Yesterday, we reported that Greece’s healthcare system is now overwhelmed by the second wave of the coronavirus. The New Democracy government has already admitted the second lockdown came too late. And now the news arrives that health officials are finding evidence the crisis is abating, get this, at sewage treatment plants in Thessaloniki and Athens. Is there any wonder Greeks are ignoring their government now?
According to the story, Aristotle University Rector Nikos Papaioannou claims he thinks the second wave curve will begin to flatten in Thessaloniki “by the middle and toward the end of this week.” The learned Papaioannou’s prognosis came after Greek health officials “read” sewage to discover a lower viral load at both cities. Yes, the Greeks have resorted to reading doo-doo in order to predict the future.
In fairness, tongue out of my cheek, the viral load of a community can be assessed by taking and comparing readings in sewage. Let’s face it, what goes in, must come out, viruses and souvlaki as well. What I find funny (crazy) is that these distinguished politicians, scientists, and oracles of Greece could not ascertain Poo-Poo before? What I mean is, didn’t the Poo Poo Oracle tells these geniuses that the second wave was going tsunami on their asses? Come on.
I know now is probably not the best time to make fun of Greek professors and scientists who are trying to reverse a pandemic, but Papaioannou is joined by Nikos Thomaidis, Professor of Analytical Chemistry at Athens University in relying on sewage instead of common sense. Of course, the report of their excrement seances (sorry, it has to be said) is three days old. Maybe ICUs were not totally overwhelmed when they made their predictions?
Oh, I forgot to mention, Dr. Papaioannou, a veterinarian expert, was part of a study entitled “A physicochemical model for rationalizing SARS-CoV-2 concentration in sewage. Case study: The city of Thessaloniki in Greece,” on the same issue. Don’t you love scientists and their ability to complicate titles? With theories to prove and academic prowess to be had, I guess any genius chemist out there has taken a turn or two at reading tea leaves, even if just for fun.
Excuse me, but a cursory review (amateur of course) of the research by me shows about a billion variables not taken into account. Rats, I also forgot to mention my Level III Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification. Yikes! I had almost forgotten my job after running U.S. Navy ship boilers back when. Now I am no chemist, and certainly not a university dean, but from what I am an expert at, water treatment, I can tell you these scientists are more wrong than right.
They have created a complex scientific experiment, to understand an aggregate system, in order to prove a simple “yes or no” on virus load. To understand what I mean, imagine housewife A versus housewife B, and all the independent and dependent variables going down their drains. At the influent end of a treatment plant, a whole universe of organic and inorganic material enters. Then, at the effluent end of the wastewater cycle, all those constituents are homogenized.
I won’t get into advanced wastewater chemistry, there is no need to. The problem these scientists have is about time and variable biomass and biosolids layer cake. In short, any research to detect a microorganism concentration must be conducted with great frequency over a very long period of time in order to ascertain viral load with any degree of accuracy.
Somehow I cannot frame a picture of university geniuses hovering over Athens or Thessaloniki Doo-Doo plants. Maybe they were using local Poo Poo priests, operators me back in the day, to “read” the future of Greece from the murky mix of keftethes, moussaka, and saganaki (mixed with tampons and God knows what else) floating down from the Acropolis to the temples of wisdom.
Fear not Greece, your future lies in the absorption rate of Poo Poo, and not in the good sense God supposedly gave everybody. But if I were you, I would trust the second wave to end at exactly the moment there are no ICU beds full with ailing patients of the virus.