health

The moratorium on la bise, as it’s known in France, brings sorrow, but also relief

parasitic agents (meaning infectious bacteria, fungi, parasitic invertebrates, and viruses) only exist if they’ve managed to avoid their host’s immune system, at least long enough to replicate and send their next generation on to a new host. No infectious agent is descended from an ancestor that was killed before it could replicate. In fact some parasitic agents can have geologically long relationships with their host species such that the two are really coevolved. Despite the evolution of a multifaceted immune system, parasitism is a fundamental principle of life. […]

Plants and the vast majority of animals on earth have no acquired immune system; rather, they have a multiplicity of mechanisms to prevent infection that we collectively term innate immunity. I wish to emphasize that the most effective innate mechanism is the denial of access. […]

Why is innate immunity sufficient for the most abundant species on earth, but not for vertebrates? […]

The proposal here is that contrary to widely held views of practicing immunologists, the immune system is not evolutionarily selected to prevent infection in an absolute sense. Rather, it is selected to make one individual slightly more resistant or at least different than others of the same or related species. The adversary of any individual is not really the world of parasites, they are truly undefeatable, it is his or her neighbor. A zebra doesn’t have to outrun the lion, just the slowest member of the herd.

{ Immunity | Continue reading }

‘Pants Optional’ Wedding On Zoom

42.jpgDrive-through Strip Club

Couple Hosts “Pants Optional” Wedding On Zoom Amid Lockdown

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Warping Our Sense of Time

France’s sports ministry said Thursday that joggers and cyclists will have to stay at least 10 metres (33 feet) from one another once stay-at-home orders are lifted on May 11. [France 24]

The coronavirus has killed so many people in Iran that the country has resorted to mass burials, but in neighboring Iraq, the body count is fewer than 100. The Dominican Republic has reported nearly 7,600 cases of the virus. Just across the border, Haiti has recorded about 85. In Indonesia, thousands are believed to have died of the coronavirus. In nearby Malaysia, a strict lockdown has kept fatalities to about 100. The coronavirus has touched almost every country on earth, but its impact has seemed capricious. Global metropolises like New York, Paris and London have been devastated, while teeming cities like Bangkok, Baghdad, New Delhi and Lagos have, so far, largely been spared. The question of why the virus has overwhelmed some places and left others relatively untouched is a puzzle that has spawned numerous theories and speculations but no definitive answers. […] Interviews with more than two dozen infectious disease experts, health officials, epidemiologists and academics around the globe suggest four main factors that could help explain where the virus thrives and where it doesn’t: demographics, culture, environment and the speed of government responses. [NY Times]

Chinese Scientists Uncover Structural Basis for SARS-CoV-2 Inhibition by Remdesivir

The five-tonne cocaine cargo seized in Antwerp was concealed in a refrigerator container carrying squid from Latin America

The five-tonne cocaine cargo seized in Antwerp was concealed in a refrigerator container carrying squid from Latin America

Rich Americans Seize Historic Chance to Pass On Wealth Tax-Free

Upcoming films from Cannes, Sundance & more on YouTube for Free — The virtual festival will kick off on May 29 and run until June 7. It will feature programming by festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Toronto International, Berlin International, Tribeca, and Venice. [We Are One: A Global Film Festival]

false positives, not reinfections

41.jpgTests in recovered patients found false positives, not reinfections, experts say

The findings of this study suggest that most transmission of COVID-19 occurred at the very early stage of the disease or even before the onset of symptoms. […] High transmissibility of COVID-19 before and immediately after symptom onset suggests that finding and isolating symptomatic patients alone may not suffice to interrupt transmission, and that more generalized measures might be required, such as social distancing. [JAMA Intern Med.]

My problem with contact tracing apps is that they have absolutely no value. I’m not even talking about the privacy concerns, I mean the efficacy. Does anybody think this will do something useful? … This is just something governments want to do for the hell of it. To me, it’s just techies doing techie things because they don’t know what else to do. It has nothing to do with privacy concerns. The idea that contact tracing can be done with an app, and not human health professionals, is just plain dumb.

COVID-19 Futures, Explained With Playable Simulations

the amount of virus exposure

4.jpg The largest Arctic ozone hole ever recorded is now closed

Facial recognition has become more widespread and accurate in recent years, as an artificial intelligence technology called deep learning made computers much better at interpreting images. Governments and private companies use facial recognition to identify people at workplaces, schools, and airports, among other places, although some algorithms perform less well on women and people with darker skin tones. Now the facial-recognition industry is trying to adapt to a world where many people keep their faces covered to avoid spreading disease. […] “We can identify a person wearing a balaclava, or a medical mask and a hat covering the forehead,” says Artem Kuharenko, founder of NtechLab, a Russian company whose technology is deployed on 150,000 cameras in Moscow. He says that the company has experience with face masks through contracts in southeast Asia, where masks are worn to curb colds and flu. US Customs and Border Protection, which uses facial recognition on travelers boarding international flights at US airports, says its technology can identify masked faces. But Anil Jain, a professor at Michigan State University who works on facial recognition and biometrics, says such claims can’t be easily verified. [WIRED | Previously: Frustration grows in China as face masks compromise facial recognition ]

Danes and Czechs say easing lockdowns has produced no Covid-19 surge, South Korea reports no new cases

Does the amount of virus exposure affect disease severity? It looks that way. Many health care workers have become seriously ill with COVID-19, despite being young and healthy. Various reports have suggested it’s because they were exposed to more virus than a typical COVID-19 patient. This is consistent with experimental studies of porcine respiratory coronavirus (PRCV). Scientists found pigs that were inoculated with it developed more severe cases than the pigs that caught the disease naturally. This makes logical sense, since the higher the amount of virus infecting you, the harder it is for your body to control its replication and spread. […] One outcome: The disease could become milder with time. This may have happened with HCoV-OC43, which appears to have diverged from its ancestral virus BCoV around 1890, when it jumped from cattle to humans. Coincidentally, that was also the year of a nasty influenza epidemic — though it may very well have been a coronavirus outbreak, like today’s. The increased mildness of HCoV-OC43 may have been facilitated in part by the deletion of 290 base pairs of the virus’s RNA near the spike gene, which allows a virus to penetrate and infect its host’s cells. This deletion likely hindered its ability to bind effectively, making it harder to produce severe infections. Such evolution by deletion is actually a common feature of these viruses. […] Another possible outcome if SARS-CoV-2 never goes away: recombination, where the virus mixes and matches its genetic material with those of other circulating coronaviruses. These events are frequent, and they can result in the emergence of entirely new viruses. [Quanta]

Four coronaviruses cause around a quarter of all common colds, but each was probably deadly when it first made the leap to humans. What four coronaviruses from history can tell us about covid-19

How Coronavirus Mutates and Spreads

In the early 1950s, psychiatrists began treating schizophrenia with a new drug called chlorpromazine. Seven decades later, the drug is still used as an anti-psychotic.
But now scientists have discovered that the drug, also known as Thorazine, can do something entirely different. It can stop the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19 from invading cells. Driven by the pandemic’s spread, research teams have been screening thousands of drugs to see if they have this unexpected potential to fight the coronavirus. […] The researchers determined that the virus manipulates our cells by locking onto at least 332 of our own proteins. By manipulating those proteins, the virus gets our cells to make new viruses. Dr. Krogan’s team found 69 drugs that target the same proteins in our cells the virus does. They published the list in a preprint last month, suggesting that some might prove effective against Covid-19. […] Most of the 69 candidates did fail. But both in Paris and New York, the researchers found that nine drugs drove the virus down. […] “The things we’re finding are 10 to a hundred times more potent than remdesivir,” Dr. Krogan said. […] Dr. Frieman and Dr. Chanda also found that chloroquine-related drugs worked fairly well in slowing the virus in cell cultures. But Dr. Chanda found they didn’t work as well as the six compounds at the top of his list. [NY Times]

Even assuming that immunity is long-lasting, a very large number of people must be infected to reach the herd immunity threshold required. Given that current estimates suggest roughly 0.5 percent to 1 percent of all infections are fatal, that means a lot of deaths. Perhaps most important to understand, the virus doesn’t magically disappear when the herd immunity threshold is reached. That’s not when things stop — it’s only when they start to slow down.

What Is ‘Covid Toe’? Maybe a Strange Sign of Coronavirus Infection

Researchers are testing whether decades-old vaccines for polio and tuberculosis could protect against infection

Zen Japanese Rock Garden Toast

facial hair and sex

Changes in sexual behaviors of young women and men during the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak (44% of participants reported a decrease in the number of sexual partners and about 37% of participants reported a decrease in sexual frequency)

The effect of facial hair and sex on the dispersal of bacteria below a masked subject (mask wiggling has been reported to increase dermabrasion and bacterial contamination of surfaces immediately below the face … Bearded males may also consider removing their beards)

how much COVID-19 related thinking is too much

Eight Labrador retrievers are being trained to sniff out coronavirus cases. It would not be surprising if the dogs prove adept at detecting SARS-CoV-2. In addition to drugs, explosives and contraband food items, dogs are able to sniff out malaria, cancers and even a bacterium ravaging Florida’s citrus groves. Research has found viruses have specific odors.

Remdesivir, which must be given intravenously, is likely to remain a treatment for patients who are hospitalized. But it is also likely that it will be most effective in patients who have been infected more recently, said Nahid Bhadelia, medical director of the special pathogens unit at Boston Medical Center. “We know that with most antiviral medications the earlier you give it the better it is.” That means that better diagnostic testing will be essential to identifying patients who could benefit. [STAT]

Researchers say people can catch mild, cold-causing coronaviruses twice in the same year. The research included four coronaviruses, HKU1, NL63, OC42, and C229E, which circulate widely every year but don’t get much attention because they only cause common colds. [study]

COVID-19 study shows that men have over double the death rate of women

In summary, COVID-19 might be associated with hypercoagulability

The US already has the technology to test millions of people a day

Five things we need to do to make contact tracing really work (It won’t be easy)

“As we speak, there are 100 hairless mice being exposed for 15 months,” said David J. Brenner, director of Columbia’s Center for Radiological Research. The mice live under the lights eight hours a day and get eye and skin tests every couple of weeks, and after eight months the researchers have found no damage, “which is encouraging.” The lamps could have helped prevent the spread of covid-19, Brenner said, but “it’s come a little too soon for us. If it had come at this time next year, we’d be in a good position to fight it.” […] Boeing is experimenting with lavatories that can sanitize themselves in less than three seconds. Engineers at the U.S. manufacturer and its top competitor, Airbus, have explored changing the way air moves around passengers to reduce infections. [Washington Post]

Current antibody surveys are revealing, furthermore, that immunity to COVID-19 can vary widely from location to location. The pandemic may be global but, as Yonatan Grad, an immunologist at Harvard University, told me, “it is made up of hyperlocal epidemics that are differentially impacting communities.”

Sewage may be key to tracking covid-19 outbreaks, researchers find. Researchers have detected genetic traces of the coronavirus in the wastewater in the Bay Area in California and in Massachusetts, as well as in European cities including Rome, Paris and Amsterdam.

Florida has at least two obvious advantages over somewhere like New York when it comes to keeping one’s distance: More people live in single-family homes, and more people travel by car than public transportation.

Coronavirus: ‘I’m tattooing myself every day in lockdown, but I’m running out of space’

Drink Camel Urine To Cure Coronavirus, Prophetic Medicine Man Says (w/ video)

intra-household contagion

In this paper, we explore different channels to explain the disparities in COVID- 19 incidence across New York City neighborhoods. … We find evidence consistent with higher intra-household contagion as days go by. … Although commuting patterns have been put forth as a major factor in the spread of the disease in NYC, we show that, after including occupation controls, they fail to significantly explain variation in share of positive tests at the zip code level. [Previously: Home outbreaks were the dominant category, followed by transport]

In NSW, from March to mid-April 2020, 18 individuals (9 students and 9 staff) from 15 schools were confirmed as COVID-19 cases; all of these individuals had an opportunity to transmit the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) to others in their schools. 735 students and 128 staff were close contacts of these initial 18 cases. One child from a primary school and one child from a high school may have contracted COVID-19 from the initial cases at their schools. No teacher or staff member contracted COVID-19 from any of the initial school cases. [NCIRS]

The proposed full scale model (applied to real COVID-19 dynamics in London, Moscow and New York City) shows that top 10% spreaders (100+ higher viral loading than median infector) transmit 45% of new cases. Rapid isolation of superspreaders leads to 4-8 fold mitigation of pandemic depending on applied quarantine strength and amount of currently infected people. New testing strategy may prevent thousand or millions COVID-19 deaths requiring just about 5000 daily RT-PCR test for big 12 million city such as Moscow. [medRxiv]

We find that mass-testing is much less effective than testing the symptomatic and contact tracing, and some blend of these with social distancing is required to achieve suppression. […] Even with an expectation of less than one new case per person, our model shows that exponential spread is possible. […] Without full lockdown, mass testing of the general population to search for unknown infected individuals is mostly futile for containment, since it would require near universal testing to be effective, which is far beyond current capacity. […] To create containment, we need to test 30% of the population every day. If we only test 10% of the population every day, we get 34% of the population infected - no containment. [Modeling COVID-19 on a network: super-spreaders, testing and containment]

We use mobile-phone-data-based counts of 11,478,484 people egressing or transiting through the prefecture of Wuhan between 1 January and 24 January 2020 as they moved to 296 prefectures throughout China. First, we document the efficacy of quarantine in ceasing movement. Second, we show that the distribution of population outflow from Wuhan accurately predicts the relative frequency and geographic distribution of COVID-19 infections through February 19, 2020, across all of China. Third, we develop a spatio-temporal “risk source” model that leverages population flow data (which operationalizes risk emanating from epidemic epicenters) to not only forecast confirmed cases, but also to identify high-transmission-risk locales at an early stage. Fourth, we use this risk source model to statistically derive the geographic spread of COVID-19 and the growth pattern based on the population outflow from Wuhan. [Nature]

Chinese scientists report that they captured tiny droplets containing the genetic markers of the virus from the air in two hospitals in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak started. It remains unknown if the virus in the samples they collected was infectious, but droplets that small, which are expelled by breathing and talking, can remain aloft and be inhaled by others. Scientists do not know yet whether the viruses remain infectious or whether the tests just detected harmless virus fragments. [NY Times | Nature]

The new serological data, which is provisional, suggests that coronavirus infections greatly outnumber confirmed covid-19 cases, potentially by a factor of 10 or more. Higher infection rates mean lower lethality risk on average. But the corollary is that this is a very contagious disease capable of being spread by people who are asymptomatic. […] an infection fatality rate between 0.5 and 0.8 percent, depending on which death toll is factored in. […] A rate of 0.5 percent “is way more than a usual flu season and I would think way more than the ’57 or 1968 [influenza] pandemic death toll, too,” Viboud said. […] Epidemiologists have said somewhere between 40 to 70 percent of the population will likely become infected in the next couple of years if there is no vaccine and the public does not take aggressive measures to limit the spread of the virus. “Do the math!” [Washington Post]

Jan Albert, a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden: “It’s clear that Sweden had more deaths [than many other European countries] up until now, and that’s probably at least in part because we haven’t had as strict a lockdown and not a lockdown enforced by law. What’s the strategy of the other countries?” he asked. “It [herd immunity] was already the only thing that will eventually stop this, unless there is a vaccine in time, which is quite unlikely. “The truth is that no one, no one in Sweden, no one elsewhere either, knows what the best strategy is. Time will tell.” He said that he believed that stricter lockdowns “only serve to flatten the curve and flattening the curve doesn’t mean that cases disappear — they are just moved in time.” [CNN]

Africa’s youthful population may also help to explain the low death rate so far. The median age in Africa is 19.4 years, compared with 40 in Europe and 38 in the US.

Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido offers a grim lesson in the next phase of the battle against COVID-19. It acted quickly and contained an early outbreak of the coronavirus with a 3-week lockdown. But, when the governor lifted restrictions, a second wave of infections hit even harder. [Twenty-six days later, the island was forced back into lockdown.]

The Belgian government has reportedly been considering allowing people to form “social bubbles” of 10 people. The memo proposed that a bubble of people could spend time together on weekends, as long as all 10 people agreed to socialize exclusively with each other.

In Vilnius, Lithuania, some cafés will be able to set up outdoor tables free of charge

ROMO, the reality of missing out

53.jpgBig tech doesn’t build anything. It’s not likely to give us vaccines or diagnostic tests. We don’t even seem to know how to make a cotton swab. Those hoping the US could turn its dominant tech industry into a dynamo of innovation against the pandemic will be disappointed. The pandemic shows that the US is no longer much good at coming up with technologies relevant to our most basic needs.

Combining these large-scale data with a transmission model of social interactions and transmission in four settings (home, school, work, other) we were able to simulate where contacts are typically made, and how effective different approaches might be. […] If there were 10,000 new symptomatic cases per day, it meant around 150,000 to 400,000 contacts would be quarantined each day under the scenarios we considered. […] We also looked Iceland-scale mass population testing (i.e. 0.7% of population per day). Such testing would be very helpful for monitoring the epidemic, but unsurprisingly it had a negligible impact on reducing transmission, because cases would be detected too late (if at all) [Adam Kucharski, Twitter thread]

Of the 661 participants, 171 participants (25.9%) had anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. […] The proportion of infected individuals who had no symptoms during the study period was 17.0%. […] The infection attack rate (IAR) was defined as the proportion of participants with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection based on antibody detection. […] The relatively low IAR observed in an area where SARS-CoV-2 actively circulated weeks before confinement measures indicates that establishing herd immunity will take time, and that lifting these measures in France will be long and complex. [medRxiv]

A small but rising number of children are becoming ill with a rare syndrome that could be linked to coronavirus, with reported cases showing symptoms of abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms and cardiac inflammation

We Still Don’t Know How the Coronavirus Is Killing Us

Mortality statistics show 122,000 deaths in excess of normal levels across these locations, considerably higher than the 77,000 official Covid-19 deaths reported for the same places and time periods.

Women are better at fighting Covid-19, so doctors are giving men estrogen patches

One of Israel’s largest health maintenance organizations is using artificial intelligence to help identify which of the 2.4 million people it covers are most at risk of severe covid-19 complications. Once identified, individuals are put on a fast track for testing. The AI was adapted from an existing system trained to identify people most at risk from the flu, using millions of records from Maccabi going back 27 years. To make its predictions, the system draws on a range of medical data, including a person’s age, BMI, health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, and previous history of hospital admissions. The AI can trawl through a vast number of records and spot at-risk individuals who might have been missed otherwise. [Technology Review]

The Oxford scientists now say that with an emergency approval from regulators, the first few million doses of their vaccine could be available by September — at least several months ahead of any of the other announced efforts — if it proves to be effective. Now, they have received promising news suggesting that it might. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana last month inoculated six rhesus macaque monkeys with single doses of the Oxford vaccine. The animals were then exposed to heavy quantities of the virus that is causing the pandemic — exposure that had consistently sickened other monkeys in the lab. But more than 28 days later all six were healthy, said Vincent Munster, the researcher who conducted the test. “The rhesus macaque is pretty much the closest thing we have to humans…” [NY Times]

A purified inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus vaccine candidate (PiCoVacc) confers complete protection in non-human primates against SARS-CoV-2 strains circulating worldwide by eliciting potent humoral responses devoid of immunopathology [bioRxiv]

Preliminary results from a clinical trial of remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug being tested for coronavirus, could come in as little as one to two weeks. Information leaked to STAT News suggested that coronavirus patients receiving remdesivir in a clinical trial were recovering quickly. But STAT’s report was based on a recorded discussion of the trial, and it offered few details.

A Chinese trial showed that the drug [remdesivir] had not been successful. The US firm behind the drug, Gilead Sciences, said the document had mischaracterised the study.

04 February 2020.— An efficient approach to drug discovery is to test whether the existing antiviral drugs are effective in treating related viral infections. The 2019-nCoV [subsequently named SARS-CoV-2] belongs to Betacoronavirus which also contains SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV). Several drugs, such as ribavirin, interferon, lopinavir-ritonavir, corticosteroids, have been used in patients with SARS or MERS, although the efficacy of some drugs remains controversial.3 In this study, we evaluated the antiviral efficiency of five FAD-approved drugs including ribavirin, penciclovir, nitazoxanide, nafamostat, chloroquine and two well-known broad-spectrum antiviral drugs remdesivir (GS-5734) and favipiravir (T-705) against a clinical isolate of 2019-nCoV in vitro. […] Our findings reveal that remdesivir and chloroquine are highly effective in the control of 2019-nCoV infection in vitro. [Cell research]

While we will run very big budget deficits over the next couple of years, they will do little if any harm. […] The government will be able to borrow that money at incredibly low interest rates. In fact, real interest rates — rates on government bonds protected against inflation — are negative. So the burden of the additional debt as measured by the rise in federal interest payments will be negligible. [Paul Krugman]

Drive-in movies are proving popular in a pandemic

“By sharing your message with us using #MayThe4th, you agree to our use of the message and your account name in all media and our terms of use here: disneytermsofuse.com.”

this will be our year (The World vs. SARS-Cov-2) [Audio]

irradiance and solar zenith angle

We show case and death counts had significantly lower growth rates at higher temperatures (>14 °C) when aligned for stage in the epidemic. We show irradiance and in particular solar zenith angle in combination with cloudopacity explain COVID-19 morbidity and mortality growth better than temperature.

Healthy people in their 30s and 40s barely sick with covid-19 are dying from strokes

People are dying from coronavirus because we’re not fast enough at clinical research

we propose that reduced innate antiviral defenses coupled with exuberant inflammatory cytokine production are the defining and driving feature of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Superspreader Events in 28 Countries: Critical Patterns and Lessons

Modelling COVID-19 exit strategies for policy makers in the United Kingdom

Experts offer four benchmarks that can serve as a guide for cities and states, eliminating some of the guesswork. Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.

There is “no evidence” that people who recover from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection. “People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission.”

Covid Economics, Issue 9, 24 April 2020 (Covid-19 and the macroeconomic effects of costly disasters, Air passenger mobility, travel restrictions, and the transmission of the covid-19 pandemic between countries, A cost-benefit analysis of the Covid-19 disease…)

What economy class could look like after virus

Facebook gets rid of ‘pseudoscience’ ad-targeting category

How to spot a doctor before the invention of the stethoscope — Wee (urine flasks), wigs (doctors sported what was known as a full-bottomed wig, which was as identifiable as the long wigs of judges or the pigtailed ones of barristers today)…

a few repeated contacts

4.jpg

Our models demonstrate that while social distancing measures clearly do flatten the curve, strategic reduction of contact can strongly increase their efficiency, introducing the possibility of allowing some social contact while keeping risks low. Limiting interaction to a few repeated contacts emerges as the most effective strategy.

More than 21 percent of around 1,300 people in New York City who were tested for coronavirus antibodies this week were found to have them […] possibly as many as 2.7 million […] It would mean that the fatality rate from the virus was relatively low, about 0.5 percent [more]

The challenges of antibody testing for Covid-19 — no tests to date have performed well

scientists say the true potential of the rapidly developed antibody tests is still unknown

Developing antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2

About a quarter of Covid-19 patients put on ventilators in New York’s largest health system died, study

As virus advances, doctors rethink rush to ventilate

Las Vegas Mayor Offers Up Her City to See How Many Die Without Social Distancing

The concept of herd immunity is a simple one. But achieving it? Not so much.

In Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland and Norway, the % of COVID-related deaths in care homes ranges from 49% to 64%

We present a case of COVID-19 with an initial medical presentation of keratoconjunctivitis, the first such reported case in North America. The patient’s primary symptom was a red eye with watery discharge, though she did have mild respiratory symptoms, without fever. A conjunctival swab of the affected eye was positive for the SAR-CoV-2 virus.

In this study, one-third of patients with COVID-19 had ocular abnormalities, which frequently occurred in patients with more severe COVID-19. Although there is a low prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in tears, it is possible to transmit via the eyes.

Officials probe the threat of a coronavirus bioweapon

Former Labradoodle breeder tapped to lead U.S. pandemic task force

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) on reopening state: ‘There are more important things than living’

Here’s how one security and tech-savvy reader got taken for more than $10,000 in an elaborate, weeks-long phone-based scam.

Amazon Scooped Up Data From Its Own Sellers to Launch Competing Products

Want to Find a Misinformed Public? Facebook’s Already Done It - While vowing to police COVID-19 misinformation on its platform, Facebook let advertisers target users interested in“pseudoscience”

the strength of your immune system

COVID-19 is, in many ways, proving to be a disease of uncertainty. According to a new study from Italy, some 43 percent of people with the virus have no symptoms. Among those who do develop symptoms, it is common to feel sick in uncomfortable but familiar ways—congestion, fever, aches, and general malaise. Many people start to feel a little bit better. Then, for many, comes a dramatic tipping point. “Some people really fall off the cliff, and we don’t have good predictors of who it’s going to happen to,” Stephen Thomas, the chair of infectious diseases at Upstate University Hospital, told me. Those people will become short of breath, their heart racing and mind detached from reality. They experience organ failure and spend weeks in the ICU, if they survive at all. Meanwhile, many others simply keep feeling better and eventually totally recover. […] This degree of uncertainty has less to do with the virus itself than how our bodies respond to it. As Murphy puts it, when doctors see this sort of variation in disease severity, “that’s not the virus; that’s the host.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, people around the world have heard the message that older and chronically ill people are most likely to die from COVID-19. But that is far from a complete picture of who is at risk of life-threatening disease. Understanding exactly how and why some people get so sick while others feel almost nothing will be the key to treatment. […] The people who get the most severely sick from COVID-19 will sometimes be unpredictable, but in many cases, they will not. They will be the same people who get sick from most every other cause. Cytokines like IL-6 can be elevated by a single night of bad sleep. Over the course of a lifetime, the effects of daily and hourly stressors accumulate. Ultimately, people who are unable to take time off of work when sick—or who don’t have a comfortable and quiet home, or who lack access to good food and clean air—are likely to bear the burden of severe disease. [The Atlantic]

“We are running a medical study here in Miami-Dade, we’re trying to figure out exactly what is the penetration of COVID-19 here in Miami-Dade. Over last week we did a random sample of about 800 of people in Miami-Dade. And what we found is that 60% of those people tested positive to the antibody which means they had it or they have it now, and they have exhibited absolutely no symptoms in the last 14 days.” [Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez | The 11th Hour with Brian Williams]

French researchers to test nicotine patches on coronavirus patients

Saliva is more sensitive for SARS-CoV-2 detection in COVID-19 patients than nasopharyngeal swabs

Doctor groups are recommending testing and isolation for people who lose their ability to smell and taste, even if they have no other symptoms.

prevalence, intensity, and timing of an altered sense of smell or taste in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infections altered sense of smell or taste was reported by 130 patients (64.4%) among these 130 patients 45 (34.6%) also reported blocked nose. Other frequent symptoms were fatigue (68.3%), dry or productive cough (60.4%), and fever (55.5%).

The novel coronavirus appears to be causing sudden strokes in adults in their 30s and 40s who are not otherwise terribly ill, doctors reported Wednesday and Signs of blood thickening and clotting were being detected in different organs by doctors from different specialties

Facebook released a map showing the proportion of people who say they have experienced coronavirus symptoms in each state in the US.

COVID-19 antibody testing in L.A. County: You’re going to be testing a randomly selected group of roughly 1,000 people every few weeks for several months. Why?

At least two people who died in early and mid-February had contracted the novel coronavirus, health officials in California said Tuesday, signaling the virus may have spread — and been fatal — in the United States weeks earlier than previously thought.

On Jan. 15, at the international airport south of Seattle, a 35-year-old man returned from a visit to his family in the Wuhan region. He grabbed his luggage and booked a ride-share to his home north of the city. The next day, as he went back to his tech job east of Seattle, he felt the first signs of a cough — not a bad one, not enough to send him home. He attended a group lunch with colleagues that week at a seafood restaurant near his office. As his symptoms got worse, he went grocery shopping near his home. Days later, after the man became the first person in the United States to test positive for the coronavirus, teams from federal, state and local agencies descended to contain the case. Sixty-eight people — the ride-share driver at the airport, the lunchmates at the seafood restaurant, the other patients at the clinic where the man was first seen — were monitored for weeks. To everyone’s relief, none ever tested positive for the virus. But if the story ended there… […] A genetically similar version of the virus — directly linked to that first case in Washington — was identified across 14 other states, as far away as Connecticut and Maryland. It settled in other parts of the world, in Australia, Mexico, Iceland, Canada, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. It landed in the Pacific, on the Grand Princess cruise ship. The unique signature of the virus that reached America’s shores in Seattle now accounts for a quarter of all U.S. cases made public by genomic sequencers in the United States. […] Even as the path of the Washington State version of the virus was coursing eastward, new sparks from other strains were landing in New York, in the Midwest and in the South. And then they all began to intermingle. […] on Feb. 24, a teenager came into a clinic with what looked like the flu. The clinic was in Snohomish County, where the man who had traveled to China lived. […] Only later did they learn that the teenager had not had the flu, but the coronavirus. […] The case was consistent with being a direct descendant of the first U.S. case, from Wuhan. […] The teenager had not been in contact with the man who had traveled to Wuhan, so far as anyone knew. He had fallen ill long after that man was no longer contagious. […] This could only mean one thing: The virus had not been contained to the traveler from Wuhan and had been spreading for weeks. [NY Times]

America’s armed forces can do more to protect against future outbreaks. Here’s how.

The Subways Seeded the Massive Coronavirus Epidemic in New York City and the paper cites no evidence.

The Entire U.S. Box Office This Weekend Came From a Single Florida Drive-in Theater

The [European Union] funds were distributed under a formula that sent far more to Hungary and Poland than to virus-ravaged Spain or Italy.

IKEA Released Its Swedish Meatball Recipe

Best ways of cooking veggies for maximum immunity boosting, and more

a mutation in the ABCC11 gene could explain why a large fraction of the population in the Far East lack body odour formation.

Flaw in iPhone, iPads may have allowed hackers to steal data for years

Air pollution, testicles, farts, stool, sanitizers

Air pollution may be ‘key contributor’ to Covid-19 deaths. Research shows almost 80% of deaths across four countries were in most polluted regions.

We found that when the person said “stay healthy,” numerous droplets ranging from 20 to 500 μm were generated

Parents name their baby ‘Sanitiser’

Out of Spain’s 40,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, 5,400 — nearly 14 percent — are medical professionals. In France, the public hospital system in Paris has tallied 490 infected staff members, a small but growing proportion of the system’s 100,000 or so employees.

France: By 11 May, when interventions are scheduled to be eased, we project 3.7 million (range: 2.3-6.7) people, 5.7% of the population, will have been infected. Population immunity appears insufficient to avoid a second wave if all control measures are released at the end of the lockdown.

Swedish data again - hospitalisations slowing down without full lockdown. Though definitely worse than other nearby countries who reacted more aggressively eg Norway

predictions [for Stockholm] show that the peak of infections appear in mid-April and infections start settling in May.

Testicles may make men more vulnerable to coronavirus

The duration of SARS-CoV-2 is significantly longer in stool samples than in respiratory and serum samples, highlighting the need to strengthen the management of stool samples in the prevention and control of the epidemic, and the virus persists longer with higher load and peaks later in the respiratory tissue of patients with severe disease.

More US labs could be providing tests for coronavirus (Nearly 1,600 said that they had the main tool needed to run tests, 130 are running tests)

Stock prices are not reflecting the value of companies and the S&P 500 could fall hard and fast, in a miniature version of Monday’s oil rout (when WTI crude futures fell from $17.85 a barrel to -$37.63) after a 25% rally since March 23.

Can the coronavirus be spread through farts?

we did not find compelling evidence that women are particularly inclined to wear red or pink during peak fertility, even on relatively cold days.

when experiencing the love condition, the temperature of the nasal tip of the subjects increased

Bilingualism Affords No General Cognitive Advantages

Oil prices traded below $0 for the first time ever

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New Zealand isn’t just flattening the curve. It’s squashing it. It took only 10 days for signs that the approach here — “elimination” rather than the “containment” goal of the United States and other Western countries — is working. […] The health minister was caught mountain biking and taking his family to the beach. He was publicly chastised by Ardern, who said she would have fired him if it weren’t disruptive to the crisis response. […] “Other countries have had a gradual ramp-up, but our approach is exactly the opposite,” he said. While other Western countries have tried to slow the disease and “flatten the curve,” New Zealand has tried to stamp it out entirely. [Washington Post | The Conversation

Carl T. Bergstrom: letting the epidemic go through to herd immunity is worse than it sounds and Some nations may simply lack the economic resources, technological capacity, and political will to contain the virus until a vaccine can be developed. Should this happen, I think it is important to consider how more modest control efforts could yield major benefits.

In January, at a restaurant in Guangzhou, China, one diner infected with the novel coronavirus but not yet feeling sick appeared to have spread the disease to nine other people. One of the restaurant’s air-conditioners apparently blew the virus particles around the dining room. […] There were 73 other diners who ate that day on the same floor of the five-story restaurant, and the good news is they did not become sick. Neither did the eight employees who were working on the floor at the time. All of the people who became sick at the restaurant in China were either at the same table as the infected person or at one of two neighboring tables. The fact that people farther away remained healthy is a hopeful hint that the coronavirus is primarily transmitted through larger respiratory droplets, which fall out of the air more quickly than smaller droplets known as aerosols, which can float for hours. [NY Times]

Up-to-date values for Rt in US, a key measure of how fast the virus is growing.

There’s no guarantee, experts say, that a fully effective COVID-19 vaccine is possible. There’s never been a vaccine for a member of this family of viruses, and even if one is found for COVID-19, it may be imperfect — like the flu shot. [NY mag]

Unusual tactics to fight Covid-19 from around the world (gender-based lockdowns, weekend-only lockdowns…)

267 million Facebook profiles sold for $600 on the dark web