Letters to editor

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I would like to say that Tillamook County has had no deaths from Covid 19 since January 1, 2020. NO DEATHS in this county. NO DEATHS in our care facilities. Almost a whole year! Isn’t that amazing! I think we should appreciate everyones efforts and pat our selves on the back.

A lock down because of case numbers? What we have is is a lot of positive case numbers that don’t really mean anything. See July 16, 2020, podcast, “This Week in Virology”: (TWiV 219): Dr. Fauci makes a point of saying the PCR COVID test is "useless and misleading when the test is run at “35 cycles or higher. A positive result, indicating infection, cannot be accepted or believed." The FDA has approved PCR tests to run at 35 to 40 cycles. See link to a similar statement from Dr. Fauci at the end of this letter. So that means positive cases are predictable and “cannot be accepted or believed because of the number of cycles run on each test. We know that about 80% people testing positive have mild or no symptoms.” Dr. Fauci says It is not spreadable from a positive test without symptoms because no whole or viable virus is found.

In Florida the governor and his department of public health forced labs to reveal the number of cycles with each PCR test. We could write our commissioners and ask them to see if they could get our health authorities do this. The lockdown should end, businesses could reopen, I am hoping. We have done a good job in Tillamook County. The PCR test does not find a whole virus - just a fragment of a piece of a virus. A fragment cannot cause infection.


-Dixie Gainer, Nehalem


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(2) comments



I hear what you are saying and I’m also grateful that Tillamook County is doing a good job so far. After I read your letter, I went to check out the podcast. (Also, I believe you meant to refer to TWiV episode 641 instead of TWiV 219).

However, it seems like there is confusion in this letter about the PCR tests. A lot of news articles now throw this term around without explaining how it works, so I can see why people might be confused. I used to do PCR in a lab for a living, so I hope I can try to help explain this very briefly for anyone wondering.

----- Regarding the number of cycles in the PCR test:

I'm going to use a pie-eating contest as an analogy for this aspect of the PCR test. Let's say in this contest, you have 35 seconds in which to eat a pie. There are many contestants. A few people can finish the pie in less than 35 seconds. These people “won” the contest. Everyone else can’t finish the pie within 35 seconds. These people “lost” the contest.

The people who finished the pie in 35 seconds or less are like the positive tests. The ones who didn’t finish the pie in 35 seconds are like the negative tests. This is what Dr. Fauci meant when he said the thing about the 35 cycles. He was talking about the people who took longer than 35 seconds to eat the pie, not about how the contest itself lasted for 35 seconds. The fact that the pie-eating contest lasted 35 seconds long doesn’t invalidate the pie-eating contest winners’ results.

----- Regarding this statement: “The PCR test does not find a whole virus - just a fragment of a piece of a virus. A fragment cannot cause infection.”

So this is another aspect of the PCR test, and I’m going to use a different analogy here. Let’s say somebody has a book, and they want you to guess which book it is from a single quote.

The quote is: “Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”

You go to Google and type in this quote. This quote is unmistakably from the book Alice in Wonderland. You go back to tell the person you know which book it is. However, meanwhile that person has been making copies of the book and handing it out to other people.

The quote is like the fragment they are talking about in the PCR test. The PCR test indeed does not look for the whole virus. That would take way too long. However, the fragment it looks for is unique and unmistakably belongs to the COVID virus, like how the quote unmistakably belonged to Alice in Wonderland. This is what they meant when they said you cannot catch the virus from a positive TEST. You can’t read the entire Alice in Wonderland story just from one quote. But the person who gave you that quote does have the entire book. Even if they didn’t read the book themselves (i.e. even if they don’t have symptoms), they are still making copies of the book and handing it out to other people, who in turn may or may not read the book too.

By the way, the fact that you can’t catch the virus from only a small fragment of it is actually how the vaccine works. The vaccine contains a telltale fragment of the virus, just like the quote from the book. When you inject the vaccine into your body, you are telling your body what the quote is. Your body doesn’t know the whole story yet so it doesn’t get sick. However, your body has access to a big Cliff Notes library (your immune system). Based on the quote you gave it, it’s able to prepare a book report on Alice in Wonderland. Now if somebody gives your body the actual book, it recognizes the quote in the book, and it already has the report ready without having to read the entire book (i.e. without getting really sick).

Anyway, these are obviously simplified analogies, but I hope this helps explain the gist of the PCR tests to anyone reading about them. Thank you to everyone who has been helping keep our county safe.


We have been extremely lucky in this county to have had hundreds of COVID cases without any deaths. Even if some test results have been wrong, a number of people have been seriously ill and many others had symptoms not even requiring a test result to confirm, so the virus is definitely spreading within our county. Lifting the lockdown now because you heard some podcast from July is a stupid idea.

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