Sunday, May 31, 2020

Australian scientist explain that the strength of COV2 attraction to ACE2 receptors does not happen except in humans, and that is unexplained


Sky News Australia reports a scientist (May 24) who explains that SARS-COV-2 binds to the human ACE2 receptor better than any animal’s, including intermediaries from bats (such as civets and pangolins).

Peak Prosperity (Chris Martenson) has explained this problem before.  The virus actual cracks open the receptor to get to the furin, which makes it able to infect other cells, especially endothelial cells, effectively.

It is hard to explain why we don’t find evidence that this super-effective connection to ACE2 happened in a particular animal.

Then there is the issue of the PRRA sequence, added in a way that is comparable to increasing a record or message length on a computer.

Had this been a lab experiment gone wrong (“gain of function”), there are workplace-related issues to process control (versions in different test or production systems and the independent automation of their management) which I have seen in my own career that could explain what might have happened.  I’ll get into this in the future.

 Also, Dana G. Smith has an important article on Medium explaining the concept of COVID-19 as a blood vessel disease. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Superspreader and large gatherings may drive this pandemic much more than with flu; protests may be stirred by outside agitators

The sensational press conference in Minneapolis, where Gov. Walz suggested violent protests, maybe in many cities, are organized by outside forces, possibly foreign, or possibly a red pill or false flag from white supremacy.  The consequences of this, if true, would be enormous.

There is also a major story in Bloomberg  (Justin Fox) to the effect that the COVID epidemic may be spread quickly by superspreaders or mass gathering events, and then within households, but not just by small accidental exposures. This is different from influenza.

This may make it easier to control in reopening phases, and may give clues as to how best to do the contact tracing.

Protesters generally are not honoring social distancing.  Many are NOT people of color.  There will certainly be a lot of transmission during the protests.  It could place police and National Guard at risk.  But it’s also true that much of the exposure is, because outdoors, is likely to be small, and since it is mostly young adults, probably won’t lead to many severe cases.  The irony is that a lot more people will wind up with the antibodies because of the protests.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

CDC reminds everyone that positive antibody tests can be statistically misleading until there are enough really true positives

The CDC has published interim guides for SARS-Cov-2 serologic testing, which are very complicated, linke here. 

The various antibodies usually appear simultaneously, which the CDC says is uncommon. They seem to provide at least temporary protection against recurrent disease.

But because the percentage of people infected is low, the likelihood of false positives is much more important in a policy sense, than it will be later.

Maggie Fox of CNN writes this up. 

Of course much more detailed blood studies are done before someone (recovered or antibody-positive) donates therapeutic plasma.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Remarks on vaccine trials; not quite sure what is really going on with the Oxford trials.

I wanted to mention briefly a video Sunday by John Campbell (UK) giving a vaccine update.

The Oxford vaccine apparently did not prevent macques from getting infected with transmissible virus, but it did greatly reduce symptoms once infected.  I had not heard that before. Still the study will try to start human trails.  There is concern that there may not be enough "infected" people in the UK to do a human trial without deliberate innoculation (Business Insider). 

But another vaccine in Israel was given to 35 moneys, and eight of these, when given, prevented any virus at all from appearing once inoculation. Look at the video at about 21 minutes.

Bloomberg has a long article giving short descriptions of many of the vaccine trials (May 20) here

Also, Nicholas Taleb has a short video on interpreting single point estimates for pandemics.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Scientists start looking at the roles of cellular immunity and T-helper cells in mediating coronavirus infection, and finding "conflicting" and disturbing comparisons to HIV ("gain of function" and furin cleavage)

Coronavirus virion structure

There is plenty of evidence that “living dirty” helps adults build cellular immunity (mostly T4-based) to pathogens they haven’t seen before, if they get exposed to protein antigen patterns that are similar enough to pathogenic antigens the see late.r

There was an article about this all the way back in 2013 at Standford Medical School. Of course, if the virus is "too" novel, though, everything changes and germophobia and fastidiousness must return. 

On April 12, a site called SCMP published a paper by Stephen Chen in Beijing reporting that Chinese scientist had reported that Sars-Cov-2 had been destroying T cells (I presume T4 helper cells, maybe some T8’s) in a manner reminiscent of HIV.  However the virus cannot make copies of itself inside these cells (whereas with HIV they can). It can, however, accomplish furin cleavage to get into the cells, apparently using an added novel sequence that Peak Prosperity (Christ Martenson) has talked about in a few videos.   Furin cleavage like this (and ability to attack a T cell) had not been reported with the original SARS or MERS.  But it has been reported with other viruses (including Ebola, and some lesser known tropical viruses and animal viruses).  This is sounding a little bit like the dreaded “gain of function”. Did this transfer to a SARS virus happen entirely by random chance in nature? 

Chinese scientists report that some patients had almost all their T4 cells destroyed.

But it’s not reported that this has happened with people who have recovered from milder infections.

Somewhat countermanding this finding is a paper May 14 by Mitch Leslie in Science Mag, indicating that with healthier adults, T4 cells do seem to help control the infection and manage to protect themselves. So a person’s T-cell health (and that will sound problematic for anyone with even a well-controlled HIV infection) could well affect whether they will see serious illness.  

The video above, from Medcram, explains the differences between how Cov2 and HIV affect T cells, and mentions the CD147 receptor on the T-cell (Martenson has discussed this). 

There was an earlier paper April 17, 2020 in Science Mag by Meredith Wadman, et al, “How does coronavirus kill?” explaining the way it attacks other organ systems besides the lungs, especially the blood clot issue.  The article does not go into the idea that the virus attacks endothelial cells everywhere (but so can Herpes 8, a DNA virus that causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma in HIV-infected people sometimes  - the difference is that herpes viruses tend to cause tumors or neoplasia, while coronaviruses simply destroy cells in a more conventional viral manner). The language of the paper is hyperbolic, saying the virus acts with a "ferocity" never seen before in a "human pathogen".  This is a tone of suspicion in the paper. 

Wikipedia embedded illustration of Sars-cov-2 virus (can click for CCSA attribution). 

Friday, May 22, 2020

MIS-C pediatric inflammatory syndrome post-COVID19 recovery affecting some young adults (as old as 25), too; why wasn't this reported before April (from China?)

Antibody dependent enhancement

The pediatric multi-inflammation-syndrome in children (MIS-C) has now been reported to affect yyoung adults as old as 25.  There is one such case in San Diego and several in New York City.  One fifteen year old girl has died (and I think there was a pediatric death in Maryland).  There were 23 pediatric cases at Children’s Hospital in Washington DC recently.

Arianna Eunjung Cha and Chelsea Janes write in theWashington Post, reporting that in older teens the symptoms seem to be more severe and unpredictable, with heart damage.

Patients seem to have cleared previous SARS-Cov-2 infection;  some still test positive through PCR, but many test positive for antibody (presumably neutralizing).

Cynthia Wachtell writes “My son survived terrifyingCovid-19 complications” in the New York Times, on May 21.  He was in the hospital for four days, and in critical condition for at least one day.  The syndrome came on somewhat gradually. He apparently recovered fully.

CDC has an emergency notice as of April 26. 2020.

It is not clear why China has not yet reported this syndrome, or have Asian countries.  It is not very logical biologically that it could be race dependent.

The syndrome could raise questions about ADE (anti-body dependent enhancement) and vaccine safety in future trials. 

The description of Dengue, which is an arbovirus of a totally different structure, but which seems to be a blood vessel and perhaps endothelial disease, in Wikipedia is rather alarming in the familiarity of some of the bizarre behavior of Covid.  I put he diagram of ADE for dengue from Wikipedia at the top of the page, click on the embedded image for description and CCSA attribution credits.

Mercey Livingston, MD, shares advice on exercise when recovering from COVID for younger people on CNET.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

CDC new COVID Guidelines are underwhelming


The CDC has released a guidance document, “CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’sPlan for Opening Up America Again”. 

Elizabeth Chuck has a summary and the steps are rather underwhelming, in NBC news. 

Restaurants will not be viable until they can use most of their seating capacity, which they can’t;  maybe streets can close and they can more outdoor space in the summer.

Schools will have kids eating lunch in their classrooms with sneeze guards.

University students, some of whom I know online, ponder the likelihood of short fall semesters starting early and ending at Thanksgiving, with finals online (at means a lot of multiple choice).

How will medical schools function?  That’s an ironic question.

I don’t think the world can function very well with all this germophobia.  Generally, you benefit from being exposed to things gradually and building immunity.  (That’s why slobs can be healthy.) But, well, if you can’t live with “survival of the fittest”, you rethink everything from the root.

Biggest priorities, besides the vaccines:

Really, find out how many cases are really asymptomatic.

Find out the long term consequences of infection (kidneys, neurological, sterility?)  By the way, Children’s hospital in DC has 23 cases of this new pediatric inflammatory syndrome, and one person of age 15 in NYC died now.

Find medications you can give immediately after diagnosis of infection to stop the infection (maybe monoclonal antibodies?)

Picture of CDC in Atlanta from Emory University:  embedded from Wikipedia, click to see CCSA attributions. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Moderna's vaccine trial already attracts critics; role of surface contamination in spread may have been overstated in the media

Helen Branswell writes on Stat News that Moderna’s announced results with the vaccine trial should be taken as preliminary.

It is unclear whether all 40+ participants actually developed neutralizing antibodies. (It sounds like to me they would have.) 

Peak Prosperity reports contradicting information regarding the primate study and infection challenge by Moderna about 28 minutes into his video, and quotes a medical paper.  Yet, neutralizing antibodies by definition are supposed to stop infection, aren't they?  This is all a bit confusing. 

Peak Prosperity also mentions a similar project by Sinovac in China and it may be making more progress. 

 Korin Koll writes for Yahoo/AOL that CDC has de-emphasized the role of surfaces or fomites in transmission (link).  Erin Bromage pretty much makes the same points, and emphasizes staying away from lengthy indoor events where a superspreader could appear. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Small restaurant and bar businesses really were shocked at their sudden closures in mid-March

Were most small or medium-sized businesses shocked by the suddenness of  forced closures of their businesses in mid March 2020, many of which might be indefinite or permanent and others which might allow them to come back in much smaller form (with takeout or social distancing)?

The New York Times had a perspective on this by Neil Irwin on March 6, 2020, about ten days before bars and restaurants in many cities were suddenly closed (right before Saint Patrick’s Day).

On Saturday, Feb. 29, I went to an event in a hotel near Nationals Park (and visited a restaurant trying to find the event), and then to a gay bar (Nellie’s) on U St, which was packed, and showing exhibition baseball. 

Sunday, March 1, before going to an organ concert at the First Baptist Church in Washington, I went to JR’s nearby and found it quite packed. I got the impression nobody was worried about what was about to happen.

Yet the CDC had warned “to expect disruptions” in a White House meeting on Feb. 26.

It’s complicated, but I had expected risks (like quarantine traps) if I flew to California Feb 19 for a movie pitch event.  I was able to do a partial pitch online from home, but lost the value of the airfare (it was too early, before airlines viewed cancellations as justified by the pandemic.) I was very aware of the danger but still thought that in the DC area the epidemic would be controlled by contact tracing;  I had no idea at the time how unprepared the whole country was to do this (compared to, say, South Korea).

We know retrospectively that conditions were already dangerous in Los Angeles by late February as there are various personal accounts of infection on YouTube even that early.  But at the time, businesses were still blind.  At the same time, by around Feb. 22, it was well known that a severe epidemic was exploding exponentially in northern Italy. We were terrible at seeing this coming at us.

To the best of my knowledge must business owners started becoming worried only after the March 11 meeting where HHS and DHS announced that mitigation would be important because containment alone was no longer possible.  Many of them will never be the same again.  Some bars had closed by the weekend of March 13.

The explosive spread of the pandemic from a single church congregation in South Korea had, by late February, already indicated that large gatherings of people for close contact were very dangerous.

Discos, for example, often have hundreds of people in close intimate contact.  This is not dangerous with respect to HIV, which is transmitted normally only sexually.  But for a novel disease transmissible through the air or droplets, in a single evening one person without symptoms could probably infect hundreds.

Imagine what happens in an urban community where there are no social distancing shutdowns.  Health people get infected in large numbers.  It is true that most of them will have few symptoms.  But many of them will have a few days where they, in other locations, transmit some quantity of virus to those who are more vulnerable, particularly in their own families.  (People who live alone may present less such risk; many houses with roommates today have strict rules for showering and clothes and shoes changing on entry now.)  Quickly, new transmission chains grow quickly, and enough people become seriously ill to overburden the hospitals by the sheer mathematics of exponential chain reaction spread with an R-0 of 3 or more.

The end result would likely be that the community has half of its population infected in three months and maybe 1-2% deaths (some in nursing homes) if there were no measures at all.  “At home” deaths may be higher.  And younger people who thought they had few symptoms could face unknowable problems in the future as we don’t know the future of resolved “mild infections”:  maybe kidney or circulatory system complications, strokes,  maybe subtle neurologiccal issues, maybe sterility and inability to have children (on a very large scale) since the virus can enter the testes through ACE2 receptors. 

This economic hardship, so abrupt, came about as a result of a Black Swan (normally enemy hostility or very unusual natural catastrophe created by global warming), and when something reduces total wealth so much, the idea of "equal constraints" (beyond the statist determination of what work is "essential") from the Left takes hold. 

Update:  I've heard more than one person say that this is all about "survival of the fittest".  Yup, a lot of people perceive it that way, like a purge. 

As I type this, ABC Good Morning America presents the service for independent craftspersons, Etsy. It also presents a woman who works 15 hours a day baking breads at home for takeout services (not sure what state). All of this still supports Taleb's "skin in the game":  you fix the loss of businesses by starting new ones, turning restaurants into grocery stores, or doing ticketed online drag concerts from bars. Some restaurants have been "hired" by Amazon to help deliver food to the homeless. 

Picture: NYC World Pride, June 30, 2019, Hells Kitchen, outside the Therapy and Industry clubs trying to get in. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Two "modest proposals" to help NYC and DC get back to work faster (if you don't work from home)

Uri Alon, Ron Milo and Eran Yashiv offer a modest proposal to open the economy during lockdowns in the New York Times, that would apply to factory or assembly line workers and probably retail. It’s prettu radical. 

That is, make all of these jobs “shared”, and have each worker do four 10-hour days and then take 10 days off, under a stay-at-home policy.  If he/she gets infected, that’s enough time for most incubation periods.  It sounds Orwellian and extreme, but oddly sensible (until there’s a vaccine or herd immunity).

There is also a proposal to make people use reservations online to use the NYC Metro and busses, so there is enough room for social distancing.  I wonder if the Washington DC Metro (which shuts down part of the orange and silver lines for the summer soon) is considering the same idea.

 Transit workers are taking a large toll of the severe illnesses and deaths during the pandemic. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Cuomo's CNN presentation today was particularly sobering about the unpredictability of the virus and demands it puts on people to stay safe


Governor Andrew Cuomo (presidential nominee of Biden fails?) today gave a particularly sobering account of how the SARS-Cov-2 seems to be throwing new tricks at us that sound diabolical, almost as if out of a horror movie.

At about 17:20 in the CBS video he gives a particularly strident warning about surface contamination.

I can argue that it may be overstated. We really don’t know if people are getting severe cases when the only source of infection was touching an incidentally contaminated surface and then touching their face.

Because the virus would have a half-life, it would tend to “evaporate”. 

I do think buildings (especially apartments or condos) might do well to put in electric doors that you don’t have to touch to enter.  The problem is that one door handle is touched by so many people.  If you enter another building and can’t wash your hands immediately (like in a clean restroom) you would need to carry the handsanitzer (or maybe keep some in your car, unless you are using public transit). Surfaces not often touched present much less problem.  In a grocery store most items probably have been touched by few people (at least early in the day).  But you have to open doors to get at refrigerated or frozen stuff (maybe the doors could be electric).  That’s much less of a problem if you go early in the day (senior’s hours) when very few people would have touched it since cleaning.

As noted in an earlier posting, there is progress in coatings (for surfaces in homes or offices) that remain disinfected for a long time after one application. Again, the suddenness of all this is shocking.

As for surface-only exposure, this may be more like a two-step process.  This virus is starting to act like the first SARS, being much more dangerous to a significant portion of the population (given enough exposure) than we thought. What’s different is that it appears to create “trivial” infections in many more people who can accelerate the spread, with smaller inoculations.

I think that studying the behavior of the virus among Navy sailors on ships with infection should tell us how effective antibodies are and how many people remain asymptomatic.  The Los Angeles Times has a story from late April about the Roosevelt. The Navy thinks that over 50% of young adults with no other problems will never show symptoms at all.  Their bodies will make (neutralizing, hopefully) antibody quickly and keep it out of the lungs and major blood vessels and other organs (including testes).  But we need careful blood followups.  The US Navy may be the best place for this research on asymptomatic people.

Cuomo’s presentation suggested that the news keeps getting worse. Like the pediatric syndrome.  Why wasn’t that reported in Asia at all?

It is conceivable that if everything were as bad as it could be, there is no way I would survive.  On the other hand, I might have antibody already and not know it.  Anecdotal accounts from people I have talked to, like in Zoom meetings, suggest a number of people report mild illness even in January-February with odd symptoms including smell and taste changes.  Sometimes everything goes away in 2-3 days, other people got sicker and then recovered.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Schools may well have trouble opening in person in the fall; more challenges to Internet infrastructure from volume of use?

The testimony of Fuaci, Giroir and Redfield may well have dampened enthusiasm or comfort for scools to re-open normally even by this fall, it seemed after the hearings from homes on Wednesday before the Senate.

Particularly in California, colleges are saying that, except for lab work, most work will be online.

In the meantime, students are already saying they are having trouble getting completing of exams like AP qualification tests to work.

Edsource has a story by Louis Freeburg. 

All of this begs a new question:  will there be new strains on Internet infrastructure next fall, competing with existing users, as people really have to return to school “full time” online.  I certainly remember what being a full time student was like.

Reuters has a brief story on the CDC's new guidelines on re-opening schools and businesses.  So far the guidelines don't seem to be published online. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Soap appears to be the best external disinfectant to get rid of coronavirus from surfaces or your hands or body (outside only)


There is a lot of hype about what disintectant to use and even the idea that you need to give it time to work.

It’s true that if you touch a lot of surfaces opening doors when you’re out, you might want a hand sanitizer, especially if the buildings you enter don’t have clean modern restrooms for a quick handwash. But that’s a bit inconvenient.

But there are plenty of reasons in organic chemistry (an undergrad course) why plain soap is pretty good at getting rid of most viruses and bacteria very quickly from hands or surfaces.

Scitech, New York Times, and Vox all explain the biochemistry.

So would a college undergraduate text.  Makes a good final exam question.

 Update: May 15.

  It looks like there are products coming onto the market that you spray on surfaces (especially in kichen, bathroom, home entranceway) where the disinfectant effect lasts for days or weeks.  If you have to be this fastidious, these products could really help, from "Cision", reported on ABC Good Morning America.   

Monday, May 11, 2020

Maybe an anticlonal antibody treatment; nicotine patches reduce Covid?; pediatric toxic shock

Mostly good news, maybe.

Knowridge Science Report (referring to Nature) tells us that science is closing in on making monoclonal neutralizing antibodies that would be a good therapeutic.  It sounds like maybe this would have to be given intravenously after a positive test (hopefully once), not easy with many people.  Maybe you would not need a lot of plasma donors in the long run, if this works.

Alfons Lopez-Tena reports in The Conversation on work from France and Italy suggesting that nicotine may help stop COVID-19, by capturing the ACE2 inhibitors in advance.  There is some data suggesting that in Europe relatively few cases were smokers, and that sounds anti-intuitive. But once someone is a serious ICU case, a history of smoking turns around and portends a worse outcome and more likely death.

It has even be suggested that health care workers wear nicotine patches. Now nicotine is an undesirable thing to give, as it is harmful to the circulatory system for later.  (There is a saying, cigarette smoking makes you go bald in the legs.)  Desirable would be a carefully tailored ACE2-distracting drug with fewer side effects.

The pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome seems to be reported a lot recently in New York City – is it just being reported now? NBCNewsNY reports. Also reported in the UK.  Some children have the antibody but no active infection, seems to be a post-exposure inflammatory cytokine reaction.

 The virus seems to hide (in endothehial cells) from the immune system for a while, which explodes when it finds it in some sort of critical mass.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Federal Reserve says financial system (and big banks) is stable for now, but it can get worse

The Federal Reserve is still reasonably comfortable that the Nation’s big banks can handle the coronavirus disruption to the economy, with the massive unemployment with rents and mortgage payments being missed.  CNBC has a report.

The bank is said to have run some stress tests on the banks (simulations).

YouTube was flashing videos about the Fed and financial stability today (as if there were a sudden crisis), but this is the only one I found that is recent when I actually went to the channel. 

The bank is said to have run some stress tests on the banks (simulations).

YouTube was flashing videos about the Fed and financial stability today (as if there were a sudden crisis), but this is the only one I found that is recent when I actually went to the channel.

Picture: That Nascar race car has taken a deep dive, hasn't it. It didn't lose control and crash. 

 Update: May 11

 CNBC also has a newer video on how the Fed is trying to avoid a financial crash. Two important differences:  Limitless quantitative easing with bond purchases, and much less wiggle room on interest rates than 2008. 

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Laurie Garrett warns, be ready for at least three years of "this", don't expect a quick vaccine or treatment to get you back to the old normal

I guess we start this sunny day’s foreboding with Laurie Garrett’s recent interview with the New York Times., by Frank Bruni.  

She says it will take 36 months for the country to recover.  She doesn’t speculate on the difficulties with proving and implementing vaccines.

Then, normal will be much more restrictive.  It will be harder for people of average means to fly.  Remember the baths went away with AIDS;  will discos fall away with this?  Will life have to become much more localized and tribal, whether you want any part of it or not? “Plant a garden”, Peak Prosperity says.

She also thinks that testing has to be smarter.  She doesn’t see it as feasible to test everyone every two weeks.  It needs to be random and statistical, so that schools and companies know if they can stay open on the premises. 

But Bloomberg reports Bill Gates as saying a vaccine could be available in nine months (a pregnancy).  

Business Insider, in late April, warned that it may not be possible to produce an effective vaccine against this kind of virus because it has such subtle ways of entry.  But it may be possible to produce medications that greatly reduce severity, much as is the case now with HIV.  The same Business Insider article links to a subsequent article that optimistically discusses all the vaccine trial.

It is also quite disturbing that President Trump (as per AP report) has decided to ignore CDC guidelines in staged reopening of the US economy, which states are doing on their own.  


Garrett spoke from NYC on CNN's coronavirus town hall tonight and said that here best case scenario of 36 months assumes hitting a home run with at least one vaccine and then vaccinating the entire planet to wipe out the virus. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

New study suggests European and US East Coast strains of SARS-Cov-2 are distinct, complicate vaccine development, and may actually be more contagious, than Wuhan-related strains

While I was watching NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s moral ad-libs on CNN, a Smart News story about a “mutant” strain of SARS-Cov-2 popped onto my iPhone. 

It’s in the Los Angeles Times, by Ralph Vartabedien, title “Scientists say a now-dominant strain of coronavirus appears to be more contagious than original.”

BioRxIv, from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory NY and Los Alamos, NM has the reference preprinted (yet to be peer-reviewed) report titled bluntly “Spike mutation pipeline reviews the emergence of a more transmissibleform of SARS-CoV-2.”  The LA Times story links only to the summary;  you have to link and download the entire PDF.  

It is called Spike D614G and reportedly became dominant in Europe in February, and very likely was dominant in especially Spain and Italy.  It apparently became dominant in New York City and the East Coast because of travel from Europe, secondary from China.  (One wonders if travel was restricted or quarantines introduced for persons whose passports indicated previous travel in China even though coming from Europe; but that would not preclude community spread in Europe only.)

The authors discuss Spike mutations SD614G (apparently noticed first in Germany) and S943 (apparently prevalent in Belgium). 

These mutations would mean that any vaccine has to be generic enough to account for it, or that there would need to be different antigens included (Wuhan v. European). They could increase the risk of reinfection through ADE (antibody dependent enhancement) if that turns out to be a real issue.

These mutations might help explain easier containment in South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, although there could be other reasons, such as more wearing of masks by people, or simply much stricter and more thorough contact tracing.

The authors speculate that the European virus is more “contagious” than the earlier Wuhan virus.  They refrain from saying that it is “deadlier”.  They think the viral loads in infected people are bigger, which could explain higher rates of severe illness, as with the explosions in Italy, Spain and New York City. The issue might make hand hygiene and fomites more of an issue than I would have thought, compared to more conventional transmission in crowds (the “6 foot rule”).  I discussed the possible implication of this earlier today on my “Bill Retires” blog and Monday on my “Information Technology” blog (the latter with concerns about how quarantined people can continue working from home efficiently if there are exaggerated hygiene concerns in quarantine locations).

It is possible that other factors explain the explosions of the virus in Europe and NYC.  These include being late with mitigation or suppression measures, crowded communities, large elderly populations, and particularly incomplete reporting from China (where Wuhan’s numbers may be much worse than publicly reported).  Also, on the West Coast, suppression (social distancing) happened a little sooner, so we may be seeing less transmission now for that reason, compared to NYC.  The original Wuhan (?) virus led to community spread fairly quickly in California and Washington State.

There is also discussion of virus types A, B, and C in other literature.  The European-NYC form seems to be type C.  Again, therapies and vaccines will have to account for all these variations.

Update: May 6

Maggie Fox discusses this for CNN, but seems to question the idea that the findings mean that the European strains are necessarily more contagious.  There was plenty of community spread on the West Coast, too.   

Kim Iversen has a video (April 12) discussing the A. B. C strains, and maintains that Italy has type C. and that type A is milder and could have been on the West Coast even last fall, giving some people some immunity. Not quite the same as the Los Alamos paper but interesting. Peak Prosperity has videos around May 6 arguing that the mutations suggest deliberate manipulation because they don't seem to be statistically random enough to be natural. 

There is some indication that the children's inflammatory syndrome reported in the UK and now NYC may be more related to the "Italian" strain (Livescience). But we don't know if China reported everything that was really going on yet.  

Monday, May 04, 2020

Eye doctor says that most important part of COVID protection is indeed hand hygiene

Brian Boxer Wachler has an interesting perspective on avoiding getting Sars-Cov-2.

The video dates back from March 30.  Wachler is a keratoconus eye specialist.

He says that hand hygiene and avoiding touching your face is the key.  He thinks relatively is spread through the air.

He says repeatedly touching surfaces without cleaning your hands and then touching your face He uses Purel when he goes out and touches anything. (He becomes a "Hand Nazi".)  He thinks most actual infection transfer comes through the hands, not through the air.

He does agree with wearing cloth masks, as helping you not touch your face.  

There are authorities who disagree, and who point out that sneezes and coughs can travel farther than we think.

He thinks transmission through the air happens only when contact is prolonged and sustained. He also warns that this is not just a disease of old people or people with other conditions.

He doesn't think people who never get symptoms transmit much disease.  He thinks people fully recover.   

Friday, May 01, 2020

How does someone isolated or quarantined get home repairs done?

Solar farm in Gallup NM

Once again, the question of how to handle contingencies for someone who is quarantined (because documented significant exposure to someone who is known to be infected with Sars-Cov2) or isolated (because of actual infection as demonstrated by a positive test).

As testing scales up and becomes more available upon request, even for people with minimal or no symptoms, people have to calculate carefully how they will handle forced quarantine or isolation. And the issues can be quite different, and potentially simpler, for those who live alone instead of in families. The answers are likely to change once it is possible to test any contact rather than just quarantine them.

One obvious questions is, if you are alone and an essential appliance breaks, can you get a professional repair person still to come and repair it?   I found it hard to find a concrete answer. 
In Ontario (in Canada) the answer seems to be, well, yes. Here’s what I found on a Canadian site.  Landlords are expected to do essential repairs.  I’m less sure about condos. The resident would need to get the area to be repaired as clean as possible before the visit of the repair person, and that could be challenging if the person wasn’t allowed to go out and get the supplies.

There is a service in California that will walk people through do-it-yourself repairs (story). But I don’t know how well this would work with sophisticated repairs for people who are not handy with this stuff.  

But sometimes the service does call for pros.

There is also the issue of moving people into hotels or motels  An article in the Washington Post by Anraar Karan looks at this, and seems to suggest that some people can be moved into large open spaces like armories.  That would seem to expose them (and would prevent those able to work from home and remain productive from being able to so do).  Hotels or motels could offer wi-fi and services, and with occupancy so low right now, it makes sense for localities to set aside rooms for isolation, where services have been set up.  Persons who are able should pay for these stays.
This seems to be a pliable issue and I will have to come back to it frequently.
Today, Virginia's governor Northam said he did not rule some smaller retailers as "non-essential" because then the bigger stores like Walmart could drive them out of business.  But Michigan and some other states have tried to manage the problem by keeping larger stores from selling non-essential items like toys, a kind of Marxist idea.  
We note that there is a sudden emergency lockdown in Gallup, NM, near the Arizona border, this weekend, because of an explosion of cases. I remember passing through this town on a bus in the fall of 1967 when I was still in graduate school.
The University of Oxford says it wants to have a million doses of vaccine by September 2020 (BBC). Initial results look good but there are no guarantees yet as to how large human trials will go.

Picture of solar array at Gallup NM, click on picture of Wikipedia CCSA attribution.