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July 25, 2020

Viral Droplets and Aerosols

My opinions about how the virus works is exactly the opposite of nearly every other person, which results in very different policies.

The coronavirus diameter is between 80 and 120 nm.  This qualifies as an 'aerosol'.  The hypothesis behind mask usage is that viral 'droplets' stop airborne spit as the source of contagion.  If the spread of the virus is through aerosols, rather than droplets, then there are important ramifications because

Aerosols penetrate deeply into the lungs, while droplets do not.
Aerosols persist in the air for long periods of time.  
Aerosols mix throughout a room through air diffusion.
Aerosols will not be stopped by most masks.

To get an understanding of aerosols, imagine air fresheners.  Air fresheners such as Febreeze are aerosols, which have similar particle sizes to the coronavirus (see link below).  They write:

"For all of our samples, 82 to 99% of the total number of particles have sizes under 0.3 µm and are thus susceptible to penetrate down to the smallest bronchi and alveoli: for a nose-breathing adult the probability of deposition in the airways of an aerosol with a MMAD of 0.2 µm is of 30% of the inhaled quantity, of which 15 % in alveoli and 3% in the bronchi according to the ICRP model [5]."

Particle Sizes of Aerosols Produced by Nine Indoor Perfumes and Deodorants :: Science Publishing Group
Air fresheners are very popular and their aerosols contain components known to be toxic but we lack data on their penetration in the lungs which is dependent on their particle sizes. Thus we measured the particles sizes of various indoor deodorants and/or perfumes and derived an estimation of their …

Also see Virulence. 2013 Nov 15; 4(8): 847–858.

There is a meme going about that says that face masks are like wearing trousers to stop urine.  I would caution against this sort of simplistic thinking when considering particles much smaller than you can see.  

It's entirely possible that with such small particles, larger 'droplets' are stopped that way, while 'aerosols' are more like urine in a pool.

Do you stay in water when others pee in it, even if you are both wearing swimming bottoms? Small particles in air behave increasingly like fluids - although physics is complicated, so it's best not to assume to much without experiments.

If the first urine test meme was true, then we would see a drop in cases wear masks have been implemented. Israel, Peru, Ecuador, Chile all had masks mandated since March or April, but saw rising cases in June.  California had a mask mandate in June, but saw rising cases in June/July. Arizona has had a drop of cases in recent weeks, despite being the most anti-mask state.

Lung Volume as Circumstantial Evidence

There is a lot of circumstantial evidence that viruses are aerosols. Let's start with who gets and spread disease. Men die more than women from the coronavirus, despite having more antibodies (<– remember this).  Children don't spread it.  Although this has been linked to the prevalance of ACE2 receptors in men, this is incorrect - children have more ACE2 receptors than adults. These ideas have resulted in people treating coronavirus with ACE2 blockers. Men have also been treated with oestrogen to prevent coronavirus. The lack of coronavirus deaths in children seems baffle researchers, which is stupid, because the answer is probably obvious: children have much smaller lungs.   A ten year old has 1/2 to 1/4th the lung capacity of an adult.  

Men will interact more with men than women; women more with women; children more with children. If coronavirus deaths are linked to the size of the lungs of the people around us, and even our own lung sizes to some extent, then the virus must be airborne.  

Here's are two hypotheses:

The amount of coronavirus that a person exhales is proportional to lung capacity

The severity of alveolar damage is proportional to viral load that one breathes in

This theory means that men spread it more than women due to their differences in lung capacity.  It could be even more complicated than lung volume, but this is a decent starting point.

I have more hypotheses, but we have to build up.  Bear with me.

Personally, I've always thought the primary vector was mostly through airborne mechanisms.  I suggested that people wash their hands on facebook because washing hands is 99.99% effective in killing viruses and bacteria.  But also, because people were already panicing. You could see the lockdowns coming. People need something to believe in.  You can see the power of belief.  The belief that the virus transmits by unwashed hands and droplets has led to the facemask policy, which may be more cause more viral spread through viruses living on facemasks.

Part of the reason why aerosols is not promoted is because it creates fear.  If the coronavirus is spread through the air, then no one is safe from it, even in their homes.  If 0.01% of the earth's 7 billion population is producing 200 viruses in each breath, and takes 20,000 breaths per day, then in an day, then there are a quadrillion viruses that have been produced in a 24 hour period.  And if these viruses live in the air with a half life of 2 hours, then there could be 6 billion viruses that are still in the air from yesterday, spreading across the earth.  It's a good thing the earth is large, but that may not prevent the spread.  

Just take this example of Argentinians who caught the virus after being at sea for 35 days.  Perhaps they were carrying it, but more likely, the virus spread throughout the air.

Mystery in Argentina as 57 sailors get coronavirus after 35 days at sea
is trying to solve a medical mystery after 57 sailors were infected with the

Heres another example - 50 years ago people in the Antarctic still caught the "Hong Kong flu" after 17 weeks in isolation.  Viruses spread in the air through aerosols.

An Outbreak of Common Colds at an Antarctic Base after Seventeen Weeks of Complete Isolation on JSTOR
Six of 12 men wintering at an isolated Antarctic base sequentially developed symptoms and signs of a common cold after 17 weeks of complete isolation. Examinati...

It's lucky for us that there we have many more safety mechanisms within our bodies and even societies, or we'd all be dead by airborne viruses now.  My mathematics is overly simplistic here too, but it illustrates the point.  All of what I'm saying throughout this post is still very controversial, so I can't get to many deeper implications and more interesting mathematics.  I'm trying to highlight things to build a base.

The Efficacy of Facemasks

If facemasks were so effective, they would have been pushed much earlier on rather than lockdowns. One of the reasons that facemasks are being pushed now is to provide people with a false sense of security so that they interact within the markets. I am ok with this, although would warn against the long term consequences of children who won't learn to recognize facial expressions, which is important for their future safety.

The pore size of cloth masks is 50 to 500 micrometers.  Remember, the coronavirus diameter is about 100 nanometers. To complicate matters further, a 10 time increase in pore size allows 100 times more particles to get through.  This is because area changes with the square of size.  So, even though an N95 filters out 95% of particles that are at 0.3 microns, it needs to be 9 times more 'efficient' to filter out 95% of viruses that are 0.1 microns.  A danger

Facemasks will provide benefits, but it's important to know what these are, otherwise you'll suggest stupid policies such as suggesting that people wear facemasks at home. It makes sense.  40% of

I also caution against the use of facemasks now when deaths are going down in every northern hemisphere nation (yes, even in the US despite the panic) due to the increase of summer's humidity. This drop of death rates will lead to people believing incorrect assumptions: in places where facemasks are required, people will believe facemasks work; in places where facemasks are not required, people will believe that facemasks don't work.  Facemasks provide some benefit - probably 10-90% in health care environments.  Keep in mind that infectious individuals are spreading billions of viruses, while asymptomatic people with disease would be spreading thousands. Half of a billion is still about a billion, and in no way compares to half a thousand.  For very unlucky individuals, all you need is one virus to start its replication. For most healthy individuals, you need quite a bit more.

So, while facemasks provide some benefit, the huge reduction in

Bill Nye "The Science Guy" promotes face masks in this video below.  

A more appropriate science experiment while vaping is shown here:

In this screen grab, you can see the inefficacy of facemasks in preventing even droplets, even with surgical masks.

Having a tight surgical mask may help, but most won't remain tight if you do any talking.
This is a great way to spread smoke throughout a room

Here's an interesting tidbit: since you can see these smoke particles, they likely clump together into groups larger than 300 nm. Vape particles are 2.5 micrometers, so 20 times larger than coronaviruses.

Air flow is more predictable without masks.

The Effect of Lockdowns

I am absolutely against ALL lockdowns over broad populations over periods of time longer than two weeks.  They did not help according to this Lancet article:

full lockdowns and widespread testing were not associated with reduced COVID-19 mortality

A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes
In this exploratory analysis, low levels of national preparedness, scale of testing and population characteristics were associated with increased national case load and overall mortality.

This is a subject of a much longer post, but I strongly believe that the lockdowns did much, much more harm than good in the short term.  Delayed cancer treatments, suicides, lost business, starvation have all been caused by an overreaction.  

It's almost like an immune system overreacting to a coronavirus that ends up killing its host, when all it had to do is calm down for a bit............  Ahem.  Topics for later, I guess.

Doom and gloom?

Yes, and no.

Unfortunately, you cannot predict whether a person will be susceptible to any virus.  You could have any germ within or on you mutate at any time and kill any person around you. It's unpredictable.  

But we have safety mechanisms.

Children have rapidly developing alveoli, so they can counteract the deoxygenation caused by the virus.  The earlier in life you are exposed to this virus, the higher your chance of survival, although I wouldn't expose newborns to it intentionally.  

There are two mechanisms of action: one is the aerosol, and the other is the droplet.  I have a crazy hypothesis here, and I'm full of them.

Aerosols are more damaging than droplets under high exposure because you have few internal mechanisms to protect yourself at the sensitive alveolar structures.  This is where the viruses can become intracellular and difficult to protect against (see tuberculosis). Please keep in mind that antibodies cannot protect you from intracellular viruses easily without harming yourself. A strong immune response at these points can hurt you.  

Droplet spread is important for obtaining immunity. Viruses in droplets tend to be extracellular, and in groups, which is where your immune system can target and learn to recognize them.

The danger is that most people don't know whether they have been exposed to the correct viruses when younger.  Chicken pox is a virus that affects the young, and immunity tends to stick for life.  If you don't know whether you have had a related virus when young enough (and it looks like most people have some form of immunity), then your chance of death is unpredictable.  I feel safe from basic exposure because I've caved a lot, where bats with similar viruses seem to give off very similar effects, even if it was in the US/Mexico.  I believe I'm immune to the virus in my organs that are not my lungs. In my lungs, I believe the virus will last from anywhere from minutes to hours after exposure, based on the amount of exposure.  I normally think I'm exposed when I'm at the entrances of certain buildings (like McDonald's) and my nose runs heavily and I feel the need to cough. It's not predictable where, probably because human actions are random.

This is such a mess.  I'll try later to take on more fully the effects of the virus, which is simply explained as a lack of oxygen, and the effects of the lockdown, which has horrible implications.

I think there will be a huge panic this winter when people start getting colds again.  People will die from the coronavirus.  If my theories about aerosols are correct above, then a huge implication is that people will have immunity to low doses but not to large doses.  This means there could be an additive effect this winter.  If you haven't been exposed in the summer, then you will have fewer mechanisms to prevent the virus from spreading beyond your lungs in yourself.

There's still quite a bit more to address, but here's a decent public foray into starting to address these things.

I suggest that everyone enjoys this summer, because this winter is going to be a mess.

When everything passes in a few years, I believe our society will be better than before.  We still have very different viruses that is killing humanity due to our both under and over reactions.  

There's a secret message here too? What? Are there secret messages everywhere? Nooooooooo. Maybe. This is Josh Kaggie that you are talking about.