Category Archives: Uncategorized

Stanford Study on Santa Clara County: Very questionable conclusions

My last post discussed a study from Stanford that suggested 50-85 times greater Infection Rate (IR) compared to the Case Rate (CR) in Santa Clara County. The Wall Street Journal published a discussion of this Study (which has not yet been peer reviewed) claiming that it was good evidence of a much lower fatality rate for COVID-19. Turns out that study was deeply flawed. The test used likely had a false positive rate of 13%, not 0.5% assumed by the authors. That alone makes the conclusions completely bogus. In addition, the study population was not truly a random sample and likely had significant selection bias. For a complete expose watch this:

One would expect something better from Stanford, but like I said, this was not yet peer reviewed.

“This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed [what does this mean?]. It reports new medical research that has yet to be evaluated and so should not be used to guide clinical practice.”

But the Wall Street Journal reported on it in a favorable way, not revealing that one of the authors of the study was also the author who wrote the WSJ article!

A brief note about false positives and false negatives.

Suppose you are looking at a population of 1,000,000 people with an infection rate of 1% (990,000 do not have the disease)

Assume a sensitivity of 93% (the test is positive in 93% of true positives)

Assume a specificity of 96% (false positive rate of 4%)

If you test everyone, 9300 of the 10,000 true cases will be detected, 700 of the cases will not be detected.

BUT 40,000 false positives will be found for a total of 49,300 positives. You will publish an infection rate of 4.93% while the real infection rate is only 1%.

Statistics are tricky. The sensitivity and specificity of a test are extremely important.

Be careful about what you read. We all would like to be reassured that it would be safe to relax restrictions but we still do not yet know  the true IFR. The true infection rate depends on widespread testing with an accurate test and we have not yet done that.

Besides the economic downturn associated with shelter in place, there are valid clinical concerns about the damage being caused (depression, anxiety, suicide, spousal abuse, child abuse, reluctance to call 911 for a real emergency, etc..) We will need to return to less restrictions in an incremental way based on regional circumstances (NYC not the same as Northern California).

For a detailed discussion about how and when we should relax restrictions read this.

There has been allot of comparing apples with oranges in the social media. People keep trying to compare COVID-19 to the flu. They are very different with respect to the fatality rate and ease of transmission. (In addition, whereas we have had a vaccine for Influenza A and B, we do not have one for COVID-19 or any other Corona Virus)


Case Rate (CR) is the # of known cases based on nasal swab PCR test divided by population.

Infection Rate (IR) is the actual # of cases divided by population. This is estimated by performing a reliable serology test on a large random sample of people, testing for infection by measuring antibodies (there are a few tests available but their sensitivity and specificity remain controversial and crucial)

A recent analysis comparing the 2009 H1N1 influenza A pandemic to COVID 19 suggested this:

Case Fatality Rate Infection Fatality Rate
2009 H1N1 Virus (flu) 0.1% to 0.2% 0.02%
COVID-19 New York 8% 0.50%

Some folks on social media have been comparing the CFR of the flu to the IFR of COVID-19. That is comparing apples to oranges.

The data in the table above are based on what appears to be the most recent and reliable information from New York City. The data on 2009 H1N1 is reported here.

In the old news clip below, 2920 adult deaths associated with 12 million cases of H1N1 calculates out to a 0.02% IFR which is exactly the same IFR described in the study linked above..

In this same report and in other discussions of H1N1 it was clear that children were more severely effected compared to COVID-19.

The table above would indicate that the IFR (infection fatality rate) of COVID-19 IS 25 TIMES GREATER than the IFR of the 2009 H1N1 Influenza A pandemic. The CFR of COVID-19 IN NEW YORK CITY is 40 times greater. This represents a much greater difference than the relative fatality rates suggested by the highly questionable conclusions of the Stanford Study of Santa Clara County.

There is a possibility that the New York City strain of COVID-19 might be more lethal than the strain of COVID-19 on the West Coast. That suggestion is PURELY SPECULATIVE and so far there is no data to support it. This possibility has been suggested because  NYC and New Jersey hospitals are much closer to capacity with COVID-19 compared to the West Coast experience and there are portable refrigerator truck morgues outside of hospitals in NYC and New Jersey where the local morgues filled up weeks ago. Again I would point to the major differences of the apparent CFRs between various countries and regions within countries which have not yet been explained (as discussed in my last post).

We have much more to learn, we need more testing (both nasal PCR and blood serology) to understand the spread and lethality of this disease. Those in the social media who claim we already have herd immunity are spewing nonsense. Herd immunity requires > 80% infection rate. Our measured IRs are highest in NYC (about 15%) and much lower in other areas where “reliable” serology has been performed.

One great failure in our country has been the prolonged lack of adequate testing. Shelter-in-place should have been a time-out to collect data and access where we are. That can only happen with reliable wide-spread testing. To AVOID overwhelming our hospitals and health care workers we must identify cases, trace contacts, isolate positives and isolate contacts. Isolation would ideally not be at home where the disease could easily spread to the entire household. Isolation at home is only reasonable when that home has a separate bedroom and bathroom for the infected person AND the household follows strict isolation and hygiene.

We must all recognize that the primary objective of shelter in place is to avoid overwhelming the health care system. Eventually, unless a treatment or vaccine becomes available, the disease will infect most of our population before we reach herd immunity. To return to economic activity and a more “normal life” we will necessarily accept a large number of deaths, primarily but not exclusively amongst the elderly and infirm. Generally it would seem reasonable to begin incrementally relaxing restrictions in areas of low impact, wearing masks, working from home where possible, avoiding public gatherings especially in confined spaces, and following good personal hygiene. So far the best information on risk (of death) appears to be in the table above, stratifying for age and risk factors.


Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob



COVID 19, Conflicting DATA EMERGES ON MORTALITY RATES. We need more data (testing)

Testing remains inadequate to determine how we should be addressing this virus. But recent data suggests that the IFR (infection fatality rate) is lower than originally thought. To understand this you must understand the difference between the CR (Case Rate) and the IR (Infection Rate) as well as the difference between the CFR (Case Fatality Rate) and the IFR (Infection Fatality Rate).

Case Rate: # Positive tests/ population

Infection Rate: # actual people infected/ population

Case Fatality Rate= #deaths/ # positive tests (# deaths/known cases)

Infection Fatality Rate= # deaths from the virus/ # infected (# deaths/ known and unknown cases)

Ideally everyone would be tested with a perfect test. A perfect test would be positive for everyone infected ( no false negatives-whether symptomatic or without symptoms) and it would be negative if the virus is not present (no false positives).

No test is perfect, but even with imperfect tests we would know much more with greater numbers of people tested, including those without symptoms.

To calculate an accurate estimate for the Infection Fatality Rate, we must widely test people without symptoms in a hard hit area such as New York City. Only then will we understand whether this virus is significantly more lethal than other viruses such as the flu. Early estimates were based on very imperfect data. Remember, Fauci stated before congress that COVID 19 is “ten times worse than the flu” based upon all the information available at the time. Fauci is arguably the most informed/knowlegable/reasonable professional we have to help guide us through this very uncertain time. The more data (testing) we obtain, the better-informed will be our plans going forward.

Shelter-in-place is most effective when started early, before the disease spreads widely and buys time to let hospitals prepare and expand capacity so that the system is not over-whelmed. Flattening the curve is important. It buys time and saves lives primarily by avoiding a situation where health care capacity is exceeded by demand (when that happens people who could have been saved do not stand a chance). But during the time-bought, we should have implemented widespread testing of people with and without symptoms to gain a better understanding of the epidemic. We did not do that. Testing remains inadequate for proper assessment of when and how we might begin to return to “the new normal”. Testing remains inadequate for understanding the risks of lifting various restrictions.

Early in an epidemic, lives are saved by testing, contact tracing, and isolation in combination with social distancing measures and the extreme measure of shelter in place. Unfortunately, we still do not know where we stand, primarily because of inadequate testing.

Below is the link to a long interview with a respected epidemiologist who explains that his recent study suggests the IFR for Covid 19 is similar to the Flu. This does not mean that shelter-in-place did not provide benefit. COVID 19 is clearly much more contagious than the Flu. But it does mean that provided we INCREASE TESTING and follow closely the impact of GRADUAL REDUCTION OF SOCIAL RESTRICTIONS, we may soon be able to allow the return of certain activities in an incremental fashion. The ideal strategy will depend on the specific local and regional circumstances (rates of infection and deaths, availability of hospital beds, ICU beds, PPE, health care workers, rural vs urban, reliance on public transportation (subways/buses vs cars), population density,  degree of at-risk population, etc.)

If you choose to watch this long interview, be careful to take everything with a grain of salt. One study of IR (infection rate) in one community does not automatically translate into national policy implications. The difference between Santa Clara County CA and the New York Metropolitan area is enormous for many reasons. This should not lead to anyone dropping their cautions, throwing away masks, and resuming activity with abandon. But it should lead to understanding the completely inadequate data that we presently have to make decisions AND the great need for caution as we move forward.

The person conducting this interview clearly is biased, believing that stay-at-home was not necessary. He is constantly pressing Dr. Ioannidis to draw that conclusion. Remember, one small epidemiologic study is not enough to draw conclusions about the fatality rate of infection. We need more data. But there is a glimmer of hope.

This data has not been peer-reviewed yet.

“This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed [what does this mean?]. It reports new medical research that has yet to be evaluated and so should not be used to guide clinical practice.”

Excerpts from the study referenced in this interview:

We report the prevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in a sample of 3,330 people, adjusting for zip code, sex, and race/ethnicity. 

Under the three scenarios for test performance characteristics, the population prevalence of COVID-19 in Santa Clara ranged from 2.49% (95CI 1.80-3.17%) to 4.16% (2.58-5.70%). These prevalence estimates represent a range between 48,000 and 81,000 people infected in Santa Clara County by early April, 50-85-fold more than the number of confirmed cases.

Here is the link.


Now, whether you chose to sit through that very long interview, here is another quote from a study by the same author, also a “Pre-Print” not yet peer-reviewed.

Individuals with age <65 account for 5%-9% of all COVID-19 deaths in the 8 European epicenters, and approach 30% in three US hotbed locations. People <65 years old had 34- to 73-fold lower risk than those ≥65 years old in the European countries and 13- to 15-fold lower risk in New York City, Louisiana and Michigan. The absolute risk of COVID-19 death ranged from 1.7 per million for people <65 years old in Germany to 79 per million in New York City. The absolute risk of COVID-19 death for people ≥80 years old ranged from approximately 1 in 6,000 in Germany to 1 in 420 in Spain. 

So there are huge differences in mortality rates from country to country and region to region, including for different age groups.



OK, now here is an update to this post. The Stanford Study described above and discussed in the video of Dr. Ionnidis SHOULD BE WITHDRAWN. I have read serious methodological criticisms of this study. Here are a few of the major problems.

  1. The study assumed a test specificity of 99.5% ( false positive rate of 0.5%) BUT an independent test of the test that was likely used (Chinese lab test vendor:Hangzhou Biotest Biotech) revealed 87% specificity (13% false positive rate). That is a huge problem as described in this analysis.
  2.  The sample was not truly a random population, they advertised on facebook for participants at a time when testing was not very available in Santa Clara County. If you had symptoms or had been exposed and heard about a free test would you enroll in the study? (you bet).

Very thoughtful and knowledgeable scientists have been analyzing how America can return incrementally to less restricted activity. It is very complicated, will vary from region to region, locality to locality, and will need constant assessment and modification. You can read one excellent report here.

That report, prepared by Johns Hopkins School of Public health, is titled Public Health Principles for a Phased Reopening During COVID-19: Guidance for Governors.

Here is an important excerpt.

The majority of models have shown that, in the absence of social distancing, COVID-19 has a reproduction rate of between 2 and 3 (though some models have shown it to be higher). This means that every person with the disease will spread it to 2 to 3 others, on average. To end an epidemic, control measures need to drive that number as far below 1 as possible. A vaccine can do that if and when it becomes available. But in the meantime, social distancing measures, combined with case-based interventions, are the key tools to maintaining the reproduction rate below 1. If the reproduction rate rises above 1, this means that epidemic growth has resumed. If that occurs, it may be necessary to reinitiate large-scale physical distancing. It is important to recognize that states will need to actively manage COVID-19 cases with great vigilance for the entire duration of the pandemic until a safe and effective vaccine is widely available.

And another:

There are still many gaps in scientific understanding about the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2. But initial published data suggest that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs primarily through prolonged, close contact. In studies that have monitored people with a known exposure to a confirmed case, household members, those who report frequent contact, and people who have traveled together or shared a meal are found to be at highest risk of infection. Other studies that attempt to reconstruct transmission chains among confirmed cases have also found that prolonged close contact is the source of most new infections. Some special settings have also been identified. Superspreading events have been linked to religious services, choir practice, and large family gatherings, among others. Congregate settings like cruise ships, institutions of incarceration, and long-term care facilities have also been the source of large outbreaks. These findings suggest that settings where close contact is minimal will be lower risk than settings with prolonged close contact.

The precursor to the report cited above can be read here.

Clearly, at-risk individuals (elderly, anyone with chronic illness) will need to have greater restrictions for longer periods of time. Everyone will need to be careful to follow guidelines to prevent infecting themselves and others. People living in densely populated areas that rely heavily on public transportation (example: New York Metropolitan area) have suffered the most and will continue to be hot zones until herd immunity is achieved. Large gatherings of people, particularly in confined areas with close proximity, remain high risk for contracting the illness. Remember, sitting at a table and eating or playing cards with an asymptomatic but infected person can result in everyone at the table getting infected. Remember the choir rehearsal in Washington where everyone likely became infected.


Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob





Bill Evans, Jazz Pianist, Genius, Interview worth watching and hearing

Today I depart from my usual topic of health and lifestyle to present a fascinating recorded interview with Jazz Pianist, innovator, genius, Bill Evans. Bill was born in Plainfield NJ, close to my hometown. He was arguably the most influential Jazz Pianist of the 20th century. This interview was with his brother, also a Jazz Pianist and Professor, and includes commentary by Steve Allen.

In this interview Bill relates classical music, originally an improvisational art form, to Jazz and discusses improvisation with incredibly beautiful demonstrations at the piano.

During our stay-at-home confinement due to COVID 19 I recommend you spend time watching and listening to this genius. I hope you will be inspired to further explore the music and creativity of Bill Evans. It is rare that we can experience the insight and work of such a remarkable genius.

Bill died tragically from complications of heroin abuse. I had only one opportunity in my life to attend Bill’s concert at the Jazz Workshop in Boston shortly before his untimely death. His hands and face were swollen from the ravages of heroin-related liver disease. I will never forget that evening of magic some 40+ years ago. I mourned his death which occurred while I was in medical school and was deeply grateful that I had a chance to experience his improvisational genius. I rank that evening along with a live performance of Segovia at Symphony Hall in Boston, as two of the most amazing live performances of my lifetime.

Here is the link:



Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob


Summer Relief from COVID19 not likely, study suggests.

“Although some pundits have suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic will dissipate with coming warm temperatures and high humidity in the Northern Hemisphere, the virus is unlikely to be seasonal in nature, according to a paper published yesterday by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.”

Countries in summer climates (Australia, Iran) are presently experiencing rapid virus spread.

MERS and SARS (both corona viruses) did not show a seasonal pattern.

Flu pandemics have not demonstrated seasonal patterns.

“There have been 10 influenza pandemics in the past 250-plus years—two started in the northern hemisphere winter, three in the spring, two in the summer and three in the fall,” they said. “All had a peak second wave approximately six months after emergence of the virus in the human population, regardless of when the initial introduction occurred.”

The study admits many limitations and caution is advised in drawing firm conclusions. Nevertheless, we should not depend on an assumption of summer bringing relief.

In the meantime, stay-at-home, social distancing, careful shopping habits, masks in public, frequent dis-infection of surfaces and handwashing, all make sense.

Remember, simply breathing can transmit virus without a cough or sneeze. Singing and yelling may simulate a cough (Washington choir experience reported previously). Asymptomatic individuals can be carriers (estimated 25% of carriers do not exhibit symptoms.)

Symptoms are extremely variable.


And the incubation period (time from viral transmission to appearance of symptoms) is highly variable.


incubation various viruses.gif

Many folks presume you must have many symptoms, but only one or two may be present. Fever alone is enough. GI problems alone is consistent with one  of the many presentations. Sudden death due to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) has been reported.

corona-virus-symptoms 2.jpg

Besides the well known precautions that should be taken, remember to support your immune system with adequate restorative sleep.

Other lifestyle considerations that support your immune system include:


Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob


COVID19 treatment breakthrough



I just listened to an  NSPR interview with Dr. Jacob Glanville, an immuno-engineer, who has developed anti-bodies against the COVID19 virus. Dr. Glanville was featured in a Netflix movie “PANDEMIC’ which ironically aired in late January, after news of the novel corona virus had caught the public’s attention.

HISTORY: Dr. Glanville attended a “BIOTHREATS MEETING” in Washington DC in January 2020. Dr. Fauci (NIH Director of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) gave a talk at the conference in which he stated that COVID19 was “NO LONGER CONTAINABLE” and NIH was commissioning bio-tech companies to develop treatments. (mind you this was January 2020, Fauci already perceived a serious health threat to the USA and the world)

Several larger companies were in line ahead of Glanville’s to obtain federal funding for this project. Because of the critical nature of the problem Glanville decided on the spot to discuss with his colleagues at Distributed Bio an effort to develop antibodies against COVID 19 without funding. His company assigned researchers to work at night and on weekends to develop “high affinity” antibodies against COVID19. They used “superhuman”, a process and tool developed by his company, to access a “library” in a test tube with 76 billion human antibodies.

Following the SARS virus pandemic in 2003, the public domain had 5 “high affinity” antibodies against SARS. Because SARS and COVID19 are similar (both viruses enter human cells through the ACE2 receptor protein, both are forms of corona virus and can cause respiratory distress syndrome) , they took the 5 known SARS antibodies and “evolved” each one to work against COVID19. The weekend after Governor Newsome ordered a statewide shelter-at-home strategy in California, Dr. Glanville’s volunteer researchers made the breakthrough (working day and night). They found that the “evolved” antibodies from each of the 5 SARS antibodies offered high-affinity for the COVID19 virus. Each one of the five had been a success.

We took a series of five antibodies from around 2002 that were able to neutralize SARS. We were able to use technology in our laboratories to evolve those antibodies against SARS to adapt them to recognize COVID-19.

We tried with five different antibodies because we weren’t sure which one would work the best. All five worked so we have a pretty powerful tool chest available to us right now to produce a final therapeutic.

 From the interview:

What is the next step?

We are sending [the antibodies] to the military for confirmation testing and to Charles River Laboratories for safety and tox characterization. We’ve partnered with two different companies that will help us scale up large batches of the antibody for production. We’re in discussions to start human phase one/two trials that would happen at the end of the summer.

The earliest this could possibly reach clinical application would be September 2020 under  the  compassionate use act if everything goes smoothly and efficiently and red-tape is overcome.

The story of this rapid response by volunteers working after hours and on weekends, long before the Whitehouse started taking action, represents a remarkable effort undertaken by a private company with no public funding. Many hurdles must be overcome to bring this bio-therapeutic to patients. Once this becomes available it offers great hope for an effective treatment.


Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob


A growing body of evidence suggests that masks for everyone might be a beneficial strategy. In the US that strategy has been rejected in order to encourage conserving PPE for health care providers.  In Czech Republic, where national leaders have successfully waged a masks4all campaign (in combination with quarantine), COVID19 GROWTH seems to have stabilized. I previously discussed droplet vs. aerosol spread. The WHO and CDC have officially labeled COVID19 as droplet spread.

Droplets fall to the floor and surfaces, they do not linger in the air. Disease transmission can occur by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face. Droplets coughed or sneezed into your face (even from a distance) will transmit disease. Singing, yelling, or loud talking can probably do the same. Face to face conversation without cough or sneeze can transmit COVID19.

Aerosol represents smaller particles that linger in air for hours making a confined space infectious for hours and allowing for disease transmission just by breathing the air, a more contagious situation.

Certain medical procedures such as intubation produce aerosol, increasing risk for health care providers.

On March 10, 60 members of a choir rehearsed in the state of Washington. None were symptomatic. They did not share music and distanced themselves. 45 members became ill, 28 tested + for COVID19, 2 died. It is likely all 45 who are symptomatic have COVID19 (there is a 37% false negative rate for nasal swab PCR test, 28/45=62%, very close to expected # of positives if all 45 have the virus.)


Those without symptoms should be tested, they are likely carriers.

If they all had been wearing masks transmission rates would probably have been lower.

As described in a previous post, an advisory letter from Stanford ENT Surgery Dept., warned about highly contagious circumstances in the OR during ENT surgery. In one case all 14 personnel who entered and left the OR contracted COVID19 despite wearing PPE including N95 Masks. Multiple reports of deaths among ENT and eye surgeons who work close to the nose have been reported from other countries.

These examples and many more suggest that there is a continuum between droplet and aerosolization and both may be present. Although not completely protective, masks would decrease the viral load associated with an exposure. A lower load of virus would be less likely to overwhelm the immune system. COVID 19 is also called SARS-COV-2.droplets vs aerosol.png

The virus enters human cells by attaching to a specific protein on the cell surface. These proteins (ACE2) are in high concentrations in the NOSE.entry at nose with high ACE recpetors.png


virus lock and key.png

There is no discrete safety with a distance of 6 feet. That degree of separation is just a guideline. A forceful cough or sneeze might project droplets much further.

Baerosol and droplet projection.png

Based on these considerations MASKS4ALL might help contain this virus AND flatten the curve with greater efficiency.


Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob


COVID-19: The Problem of a high False Negative test rate and single testing

I received notes taken from a ZOOM session with Dr. Wen Hong Zang, chair of the Society of Infectious Diseases, China Medical Association. About 7000 attendees, mostly US listeners, including Stanford Health Care, Santa Clara County hospitals, and NYC hospitals.

First the most salient points, then comparison to US approach, then the full notes from the COVID CRITICAL CARE GROUP.

  • Key to mitigating spread in Shanghai was doing diagnostic COVID test on every suspected case. (anyone with symptoms)
  • Tests are done within 4 hours in China, or frozen at -20C, otherwise there is increased false negative.
  • False negative rate of COVID PCR even with two serial swabs was 10-30%!  Next Generation Sequencing for COVID was used as the gold standard.
  • Molecular diagnostics was needed, and even two negative PCRs, for suspected cases on CT – they sent Next Gen Sequencing, a PCR to National Lab, a 3rd local PCR, and local PCR in another swab location (e.g. anal) (e.g. sent all 4) before they would rule out COVID. Thus SIX TESTS: SAMPLING DIFFERENT LOCATIONS, using DIFFERENT LABS, multiple METHODS and multiple SITES WERE REQUIRED to absolutely identify all positives.
  • All patients with positive COVID PCR were admitted to a designated COVID hospital regardless of their level of illness. (ACHIEVING GUARANTEED ISOLATION FROM FAMILY/COMMUNITY) 
  • Cases went down to zero or near zero by late-Feb, and there is now a small second wave from imported cases.

Compare this with the US situation.

  • Testing is usually done once (Missing many positives because of high FN rate)
  • Testing is NOT done on all symptomatic people, in most areas criteria for testing include symptoms AND exposure to a known case (BUT WITH LOW TESTING RATES THE SECOND CRITERIA WILL NOT BE MET FOR MANY who have actually been EXPOSURED)
  •  Only very sick patients are hospitalized, so mildly symptomatic are sent home where their families/communites will be exposed, enhancing spread of the virus, hampering containment.
  •  Our guidelines are to stay home for mild symptoms so we are testing even fewer patients and exposing more households to symptomatic patients.
  • Test turnaround at Quest and Labcorp is as high as 10 days in some areas.
  •  LabCorp and Quest are not accepting specimens in some locations because of the tremendous backlog. (therefore turn around time > 10 days (indefinite) when a sample is refused)
  • With delays in testing, and long turn around times, the false negative rate increases (viral decay in sample over time) thereby sending more positive cases back to family/community and under-reporting positives.
  •  US is not routinely employing CT scan, which can be positive in the face of a negative PCR.

With very stringent widespread multiple testing for everyone with symptoms, utilization of chest CT scan, and hospitalization of all positives, China achieved near zero growth within 2 months with subsequent small second wave from imported cases.

The US approach thus far has clearly been TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE, and appears destined to fail unless significant changes are immediately instituted.

Based on the experience in China, in order to achieve adequate control, we need:

  1. Intensive widespread testing (multiple tests for every symptomatic person)
  2. If CT scan is positive, even if two PCRs are negative, further repeat testing is required to discover all positives.
  3. rapid turn-around and frozen samples for remote testing
  4. complete isolation of all positives, away from family/community.
  5.  we cannot send symptomatic patients home or let them remain in the community unless they repeatedly test negative.
  6. Aggressive use of CT scan for evaluation.

Here is the full set of notes I received.

From Physician anesthesia group on FB…

Posted in Covid Critical Care Group & to be shared : 

Predicted number of cases in Shanghai with exponential growth was calculated to be nearly one million by March 1, but social distancing avoided this. (editorial Bob Hansen MD: Along with stringent testing of all symptomatic individuals, multiple testing, CT scan part of workup, isolation of all positives in hospital)

Cases went down to zero or near zero by late-Feb, and there is now a small second wave from imported cases.

Key to mitigating spread in Shanghai was doing *diagnostic COVID test on every suspected case* .

All patients with positve COVID PCR were *admitted to a designated* *COVID* *hospital* *regardless* *of their level of illness.* 

Coinfection was very common with other respiratory bacteria and common cold viruses, and >50% patients were positive for a co-infection with a respiratory organism.

False negative rate of COVID PCR even with two serial swabs was 10-30%!  Next Generation Sequencing for COVID was used as the gold standard.

RSV, Mycoplasma and Parainfluenza virus also caused similar bilateral CT findings to COVID.  Molecular diagnostics was needed, and even two negative PCRs, for suspected cases on CT – they sent Next Gen Sequencing, a PCR to National Lab, a 3rd local PCR, and local PCR in another swab location (e.g. anal) (e.g. sent all 4) before they would r/o COVID.

Mean incubation was 6.4 days, and patients were quarantined mean 5.5 days from symptom onset, with this approach the “curve” was 1 month in duration.

Hydroxychloroquine is in a multicentre RCT in China and will be published “very soon”.

LDH and D-Dimer was associated with development of ARDS.

He felt there is a narrow window between positive CT findings and deterioration to ARDS, where corticosteroids have been helpful and further studies are required to investigate this.

Approxiatemately 5% of patients will need ICU level care, and mortality depends on availability of ICU.

How to protect medical personnel* – China protocol:

1) Standardized process in terms of patient care areas and flow.

2) PPE – double-layer gloves, double-layer shoe covers, isolation gown, masks, googles, etc.  “The most important is to cover the head”

3) Positive pressure masks – for aerosol generating procedures.


Time window until infection and test positive? 3d by PCR, and 7d by Serological.

Who did you test?  They abandoned risk factor criteria quickly and just tested anyone with symptoms.

What is the best test?  PCR is better than Antibody test for sensitivity.  But the Antibody test is helpful, as PCR can have false negative by week 3.  Antibody test is helpful to see the overall population prevalence in terms of patients with mild or no symptoms.

Does viral RNA degradation of samples happen?  Tests are done within 4 hours in China, or frozen at -20C otherwise there is increased false negative.

What is risk for pregnant women?  These cases were mild, and no severe/intubated cases were seen so far in Shanghai (no Wuhan data presented).

What is the underlying medical conditions that are high risk?  Heart disease do the worst – the virus causes myocarditis as well.

 What percentage of patients have antibodies?  Every recovered patient tested have found to have antibodies on testing but it is unclear if these are actually protective.

What is the dosage for hydroxychloroquine? 400mg bid x1d, 400mg po qd.  They did not treat with azithromycin due to hepatotoxicity observed.

 What is the risk to health care workers? There were none of his colleagues who went to Wuhan to help that became infected with COVID, and this is attributed to PPE.

What is the outcome of COVID survivors?  Lung fibrosis is definitely less than SARS and most patients had a good long-term outcome.


Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob





From an immunologist at Johns Hopkins University. Maybe this will make just one person stop saying “it’s been around forever, it’s just the flu.” It hasn’t and it’s not. Read why.

Feeling confused as to why Coronavirus is a bigger deal than Seasonal flu? Here it is in a nutshell. I hope this helps. Feel free to share this to others who don’t understand…
It has to do with RNA sequencing…. I.e. genetics.
Seasonal flu is an “all human virus”. The DNA/RNA chains that make up the virus are recognized by the human immune system. This means that your body has some immunity to it before it comes around each year… you get immunity two ways…through exposure to a virus, or by getting a flu shot.
Novel viruses, come from animals…. the WHO tracks novel viruses in animals, (sometimes for years watching for mutations). Usually these viruses only transfer from animal to animal (pigs in the case of H1N1) (birds in the case of the Spanish flu). But once, one of these animal viruses mutates, and starts to transfer from animals to humans… then it’s a problem, Why? Because we have no natural or acquired immunity.. the RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus isn’t human, and the human immune system doesn’t recognize it so, we can’t fight it off.
Now…. sometimes, the mutation only allows transfer from animal to human, for years it’s only transmission is from an infected animal to a human before it finally mutates so that it can now transfer human to human… once that happens. We have a new contagion phase. And depending on the fashion of this new mutation, that’s what decides how contagious, or how deadly it’s going to be..
H1N1 was deadly….but it did not mutate in a way that was as deadly as the Spanish flu. It’s RNA was slower to mutate and it attacked its host differently, too.
Fast forward.
Now, here comes this Coronavirus… it existed in animals only, for nobody knows how long…but one day, at an animal market, in Wuhan China, in December 2019, it mutated and made the jump from animal to people. At first, only animals could give it to a person… But here is the scary part…. in just TWO WEEKS it mutated again and gained the ability to jump from human to human. Scientists call this quick ability, “slippery”
This Coronavirus, not being in any form a “human” virus (whereas we would all have some natural or acquired immunity). Took off like a rocket. And this was because, Humans have no known immunity…doctors have no known medicines for it.
And it just so happens that this particular mutated animal virus, changed itself in such a way the way that it causes great damage to human lungs..
That’s why Coronavirus is different from seasonal flu, or H1N1 or any other type of influenza…. this one is slippery AF. And it’s a lung eater…And, it’s already mutated AGAIN, so that we now have two strains to deal with, strain s, and strain L….which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine.
We really have no tools in our shed, with this. History has shown that fast and immediate closings of public places has helped in the past pandemics. Philadelphia and Baltimore were reluctant to close events in 1918 and they were the hardest hit in the US during the Spanish Flu.
Factoid: Henry VIII stayed in his room and allowed no one near him, till the Black Plague passed…(honestly…I understand him so much better now). Just like us, he had no tools in his shed, except social isolation…
And let me end by saying…. right now it’s hitting older folks harder… but this genome is so slippery…if it mutates again (and it will). Who is to say, what it will do next.
Be smart folks… acting like you’re unafraid is so not sexy right now.
#flattenthecurve. Stay home folks… and share this to those that just are not catching on.

This is Dr. Bob speaking now.

Since this immunologist provided this explanation it has gotten worse. 20% of COVID deaths are in the 20-64 year old age group.

I have been in contact with physicians and nurses with boots on the ground in many states. They work in ICUs and ERs. The back-log for testing is 10 days in many areas. Quest and LabCorp cannot handle the volume and in some places they are not accepting new swabs for testing. Our data are therefore behind by a few weeks so reports that CDC provides are looking at the past, not the present. South KOREA,  a much smaller country has done more tests than in the US and by virtue of immediate effective action (early social distancing, stay-at-home, widespread testing, public health teams tracking down contacts and placing them in quarantine, etc) they have flattened the curve.

Fortunately a company has developed a rapid test with turn-around time of 45 minutes. FDA approved it. Production expected to hit the market soon. Hopefully it can be in use soon which will give more accurate information.

In the US some anti-science governors have still not instituted minimally effective measures to flatten the curve. (example Florida)

Spring break college students who went to Florida to party were eventually sent home (after great pressure on the governor by critics) and have delivered the virus to their family and friends at home. Remote body temperature monitoring data showed high rates of fever in Florida during spring break.

But today, as of 12 noon,  Florida did not show RED so the spring break dissolution and social distancing may be having an effect.

Stay at home and practice social distancing. Tips from two Stanford doctors/researchers provided in previous post.


Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob

CIVID-19 Groceries, Mail, Cleaning, Practical Information.

Ultraviolet Light Kills Viruses and Bacteria and it is “free”.


But we do not know whether exposing clothing and other articles to outdoor light will kill COVID-19. So washing machine + Dryer is the best advice unless you have a medically approved UV sanitizing device. Soap and hot/warm water works.


Viruses are not really “alive” in the sense that bacteria, parasites, algae are alive but they can cause great harm. For the rest of this discussion “alive” and “dead” in reference to harmful viruses will refer to “probably infectious/viable” and “not probably infectious/viable”.

A Stanford professor and viral researcher posted how he goes about grocery shopping and engaging in other tasks. His comments are worth considering.

You can find them here.

These are some of his salient points.

A recently published paper in the NEJM studied viable virus duration on various surfaces.

Copper – no viable COVID-19 after 4 hours
Cardboard – no viable COVID-19 after 24 hours
Stainless steel – no viable COVID-19 after 48 hours
Plastic – no viable COVID-19 after 72 hours
Not tested – glass, rubber, clothing, carpeting, tile, wood, stone, paper, and foods. No documented food transmission, cooked or uncooked, has been reported to my knowledge.

From Dr. Utz:

It is important to understand several things about these numbers:
–    The virus decay over time is “exponential”. 
o    This means that half of the virus on stainless steel is dead after 5.6 hours, and half of virus on plastic is dead after 6.8hours.
o    So for stainless steel at 24 hours, only about 5% is still alive. For plastic at 24 hours only about 10% is still alive. That’s not much. With hand washing and not touching eyes, ears or nose, my personal interpretation for typical exposure out in the community is that there is not much to worry about.
–    The studies were done under very controlled conditions – room temperature and 40% humidity.
–    There is no way to know what happens in fridges and freezers. 
–    It is thought that warmer weather and sunlight make it harder for viruses like this to survive.
–    The data on cardboard was “noisy”, that is was more variable, and should be interpreted with caution.

Here is Professor Utz’s practical tips.

–    Assume public surfaces could be contaminated. Wipe down surfaces, like door handles, gas pumps, and keyboards. Use Purell, wash hands frequently, and don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless you have washed your hands. Gloves are really not needed in the community. Healthcare workers on the front lines need gloves way more than any of us. Our risks are extremely low if we follow the guidance.
–    Assume the virus can be aerosolized (the length of time in air is still being studied and is very hard to estimate given all of the variables in the community). Minimizing time in closed spaces with others in the public, and staying 6 feet apart is good practice and reduces this risk greatly. Personally, I only used an N95 mask once last week in a massively overcrowded grocery store. The mask I used was from my garage that I have used for years when sanding my decks. Again, healthcare workers on the front lines need masks way more than any of us. Moreover, unless properly trained, the masks don’t work and can even increase your risk if in a high-risk environment like a hospital ICU (but not uncrowded places like stores – these are low risk places). The same with gloves – most people don’t know how to properly put them on and take them off, potentially increasing the risk of getting the virus to aerosolize. MGH sent out an email this morning about this topic. They described how to use masks if on the front lines, and how to clean them in the event there is a shortage (a worrisome message). The take home point is that we don’t need masks, but our caregivers and first responders do. Donate unused masks if asked. The MGH video is here:
–    There have not been any documented cases of food transmission. We should assume for now that we should be washing fresh food as usual, and preparing food hygienically.
–    Based on available data, I personally am doing the following (again, this is not a recommendation, just a description of my approach):
o    At grocery stores. I try to get in and out as quickly as I can. I used to go to our local store almost daily, but now go every 4-5 days to buy for several households. This means going in with a list of only what is needed. I keep my 6 foot distancing. I don’t wear gloves or mask. I go alone and if I had kids I’d not bring them in the store (yes, I still am seeing this happen – parents should STOP). If the store is crowded, I come back when it is not crowded. I pay with a credit card and not cash. After shopping I take the cart out to the car and then load into my own canvas bags myself. (Note some stores in our area are now banning customers bringing in their own bags). I bring the groceries home and unload them on the porch (that is, I don’t bring the bags in the house and I don’t place them on my kitchen floor like I used to do). I deliver to some at risk relatives and friends and just leave the bags on the front porch and text them to grab them. When I am done unpacking groceries, I leave the bags out in the sun and consider them OK to use again when I shop again 4-5 days later.
o    At restaurants. I am now starting to get take out again regularly. The restaurants clearly need the business. I distance myself, pay with a credit card, carry to my car, unload like I do for groceries, and I transfer food to plates (ie I don’t eat from containers). 
o    Delivery. Many people are using delivery services which is one way to cut exposure at grocery stores and restaurants completely, and to provide income to drivers. 
o    When returning home from work or these rare outings.
§    We have always had a “no shoe rule” in our home because we work in hospitals and have no idea what is on the floor. 
§    For those who do wear shoes in the house – based on the data in the NEJM paper, it sees unlikely that enough virus would land on the floor, then get transmitted to shoes, then somehow make it to the mouth, eyes or nose and cause an infection. Since carpeting has not been tested in studies yet, there is no way to know for sure. 
§    For days where we are in the clinics or in a crowded grocery store only, we change clothes and shower when we get home out of an abundance of caution. How long the virus can remain in clothing, and whether it is transmissible, is not known and is hard to study. Follow the CDC guidelines:
§    We wash hands regularly, and particularly after unloading new purchases. And before, during and after preparing and eating food.
§    We wipe down cell phones, and we use speaker phone wherever possible so we don’t get the cell phone close to our face.
§    And to end with some levity, we don’t bite our nails, apply cosmetics while pumping gas (I observed this last week, I kid you not), pick our noses, or pick other people’s noses.

Some information on disinfectants from Michael Lin PhD-MD:

• Hand sanitizer is just 60-70% ethanol with moisturizers.
• The ethanol you want to use is 95% non-denatured ethanol
– 95% denatured ethanol has toxic additives to prevent drinking (will have a health hazard logo).
– 100%/dehydrated/absolute/anhydrous ethanol has benzene, also toxic, from the purification process.
• Isopropanol can be substituted for ethanol, but just takes longer to evaporate
– 60-70% isopropanol is just as effective as 60-70% ethanol as a disinfectant.
– 99-100% isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) can be purchased by the consumer as a cleaning and disinfecting agent.
• The moisturizer can be aloe vera gel (available in drugstores) or glycerol (a common lab reagent, and an ingredient in moisturizers and makeup).
Lin Lab recipe: Mix two parts 95% non-denatured ethanol or 99-100% isopropanol with 1 part aloe vera gel or 90-100% glycerol. That’s it!

Hygiene recommendations from Dr. Lin:

• Don’t shake hands and stay 6 ft away from people outside your household – these are easy.
• But ”wash your hands often” and “don’t touch your face” are confusing without context – how often is often? Why can’t I touch my face? Should I ask someone to scratch my itchy nose for me? Shouldn’t I also worry about what I’m touching, not just my hands? If so, what cleaning solutions should I use?
• I’ll provide some details. I treat hands and objects similarly, and I am pretty strict:
– To protect yourself, sanitize your hands right before eating and right after touching things touched by others.
– To protect others, use clean hands to touch others’ things or when handling things to others.
– Sanitize objects you get, and only give out sanitized objects. For example, I have hand sanitizer open and ready to clean my credit card right after I get them back from cashiers, before I put it back in my wallet.
– Outside your house, sanitize smooth surfaces you will touch directly with your hands (e.g. tables and chair edges, wherever you put your phone and computer).
– I keep track of whether hands/objects are clean. As long as they have not encountered unknown/dirty things after their last cleaning, they don’t need to be recleaned. This is why I suggest immediate sanitation of hands after touching unknown/dirty things, so you can resume using your clean things without worry.
– You can open doors with your body or foot, and use paper towels to handle faucets or knobs.
– Create clean zones – your house, your office (if you’re allowed to work), your car.
– Sanitization can be done by soap and water (hands) or hand sanitizer (hands or objects) or Windex (objects).
– “Disinfectants” like bleach or quaternary amines are for large areas for which soap (due to the need to rinse) or alcohol (due to fumes, expense) are not practical. If you can use soap or alcohol, you don’t need them.
– Finally, if your hands are clean, you can touch your face! But remember to sanitize them before you touch other people’s stuff.

Because this information is practical I have created a separate page on this website to include it’s contents.


Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob

Follow up to Letter from Front Line Doctor post and more

After posting the letter from an ER doc who eloquently expressed the danger, concerns, and most importantly, call for action I realized that some explanation for the lay person is necessary.

Intubation is the placement of a breathing tube into the windpipe for a person in respiratory failure. During the procedure the doctor and all providers in the immediate area are in a very high risk situation because the droplets filled with billions of virus can become aerosolized. I previously explained the difference between spread by droplet vs aerosol. Droplets fall to the floor and surfaces where virus can be infectious for hours. But when aerosolized, the virus remains suspended in the air for hours and anyone entering the area can become infected by simply breathing the air.

During intubation the doctor has his/her face inches from the patients mouth and nose. During this procedure droplets can become aerosolized. Even wearing a perfectly fitting N95 mask, goggles, gown, gloves the doctor (and those assisting) is/are not completely protected.

I received a warning letter from an ENT surgeon at Stanford, warning colleagues about cases of ENT and Neuro-surgery (endoscopic surgery through the nose) where despite FULL PPE, all practitioners in the operating room became infected and  surgeons have died. The ENT surgeon warned that PPE with N-95 mask was not fully protective and recommended PAPRs be used (Powered, Air Purifying Respirators.) Here is what the surgeon reported he received from his international colleagues:

“All 14 people who came in and out of the OR during that case became infected. He saw this repeat with other endoscopic cases

He has also shared that a significant number of doctors who died in China were ENTs and Ophthalmologists, possibly due to the high viral shedding from the nasal cavity. This has now been confirmed in the media as well.[i]


All 14 people who entered and left the operating room during the surgery became infected despite wearing PPE!!!!!!!!!!

“we have additionally heard from Iran that at least 20 ENTs are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with 20 more in isolation at home.” 

Although SARs had a higher mortality rate, IT WAS NOT AS CONTAGIOUS.

This demonstrates how contagious this virus can be, and that was early on in China and Iran, before it mutated. Mutations can make the virus more contagious and more lethal. There has already been a SECOND STRAIN IDENTIFIED.

In my career I have performed more than 10,000 intubations. Many under emergency circumstances. Donning full PPE correctly takes time and when in a hurry the N95 mask may not be perfectly fitted. (WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW)

Although I have intubated people with sepsis and TB under emergency conditions, I have never been exposed to the level of danger that doctors and other providers around the world are now experiencing. The PPE (personal protection equipment) is already running short in hot zones. Many hospitals are a few days away from running out. MANY PROVDERS are reusing PPE that is not meant to be reused.

AS more doctors, nurses, and techs become infected (which is inevitable) there will be less personnel to care for patients so MORTALITY RATES WILL INCREASE.

This has not been factored into the epidemiologic models and projections.

Temporary emergency hospital tents are great, but useless without personnel. There is a limited # of ICU and ER doctors, nurses and techs. And they all need PPE.

That is why flattening the curve is so important.

That is why folks who ignore the behavioral guidelines are reckless and endangering others in the community and in hospitals.

We need to hear this every day from Doctors like FAUCI.

Misinformation from uninformed and anti-science politicians is tragically harmful.


Ventilators are useless without doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists to manage them. So production of ventilators is futile unless PPE are prioritized, WHICH HAS NOT YET HAPPENED. Shortages abound and the executive branch has not coordinated the private sector in addressing production and distribution. Instead leaving it up to the MARKET!

This has been described as a WAR, but we are not mobilizing the way we did during WW2. Mobilization requires central coordination, not bidding wars between states and hospitals for PPE, bleach and other sanitizers.

Here is the link to AN instructional video on donning PPE. Watch how long it takes and the steps required to achieve proper fit and seal for the N95 mask. Now imagine doing that while a patient is blue/hypoxic, or in cardiac and/OR respiratory arrest.



Later I will post practical precautions for groceries, mail, gas stations etc. A separate page on this website will document that.

I will also create a COVID 19 page with cut and pasted excerpts from documents as well as links to informative documents, videos and websites.


I do not wish to create or contribute to panic, if you follow the recommendations of shelter in place and social distancing and follow good hygiene you and everyone around you will be MUCH SAFER. I merely want to emphasize why flattening the curve and following recommendations are so important. The more people comply, the shorter will be the time when we can prudently start to return incrementally to normal activity.

Testing still remains inadequate with backlogs of 10 days in hot zones. So the information we are getting on # of cases is almost 2 weeks behind what is out there and even if we had 45 minute turn around, the testing kits are being rationed. So we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. And that will be the UNFORTUNATE situation for a while.

Although we have seen TOO LITTLE TOO LATE, we can still flatten the curve by following recommended practices. We can still save lives, prevent disability and suffering, and get to a point where we can return to a more “normal” life. The longer we wait for every state to institute necessary measures (Florida is an example of inadequate measures) the longer will be our restrictions.

Remember, you can boost your immune system by getting adequate restorative sleep, rest, exercise, sunshine, stress reduction and eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Avoid alcohol (which impairs your immune system) and quit smoking. You can help prepare your body to mitigate a cytokine storm by increasing in your cell membranes, the omega 3 marine fats (EPA and DHA) which are the precursors for RESOLVINS that help regulate the inflammatory response. The inflammatory response is protective but when out of control it can be lethal in the ICU or on your way to the hospital. Your body’s defense systems can be optimized by eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in nutrients that support immunity and regulate inflammation. A healthy diet can only be beneficial. All of these measures can be practiced while sheltering in place and practicing social distancing.


Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob