COVID19 mini-update, September 29, 2020: anti-bacterial T-cells linked to severe COVID-19; false positive RT-PCR tests

(1) (Via instapundit). Researchers at Sweden’s premier biomedical research center, the Karolinska Institute: “Strong activation of anti-bacterial T cells linked to severe COVID-19

cells are a type of white blood cells that are specialized in recognizing infected cells, and are an essential part of the immune system. About 1 to 5 percent of T cells in the blood of healthy people consist of so-called MAIT cells (mucosa-associated invariant T cells), which are primarily important for controlling bacteria but can also be recruited by the immune system to fight some viral infections.

In this study, the researchers wanted to find out which role MAIT cells play in COVID-19 disease pathogenesis. They examined the presence and character of MAIT cells in blood samples from 24 patients admitted to Karolinska University Hospital with moderate to severe COVID-19 disease and compared these with blood samples from 14 healthy controls and 45 individuals who had recovered from COVID-19. Four of the patients died in the hospital.

The results show that the number of MAIT cells in the blood decline sharply in patients with moderate or severe COVID-19 and that the remaining cells in circulation are highly activated, which suggests they are engaged in the immune response against SARS-CoV-2.

“The findings of our study show that the MAIT cells are highly engaged in the immunological response against COVID-19,” Johan Sandberg says. “A likely interpretation is that the characteristics of MAIT cells make them engaged early on in both the systemic immune response and in the local immune response in the airways to which they are recruited from the blood by inflammatory signals. There, they are likely to contribute to the fast, innate immune response against the virus. In some people with COVID-19, the activation of MAIT cells becomes excessive and this correlates with severe disease.”

(2) “Casey”, a contact on FB asked about PCR running abnormally high numbers of amplification cycles—up to 45—and whether that isn’t basically “running until you test positive”. “Lissa K.” points to this NYT (!) piece which I’ve had on the blog earlier, “Your test is positive — maybe it shouldn’t be” and at least one senior doctor in Israel, Dr. Amir Shachar who runs the Emergency Medicine department at Laniado in Netanya, has said the same about our own labs. Jordan Schachtel discusses the false positives for NFL players found this way (and eventually set aside). From an interview with the NFL Chief Medical Officer (screenshot from the article):

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(3) The more I see of our new Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein, the more he strikes me as a “Politruk”. He is probably more responsible for the mess we are in now than anybody else on the political level. Had he not fought tooth and nail to keep “track and trace” under the auspices of a health machinery that clearly was overwhelmed, and had this been transferred to the IDF months ago over Edelstein’s veto, methinks we could have dammed in our current outbreak much earlier.

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