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A plan of a call centre divided into three parallel rows with the seats of coronavirus cases marked.  Most people on one side of the floor and only a handful on the other side were infected due to the area of stairs, elevators, and washrooms in between
From figure 2

This is a commonplace book to organize the most important, useful, and long-term reliable information and data sources I have found. Because the situation is constantly changing, this is not the easiest read. Check out data and rigorous analysis, policy advocacy, status reports, preparation, hygene, humour, and unsorted or just browse.

My commonplace book includes German, some Italian, and English resources and focuses on Austria and Canada which are the countries most important to me.

I have met many many thinky talky universitied people who as of early May 2020 do not know things about this virus which were easily available in English in March2020 such as “if sufficient hospital resources are available, the fatality rate in a typical rich-country demographics is around 0.5%; if sufficient hospital resources are not available it is several percent.” These key facts do not seem to be controversial amongst experts in epidemic disease. Agnotology is a useful word; neither the old media nor the social media which replaced them are good at spreading the key facts and ways of thinking which let you make use of daily news.

I am not a medical doctor or a health scientist but annotated bibliographies are how I organize things I am learning! I believe I know more about COVID-19 than some people, but everyone likes their own opinions. So please, please do not take me as an authority, just as someone who is putting his notes on the Internet.

Data and Rigorous Analysis

a log chart of deaths from covid-19 over time by thirteen countries in the North Atlantic and West Pacific regions
If you want one figure which shows the massive failures of governments in the North Atlantic and western Europe, this will do it (from Our World in Data). In a global perspective, the difference between countries in this region which handled the pandemic better or worse than each other is far smaller than between them on average and countries in the west and south Pacific on average. These countries are so diverse that they burst through any attempts to special plead them away like a catapult bolt through a rotten plank.

On 18 December 2022 I decided to break this list down into categories with subjects in bold.

Very early studies often focused on the reproduction number of COVID-19 (how many people the average infected person infected). There were also debates about the mechanism of transmission (by touch, or mainly through the air?)

  • Jinghua Li et al., “Estimation of the epidemic properties of the 2019 novel coronavirus: A mathematical modeling study,” medRxiv, 20 February 2020 {estimates that in China, this virus has R0, the number of people each infected person infects, around 4 not 2-3 as many Anglos were still saying in March … epidemic flu is around 1.3-1.5, by 31 March 2020 after two weeks of shutting down nonessential business and three weeks of closing universities the government of Austria estimated a R0 of 1.7 (Beiglböck et al.)
  • Nishiura et al. (Mar 3, 2020). “Closed environments facilitate secondary transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)” Pre-print released 28 February 2020 {again, ignored well into May 2020 as busybodies shouted at people meeting outside}
  • Rothe et al., “Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany,” 5 March 2020 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2001468schol {another major warning bell: it is much easier to contain a disease if people get sick and stay in bed rather than continuing their lives}
  • Science for the People Coronavirus {interview with a virologist on 15 March which contains most of the facts about this disease available to the public as of 24 March!}
  • van Doremalen et al., “Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1”, 17 March 2020 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973
  • Mathias Beiglböck, Philipp Grohs, Joachim Hermisson, Magnus Nordborg, Walter Schachermayer, Experten-Stellungnahme zur COVID19 Krise vom 30.3.2019 (English executive summary v. 2 dated 31 March at {estimates that the reproduction number of the virus in Austria was still 1.7 after two weeks of closing all nonessential businesses and three weeks of limited closure}
  • Ramanan Laxminarayan et al., “Epidemiology and transmission dynamics of COVID-19 in two Indian states,” Science, 30 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1126/science.abd7672 {“No positive contacts were identified for 70.7% of index cases for whom reliable contact-tracing data, including test results, were available.” In other words, 70% of known cases in two Indian provinces were not in contact with anyone else who was subsequently diagnosed}
  • SORA: COVID-19 Prävalenz (10 April 2020)

There were also many debates in 2020 about experimental treatments such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquinine. These are too far from my areas of expertise and my social circles to collect (many enthusiasts were in the USA and very reluctant to wear a mask), but for example of how debunkers could be bunked:

As of December 2022, its my impression that most doctors have never recommended using hydroxychloroquinine to prevent or treat COVID, but this particular study used data which can not be verified. Even more than anything else on this page, listen to medical doctors and health scientists before undertaking any medical treatment!

The reliability of public health statistics for COVID is a sad topic, especially as governments in the North Atlantic began minimizing the pandemic from summer 2021 to spring 2022.

  • Gilmour, S. et al. “A Bayesian estimate of the underreporting rate for COVID-19 based on the experience of the Diamond Princess cruise ship.” [Submitted]. Bull World Health Organ. E-pub: 12 March 2020. doi: {based on experience with the cruise ship Diamond Princess, argues that China is identifying and reporting about 10% of infected people}
  • Icelandic Ministry of Health, “Large scale testing of general population in Iceland underway,” 15 March 2020 {about 10% of people in Iceland tested through the health care system, and 0.86% of the population in a random sample, tested positive in the middle of March. This would imply that about 3000 people in Iceland were infected at that date, but as of 27 March only a thousand have been identified … false positives may explain part of the difference}
  • Ferguson et al., “Impact of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) to Reduce COVID-19 Mortality and Healthcare Demand,” Imperial College London, 16 March 2020 DOI:
  • Claudio Cancelli, Luca Foresti, Coronavirus, studio su Nembro: «Il numero vero di morti è almeno 4 volte quello ufficiale» Corriere della Sera (Milan), 25 March 2020 (Italian version and English version) {“Nembro, one of the municipalities most affected by Covid-19, should have had – under normal conditions – about 35 deaths. 158 people were registered dead this year by the municipal offices. But the number of deaths officially attributed to Covid-19 is 31”}
  • Oriol Güell, “El coronavirus causa más muertes de las detectadas,” El País (Madrid), 28 March 2020 {official statistics show coronavirus doubling the normal death rate, but 3-5 times as many deaths from all causes are being registered as a year before}
  • “Coronavirus: Sechs von 1.161 Stichproben in Österreichs Schlüsselberufen positiv,” Oberösterriechisches Volksblatt, 2 April 2020 {of 1,161 workers in supermarkets, care homes and hospitals tested on 29/30 March, six tested positive on 29/30 March, a rate of 5 per 1000. At that date, about 1 person per 1000 population in Austria had been diagnosed with covid-10}
  • Bommer, C. and Vollmer, S. (2020) “Average detection rate of SARS-CoV-2 infections is estimated around six percent,” 2 April 2020 {uses the somewhat-reliable figures for deaths, and the somewhat-more-reliable data on death rates among infected people by age, to estimate what the number of deaths in a given country imply about the number of cases 14 days earlier: they estimate that 1% of the population of Austria was infected on 31 March 2020}
  • Adelina Comas-Herrera and Jose-Luis Fernandez, unpublished report summarized in The Guardian (May 2020) The rate of excess deaths in old-age homes in the UK from 13 March to 1 May is 2.5 times the Office of National Statistics figure for deaths in old-age homes due to coronavirus “from 13 March to 1 May, there were 19,938 “excess deaths” in care homes – that is above the average number of deaths for the same weeks in the previous five years. Only 8,310 of these were specifically linked to Covid-19 by the ONS”
  • BC COVID-19 Modelling Group argues that BC continues to have a high rate of unexplained excess deaths since removing public health measures in spring and summer 2022; COVID causes damage to all parts of the body so its plausible that infection would lead to increased risk o of death in the months after recovery
  • Patrick Beane, “Insurance executive says death rates among working-age people up 40 percent,” WFYI PBS Indianapolis, 3 January 2022

Many public health authorities in the North Atlantic were slow to admit that COVID-19 mainly transmits through aerosols in the air. This turns out to date to a taboo which fixed during the 1919 flu pandemic.

  • Emanuel Goldman, “Exaggerated Risk of transmission of Covid-19 by fomites,” The Lancet Infectious Diseases 3 July 2020 {argues that there is very little evidence of transmission of the virus by patient to object to patient, while air transmission is well documented}
  • Randall, Katherine and Ewing, E. Thomas and Marr, Linsey and Jimenez, Jose and Bourouiba, Lydia, “How Did We Get Here: What Are Droplets and Aerosols and How Far Do They Go? A Historical Perspective on the Transmission of Respiratory Infectious Diseases” (15 April 2021)
  • Megan Molteni, “The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill.” Wired: Backchannel, 13 May 2021 {on the research by Lindsey Marr, Katie Randall, Tom Ewing, Jose-Luis Jimenez, and Yuguo Li which convinced public health authorities to admit in May 2021 what had been proposed by January 2020 and known by May 2020 that the virus spreads through aerosols (ie. is airborne as public-health officials define it) so the rule ‘keep six feet apart whether indoors or outdoors’ which protects people from droplets does not protect people from infection}

My mid-2020 it was known that the most effective ways of infection control are avoiding crowded indoor spaces, ventilating and filtering the air in those spaces, and having people wear masks over their nose and mouth in those spaces. Unfortunately, the vaccines which became available in 2021 were not effective at reducing transmission.

Public health messaging is a particularly depressing topic.

  • Bruce Y. Lee, “#COVIDIsAirborne Trend, Questioning CDC Director’s Tweet on Covid-19 Precautions,” Forbes, 29 October 2022 forbes website (script blockers recommended) {over the course of 2022, Anglo public health services started minimizing any public health measures against COVID except handwashing and voluntary vaccination and presented practices such as wearing an effective mask in shared spaces as a personal choice rather than a choice that affects others’ health}
  • Brishti Basu, “Most BC residents think pandemic was not managed well: independent review. Less than 20% of survey respondents trusted COVID-19 information shared by the government.” Capital Daily, 2 December 2022

Lucky Tran, PhD, an organizer for the March for Science and a science communicator at Columbia University, pointed out that Walensky’s tweet didn’t even mention two key precautions against airborne viruses: face mask use and air ventilation/filtration. While getting an updated Covid-19 vaccine will help decrease your risk of more severe Covid-19 outcomes, it’s not going to prevent the virus from entering your nose or mouth. The only way the Covid-19 vaccine could possibly block the virus from entering your nose is if you were to shove multiple vaccine syringes up your nostrils, which you shouldn’t do for both safety and aesthetic reasons.

  • I would like a study of the origins of the talking point immunity debt to explain why many people and especially children got sick or died as public health measures were removed. Two alternative explanations are that some of those public health measures work and that COVID weakens your immune system so survivors are more vulnerable to other infections. A journalistic essay on the topic (so one which does not really belong in this section) is (USA focus and framing). As far as I can tell from a Google Books search, up to 2019 the term was a technical term in finance not in medicine or public health.

CO2 monitors or detectors use the fact that when people breathe out virus, they also breathe out carbon dioxide. CO2 is not a perfect proxy for your exposure to viruses (eg. fires also cause high CO2, and air can be filtered or sterilized to remove viruses but not CO2) but it is relatively simple to measure. High CO2 causes headaches and impacts cognititive function, so it is dangerous per se. As of December 2022, two models which are often talked about are Aranet 4 (CAD 325 on Amazon) and Vitalight Mini (CAD 50 on Amazon). I can’t find any reviews which test them in an artificial atmosphere with known concentration of CO2, but two journalistic reviews are:

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Germicidal ultraviolet lights / ultraviolet-C irradiation / Far-UVC has been used since the 1930s and offers the possibility of sterilizing air without exchanging it. People in China have been especially active in experimenting with them because many Chinese live in crowded buildings where air moves easily between apartments. Two optimistic articles about this technology are:

A problem is that indoor air today is full of fossil fuel based chemicals and germicidal ultraviolet breaks them down into smog which also causes serious health problems. Prof. Jose-Luis Jimenez has some back-of-the-envelope calculations of the risk at

If I had different skills, there would be some big philosophical things to say about different expectations of evidence (eg. is it good enough to have theoretical arguments that wearing a properly fitted CAN99 mask reduces your risk of spreading or becoming infected with COVID, or do we need studies of masks used by ordinary people in ordinary environments? Anyone who talks to sexual health advocates will know similar debates about birth control measures in theory v. birth control measures used by ordinary busy excited people).

Although official death rates from COVID have been higher in 2022 than in 2021, since spring 2022 most North Atlantic governments are encouraging people not to take infection control measures just get vaccinated. this coincided with a massive propaganda campaign in the Anglo media against China for daring to control COVID (China’s handling of the pandemic can be criticized in every way except that it kept people in China from getting infected and dying until it changed in December 2022). Some information on the continuing risk even to vaccinated people:

  • “COVID-19 was third leading cause of death in the United States in both 2020 and 2021,” National Institutes of Health (USA), 5 July 2022 {“in 2020, COVID-19 was the fourth and fifth leading cause of death among people ages 45–54 and 35–44, respectively. But in 2021, COVID-19 became the first and second leading cause of death in these age groups. Among those 85 and older, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death in 2020, but dropped to third in 2021, likely because of targeted vaccination efforts in this age group.”}

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Policy Advocacy

This week, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kieran Moore, urged the public to wear masks amidst the crushing pressure on the province’s ERs and children’s hospitals. Just days later, he was spotted maskless at a party: he was being honored at a “Most Influential People” gathering. He earned his place on the list for, yes really, “keeping COVID under control.” 

It might shock a liberal in 2020 that two years after mocking such behavior, they would, themselves, resort to anti-mask propaganda in service of our “back to normal” COVID non-response. At the start of COVID, headlines in prominent papers patiently explained, for the slow and right-wing among us, that no, masks can’t harm your immune system. But that was two years ago! Two years and two eugenicist administrations (in the USA) later, maybe masks DO harm your immune system!

  • Smriti Mallapaty, “China COVID wave could kill one million people, models predict: Boosting vaccination rates, widespread mask use and reimposing some restrictions on movement could reduce the number of deaths.” Nature NEWS, 19 December 2022 {lots of handwaving, if China starts handling the pandemic as badly as the USA and UK have handled it we would expect 5 to 10 million deaths by the end of 2023; more Canadians have officially died of COVID in 2022 than 2021 despite the arrival of vaccines}

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Status Reports

I do not recommend Wikipedia, people familiar with statistics from different countries say that theirs do not agree.


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Devi Sridhar, “Why can’t some scientists just admit they were wrong about Covid?” The Guardian, 24 March 2022


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