‘Rona Virus – Efficacy and Straws

Straw efficacy: Tim Horton’s has retired their red plastic straws. In my ranking system, these straws had a 95% efficacy at removing the contents of a Tim Horton’s Iced Capp. The new white cardboard straw has only a 90% efficacy because it is wider than the ‘valley’ that holds the “good to the last drop” stuff at the bottom of the cup. The red straw has a 100% efficacy rate for durability. The white paper straw has a 75% efficacy rate because it starts to get squishy about 3/4 of the way through the drink.

The word ‘efficacy’ is very old. It dates back to the 1200’s! It didn’t enter my consciousness until this year, when the term was used in relation to COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccine Efficacy
A vaccine with an efficacy rate of, say 85%, means it demonstrated in trials that it could reduce moderate to severe disease by 85%. To do that, the vaccines initiated an immune response that  reduced the number of viruses in the lower respiratory tract. To date, the vaccines are not believed to be sterilizing vaccines that completely stop the virus in the upper respiratory tract too.

In time, the vaccine may prove to be a sterilizing vaccine in some or most of the population. Until then, some governments, such as the one in my province, explain the vaccine in terms of effectiveness in preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19′.

Here is an excellent explanation of the Covid Vaccine: University of Colorado.

What about Mask Efficacy?

I somehow doubt there will be a mask efficacy rating for the products used by the general public during Covid. There are simply too many variables – material, fit, care in use; indoors vs outdoors; social distancing and other factors limiting people’s activities;  age, immunity, viral load and length of exposure of participants… Analyzing masking is going to be either a statisticians dream or nightmare.

In preparation for the (hopefully) soon removal of mask mandates, last week I performed a small test on public perception of an unmasked person (me). I had to drop a sample off at a medical lab. I walked two car lengths across a parking lot, stood in an outside lineup of one (me) for about two minutes then handed the sample (while still outside) to the masked attendant who, by protocol, stepped outside to receive it.

While I was being a line of one, there was, for a few seconds, a lineup of two – another ‘client’ arrived. Unlike me, she was masked. When the attendant moved to the door to summons me, the masked lady behind me swiftly moved forward to try to hand her item to the attendant. As she came up beside me, she suddenly drew back. I don’t know whether it was because she saw I was unmasked or whether she realized that I was handing a sample to the attendant too.

Either way, I didn’t learn anything about public perception because the attendant and the client were masked – I couldn’t read anything in their faces.

Efficacy of the Virus

Efficacy isn’t actually the term used to describe Covid mortality – it is called  Case fatality. In both Canada and the USA it is 1.8%. There are, however, an unknown number of people who have had Covid, but were not diagnosed with it, which drops the case fatality rate by some unknown amount. The fatality rate in terms of the entire population are .07% for Canada and .18% for the United States.

I’m hoping we aren’t invaded by a new and more deadly variant so that our province  can move towards full removal of restrictions by the end of June… inshallah…

6 thoughts on “‘Rona Virus – Efficacy and Straws

    1. Fortunately I have been saving the red straws. I suppose eventually it will be impossible to buy a plastic straw anymore.
      I’m waiting for some creative type to draw funny variants for other countries!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This was helpful, as I seem to default the definition of “efficacy” to “effectiveness”. Not quite the same thing.


    1. The Mayo Clinic explains the two terms this way: efficacy refers to the capacity to produce an effect. However, measuring efficacy is done in a controlled environment under expert supervision such as a controlled clinical trial.
      Effectiveness is the term used to describe the real-world use of a drug.
      The biggest confusion about the vaccine, it seems to me, is that people are either being misled, or don’t understand, that the vaccine probably does not give a person complete immunity.


  2. Honestly, Margy, it can’t come fast enough. This whole pandemic is getting on my last nerve, and I also know that I have nerve saying that because I haven’t experienced the horrors that many have. I don’t know how so many true victims are keeping it together. I guess many aren’t, and I don’t blame them.


    1. I think reopening is going to be a bit of a gong show. There will be those who can’t wait to tear off the masks, hug and get on with life. There will be others who are still very fearful. I expect there will be a few clashes because of this, which won’t help the people who are already the victims of the unintended consequences of lock downs, etc.


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