Even as the coronavirus outbreak takes the world by storm, a number of other diseases are also rearing their ugly heads. Cases of swine flu and bird flu have already been reported in India and other countries. Now, a man from China has tested positive for hantavirus.
China’s Global Times tweeted that the man from Yunnan Province died while on his way back to Shandong Province for work on a bus on Monday. The 32 other people on the bus were also tested for the virus.
What exactly is the hantavirus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hantaviruses are a family of viruses which are spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied diseases in people.
It can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).
The disease is not airborne and can only spread to people if they come in contact with urine, feces, and saliva of rodents and less frequently by a bite from an infected host.
Symptoms of hantavirus
Early symptoms of HPS include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches, along with headaches, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems. If left untreated, it can lead to coughing and shortness of breath and can be fatal, with a mortality rate of 38 percent, according to CDC.
While countries grapple with the spread of the coronavirus, a different kind of virus is causing panic in China, after a man died of the #hantavirus. The #CCPvirus (#coronavirus) has cost an unknown number of lives in Wuhan alone—possibly numbering in the thousands or tens of thousands. And now, one resident wants to hold the local officials accountable for the devastation. Earlier this month, several lawyers in the U.S brought the Chinese regime to court for covering up the outbreak, allowing it to become a pandemic. Now a Chinese lawyer is trying to shift the blame to the United States The president of Harvard University and his wife just tested positive for the CCP virus. The couple are self-isolating at home. ——— Subscribe for more first-hand news from China, please click here: http://bit.ly/2vhu9Ej For more news and videos, please visit ☛: https://www.ntd.com/china-in-focus Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChinaInFocusNTD Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NTDChinainFocus
Rally is probably not the right word. A significant movement, perhaps even a revolution of epic noble intentions, is underway in hackerspaces, makerspaces, and sewing groups to come together and solve a problem to save lives at risk with the Coronavirus.
You can help. Today, right now. Are you sitting in your apartment or house in some sort of state-wide lockdown? You can do something to help others. People of all ages and walks of life are diving in to make a difference. Check out some of these amazing initiatives, both small and large:
Joost De Cock (Old Dutch for “The Cook”) started the FreeSewing Open Source Project from his home in the Netherlands to provide free sewing patterns. Recently, his wife who is a surgeon started seeing potential shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE). Joost knew what to do, so he posted it to FreeSewing in late February. People thought he was being silly as a handmade mask would never be used by professionals. (I love the brand for FreeSewing.org, by the way.)
If you think that a handmade mask cannot be used, think again. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a place for them — in times of crisis, like the one we are in right now. On the CDC page: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks, they explain that as a last resort, a homemade mask is acceptable. Frankly, we are at that stage right now. Here’s how they explain it in the Crisis Strategy section, When No Facemasks Are Available, Options Include:
“Healthcare personnel (HCP) use of homemade masks:
In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.”
It is possible that the government and manufacturers will ramp up in a wartime-like effort, but the reinforcement is more likely to come from the people. Millions of masks are needed. People are starting to make them and it is going to be a big deal.
Clearly, there is a shortage of the manufactured N95 respirator. You know this. Healthcare workers know this. If you have been hoarding them, let me cut to the chase — there are people and organizations who need your extras and you can do the right thing and donate them. Get in touch with Holly Figueroa O’Reilly on Twitter — she is organizing the distribution of masks. Karen Booth is another person listing out different projects as she starts making masks herself. Follow the hashtags #millionmaskchallenge and #millionmaskmayday and scroll through and you will find programs and projects around the USA and world.
People like Joost, Katelyn, Holly, and Karen are bringing enormous good into the world. When I asked Joost why he was doing this FreeSewing project, he pointed me to his Pledge page where he explains that all the funds that come into the project are donated to Doctors Without Borders. All of it. Why? He pointed me to that page again: “I don’t know if you’re familiar with the phrase ‘noblesse oblige’ but it essentially means that privilege entails responsibility.” Then said, “I mean every word of it.”
Makers, hackers, craftspeople are awesome. Coronavirus does not stand a chance. Tweet, tweet.
Additional Resources for Open Source or Volunteer COVID-19 Projects:
One of my favorite how-to sites is Instructables. The DIY Cloth Face Mask has almost 100,000 views. It is a step-by-step instruction for those who need it. Kudos to ashevillejm.
If you are looking for some research and street-level testing of various materials for DIY mask-making, this post from Smart Air Filters is exceptional: What Are The Best Materials for Making DIY Masks? It also includes a few great links at the end of it.
I’m a Tech and Productivity guy. Do you have #lifehacks, #DIYtips, #HowTO ideas? Click the little “House” icon below to get to my website where you can submit ideas (via a Google spreadsheet). I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading and connecting. Sign up for my Tech Tips email. You can find me at the LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter link buttons, too. I still also cover a bit of my old beat on 3D printing, hardware, software, and mobile apps, as well.
This is a translation of the video I made for an initiative by Make in Belgium. Different rules and requirements may exist in your area, so please check with your local health providers before making and donating masks. Download the (Dutch) pattern on http://maakjemondmasker.be A big hurrah for Make in Belgium for organizing this wonderful initiative. And thank you to Henk Rijckaert for involving me in this. Check out his YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/henkrijc… INSTAGRAM: http://www.instagram.com/craftswithellen PATREON: http://www.patreon.com/craftswithellen ————————— DISCLAIMER Even though my videos are set up as tutorials, I’m not professionally trained in any of these crafts. The tools that I use can be dangerous. Don’t try a craft if you are unfamiliar with the tools and the necessary safety precautions. Be safe!
Topline: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a Sunday CNN appearance that “if we don’t get more ventilators in the next 10 days, people will die who don’t have to die” as the city—now the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus epidemic—faces a possible shortage of medical supplies.
“We’re about 10 days from seeing widespread shortages,” de Blasio said, adding, “We have seen next to nothing from the federal government at this point.”
De Blasio also said that the military hasn’t been mobilized by the Trump administration, and that the Defense Production Act, which the president invoked by executive order Wednesday, has not been put into motion.
“It feels like we’re on our own at this point,” de Blasio said, adding that April would be worse for New York City than March has been, and he fears May could be even worse.
CNN also reported Sunday that Federal Emergency Management Agency head Peter Gaynor could not provide a number of how many medical masks were in the federal stockpile or how many have been shipped to state and local governments.
In a sign of demand on medical supplies, a Friday letter from a New York-Presbyterian Hospital department head said each employee would only be given one N95 mask (when it typically uses 4,000 per day).
Big number: 300 million. That’s how many masks could be needed for healthcare workers versus the current stockpile of 30 million, as testified to Congress by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the end of February.
Key background: The Defense Production Act is intended to be used by Trump to obtain “health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of Covid-19, including personal protective equipment and ventilators.” Trump faced questions Thursday around his reticence to use the Defense Production Act to compel companies to produce healthcare items to combat the coronavirus, one day after he said he’d be invoking its powers. The New York Times reported Thursday that both the U.S. and countries abroad are facing a shortage of ventilators, with manufacturers saying that they can’t increase production to meet the demand.
I’m a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I hold a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Previous bylines: Gotham Gazette, Bklyner, Thrillist, Task & Purpose and xoJane.
This year, people with asthma also have COVID-19 to worry about. Like other coronaviruses, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, has infected over 135,00 people and killed nearly 5,000 as of March 13. According to health officials, those most at risk are older populations or people with pre-existing medical conditions. Now, many sufferers of asthma are asking themselves whether their condition puts them at a higher risk.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says yes. It lists asthma, along with diabetes and heart disease, as conditions that make someone “more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.” The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also lists asthma as a chronic medical conditions which makes one more at risk, noting that asthmatics should “take precautions when any type of respiratory illness is spreading in their community.”
But experts told TIME there is little definitive evidence to say whether asthma increases the likelihood of catching the virus or of experiencing more severe illness. “The data that we have so far from China and South Korea does not identify people with asthma as being at risk of getting the virus or having more severe illness with the virus,” Sebastian Johnston, a professor of respiratory medicine & allergy at the U.K. National Heart and Lung Institute tells TIME.
David Jackson, a consultant respiratory physician and clinical lead for asthma care at Guy’s Hospital in London also says that “asthma currently doesn’t seem to be a significant risk factor for a more severe infection,” adding that the new coronavirus does not seem to be affecting asthmatics in the same way as other viruses generally.
Research on COVID-19 is at a very preliminary stage, but one study of 140 infected patients found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the illness, has no effect on asthma. With that said, asthma has worsened with other strains of coronavirus.
However, while studies have not yet shown a link between asthma and more severe cases of COVID-19, asthmatics are at risk of more severe illness with respiratory viruses in general—and some experts say people with asthma should make additional provisions.
Johnston says people with asthma should follow all recommended precautions—such as social distancing, avoiding contact with people who have respiratory symptoms, and washing hands—but added that all asthmatics, even those with mild symptoms, should be taking their preventer inhalers “diligently” as a precautionary measure. They should also carry Ventolin—their blue reliever inhalers—with them in case of an asthma attack. Older viruses like the seasonal flu remain a threat, he notes, and people with asthma should get the seasonal flu vaccine.
A pharmacist gives Jennifer Haller, left, the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical … [+]
A new phase 1 clinical trial of a potential vaccine for the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus began on Monday in Seattle, as the first person to enroll in the trial received the vaccine.
The vaccine, mRNA-1273, was developed by biotechnology company Moderna in combination with researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The trial is being conducted at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.
The phase 1 study aims to test three different doses of the mRNA-1273 vaccine ad hopes to recruit 45 healthy adults for the initial trial. Participants will receive two shots of the vaccine, 28 days apart and will be monitored to evaluate both the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine. The latter involves seeing how well the vaccine stimulates an immune response to a protein on the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus surface.
The first person to get the vaccine was 43-year old Jennifer Haller from Seattle who said; “I hope that we get to a working vaccine quickly and that we can save lives and people can go back to life as soon as possible,” in an interview with TIME.
“This study is the first step in the clinical development of an mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, and we expect it to provide important information about safety and immunogenicity,” said Tal Zaks, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer at Moderna in a press release. He added that Moderna is already working with the FDA and other organizations to prepare for a phase 2 trial, which would involve larger numbers of patients.
The start of the trial comes just 65 days after Chinese authorities sequenced the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus. Just 2 days after that, researchers at the Vaccine Research Center at the NIH finalized the design of the vaccine and began to manufacture it, finishing the first batch on February 7th. On February 24th after analytical testing, the company shipped it to the NIH.
“Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent public health priority,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at the NIH. “This Phase 1 study, launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal,” he added.
The vaccine cannot cause COVID-19 and does not contain the virus as is the case with some other vaccines. Instead it contains a small piece of genetic code called mRNA which scientists have extracted from the virus and then expanded in the laboratory. In this case, the mRNA encodes the viral “spike” protein which is vital for the coronavirus to gain access to human cells. The researchers hope that the vaccine will stimulate the immune system to attack the virus, preventing the development of COVID-19.
Kizzmekia Corbett, Ph.D., of NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center discusses efforts to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19 in an interview conducted Jan. 28, 2020. Credit NIH/NIAID
The mRNA-1723 vaccine was not tested in mice before beginning human clinical trials, an incredibly rare occurrence which has proved controversial. Some experts are insisting that the severity and urgent need of the current situation means this is justified, whereas others are concerned that this could break various ethical and safety standards and put trial participants at greater risk than normal.
Although the design and production of the prospective vaccine was incredibly fast, evaluation of it will take considerable time. All of the participants will be followed for 12 months after the second vaccination to collect the data researchers initially need to figure out whether it is safe and effective.
The study is still enrolling healthy people aged 18-55 in the Seattle area to help test the new vaccine.
I am a postdoctoral research scientist focusing on childhood cancers and new, targeted cancer therapies. As a survivor of childhood leukemia myself, I am a determined advocate for research into better, less-toxic cancer treatments and how to reduce the long-term side effects of current drugs. I am an award-winning science communicator and have written for The Times, The Guardian and various cancer-focused outlets. I am also a 2017 TED Fellow, having done my TED talk on cancer survivorship and I regularly do public talks on topics ranging from ‘Why haven’t we cured cancer yet?’ to ‘Cannabis and cancer; hype or hope?’. I am passionate about using social media to communicate science and frequently share pictures and stories from my own laboratory work in real-time on my Twitter account @vickyyyf, alongside commentary about important research breakthroughs. You can find out more about me and how to get in contact via my website drvickyforster.com. All of my articles reflect my personal views and not those of my employer.
Researches are in the clinical trial phase for a COVID-19 vaccine within a “record” number of days. Jennifer Haller, the first human coronavirus vaccine patient, joins MSNBC’s Ari Melber for an exclusive interview, detailing her experience as researches race to find a cure for the coronavirus affecting individuals around the world. Haller tells Melber she will have to do daily logs of her temperature, symptoms, and side effects and will be monitored for 14 months. (This interview is from MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber, a news show covering politics, law and culture airing nightly at 6pm ET on MSNBC.http://www.thebeatwithari.com). Aired on 03/16/2020. » Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc MSNBC delivers breaking news, in-depth analysis of politics headlines, as well as commentary and informed perspectives. Find video clips and segments from The Rachel Maddow Show, Morning Joe, Meet the Press Daily, The Beat with Ari Melber, Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace, Hardball, All In, Last Word, 11th Hour, and more. Connect with MSNBC Online Visit msnbc.com: http://on.msnbc.com/Readmsnbc Subscribe to MSNBC Newsletter: http://MSNBC.com/NewslettersYouTube Find MSNBC on Facebook: http://on.msnbc.com/Likemsnbc Follow MSNBC on Twitter: http://on.msnbc.com/Followmsnbc Follow MSNBC on Instagram: http://on.msnbc.com/Instamsnbc First Person To Test Coronavirus Vaccine Speaks Out | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC
(Bloomberg) — The stomach-turning ride on global financial markets took a dramatic turn Monday, with U.S. stocks plunging the most since 1987 after President Donald Trump warned the economic disruption from the virus could last into summer.
The S&P 500 sank 12%, extending losses as Trump said the economy could fall into a recessoin. Equities opened sharply lower after central bank stimulus around the world failed to mollify investors worried about the damage the coronavirus is inflicting on economies.
The negative superlatives for American stocks are piling up. The S&P wiped out its gain in 2019 and is now down almost 30% from its all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost 13%, falling 3,000 points to close at at two-year low. The Russell 2000 had its worst day on record, losing more than 14%.
“This is different. The thing that is scarier about it is you’ve never been in a scenario where you shut down the entire economy,” said Steve Chiavarone, a portfolio manager with Federated Investors. “You get a sense in your stomach that we don’t know how to price this and that markets could fall more.”
While the Fed cut rates toward zero and stepped up bond buying, investors continued to clamor for a massive spending package to offset the pain from closures of schools, restaurants, cinemas and sporting events. Companies around the world have scaled back activity to accommodate government demands to limit social interaction.
Here are some of Monday’s key moves across major assets:
All 11 groups in the S&P 500 fell, with eight of them down at least 10%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s tumble from its record reached 30%.
Brent crude dipped below $30 a barrel for the first time since 2016.
Treasury yields retreated across the curve with moves most pronounced on the short end.
Shares tumbled in Asia and Europe, where the continent is now reporting more new virus cases each day than China did at its peak as more countries lock down.
The yen surged, the Swiss franc rallied and the dollar fluctuated.
Gold failed again to capitalize on the rush to havens and reversed an earlier gain to tumble.
Bonds declined across most of Europe, where a measure of market stress hit levels not seen since the 2011-2012 euro crisis.
The Fed and other central banks have dramatically stepped up efforts to stabilize capital markets and liquidity, yet the moves have so far failed to boost sentiment or improve the rapidly deteriorating global economic outlook. An International Monetary Fund pledge to mobilize its $1 trillion lending capacity also had little impact in markets.
The problem is, bad news keeps stacking up. The New York Fed’s regional gauge of factory activity plunged. Ryanair Holdings Plc said Monday it will ground most of its European aircraft while a consultant said the pandemic will bankrupt most airlines worldwide before June unless governments and the industry step in. Nike Inc. and Apple Inc. announced mass store closings.
“In normal circumstances, a large policy response like this would put a floor under risk assets and support a recovery,” Jason Daw, a strategist at Societe Generale SA in Singapore, wrote in a note. “However, the size of the growth shock is becoming exponential and markets are rightfully questioning what else monetary policy can do and discounting its effectiveness in mitigating coronavirus-induced downside risks.”
The yen rebounded from Friday’s plunge after the Fed and five counterparts said they would deploy foreign-exchange swap lines. Australian equities fell almost 10%, the most since 1992, even after the Reserve Bank of Australia said it stood ready to buy bonds for the first time — an announcement that sent yields tumbling. New Zealand’s currency slumped after an emergency rate cut by the country’s central bank.
Meanwhile, China reported Monday that output and retail sales tumbled in the past two months.
These are the main moves in markets:
The S&P 500 fell 11.98% as of 4 p.m. in New York.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 12.93%
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 4.9%, paring a drop that reached 10%.
The MSCI Emerging Market Index declined 6.3%.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index decreased 3.7%.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.2%.
The euro gained 0.5% to $1.1162.
The Japanese yen strengthened 1.8% to 105.94 per dollar.
The yield on two-year Treasuries sank 14 basis points to 0.35%.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined 22 basis points to 0.73%.
The yield on 30-year Treasuries declined 22 basis points to 1.31%.
Germany’s 10-year yield climbed seven basis points to -0.47%.
West Texas Intermediate crude fell 9.2% to $29.05 a barrel.
Gold weakened 4.3% to $1,463.30 an ounce.
Iron ore sank 2.5% to $86.10 per metric ton.
—With assistance from Claire Ballentine, Elena Popina and Elizabeth Stanton.
The spread of information is fast, so whatever happens makes the stock market crash fast. People are selling in panic as the market might go down more. The fact is nobody knows what will happen. The only thing that works always is being prepared for anything, invest for the long-term and keep rational. Want to know more about my research and portfolios? Here is my independent stock market analysis and research! STOCK MARKET RESEARCH PLATFORM (analysis, stocks to buy, model portfolio) https://sven-carlin-research-platform… Sign up for the FREE Stock Market Investing Course – a comprehensive guide to investing discussing all that matters: https://sven-carlin-research-platform… I am also a book author: Modern Value Investing book: https://amzn.to/2lvfH3t Check my website to hear more about me, read my analyses and about OUR charity. (YouTube ad money is donated) http://www.svencarlin.com Listen to Modern Value Investing Podcast: https://svencarlin.com/podcasts/ I am also learning a lot by interning with my mentors: dr. Per Jenster and Peter Barklin at the Niche Masters fund. http://nichemastersfund.com#stockmarketcrash#market#stocks
A sequel to a movie that you didn’t want to see in the first place is one thing, like Ghost Rider 2 after Ghost Rider. A sequel to having a COVID-19 infection would be something completely different.
You may think that the one “positive” of testing positive for the COVID-19 causing coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) and surviving would be that you won’t get infected by that virus again. At least not during this pandemic. Ah, but is this assumption really true? Will you indeed be immune to the SARS-CoV2 after you’ve recovered from a COVID-19 infection? Some reports out of Japan and China seem to suggest otherwise.
Does this case actually prove that re-infection with the virus is possible? Or was this just a mistake in the testing? Or did the person have a particularly weak immune system so that she couldn’t generate immunity? After all, one case can be an accident, an aberration, an anomaly, an aardvark in a sea of anemone.
Well, oops something like this happened again, according to a more recent NHK-World Japan report. This time it was a man in his 70’s, who first tested positive for SARS-CoV2 on February 14 while on a Diamond Princess cruise ship. After being transferred to a medical facility in Tokyo, he stayed there until testing negative for the virus. On March 2, he left the facility and traveled home via public transportation. However, the man eventually began feeling sick with a fever, which prompted him to go to a hospital on March 13. The following day he tested positive for the virus again.
Then there’s the February 14 article from Caixin, a Beijing, China-based media group, that was entitled “14% of Recovered Covid-19 Patients in Guangdong Tested Positive Again.” Umm, 14% would seem more like an “ooop” than an “ooops.” This CGTN news warned of such reinfection possibilities:
Remember though, these are news reports and not scientific studies yet. While the reappearance of Nicholas Cage with a flaming skull riding a motorcycle may not call for additional scientific studies, all of these cases certainly do. First, scientists need to confirm whether the test results were indeed accurate. Remember, no test is perfect. If people can screw up a drink order, they can certainly mess up a medical test. Even if a test is performed properly, you could still get a positive result when you don’t actually have an infection. On the flip side, just because you test negative doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no way that you are carrying the virus. That’s why a doctor may test you multiple times to be sure of a result.
Secondly, doctors and other scientists need to double-check or triple-check that each of these patients actually got re-infected with the virus rather than had an infection that simply lasted a long time. What if, for example, the cruise passenger and the tour bus guide each had fairly long infections and just happened to have intervening false negative test results? The tests could have simply been like commercial breaks in the middle of a single long episode of a television show.
Third of all, the amount of immunity that you build up after being exposed to any virus depends on not only virus itself but surprise, surprise your immune system and its response. When your immune system sees a particular virus for the first time, it can essentially get caught with its pants down, not ready to defend your body against this new invader. However, exposure to the virus either through a vaccine or getting infected may train your immune system so that, borrowing the words of former President George W. Bush, “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” If strong enough, your immune system then may be ready with proper defenses next time the virus comes calling. Could the cases of reinfection then be examples of people who happened to have weaker immune systems?
Or are these cases any indication that our immune systems may not be able to consistently build up enough protection against SARS-CoV2? Well, a review article published in January 2020 in the Journal of Medical Virology summarizes much of what is known about your immune system’s response to various types of coronavirus. As you can see, this involves a complex orchestra of different cells and chemicals. Therefore, the immune response to one virus won’t necessarily be the same as to another virus, even if both viruses were different types of coronaviruses. All of this also depends on how strong your immune system may be and how well your immune system recognizes an invader like SARS-CoV2.
Plus, your immune system has got to remember the virus. Over time, immunity may fade, allowing the virus to reinfect you. It’s like when you get back together with an ex after you have forgotten how terrible you are for each other. The question then is how long can your immune system remember SARS-CoV2?
With SARS-CoV2 having emerged so quickly, there just haven’t been enough studies yet on how your immune system may react specifically to SARS-CoV2 and how this may differ from person to person. Therefore, we have to rely on studies of other coronaviruses for now. The closest approximation is probably the even more evil cousin of SARS-CoV2, the original SARS virus that caused the outbreak of 2002-2003.
In a study published in a 2007 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a research team from the Shanxi Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Taiyuan, China, followed 176 patients who had had severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). On average, SARS-specific antibodies remained at the same level in a patient’s blood for about two years. Then, during the third year after infection, antibody levels tended to drop precipitously. This suggests that immunity to the SARS virus may remain for two to three years with reinfection possible after three years.
Keep in mind though that antibody levels do not always correlate with immunity. They can be like selfies on Instagram, only indirect measures of what’s really going on at a deeper level. Some people may have immunity against a virus without detectable antibody levels, and some people may be very susceptible to infection even though antibodies are present. The only way to have determined if the patients actually had immunity against the SARS virus would have been to have re-exposed them to the virus and checked what happened. And that would have been a horrible experiment to do.
The other question is how many different versions of SARS-CoV2 may be running around, or rather spreading around since viruses don’t have little feet and little sneakers. It’s difficult to answer this question for sure without more thorough and widespread testing. According to a study published in the journal National Science Review, an analysis of samples from 103 COVID-19 cases suggests that at least two different versions of SARS-CoV2 are circulating. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these versions are so different that immunity to one version doesn’t mean immunity to another. Regardless, things may evolve in the near future. Viruses can be like the characters in Game of Thrones or an actor in a Broadway show, changing rapidly. Over time, the new coronavirus could possibly mutate to the point that new versions are no longer as recognizable by your immune system as the original version. After all, mutations are probably what allowed the virus to jump from another animal to humans.
Not knowing exactly how immunity against SARS-CoV2 works and how long it may last throws a gigantic wrench into public health planning. Many trying to predict the course of the pandemic have been assuming that once a high enough proportion of the overall population has been infected and has become immune, the pandemic will subside. Herd immunity is the percentage of the overall population that is immune to a given pathogen. When this percentage gets high enough, the virus will struggle to find more susceptible people to infect, sort of like trying to sell Justin Bieber T-shirts in a crowd when most of the people are already wearing such shirts. The belief is that when around 70% of the population is immune to the virus, SARS-CoV2 will struggle to continue transmitting.
However, things could change substantially if people can actually get re-infected with the virus or different enough versions of the virus end up circulating. Such possibilities would be yet more reasons to question the “herd immunity” approach to controlling the pandemic that’s currently being discussed in the U.K. and described by Sarah Boseley for The Guardian. Since there is no vaccine available against SARS-CoV2, there is actually talk of allowing those with stronger immune systems to get infected to achieve the 70% or so herd immunity threshold. Huh?
This strategy would make sense except for the fact that it doesn’t. First of all, those who get infected could end up having serious consequences such as death, which is typically a very serious consequence. This would be reminiscent of the saying that “the operation was successful, but the patient died.” Allowing people to become infected by a potentially deadly virus is always a risky proposition, sort of like playing roulette when your lungs are on the betting table. So far, the COVID-19 case-fatality rate seems to be somewhere between 1% and 3.4%. This isn’t as high as the rate for SARS but nonetheless significantly higher than that of a bad flu season.
Secondly, this herd immunity strategy depends on people not getting re-infected with the virus. But with the aforementioned reports from Japan and China, you have to wonder if the strategy is not a “herd immunity” strategy but rather a “herd immunity maybe” strategy to borrow the words of Carly Rae Jepsen. “Maybe” may work to some degree with flirting and dating but not when lives are at stake.
Third of all, this strategy assumes that people will not leave or enter the U.K. That may work only if you want to completely eliminate travel to and from the country.
Finally, such a strategy would run counter to other mitigation strategies such as social distancing as indicated by the following tweet:
Uh, U.K., would this really be O.K.?
All of this is a reminder that scientists do not yet know enough about this new coronavirus. What percentage of people become immune to the virus if exposed? How strong is the immunity? Will it actually prevent reinfection? How long would this immunity last? Is it two years as the SARS study hints at or could it be much shorter than that? How does all of this vary from person to person? How many different versions of the virus may end up circulating? As the Internet meme goes, I and many other scientists have so many questions.
Therefore, if you do get exposed to the virus and recover, don’t view it as a free pass to start hugging strangers, digging your fingers deep into your nose like you are looking for pocket change, and licking door knobs. Keep doing what everyone else should be doing such as social distancing, washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, keeping your filthy fingers from gravitating towards your gigantic face, and actively disinfecting surfaces, objects, and that enormous BTS statue that you have in your living room. Just because you survived the first infection, doesn’t necessarily mean that future exposures and possible infections will end up OK. As you know, sequels don’t always have the same endings.
I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order. Currently, I am a Professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York (CUNY), Executive Director of PHICOR (@PHICORteam), Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and founder and CEO of Symsilico. My previous positions include serving as Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University, Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Senior Manager at Quintiles Transnational, working in biotechnology equity research at Montgomery Securities, and co-founding a biotechnology/bioinformatics company. My work involves developing computational approaches, models, and tools to help health and healthcare decision makers in all continents (except for Antarctica) and has been supported by a wide variety of sponsors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NIH, AHRQ, CDC, UNICEF, USAID and the Global Fund. I have authored over 200 scientific publications and three books. Follow me on Twitter (@bruce_y_lee) but don’t ask me if I know martial arts
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a family of viruses that cause sicknesses like the common cold, as well as more severe diseases, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain – one that hasn’t previously been recognized in humans. Coronaviruses cause diseases in mammals and birds. A zoonotic virus is one that is transmitted between animals and people. When a virus circulating in animal populations infects people, this is termed a “spillover event”. How does CoVID-19 affect the body? The virus is fitted with protein spikes sticking out of the envelope that forms the surface and houses a core of genetic material. Any virus that enters your body looks for cells with compatible receptors – ones that allow it to invade the cell. Once they find the right cell, they enter and use the cell’s replication machinery to create copies of themselves. It is likely that COVID-19 uses the same receptor as SARS – found in both lungs and small intestines. It is thought that CoVID-19 shares many similarities with SARS, which has three phases of attack: viral replication, hyper-reactivity of the immune system, and finally pulmonary destruction. Early on in infection, the coronavirus invades two types of cells in the lungs – mucus and cilia cells. Mucus keeps your lungs from drying out and protects them from pathogens. Cilia beat the mucus towards the exterior of your body, clearing debris – including viruses! – out of your lungs. Cilia cells were the preferred hosts of SARS-CoV, and are likely the preferred hosts of the new coronavirus. When these cells die, they slough off into your airways, filling them with debris and fluid. Symptoms include a fever, cough, and breathing difficulties. Many of those infected get pneumonia in both their lungs. Enter the immune system. Immune cells recognize the virus and flood into the lungs. The lung tissue becomes inflamed. During normal immune function, the inflammatory process is highly regulated and is confined to infected areas. However, sometimes the immune system overreacts, and this results in damage to healthy tissue. More cells die and slough off into the lungs, further clogging them and worsening the pneumonia. As damage to the lungs increases, stage three begins, potentially resulting in respiratory failure. Patients that reach this stage of infection can incur permanent lung damage or even die. We see the same lesions in the lungs of those infected by the novel coronavirus as those with SARS. SARS creates holes in the lungs, so they look honeycomb-like. This is probably due to the aforementioned over-reactive immune response, which affects tissue both infected and healthy and creates scars that stiffen the lungs. As such, some patients may require ventilators to aid breathing. The inflammation also results in more permeable alveoli. This is the location of the thin interface of gas exchange, where your lungs replace carbon dioxide in your blood with fresh oxygen you just inhaled. Increased permeability causes fluid to leak into the lungs. This decreases the lungs’ ability to oxygenate blood, and in severe cases, floods them so that you become unable to breathe. Sometimes, this can be fatal. The immune system’s over-reaction can also cause another kind of damage. Proteins called cytokines are the immune system’s alarm system, recruiting immune cells to the infection site. Over-production of cytokines can result in a cytokine storm, where there is large-scale inflammation in the body. Blood vessels become more permeable and fluid seeps out. This makes it difficult for blood and oxygen to reach the rest of the body and can result in multi-organ failure. This has happened in the most severe cases of CoVid-19. Although there are no specific treatments for coronaviruses, symptoms can be treated through supportive care. Also, vaccines are currently in development. What can you do to protect yourself from CoVid-19? Basic protocol comes down to regular hand washing, avoiding close contact with anyone coughing or sneezing, avoiding unnecessary contact with animals, washing hands after contact with animals, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs prior to consumption, and covering your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing. Respiratory viruses are typically transmitted via droplets in sneezes or coughs of those infected, so preventing their travel stops the spread of disease. Alveoli model from: https://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/…
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic poses a unique challenge for healthcare providers. There are no approved treatments for this disease, nor are there any approved vaccines.
That’s put big drug companies, universities and biotech startups on the hot seat. Since the 2003 outbreak of SARS, another variety of deadly coronavirus, they’ve been researching ways to handle diseases that can be produced by this family of viruses. When a coronavirus is capable of infecting humans, it typically attacks the respiratory system, which can make them particularly deadly.
It usually takes about 10 to 15 years to develop a vaccine. The good news: leaps in technology, such as the ability to rapidly sequence virus genomes and to create vaccines out of messenger RNA, are speeding up the process of development. Developing new drug treatments can also take time – about a decade from discovery to getting on the market. But here technology also provides an advantage: new types of antiviral drugs and immunotherapy treatments, can treat a wide range of diseases. Which means that drugs already in the development pipeline or already treating diseases in patients could be useful to fight COVID-19, shortening the time it will take to make an effective medicine.
On this page, we’ll be tracking and regularly updating the development of new treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, from research to testing to commercial release.
For the past few years, Foster City, California-based Gilead has been developing Remdesivir, an anti-viral that’s shown promising results in lab and animal studies against SARS, MERS, Ebola and other infectious diseases, including COVID-19. The company has initiated clinical trials in the U.S. and China to see if the drug can be effective against the new coronavirus, and also working with governments to provide the drug as an emergency treatment in the absence of other options.
Status: Large-scale human testing
Of note: A World Health Organization assessment from February described remdesivir as the “most promising candidate” against COVID-19.
AbbVie manufactures the co-formulation lopinavir/ritonavir, which is used to treat HIV. It’s currently collaborating with health authorities to see if it can be used as a treatment against COVID-19, based on unconfirmed reports in China that its use was helpful in combating it. It has provided the drug to several countries, including China, as an experimental option.
Status: Working with health authorities such as the CDC, WHO, and the National Institutes of Health regarding testing.
Cambridge, MA-based biotech startup Moderna has developed a potential mRNA vaccine against COVID-19. The vaccine was developed in collaboration with scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The vaccine works by getting the immune system to develop antibodies against a “spike protein” found on the virus. A batch of the vaccine has been manufactured and delivered to the NIAID for a first round of testing.
Status: Phase 1 testing
Of note: The vaccine was developed, manufactured and sent out for testing just 42 days after the coronavirus DNA sequence was first published.
Johnson & Johnson
Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has partnered with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a federal agency that helps develop countermeasures to biological threats, to develop potential vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. The company is working to identify molecules in its libraries that might be effective against the disease. It’s also leveraging technologies that were used to successfully develop an ebola vaccine towards finding promising vaccine candidates.
Status: Investigation and development
Of note: In addition to looking at new therapies, Johnson & Johnson has sent batches of its HIV drug darunavir/cobicistat to China to test its efficacy against COVID-19.
Indiana-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly announced that it is partnering with Vancouver-based biotech firm AbCellera to co-develop antibody-based treatments against COVID-19. The firms have already discovered “hundreds” of antibodies that might be effective against the disease, with the next step being to screen those for the most effective treatment candidate.
Status: Screening antibody candidates to move to testing phase
Of note: “In 11 days, we’ve discovered hundreds of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the current outbreak,” AbCellera CEO Carl Hansen said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Pfizer announced that it had discovered several promising antiviral molecules that stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from reproducing in cells in the lab. The candidates are currently being screened to identify the best candidates to move into the development pipeline. The company’s Chief Science Officer, Mikael Dolsten, noted that the company might also consider exploring the combination of these molecules with antiviral treatments developed by other firms.
Status: Early development
Of note: On Friday, the company announced that part of its plan to combat COVID-19 would be sharing its expertise with smaller biotech companies and committed to using its excess manufacturing capacity to scale up any approved therapy or vaccine.
GSK has previously developed a pandemic vaccine adjuvant platform, a system that helps to improve vaccines by strengthening the immune response in patients who receive it. In February, the company announced it was partnering with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to use that platform to improve potential vaccines to the new coronavirus. As part of that collaboration, it signed an agreement with the University of Queensland, Australia, which is developing a potential vaccine. GSK has also partnered with Chinese pharmaceutical company Clover to use its adjuvant platform with that company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Status: Vaccines are still in early testing
San Francisco-based Vir Biotechnology announced March 12 that it’s going to be collaborating with BioGen to manufacture antibodies that may have potential to treat COVID-19. The company has identified antibodies from people who recovered from SARS, and is studying to see if they might be active against the new coronavirus, as the two are very similar. Vir is also working with federal agencies to advance its research against other coronaviruses.
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Connor Reed, a 25-year-old from Llandudno in North Wales, was working at a school in the Chinese city of Wuhan when he began to feel “a bit sniffly”. He would soon face a painful ordeal and become the first known British man to catch the coronavirus. It was 25 November, 2019, when he first felt unwell. He told Sky News: “I was feeling like I just had a normal cold and the problem with this virus is it progresses in stages. It started with a cold.”
It’s possible that Connor’s cold was unconnected with the virus and he just happened to catch it several days before he was struck by coronavirus. For a while he continued to work and was feeling relatively normal, but just as the cold was tailing-off, in early December, he was struck by flu. “I woke up and I was just feeling really bad. I was coughing a lot and subsequently I lost my voice.
“One of my Irish friends mentioned that hot whisky and honey really helps with symptoms. So, that’s what I tried and honestly, it did help. It really did. But in no way am I condoning that whisky and honey will cure the virus. I mean, it definitely doesn’t.”
At this point, in early December, Connor decided he wasn’t going to go back to work for a while. He had a fever and he didn’t want to pass the illness onto his colleagues. Despite living in what was the epicentre of the virus, as yet, the local authorities were unaware that Wuhan in China was incubating a nasty new disease that would spread across the globe.
“I was feeling achy,” says Connor “I just wanted to curl up into a ball and I had ear problems and sinus problems where it felt like there was a balloon being blown up in my face. And that was probably the worst symptom. It really bothered me. “I also had a raking cough. It was terrible. And it was happening so much, I lost my voice. Sometimes, I couldn’t make any sound at all. Sometimes, I sounded like a frog.”
For most people who catch the virus, it won’t get any worse than this, it may not even get that bad, but for Connor the scariest part was still to come. He actually felt like he was recovering from the flu and was feeling optimistic about going back to work when one morning he woke up struggling to breathe.
“It scared me because breathing is a necessity of life, like if you have the flu, you really feel like you’re going to die, but you’re really not. But when your lungs get affected, that’s where it scared me. And I couldn’t take a full breath. And the breaths I did take, it sounded like I was breathing through a bag. It was very crackly, and I could only take half breaths. If I walked to the kitchen, for instance, I’d be breathing really shallow and really fast.”
Connor continued drinking hot water to try and clear it up but, a day later when things didn’t improve, he went to hospital. On 5 December he had a day of blood tests, x-rays and breathing tests. The next day, two weeks after he’d first caught the cold, the results came back that he had pneumonia.
He said: “At no point was I thinking that I’m going to die. I mean, it wasn’t that serious. I’m a young person. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. It really didn’t affect me as bad as if I was elderly or I had pre-existing health problems.” Connor recovered from his illness and a few weeks later doctors realised he had suffered from the virus that was now spreading across the province, which would become known as COVID-19.
Wuhan is still under quarantine. Connor recalls getting an alert on his phone at 3am announcing the quarantine for the city. “Luckily, I was awake to read that text message. So, I bolted out of the house and went to the 24-hour supermarket downstairs. I knew that it was going to be bad and I knew that shops were going be sold out.”
He stocked up. But weeks later the city continues to maintain strict rules. Connor said: “As more and more new cases came, and it started spreading, the government sanctioned harsher penalties and a lot harsher quarantine. For instance, at the moment, one person is allowed to leave their house every three days, and that’s just to purchase necessities.”
He said when going out there is “no atmosphere”, and very few people on the streets. “If you go to a shop, there are some shops that are open that have blocked the door off. You tell them what you want. They put it into a bag and then they pass the bag to you on a long stick just to avoid personal contact.”
Connor said the national government had dealt with the crisis well and learned lessons from previous outbreaks such as SARS. He believes the numbers for infected people that the authorities are releasing are accurate.
He added: “There are not many Western countries that can build a hospital in 10 days. China is one of the most efficient countries at getting stuff done. In regard to this outbreak, they’ve got it done. They had to. They had to take the drastic measures, that many other countries wouldn’t have taken.”
Markets in Asia and the Middle East opened sharply lower on Monday as investors digested the relentless global spread of the coronavirus and turmoil in the oil markets. Shares in Saudi Aramco, the state oil giant, dropped 10 percent leading to a halt in trading on the Riyadh stock market.
Asian markets opened sharply lower on Monday as investors digested the relentless global spread of the coronavirus and turmoil in the oil markets.Tokyo was down 4.7 percent at midmorning on Monday, while Hong Kong was down 4.1 percent. Futures markets showed investors predicting sharp drops in Wall Street and Europe as well.
The coronavirus has unnerved investors as it spreads, clouding the prospects for global growth. Italy on Sunday put a broad swath of its industrial northern region under lockdown as the virus has spread, making it one of the biggest sources of confirmed infections outside China. France, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries also took further steps to stop the spread.
In the United States, the number of confirmed infections exceeded 500 cases. A top American expert said on Sunday that regional lockdowns could be necessary.A clash over oil between Russia and Saudi Arabia, two major producers, further unnerved investors. As the coronavirus hits demand for fuel, Saudi Arabia slashed its export oil prices over the weekend, starting an apparent price war aimed at Russia.
Lower oil prices could help consumers, but it could unsettle countries that depend on oil revenue to prop up their economies. In futures markets, the benchmark price for American and Europe oil supplies tumbled $10, or about one-quarter.Investors fled to the safety of the bond market, driving yields lower. In the market for U.S. Treasury bonds, yields broadly fell below the 1 percent level for both short term and long term holdings. The 10-year Treasury bond, which is closely watched, was yielding about 0.5 percent.
In other Asian markets, South Korea was down 3.6 percent. Shanghai was down 1.5 percent.
Italy reported a huge jump in deaths from the coronavirus on Sunday, a surge of more than 50 percent from the day before, as it ordered an unprecedented peacetime lockdown of its wealthiest region in a sweeping effort to fight the epidemic. The extraordinary measure restricted movement for a quarter of the country’s population.“We are facing an emergency, a national emergency,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in announcing the government decree in a news conference after 2 a.m.
The move is tantamount to sacrificing the Italian economy in the short term to save it from the ravages of the virus in the long term. The measures will turn stretches of Italy’s wealthy north — including the economic and cultural capital of Milan and landmark tourist destinations such as Venice — into quarantined red zones until at least April 3.
They will prevent the free movement of roughly 16 million people. Funerals and cultural events are banned. The decree requires that people keep a distance of at least one meter from one another at sporting events, bars, churches and supermarkets. The Italian outbreak — the worst outside Asia — has inflicted serious damage on one of Europe’s most fragile economies and prompted the closing of Italy’s schools. The country’s cases nearly tripled from about 2,500 infections on Wednesday to more than 7,375 on Sunday. Deaths rose to 366.
More and more countries have adopted or are considering stronger measures to try to keep infected people from entering and to contain outbreaks. More and more countries have adopted or are considering stronger measures to try to keep infected people from entering and to contain outbreaks.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia cut off access to Shiite Muslim towns and villages in the east of the kingdom, cordoning off an area in Qatif Governorate where all 11 of the country’s confirmed coronavirus cases have been identified. And local Saudi media reported that the country would temporarily close down all educational institutions and block travel to and from a number of countries in the region. The kingdom had already suspended pilgrimages to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
In Iran, which has been hit the hardest in the Middle East, state media reported that all flights to Europe would be suspended indefinitely. The health minister in France, one of Europe’s bigger trouble spots, announced a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people. The U.S. has counted at least 539 cases across 34 states — Connecticut reported its first case and Washington announced another patient being treated for coronavirus had died on Sunday — and the District of Columbia, and logged 22 deaths. Washington State, New York, California, Maryland and Oregon have declared emergencies.
A growing number of schools are shutting down across the country, raising concerns about the closings will affect learning, burden families and upend communities. The U.S. Army suspended travel to and from Italy and South Korea, now the world’s third largest hot spot, until May 6, an order that affects 4,500 soldiers and family members. And the Finnish armed forces announced that troop exercises planned for March 9-19 with Norway would be scrapped.
On Sunday, the leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, said that it was possible that regional lockdowns could become necessary and recommended that those at greatest risk — the elderly and those with underlying health conditions — abstain from travel. Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the Trump administration was prepared to “take whatever action is appropriate” to contain the outbreak, including travel restrictions in areas with a high number of cases.
“I don’t think it would be as draconian as ‘nobody in and nobody out,’” Dr. Fauci said on “Fox News Sunday.” “But there’ll be, if we continue to get cases like this, particularly at the community level, there will be what we call mitigation.”
Even as the rate of new infections appeared to taper in China, the number of cases around the world continued to rise on Sunday, with some of the biggest clusters emerging in Europe. Besides the sharp rise in Italy, Germany reported more than 930 cases; Switzerland’s total reached 281; and Britain’s health department said that three people with the virus had died and that the number of cases in the country had jumped to 273 by Sunday. The smallest E.U. nation, Malta, reported its first confirmed case on Saturday: a 12-year-old girl recently returned from a vacation in northern Italy. Her condition was described as good.
The Spanish authorities announced on Sunday that three more people diagnosed with coronavirus had died in Madrid, raising the number of coronavirus fatalities in the country to 13. There are now over 500 cases, the authorities said. Salvador Illa, Spain’s health minister, said at a news conference in Madrid that several cases in Spain were linked to people who recently traveled to Italy.
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