The leading scientific publication Nature has published a very interesting work by a group of bioinformatics who have learned to predict the true number of people infected with coronavirus, focusing only on the data of decoded genomes, which are laid out in many open databases. It turns out that literally looking at the letters A, U, G and C, of which the RNA genomes of the coronavirus are composed, scientists can say that, for example, in Denmark, one and a half times more people have been ill with covid than registered in official statistics.
Molecular biologist and science journalist Irina Yakutenko comments on this publication on her blog:
“The idea behind this tool (GINPipe) is ingeniously simple. We know how much time the coronavirus spends in the human body until it infects the next one - about 3-5 days. On the other hand, we know how quickly mutations accumulate during the multiplication of viral genomes - with various reservations, this is approximately a constant value. This means that the degree of difference between the genomes laid out in the databases should correlate with the total number of people who are sick right now. The more there are, the more differences there will be, and vice versa.
GINPipe downloads all recent genomes from databases, each of which is stamped with the time of sampling, compares them with each other, determines the number of differences and, based on this data, deduces the size of the population in which the virus has multiplied to accumulate so many differences. Scientists tested their instrument on real data from different countries, were able to reconstruct the dynamics of diseases in the past months, and even found several "microwaves" that were not reflected in real statistics.
This research is especially relevant in connection with the widespread use of rapid antigen tests.
In Russia, they are still a novelty: social networks have been buzzing for many days because of the decision to finally introduce them into schools - a practice successfully used in Europe since the end of summer - but, obviously, the further, the more they will displace PCR...
Antigen tests provide a result in a few minutes, and although they are less sensitive, with regular use, they can detect a significant proportion of all infected. Plus, they identify those who are contagious right now, which is important when testing people who come to an event. But on the other hand, it is more difficult to establish notification of positive results with antigen tests: conditionally, a person bought such a test - in Germany, for example, they cost about 1.5-3 euros and are sold in supermarkets - he saw a positive result and stayed at home for several days. But he did not report him to the authorities, because he does not want to be in quarantine. This is bad, but let's be realistic, many people do it. The tool proposed in the new work allows you to determine the real number of people who have recovered even in the presence of such a constant source of leaks..."
Meanwhile, antigen tests are becoming more and more popular in civilized countries. As the readers of Yakutenko report, these express analyzes allow you to communicate much more calmly with other people. For example, many do such tests before visiting elderly relatives - this significantly reduces the risk of infection.
Plus, don't lose sight of such a simple quality as honesty. One of the commentators writes: “It would never even occur to us in England to remain silent, especially since the tests are free, take them at least in batches. The people have taken root and calmly go to bars and shops without masks. I still cannot part with the mask, somehow I got used to it..."
And another adds: “In Germany, there is still an incentive for the unvaccinated to publish a positive test - it is to get a coronavirus for 6 months, even after serving 10 days in quarantine. Look, in Latvia, they also do covid parties to get sick and get a QR-code..."