number of Corona infections. While the incidence per 100,000 inhabitants ranges from 335 in Bavaria to only 44 in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the governors would like to open social activities in their Länder (states) and within their authority with different speeds according to disease incidence.

Long live federalism, but if something goes "Corona" in one state, now its Landeschef (governor) is to blame.
 
The development of new Corona infections averaged over a week.
"We can say today that the first phase of the pandemic is behind us," the chancellor said, but she iterated, "We have to be aware that we are still at the beginning of the pandemic and that we will have to deal with this virus for a long time.” And she added, "The new openings are a bold step."

While Merkel would have liked to march in step with Germany's governors, there now is a defined framework within which the states agreed to proceed with their opening strategies.

A hygienic measure executed in an exemplary manner:  Professor Wieler coughing in the crook of his arm 
during the RKI press conference last Monday.
This was agreed upon: While observing strict hygienic rules, all shops are allowed to open. Sports, training, and recreational sports in the open air without physical contact may resume. However, the approval of huge events should wait. This means that public festivals, major spectator sporting events, village and street festivals, concerts, and marksmen's fairs, as well as funfairs, will remain prohibited. In particular, the Bundesliga (professional soccer) will play in empty stadiums, i.e., so-called ghost matches without their fans. This will remain so until at least until August 31. 

Daycare centers and public schools, which operate under the authority of the states, to begin with, will open hesitantly. They will operate with small groups and possibly even not fully open after the summer holidays. Too little is known about children as Corona carriers and transmitters, and then there are these disturbing reports about serious and strange illnesses in kids infected with SARS-CoV-2.

All children now in homeschooling will see a classroom before the summer holidays. Daycare centers will start taking children next week, focusing on families most in need. Residents in nursing and care homes can receive visits from one defined person only.


The Magic 50


Finally, the chancellor and the governors agreed on an emergency brake. Should the rate of infections in a district or district-free city increase above an Obergrenze (upper limit) of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants averaged over seven days, restrictive measures will be reinstated, or even local lockdowns imposed.

"If something happens locally, we won't wait until it has spread through the whole republic, but we will act locally," Merkel said.

 
 

This built-in emergency brake of 50 had to be pulled in three regions before the weekend: The number of new infections surpassed critical levels in the district of Greiz in eastern Thuringia (74.4), the district of Coesfeld in North Rhine-Westphalia (76.4), and the district of Steinburg in Schleswig-Holstein (62.4).

 

The first mention of the village Lederhose in the Greiz district is found in a Latin document of October 18, 1287, but the settlement of Slavic origin is older. The name has nothing to do with leather pants but has its origin in the Slavic name Ludorad. Ludoraz is the place where Ludorad dwelt.

All recent Covid-19 outbreaks are confined within their districts. In the first case, it is a nursing home (again!), while the two others are Fleischfabriken (meat packing plants) that were promptly closed. The Bulgarian and Rumanian workers are under quarantine.

According to Green Party whip, the Bavarian Anton Hofreiter (Court Rider), "The increased incidence of Corona infections among slaughterhouse employees in North Rhine-Westphalia is a clear indication of the abuses in this industry." He continued grumbling, "Corona reveals the untenable conditions in some slaughterhouses. Even before the crisis, it was known how bad hygiene is in many companies. This is also due to the deplorable housing and working conditions - from poor equipment to exploitative working hours."


Waiting for the Second Wave


In the press conference of the Robert Koch Institute last Thursday, Professor Schaade warned, "A second wave is expected. Although the situation in Germany is presently under control with falling incidence rates of Covid-19, we cannot exclude a new spread brought in, e.g., from outside. We must remain vigilant."

However, the test capacity in Germany has now reached 964,000 in a week, of which only 317,000 tests were used last week, with just 3.8% being positive. Besides, there is no national shortage of ICU beds.

We also may hope that the much-feared second wave will be less devastating because doctors have learned how to treat Corvid-19 patients.


There Is No Glory in Prevention


©BZ
An anti-vaxxer (Impfgegner) is protesting with other people in a strange alliance. Those few right- or left-wingers, constitution defenders, freedom fighters, 5G opponents, and crackpots had no problem keeping their distance in front of Freiburg's townhall. The anti-vaxxer's message was poorly presented. The man will be charged for showing a Nazi symbol.

The opponents of the extended lockdown argue, "It is about to ruin our social, cultural, and economic life, so we must get off it as quickly as possible. Covid-19 is no more dangerous to the population than influenza if certain risk groups and people over 65 years of age are specifically protected against infection."

This comparison is deceptive, for contrary to the Coronavirus, there is a basic immunity to influenza in the world population. While a new pandemic like the Spanish flu is extremely unlikely, we still know next to nothing about the new Coronavirus.

The opponents continue, "Elderly, sick, and otherwise high-risk people must wear special masks and observe distance rules, as must geriatric nurses and hospital staff. All others must practice 'Smart Distancing': Simple masks, distance in public transport, and when shopping."


Virus News


It is becoming apparent that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 requires a virus load as presented by billowing aerosols in enclosed premises during long carnival sessions, in singing beer halls, and in poorly ventilated polling stations (wasn't it cold in Wisconsin on election day?).

The Heinsberg investigation clearly shows that people with severe symptoms of Covid-19 had been sitting particularly close together with loud talking and singing, thus throwing many droplets into the air through which the virus is transmitted.

Consequently, Lithuanian officials are closing streets to allow restaurants and bars to offer extended outdoor-only service.


Lufthansa Too Big to Fail?


While passenger traffic on U.S. airlines is down 95 percent compared to the same period last year, it is down to less than 1% for Germany's airline Lufthansa.

The difference is explained by the fact that in the States, the bulk of air traffic is domestic while Lufthansa was making money with its world-wide connections.

 
Grounded in Frankfurt ©Der Spiegel
Shaken by the pandemic, the airline grounded 700 aircraft of its 763-plane fleet and parked many of them on the no longer needed third runway at Frankfurt's International Airport.

© AP
Instead of kerosene Lufthansa now burns about one million euros per hour. The proud German crane is mothballed. 

The future of Lufthansa oscillates between bankruptcy and bailout by the government using taxpayers' money. The airline's new flotilla needs downsizing, but who around the globe will buy even well-maintained planes?


Dystopic Cruises


Kreuzfahrten have become extremely popular in Germany in recent years. They exude international flair via "alcohol-impregnated" people of numerous nationalities mingling on their way to exotic places.

It turned out that cruises were the ideal breeding grounds for spatially contained Corona outbreaks. Ships were desperately trying to reach any port to land their passengers. Who would like to live through such a nightmare again?

Here is the translation of a paragraph of the daily blog Elbvertiefung by the weekly Die Zeit: "How the cruise industry is doing in Corona times can be studied looking at water faucets. There are thousands of faucets installed on every ship: in cabins, in kitchens, in sports clubs. There are more than 400 cruise ships all over the world, most of them now bob up and down without guests, resulting in more than one million unused faucets. Like the ships, the faucets are built to be always used; otherwise, legionella bacteria may thrive in the pipes. That is why workers now have to turn the faucets on and off. Ship after ship. Cabin by cabin. Week after week. Until Corona is over. Until the borders open again. Until guests are allowed on board again. Until things go back to the way they were when the cruise boom seemed like a fairy tale."

While the famous Meyer shipyard in Papenburg "fears" that no more cruise ships will be ordered for a very long time, the Flensburg-based shipbuilder FSG has filed for insolvency.


That's Science or Virologists Quarrel


is not a quarrel but a scientific disputation frequently misinterpreted by laypersons, "This morning Professor X said this, but in the afternoon, Professor Y told us that." This only means research on Corona is in progress, and the statement "We don't know" would frequently be appropriate in the discussions between experts.

Currently, public criticism is growing against scientists. People demand clear recommendations from them, even though many research projects on the Coronavirus are far from complete.

If the experts correct their opinion because new studies lead to further knowledge, people don't understand and freak out, "None of the virologists have a clue!" Even the mood of reasonable people will shift from rational to emotional.


Freiburg


The plague was a permanent guest in Europe - in Italy as recently as 1945 - becoming "virulent" at times.

Wikipedia states, "The Black Death most likely originated in Central Asia or East Asia, from where it traveled along the Silk Road, reaching Crimea by 1347. From there, it was most likely carried by fleas living on the black rats that traveled on Genoese merchant ships ...".

 
Dr. Beak of Rome in his protective equipment
(©Alte Volkstrachten.de)
Doctors attributed the Black Death to bad vapors and protected themselves accordingly. Nowadays, we know that Yersinia pestis is a bacterium transmitted to man/woman by carrier fleas.
 
©Münsterbauverein
The Münsterbauverein published the picture of a medieval gargoyle at the Minster church wearing a Mundabdeckung (mouth cover) only. Such half-protection frequently seen in Freiburg's streets was useless then due to the infection path of the plague. It is useless now, too, for the SARS-CoV-2 virus predominantly settles in the nasal mucosa.
 

Although people of the Middle Ages were more religious than the enlightened citizens of the 21st century, they did not invoke God to be exempted from wearing a mask.


 
Before After
On the lighter side. Here is my haircut on Tuesday. Do you see any difference?


CERN



I am happy to see my former employer is resuming work, as illustrated by a traffic light.


Fridays for Future Revisited



Behind a rainwater downspout, there is a forgotten cardboard sign with a cryptic message written by young people, "We do not learn for a ruined future."

Are they addressing the Corona pandemic or the changing climate? Do they learn at all in homeschooling?