The World vs. SARS-CoV-2

It has been reported that several cases recovered from COVID-19 tested positive after discharge (re-detectable positive, RP). […] All of patients were followed up for at least 14 days, and 38/262 of RP patients (14.5%) were present. The RP patients were characterized by being less than 14-years old and having mild and moderate conditions as compared to NRP patients, while no severe patients became RP. […] Our results showed that young and mild COVID-19 patients seem to be RP patients after discharge, who show no obviously clinical symptoms and disease progression upon re-admission. [medRxiv ]

How many people die after being infected with the novel coronavirus? Fewer than previously calculated, according to a study released Monday. The research estimated that about 0.66% of those infected with the virus will die.

Doctors in the Bay Area see flatter curve after 2 weeks of social isolation

Armed vigilantes blocked a neighbor’s driveway with a tree to force him into quarantine

Drone technology is ready to break out into a mass service and reduce person-to-person contact. There are a few dozen pilot programs throughout the United States and some limited commercial deployments for services such as medical delivery, parcel delivery, utilities inspection, and crop spraying.

At least two peer-reviewed studies show that while DIY masks are not nearly as effective as commercial masks made for health care workers, they are far better than nothing. Homemade masks both limit the spread of infectious droplets in the air and discourage people from touching their faces. [DIY using some T-shirt fabric, elastic ribbon, scissors, sewing supplies or scissors and a T-shirt]

list of companies freezing hiring or doing layoffs (and those that are still hiring). [Thanks Tim]

The World vs. SARS-CoV-2

A Brooklyn-based photographer asked out his neighbor via drone, after seeing her dance on her rooftop

Johnson & Johnson is five months away from starting human trials on a COVID-19 vaccine, the pharmaceutical giant said Monday. Clinical data would be available by the end of the year, leaving open the possibility of emergency-use authorization by early next year. [NY mag]

Germany will issue coronavirus antibody certificates to allow quarantined to re-enter society

How stress can cause a fever

Traffickers and militiamen have established curfews in favelas after confirmation of cases of coronavirus infections in communities in Rio. Criminals also make threats to residents who are caught circulating in the favelas after 8 pm. In Cidade de Deus, in the West Zone, the first community in Rio to have a confirmed case, the traffickers circulated through the favela with a loudspeaker yesterday afternoon. [Globo | Thanks Andrea]

Every disaster shakes loose the old order. […] The possibilities for change, for the better or the worse, for a more egalitarian or more authoritarian society, burst out of the gate like racehorses at times like these. […] The George W. Bush administration used Sept. 11 as a pretext to strip Americans of their civil liberties, to conduct a pair of wars that were themselves humanitarian, diplomatic and economic catastrophes, and to amplify its own authority. […] No one knows yet what will come out of this crisis. But like so many other disasters, this one has revealed how interconnected we are; how much we depend on the labor and good will of others; how deeply enmeshed we are in social, ecological and economic systems; and how prevention or survival of something as deeply, bodily personal as a disease depends on our collective decisions and those of our leadership. It has also revealed how squalid the Trump administration’s selfishness is; early reports suggested — and a presidential tweet on Wednesday reiterated — that Mr. Trump viewed the pandemic as primarily about how it would affect his re-election chances and sought to minimize it for his own sake rather than respond to it as we needed. Most recently he and the Republican congressional leadership have aimed a bailout package at large corporations rather than citizens and, while fumbling delivery of urgently needed medical supplies, made proposals focused on keeping the market strong rather than human beings safe. [Rebecca Solnit | NY Times]

A wooden table, a tablecloth, a glass of wine and two neighbors in Porto San Giorgio manage to have lunch together [Thanks Andrea!]

The Seattle area, home of the first known coronavirus case in the United States and the place where the virus claimed 37 of its first 50 victims, is now seeing evidence that strict containment strategies, imposed in the earliest days of the outbreak, are beginning to pay off. While each infected person was spreading the virus to an average of 2.7 other people earlier in March, that number appears to have dropped, with one projection suggesting that it was now down to 1.4.

The study found high levels of contamination on commonly used surfaces and in the air of patients’ rooms. Samples of air from hallways outside of patient rooms were also positive. [WOWT]

Estimates Show Wuhan Death Toll Far Higher Than Official Figure — “because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?”

Report of Urns Stacked at Wuhan Funeral Homes Raises Questions About the Real Coronavirus Death Toll in China [Time]

Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public. […] My data-focused research institute,, has found 34 scientific papers indicating basic masks can be effective in reducing virus transmission in public — and not a single paper that shows clear evidence that they cannot. [ Washington Post]

Would everyone wearing face masks help us slow the pandemic?

sars-CoV-2 behaves like a monstrous mutant hybrid of all the human coronaviruses that came before it. It can infect and replicate throughout our airways. “That’s why it is so bad,” Stanley Perlman, a professor of microbiology and immunology who has been studying coronaviruses for more than three decades, told me. “It has the lower-respiratory severity of sars and mers coronaviruses, and the transmissibility of cold coronaviruses.” [New Yorker]

The Race for Virus Money Is On. Lobbyists Are Standing By. — A South Carolina company has hired a lobbyist close to President Trump to try to win regulatory approval to sell a misting spray to kill coronavirus on airplanes. A Manhattan company is seeking money from the $2 trillion stimulus package for its quick-change recyclable hospital curtains. [NY Times]

Last week wholesale egg prices rose more than 50 percent in some parts of the country, because of demand; eggs have been running low if not sold out altogether in many stores in the United States. The egg supply is normal, of course; demand just grew significantly. […] Compared with usual chick sales in March, sales at Hackett Farm Supply in Clinton Corners, N.Y., have nearly doubled. “People are willing to take breeds that aren’t their first choice just to get a flock started now,” said Stephanie Spann, the store manager.
[NY Times]

The email came from the boss. We’re watching you, it told Axos Financial Inc. employees working from home. We’re capturing your keystrokes. We’re logging the websites you visit. Every 10 minutes or so, we’re taking a screen shot. So get to work — or face the consequences. [Bloomberg]

What a World of Warcraft virtual outbreak taught us about how humans behave in epidemics [Thanks Andrea!]

How COVID-19 Led Merriam-Webster to Make Its Fastest Update Ever [Thanks Andrea!]

How some cities “flattened the curve” during the 1918 flu pandemic

Trump Seeks To Stimulate Economy By Sending Rare Autographed Photo To Every American

In other news… the cat over the road is called Walter

Alone Together (The World vs. SARS-CoV-2)

‘History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.’ –James Joyce

march 28

Some Wuhan residents who had tested positive earlier and then recovered from the disease are testing positive for the virus a second time. Based on data from several quarantine facilities in the city, which house patients for further observation after their discharge from hospitals, about 5%-10% of patients pronounced “recovered” have tested positive again. Some of those who retested positive appear to be asymptomatic carriers — those who carry the virus and are possibly infectious but do not exhibit any of the illness’s associated symptoms — suggesting that the outbreak in Wuhan is not close to being over. [NPR]

Is ‘Viral Load’ Why Some People Get a Mild Case of COVID-19?

In China, 52.9 percent of men smoke, in contrast to just 2.4 percent of women; further analysis of the emerging COVID-19 data from China could help determine if this disparity is contributing to the higher mortality observed in men compared to women

Roughly speaking, we might say that getting COVID-19 is like packing a year’s worth of risk into a week or two.

list of rent strike resources and information from the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia

The US keeps millions of chickens in secret farms to make flu vaccines. But their eggs won’t work for coronavirus

He recalls bringing it to one veteran Democratic member. “I said, ‘I need to talk to you about something important,’” says Baird. “He said, ‘What’s that?’ I said, ‘You know, we don’t have a valid process for replacing House members if we’re all killed by a terrorist attack.’” “He said, ‘What do I care? I’ll be dead.’” Why Is Congress Still Meeting in Person?

Drug Dealers on How Coronavirus Is Affecting Supply and Demand

Related: The team tested wastewater samples from 68 European cities in 23 countries, looking for urinary biomarkers or urinary metabolites for cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, amphetamine, and methamphetamine found in European wastewater. The countries with the overall highest concentration of urinary biomarkers for MDMA were Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Cocaine use appeared to be highest in the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain. [Daily Mail]

march 27:

When Boeing made its humble plea for $60 billion in coronavirus relief funds on Saint Patrick’s Day 2020, leading the pack of corporate supplicants, all its assembly lines unrelated to its notorious self-hijacking 737 Max jets, whose production halted in January, were still operating at normal capacity. They were still open in spite of the fact that Seattle public schools had been closed for six days at that point, in spite of the fact that every restaurant and bar in the state had been closed the weekend earlier, and in spite of the fact that the disease was quickly spreading among the factory workers, one of whom, a 27-year veteran of the company, would die within days. And they were still running in spite of the fact that demand for Boeing planes, thanks to the 737 crashes, is at an all-time low, with the company in January, a month in which its archrival Airbus sold 274 planes, reporting its first month in history without a single order. Which is to say, I can think of a lot of reasons Boeing might need a bailout. In December a space capsule the company designed to transport astronauts to the International Space Station failed to launch into orbit during a test mission because its timer was eleven hours off, a potentially half billion dollar mistake that may cost the company billions more in lost NASA business to Elon Musk’s SpaceX. In January, the company revealed that its attempts to load a software fix onto the 737s was repeatedly crashing the planes’ computers. Not long after that, the company finally admitted that the three-year-delay on its KC-46 aerial refueling tanker was going to be, at minimum, another three years. And then of course there’s the $70 billion the company has squandered over the past decade on stock buybacks and dividend checks. What all of these problems have in common is that none of them has shit to do with coronavirus. And neither does the $500 billion corporate bailout the Senate appended to an otherwise vitally important relief package. [Moe Tkacik]

14 years ago, Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, spoke to a TED audience and described what the next pandemic would look like. At the time, it sounded almost too horrible to take seriously. “A billion people would get sick,” he said. “As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3 trillion would be far worse for everyone than merely 100 million people dying, because so many more people would lose their jobs and their health care benefits, that the consequences are almost unthinkable.” […] Larry Brilliant: “The whole epidemiological community has been warning everybody for the past 10 or 15 years that it wasn’t a question of whether we were going to have a pandemic like this. It was simply when. […] By slowing down the curve, or flattening it, we’re not going to decrease the total number of cases, we’re going to postpone many cases, until we get a vaccine—which we will, because there’s nothing in the virology that makes me frightened that we won’t get a vaccine in 12 to 18 months. […] The world is not going to begin to look normal until three things have happened. One, we figure out whether the distribution of this virus looks like an iceberg, which is one-seventh above the water, or a pyramid, where we see everything. If we’re only seeing right now one-seventh of the actual disease because we’re not testing enough, and we’re just blind to it, then we’re in a world of hurt. Two, we have a treatment that works, a vaccine or antiviral. And three, maybe most important, we begin to see large numbers of people—in particular nurses, home health care providers, doctors, policemen, firemen, and teachers who have had the disease—are immune, and we have tested them to know that they are not infectious any longer. And we have a system that identifies them, either a concert wristband or a card with their photograph and some kind of a stamp on it. Then we can be comfortable sending our children back to school, because we know the teacher is not infectious.” [WIRED]

march 26:

Coronavirus Info-Database, an attempt to organize the disparate papers, articles and links

The coronavirus is slowly mutating. But experts say that so far, there’s no sign it’s becoming more harmful to humans — and that slow change is potentially good news for treatments and vaccines.

Italian researchers are looking at whether a higher than usual number of cases of severe pneumonia and flu in Lombardy in the last quarter of 2019 may be a signal that the new coronavirus might have spread beyond China earlier than previously thought.

A ‘negative’ coronavirus test result doesn’t always mean you are not infected

Variation in state quarantine laws and regulations may create differences in the effectiveness of each state’s response to COVID-19, at least to the degree that those laws and regulations are relevant and enforced.

An app to connect, organize and help each other without risking physical contact and New Nextdoor Features

Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait With the Spanish Flu, 1919

march 25:

Nuclear scientists in Austria are closing in on new coronavirus testing kits that could dramatically lower the cost and time it takes to diagnose people for the disease. Covid-19 diagnosis could drop to 10 to 15 euros a person.

We need to test as many people as possible. If we know who is infected, who is not and who has recovered, we could greatly relax social isolation requirements and send both the uninfected and the recovered back to work. Although our health-care system is now struggling to produce enough tests even for those who are likely infected, we recommend a massive mobilization that would allow hundreds of millions to be tested. There are two types of tests, and expanding both would be necessary. The polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test now in use identifies the genetic signature of the live virus and can identify those very recently infected. It requires someone to take swabs and package them, use of a PCR machine and trained professionals to run those machines. The second type of test, a serology test, looks for antibodies or other proteins in the blood formed by the immune reaction to infection. These tests, still in development, could reveal those who had the disease and recovered, and confirm infection of some still with symptoms. It could probably be self-administered and produce results in minutes. With enough of both kinds of tests, a variety of complementary strategies would be possible. Because live disease carriers would be more readily identified, it would be easier to trace and test their contacts and to quarantine the infected, particularly if a period of high isolation now greatly lowers infection rates. In addition, with widespread serology tests, those recovered and presumably now immune and unable to transmit the virus could return to work and resume many social interactions. Although no one is absolutely sure the recovered cannot be reinfected and then infect others, they will almost certainly have substantial resistance. [Washington Post]

Singapore to make its contact-tracing app freely available to developers worldwide

coronavirus RNA found in Princess Cruise ship cabins up to 17 days after passengers left

10 Amazon warehouses hit by coronavirus

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman says he turned $27 million into $2.6 billion during coronavirus crisis

Every day, the same, again

the legend that there is a baby boom nine months after any natural disaster has been debunked, repeatedly

If we do the testing of every single case, rapid isolation of the cases, you should be able to keep cases down low. If you simply rely on the big shut down measures without finding every case, then every time you take the brakes off, it could come back in waves. So that future frankly, may be determined by us and our response as much as the virus.

“If 30% of the population has already been exposed to this then that number will go to 70% in two weeks,” James said. Assuming that having the disease left you with immunity to it, the crisis would then be as good as over

If you have a smartphone, you’re probably contributing to a massive coronavirus surveillance system. And it’s revealing where Americans have — and haven’t — been practicing social distancing. A company called Unacast that collects and analyzes phone GPS location data launched a “Social Distancing Scoreboard” that grades, county by county, which residents are changing behavior at the urging of health officials. It uses the reduction in the total distance we travel as a rough index for whether we’re staying put at home. Comparing the nation’s mass movements from March 20 to an average Friday, Washington, D.C., gets an A, while Wyoming as a whole earns an F. [Washington Post]

A new study of the inner workings of our muscles finds that if muscles have been trained in the past, they seem to develop a molecular memory of working out that lingers through a prolonged period of inactivity, and once we start training again, this “muscle memory” could speed the process by which we regain our former muscular strength and size. [NY Times]

3D printed adapter to turn snorkeling mask into a non-invasive ventilator

How did such a simple thing as soap and warm water — and alcohol-based sanitizers — obtain such power over these parasites?

in other news:

Keeping a smartphone in hand and frequent checking is associated with extraversion and poorer performance on tests of sustained attention and general intelligence, particularly semantic reasoning.

according to a new study, many people will reject their own arguments - if they’re tricked into thinking that other people proposed them

we argue that, at times, the desire to appear honest can actually lead people to lie.

The Liar’s Walk: Detecting Deception with Gait and Gesture

Switzerland has voted as many times as all of the other countries in the world put together in the past century.

Things you can do with a browser in 2020

Where Did “Tibetan” Singing Bowls Really Come From?

Warhol’s Photo of a Painting of a Photo

Science will come up with solutions

The saliva of COVID-19 patients can harbor half a trillion virus particles per teaspoon, and a cough aerosolizes it into a diffuse mist. […] Viruses have been multiplying inside his body ever since. And as he talks, the passage of his breath over the moist lining of his upper throat creates tiny droplets of virus-laden mucus that waft invisibly into the air over your table. Some settle on the as-yet-uneaten food on your plate, some drift onto your fingers, others are drawn into your nasal sinus or settle into your throat. By the time you extend your hand to shake good-bye, your body is carrying 43,654 virus particles. By the time you’re done shaking hands, that number is up to 312,405. […] What she doesn’t know is that an hour before, you went to the bathroom and neglected to wash your hands afterward. The invisible fecal smear you leave on the arm of her jacket contains 893,405 virus particles. […] Fighting for breath, you order an Uber and head to the nearest emergency room. (You leave 376,345,090 virus particles smeared on various surfaces of the car and another 323,443,865 floating in aerosols in the air.) [NY mag]

Researchers found that most coronavirus transmissions had occurred in regions with low temperatures, between 37.4 and 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit (or 3 and 17 degrees Celsius). While countries with equatorial climates and those in the Southern Hemisphere, currently in the middle of summer, have reported coronavirus cases, regions with average temperatures above 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit (or 18 degrees Celsius) account for fewer than 6 percent of global cases so far. The temperature dependency is also clear within the United States, Dr. Bukhari said. Southern states, like Arizona, Florida and Texas, have seen slower outbreak growth compared with states like Washington, New York and Colorado. Coronavirus cases in California have grown at a rate that falls somewhere in between. […] At least two other studies published on public repositories have drawn similar conclusions for the coronavirus. One analysis by researchers in Spain and Finland found that the virus seemed to have found a niche in dry conditions and temperatures between 28.3 degrees and 49 degrees Fahrenheit (or minus 2 and 10 degrees Celsius). […] Warmer temperatures might make it harder for the coronavirus to survive in the air or on surfaces for long periods of time, but it could still be contagious for hours, if not days, Dr. Bukhari said. Even seasonal viruses like influenza and the viruses that cause the common cold don’t completely disappear during summer. [NY Times ]

South Korea has emerged as a sign of hope and a model to emulate. The country of 50 million appears to have greatly slowed its epidemic; it reported only 74 new cases today, down from 909 at its peak on 29 February. And it has done so without locking down entire cities or taking some of the other authoritarian measures that helped China bring its epidemic under control. […] Behind its success so far has been the most expansive and well-organized testing program in the world, combined with extensive efforts to isolate infected people and trace and quarantine their contacts. South Korea has tested more than 270,000 people, which amounts to more than 5200 tests per million inhabitants—more than any other country except tiny Bahrain, according to the Worldometer website. The United States has so far carried out 74 tests per 1 million inhabitants, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. […] Yet whether the success will hold is unclear. […] New clusters are now appearing. Since last week, authorities have reported many new infections, including 129 linked to a Seoul call center. [Science]

Singapore introduces contact tracing app to slow coronavirus spread

Once inside a cell, a virus can make 10,000 copies of itself in a matter of hours. Within a few days, the infected person will carry hundreds of millions of viral particles in every teaspoon of his blood. The onslaught triggers an intense response from the host’s immune system: Defensive chemicals are released. The body’s temperature rises, causing fever. Armies of germ-eating white blood cells swarm the infected region. Often, this response is what makes a person feel sick. […] viruses function through us. With no cellular machinery of their own, they become intertwined with ours. Their proteins are our proteins. Their weaknesses are our weaknesses. Most drugs that might hurt them would hurt us, too. […] For all its evil genius and efficient, lethal design, Kirkegaard said, “the virus doesn’t really want to kill us. It’s good for them, good for their population, if you’re walking around being perfectly healthy.” Evolutionary speaking, experts believe, the ultimate goal of viruses is to be contagious while also gentle on its host. [Washington Post]

46% of the city’s COVID-19 patients are over 50 while 54% are 18-49. The remaining 2% of cases are people age 5 to 17. […] men account for 59% of infected people. Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from the pathogen. [NY Post]

up to 80% of people testing positive for COVID-19 might not have COVID-19

Twenty-first century science played a relatively small role in controlling SARS; nineteenth-century techniques continued to prove their value [ [SARS: how a global epidemic was stopped]

These days I sometimes catch myself wishing to get the virus – in this way, at least the debilitating uncertainty would be over

‘Deep cleaning’ doesn’t mean anything. Still, deep cleaners are in high demand

Free streaming: films, cartoons, ephemeral VHS

Operas & Symphonies Are Hosting Virtual Shows for You to Enjoy at Home

We are hosting a quarantine supper club – every night at 6:33PM Eastern Time

5 Shaolin Qi Gong Breath Exercises to Strengthen the Lungs

Trump Administration Releases Best Case Scenario Projections For Coronavirus Where 8 Million Iranian People Die

‘There exists in the world a single path along which no one can go except you: whither does it lead? Do not ask, go along it.’ –Schopenhauer

Since the start of the pandemic, the virus hasn’t changed in any obviously important ways. It’s mutating in the way that all viruses do. But of the 100-plus mutations that have been documented, none has risen to dominance, which suggests that none is especially important. “The virus has been remarkably stable given how much transmission we’ve seen” […] a person’s genes, the vagaries of their immune system, the amount of virus they’re exposed to, the other microbes in their bodies—might play a role too. In general, “it’s a mystery why some people have mild disease, even within the same age group,” Iwasaki says. [The Atlantic]

The data shows that men and women have roughly the same chance of contracting the virus. When the scientists looked at 44,672 patients confirmed to have the disease, they found there were 106 diagnosed men per 100 women. However, the impact on men appears to be worse, at least among those who were part of this initial study. While 2.8% of the men diagnosed with the disease died, only 1.7% of women did. […] more than 80% experienced only mild symptoms. Almost 14% were classed as severe cases, while the condition of almost 5% was determined to be critical. […] among people aged 49 or younger, only about 0.2% of those who contracted the disease died, compared to 14.8% of those who were 80 and older.

[In Italy] Men make up nearly 60 percent of people with confirmed cases of the virus and more than 70 percent of those who have died of covid-19

[An explanation regarding the high Italy’s (mostly Lombardy’s) death rate. Only those showing symptoms/being hospitalized are tested. Those showing mild or no symptoms are not tested/not confirmed cases.] En Lombardie, où le système est complètement débordé, on n’a plus les moyens de tester. Donc on arrive à un nombre très « faible » de personnes positives. Les 20 000 cas ne sont que la « partie émergée de l’iceberg », et le taux de mortalité anormalement élevé n’est que le reflet de cette double réalité : un nombre de positifs sous-évalué et des hôpitaux qui craquent. Dans le reste du pays, les taux de mortalité sont beaucoup plus faibles, comparables à ce qu’on a pu observer en Asie. Ce qui indique bien que les données italiennes sont complètement faussées, surtout en Lombardie. [Le Monde]

There’s An Unexpected Loss Of Smell And Taste In Coronavirus Patients

The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Foot Traffic

450 Ivy League courses you can take online right now for free

How did Ernest Hemingway describe going bankrupt — ‘gradually, and then suddenly’

How Fear Can Spread Like a Virus

TV medical dramas gives their masks to hospitals to help fight the coronavirus

There were no new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours in Hubei province, China, including the city of Wuhan, where COVID-19 was first discovered, per a post on the local health department’s website Wednesday.

99% of Those Who Died From Virus Had Other Illness, Italy Says

[social distancing] will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more) – given that we predict that transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed. We show that intermittent social distancing – triggered by trends in disease surveillance – may allow interventions to be relaxed temporarily in relative short time windows, but measures will need to be reintroduced if or when case numbers rebound. Last, while experience in China and now South Korea show that suppression is possible in the short term, it remains to be seen whether it is possible long-term, and whether the social and economic costs of the interventions adopted thus far can be reduced. [Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team | PDF]

Antiviral drugs that had held promise as a potential treatment for the coronavirus did not work in one of the first major studies in seriously ill patients, researchers from China reported on Wednesday. “No benefit was observed,” the researchers wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study tested Kaletra, a combination of two antiviral medicines, lopinavir and ritonavir, that are normally used to treat H.I.V.

Recovery depends on the strength of the immune system

The better we get at interventions to identify and isolate specific people with the virus, the less we should need to rely on interventions that isolate the entire population. […] South Korea and Singapore have been successfully addressing their coronavirus epidemics with less extensive social-distancing measures than are currently seen in Italy, France, and parts of the U.S., in part because of their effective testing and surveillance regimes. The Financial Times reports today on the town of Vò, Italy, which successfully stopped its local outbreak though a strategy that involved widespread testing of the population and isolation of those who tested positive, even as the rest of Northern Italy did not fare so well. […]

It is also possible that effective antiviral treatments to treat the sick will be available much sooner than a vaccine that protects the healthy. This is partly because ongoing trials are testing whether already existing antiviral drugs, approved and on the market to fight other viruses, can reduce the severity of COVID-19 and save lives.

{ NY mag | Continue reading }

Evidence is starting to emerge that temperature and humidity do make a difference in the ability of the virus to infect large numbers. […]

Some Southeast Asian nations with close business and tourism links to China have seen surprisingly few cases, even if you assume their less developed public health systems are missing infections. Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines have each seen fewer cases than Estonia, Slovenia or Iceland, despite a combined population more than 100 times as large. […] In extreme cold and very hot and wet conditions the virus is “largely absent,” the researchers from Spain, Portugal and Finland wrote, meaning that people in tropical and polar climates are unlikely to see local transmission of cases. […]

Another pre-print study by four Beijing-based researchers uploaded to the arXiv server last week comes to a similar conclusion after analyzing the infection rates in 100 Chinese cities. […]

Both studies are still just computer models, and neither has been through peer review. On top of that, even a reduced rate of infection will only slow, rather than halt the spread of this pandemic.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }


eight children persistently tested positive on rectal swabs even after nasopharyngeal testing was negative

Bidet sales soar as toilet paper sells out amid coronavirus fears

Surveillance Company Says It’s Deploying ‘Coronavirus-Detecting’ Cameras in US

Don’t touch your face. It’s exactly what will make you sick.

– To protect yourself, sanitize your hands immediately before eating and immediately after touching things touched by others to avoid getting viruses.

– To protect others, use clean hands to touch others’ things or when handling things to others.

– Sanitize objects given to you and only pass objects that have passed your own cleanliness test to others. For example, I have my hand sanitizer bottle open and ready to clean my credit card immediately after I get them back from cashiers, before I put it back in my wallet.

– Sanitize smooth surfaces you are going to touch directly with your hands (e.g. tables and chair edges, places where you set down your phone and computer). Use paper towels to turn off faucets and open bathroom doors.

– To keep the number of times I have to sanitize, I keep track of whether clean objects and hands stay clean. As long as my hands or my objects have not encountered unknown/dirty things after their last cleaning, they don’t need to be recleaned. This is why I suggest immediate sanitation of hands after touching things of unknown cleanliness, so you can resume using your clean things without worry.

– Sanitization can be done by soap and water (hands) or hand sanitizer (hands or objects) or windex (objects)

– Finally, if your hands are clean, you can touch your face.


– I’d suggest not eating prepared salads or sandwiches. There may be no evidence that these are risky, but I prefer my foods cooked anyway.

– Don’t share food, obviously.

– Go outside – sunlight is the best disinfectant.


– 50% of people with virus have no symptoms but will
become immune just like most infected people

– 95% don’t need to go to the hospital

{ Michael Lin, | Continue reading }

We need to stop picturing that ubiquitous “flatten the curve” chart and start imagining a roller coaster. […]

No one knows for sure how long social distancing will have to last to reduce the spread to near zero. But if South Korea and China are appropriate exemplars, we’ll need to stay apart now for at least eight weeks, and maybe more. China locked down Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province on Jan. 23. Today, provincial officials are reporting few or no new cases of the virus. Just a few days ago, they closed the last of their 16 makeshift emergency hospitals. Consequently, restrictions are easing. Schools and offices are slowly opening. People are beginning to go out and see other people. […]

A likely scenario is that there will be subsequent waves of the disease. […] The next round of social distancing will be activated more rapidly, because officials — and the public — will be more prepared. It should also be shorter, because we can assume that most of the people who were initially infected are likely to be immune next time around. But it will still disrupt people’s lives and the economy. We will still have canceled conferences and sporting events. People will not frequent restaurants and will not travel. The service industry will be severely curtailed. And it’s going to happen again and again.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Countermeasures in Wuhan and elsewhere have already reduced the local R0 of COVID-19, with research suggesting the R0 was reduced all the way down to 0.32 in Wuhan in early February after extensive testing and containment measures. In Italy, which implemented aggressive countermeasures fairly late into their local epidemic, preliminary analysis suggests the R0 was reduced from 3 in late February to 1.7 in early March and the number of new cases has dramatically slowed down.

According to an analysis published in the Lancet, approximately 95% of the Wuhan population remained uninfected by the virus at the end of January, after the peak of their crisis, as a result of aggressive countermeasures. These data on their own indicate that herd immunity is not an inevitable outcome, nor is the possibility that up to 80% of the UK population will be infected within the next year.

{ Unherd | Continue reading }

Israeli Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt said most people are naturally immune, and that since the infection rate in China is slowing down, “the end of the pandemic is near.” […]

“The rate of infection of the virus in the Hubei province increased by 30% each day — that is a scary statistic. […] Had the growth continued at that rate, the whole world would have become infected within 90 days. […] In exponential growth models, you assume that new people can be infected every day, because you keep meeting new people. But, if you consider your own social circle, you basically meet the same people every day. You can meet new people on public transportation, for example; but even on the bus, after some time most passengers will either be infected or immune.”


The Diamond Princess cruise ship represented the worst-case scenario in terms of disease spread, as the close confines of the ship offered optimal conditions for the virus to be passed among those aboard. “Those are extremely comfortable conditions for the virus and still, only 20% were infected. It is a lot, but pretty similar to the infection rate of the common flu,” Levitt said. Based on those figures, his conclusion was that most people are simply naturally immune.

However, that doesn’t mean Levitt is dismissive of the precautions being put in place by governments around the world.

{ Jerusalem Post | Continue reading }

Researchers found that the novel coronavirus could be detected on

Copper for up to four hours
Cardboard for up to 24 hours
Plastic and stainless steel for up to two to three days.

Also, the coronavirus could linger in aerosols — the suspension of tiny particles or droplets in the air — for up to three hours.

{ NIH | Continue reading }


Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases

COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv

Was his help inshored in the Stork and Pelican against bungelars, flu and third risk parties?


We can expect that we’ll continue to see a doubling of cases every 6 days (this is a typical doubling time across several epidemiological studies). Here I mean *actual* cases. Confirmed cases may appear to rise faster in the short term due to new test kit rollouts. We’re looking at about 1M US cases by the end of April, 2M by ~May 5, 4M by ~May 11, and so on. Exponentials are hard to grasp, but this is how they go. As the healthcare system begins to saturate under this case load, it will become increasingly hard to detect, track, and contain new transmission chains. In absence of extreme interventions, this likely won’t slow significantly until hitting >>1% of susceptible population. […]

The US has about 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 people. With a population of 330M, this is ~1M beds. At any given time, 65% of those beds are already occupied. That leaves about 330k beds available nationwide (perhaps a bit fewer this time of year with regular flu season, etc). Let’s trust Italy’s numbers and assume that about 10% of cases are serious enough to require hospitalization. (Keep in mind that for many patients, hospitalization lasts for *weeks* — in other words, turnover will be *very* slow as beds fill with COVID19 patients). By this estimate, by about May 8th, all open hospital beds in the US will be filled. (This says nothing, of course, about whether these beds are suitable for isolation of patients with a highly infectious virus.) […]

[T]he doubling time will start to slow once a sizable fraction of the population has been infected, simply because of herd immunity and a smaller susceptible population.

{ Liz Specht | Continue reading }

The median incubation period was estimated to be 5.1 days, and 97.5% of those who develop symptoms will do so within 11.5 days of infection.

{ Annals of Internal Medicine | Continue reading }

related { How the drug industry got its way on the coronavirus }

photo { President Xi Jinping of China, right, was briefed at the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan on Tuesday. The hospital was built in a matter of days in February to treat coronavirus victims. | NY Times }

Prepare for self-quarantine


Most estimates suggest 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild and feel roughly like a flu. Estimates I have seen suggest that roughly 10-15% of cases will be more significant and may necessitate hospital visits (see also) with 1-3% potentially needing an ICU. The concern of many governments is the peak number of cases that occur in a given moment. […]

The reported death rate has hovered around 2% but may in reality be 0.2% to 1% depending on country and healthcare system. Many estimates tend to indicate an overall expected mortality rate of ~0.5% globally. The current existing fatality rate is biased upwards by Wuhan cases dominating the mix (which are closer to a 3-4% death rate and make up most cases). It is possible the virus is being undertested for in China / rest of world driving the real death rate down (as many more people are infected than is reported). […]

R0 value: The spread rate of the virus seems to be well over 2 and likely ~3. This means for every person infected at least 2 to 3 more get the disease.

{ EladGil | Continue reading }

Experts think there may be many people with no symptoms at all, or such mild ones that they never bother to seek medical attention. Because those cases have not been counted, it’s not possible now to know the real proportion of mild versus severe cases. […]

After viral infections, people generally develop antibodies in their blood that will fight off the virus and protect them from contracting it again. It’s reasonable to assume that people who have had the new coronavirus will become immune to it.

But it is not known how long that immunity will last. With other coronaviruses, which cause the common cold, immunity can wane.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

The best estimates so far suggest that Covid-19 kills about 1% of people it infects. That number may go up somewhat or fall significantly; either way it could add up to a dreadful toll.

If 60% of the world’s population is ultimately infected, as suggested by Gabriel Leung, chair of public health medicine at Hong Kong University, a 1% fatality rate would kill almost 50 million people — similar to the 1918 Spanish flu. If that falls to 0.1%, it could still be roughly 10 times more fatal than the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak, which killed several hundred thousand in its first year. […]

The most severe period of initial infection could soon be fading. Respiratory diseases flourish in the cold season and taper off as the weather warms up. That should cause infection rates to slow in the northern hemisphere, while continuing at a lower level in tropical regions and spiking in temperate parts of the southern hemisphere where winter will be setting in. When a new year rolls around, the bulk of the disease will shift back to the northern hemisphere, to begin the cycle again.

Subsequent Covid-19 seasons probably won’t be as serious. Those who survive viruses should be immune from reinfection (though there have been reports of people being diagnosed with Covid-19 for a second time), and as the share of survivors in the population rises, it gets harder for a disease to spread. […]

In a best-case scenario, it’s even possible that vaccines may be available in not much more than a year.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

The only path to flattening the curve for COVID-19 is community-wide isolation: the more people stay home, the fewer people will catch the disease. The fewer people who catch the disease, the better hospitals can help those who do. […]

Get a flu shot, if you haven’t already, and stock up supplies at home so that you can stay home for two or three weeks, going out as little as possible. […] Here’s a handy, one-page guide on what you need.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

related { CoronaCoin: crypto developers seize on coronavirus for new, morbid token }

You live and you learn


The “hygiene hypothesis” […] suggests that people in developed countries are growing up way too clean because of a variety of trends, including the use of hand sanitizers and detergents, and spending too little time around animals.

As a result, children don’t tend to be exposed to as many bacteria and other microorganisms, and maybe that deprives their immune system of the chance to be trained to recognize microbial friend from foe.

That may make the immune system more likely to misfire and overreact in a way that leads to allergies, eczema and asthma, Hesselmar says. […]

In their latest research, the researchers took a look at how people wash their dishes. […] In families who said they mostly wash dishes by hand, significantly fewer children had eczema, and somewhat fewer had either asthma or hay fever, compared to kids from families who let machines wash their dishes.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

photo { Daria Zhemkova photographed by Mario Kroes }