Understanding COVID-19 on the local level

AUBURN, Calif. – Placer County this week launched a new study aimed at better understanding the COVID-19 infection rate among county residents.

Led by Stanford University School of Medicine, study investigators will test blood samples from 2,000 residents for COVID-19 antibodies, which indicate a previous coronavirus infection.

As of Oct. 14, a total of 3,845 county residents have tested positive for SARS-CoV2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But because some of those infected with the coronavirus may not have experienced symptoms or sought testing, the actual infection rate in Placer County is suspected to be higher – between 1.3 – 6% of the total population, according to current Stanford estimates.

“Knowing how widespread COVID-19 really is in our community would tell us a lot about how close we are to achieving some form of immunity and the true fatality rate from the disease,” said District 2 Supervisor Robert Weygandt, who proposed the study for the board’s consideration. “That’s critical information to guide decisions that best protect the physical, social and economic well-being of our communities.”

Investigators will invite a random but representative sample of residents to participate and mail willing volunteers a finger-stick blood test to complete at home. The results of all positive tests and 10% of negative tests will be rerun using a different type of test, producing results with 99% accuracy.

Stanford researchers will develop an online dashboard detailing their findings on the demographic and geographic prevalence of the virus and present a comprehensive report to the Board of Supervisors on the study’s results and conclusions. The study is expected to take about five months to complete. Stanford Medicine and its principal investigator – Dr. Julie Parsonnet, Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and of Epidemiology and Population Health – are currently working with Santa Clara and Solano counties on similar COVID-19 antibody studies.

Under 10% of U.S. Population has Coronavirus Antibodies

Herd Immunity – Dangerous Fallacy

“The arrival of a second wave and the realisation of the challenges ahead has led to renewed interest in a so-called herd immunity approach, which suggests allowing a large uncontrolled outbreak in the low-risk population while protecting the vulnerable. Proponents suggest this would lead to the development of infection-acquired population immunity in the low-risk population, which will eventually protect the vulnerable.

This is a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence.

Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed.”

The Lancet (Oct 15, 2020)

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