Bad news on viral dose and viral load?

I’ve been harboring hope lockdown might produce herd immunity through milder illness via milder viral “dose.”

That is to say, even under lockdown many of us will still be exposed to COVID-19, but we’ll be exposed to less of it than we would have been if, as in my case, we’d carried on living with a spouse taking the subway 5 days a week.

The freaking subway! Five days a week!

The last day Ed worked physically at NYU, we were both so horrified by the thought of the subway that he walked the two and a half miles to Grand Central, same as he did on 9/11. The next day he drove me to my doctor’s appointment in Manhattan because every single time I so much as thought of setting foot on the subway, my entire being said No.  And this was a primal No, not a pros-and-cons, on-balance-I-think-not sort of No, a boldface No welling up out of thousands of years of evolutionary history.





I wonder if deep caves were dangerous in the way back. Bet they were.

Anyway, living here in the Greater Manhattan area, where we know multiple people who’ve been sick or are sick now (all alive, some briefly hospitalized, none intubated), I see our probability of having been exposed to COVID-19 — or, if not, of becoming exposed today or tomorrow or the next day — as high.

So I’m pinning my hopes on viral dose. 

But that’s a hope, not a reality or even a plan. And since I’ve written posts on the subject, I wanted to mention a new study that may not be good news on the salvation-via-low-dose front: Suppression of COVID-19 outbreak in the municipality of Vo, Italy.

The nut graph:

We found no statistically significant difference in the viral load … of symptomatic versus asymptomatic infections…

Arnold Kling reacts here:

Note the the study measures viral load among people after they have the virus, not viral load at onset. I think the only way to make guesses about viral load at onset is to do case studies that look at how people got the virus.

I think that what this study strongly reinforces is the hypothesis of asymptomatic spreading.

So we have viral dose: the amount of virus you were exposed to.

Then we have viral load: the amount of virus a test finds in your throat (setting aside the issues of test reliability and test sensitivity/specificity).

Does viral dose determine viral load?

Wish I knew.

And see:
Know your enemy
Can lockdown produce herd immunity with fewer deaths?

Social distancing and immunity
gasstationwithoutpumps on viral load and COVID-19 models
Social distancing and the 2nd wave
Viral dose, viral load

7 thoughts on “Bad news on viral dose and viral load?

    1. They’re in the group home — haven’t been able to have them here for 64 days now, at least.

      When their day program closed, the head of the group home asked us to have them here one or two more days a week (they’re normally here both weekend days) — but then new rules came down saying that if they came here they couldn’t go back.

      Amazingly, no one has been sick there. Not a single person. No idea how that happened — though it doesn’t surprise me with young autistic adults, who have bizarrely powerful immune systems.

      I remember Jimmy being sick only once in his entire childhood, and I think it was the same for Andrew.


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