Monday, March 30, 2020

Some reports from China suggest the Sars-2 coronavirus may have been present in the West before and not "ignited"

There are several stories from China, the details of which may have some internal contradictions, that may have a bearing on how the pandemic jump started and even whether it has been around longer, even in the west, without being noticed.

The New York Post, among other papers, gives the narrative of a female shrimp vendor in Wuhan who may have been “Patient Zero”. She started to become ill on December 10, 2019 and gradually got worse. She was finally recovered by about January 10, after being in two hospitals.

However, an article by Stephen Chen  in the South China Morning Post suggests that a close associate of the virus could have been circulating, possibly for years, and not “ignited”. I had a week long illness in 2002, 6 months before SARS was known, that sounded a lot like the “slow burn” cases today.
Furthermore USA Today reports that there are as many as eight substrains of SARS-COV2 that show up in different hotspots.  They do not differ much in virulence.  There don’t seem to be any major mutations now that affect transmission or ability to cause serious disease. But we are seeing more serious disease in young people in the United States than was reported in China or Europe, possibly because our population in younger (than Europe’s, at least).

Wikipedia attribution link for railway station picture: 
By そらみみ - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Monday, March 23, 2020

South Korea may set the best example of how to contain COVID-19

Today I’ll share Donald G. NcNeill’s booklet in the New York Times, “The Virus Can Be Stopped, But Only With Harsh Steps, The Experts Say”.   Please compare this piece to one by Tomas Pueyo shared in my BillBoushka blog Sunday night (that piece “Hammer and Dance” was more about the mathematics of the epidemic).

One of the important observations up front in the article is that many clusters come from extended families and probably, in some cases, religious gatherings common to people with larger families.

This sounds like a brutal irony.  Single people living alone who, at least for now, avoid congregating, are probably at much less risk.  Ironically, this may include gay men (with bars closed) and couples who just stay home.  In some communities, there is a belief that congregating to play sports outside is OK because it is outside.  That doesn’t comport with what authorities say.  The practical risk in touching objects and face-touching remains unclear, but authorities increasingly warn about it. 

The article goes on to explain the extreme steps not only in China, but in places like South Korea, where there are few deaths.  South Korea traced people’s cell phones (this is why groups like Electronic Frontier Foundation are so big on privacy) and rounded up people physically proximate to those who turned out to be infected.

In South Korea, infected persons (apparently, according to news reports here) are not allowed to stay home, but are moved into halfway dorms where they are supervised.  I don’t know whether they can keep their Internet and social media access.  Phones and tablets, after all, can carry virus on their surfaces. 
But South Korea has led the world in containing this and keeping the deaths and severe cases down.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

UK will isolate seniors from younger adults for at least four months, as easier way to protect economy and develop herd immunity

According to Channel 4 News in the UK, starting Tuesday March 17, all persons 70 or older will be required to self-isolate for four months.

It is not clear how they will be fed, or if they could be expected to move to communal centers (petri dishes) and could keep their own possessions, Internet access, etc. 

The idea is that the young can then live normally and gradually develop herd immunity by being infected.

However those with any medical problems will also be forced-isolated, to keep them away from the healthy.

Is the UK turning to fascism? 

The UK wants to recruit a “volunteer force” to shop for them. 

Science Media Culture has a analysis that suggests this could be permanent. 

New York Post has a story

In a crude way, this may make sense and keep the economy functioning more as younger people would not be as restricted. This might violate age discrimination laws if done in the US.
Thank Communist China for starting this.
In the US, CDC now recommends that gatherings be limited to 50 people for eight weeks, long enough for persons now infected to become negative.
The CDC had requested that seniors over 60 in areas with community spread stay at home as much as possible, but seems to be focusing more now on social distancing for everyone in the US.
That would mean MLB would not start until May 10.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

"Flatten the Curve" requires collectivist, communitarian values (and some personal tedium)

Timothy J. Martin et al write in the Wall Street Journal, “East v. West: Coronavirus Fight Tests Divergent Strategies” with subtitle “South Korea, Italy apply different policies, informed by cultural traditions and yielding contrasting results”.  
The article points out the more collectivist and communitarian values of Oriental society compared to western society, where self-concept is not contradicted by abstract personal sacrifices for a community.

Today, Spain implemented a similar lockdown, and France and Germany have only slightly less restrictive policies, closing bars and most other businesses and allowing some restaurants.
Trump’s partial European travel ban now includes the UK and Ireland.
Trump is “asking” Americans to delay unnecessary air travel, even domestically.  My own suspension of it runs through Aug. 19.
In Teaneck NJ there is a sudden cluster, and ABC News reports that hospitals are now seeing unusually high number of respiratory illnesses for mid March (in Northeast?)
Frankly, we are getting toward a point where lockdowns in many states make sense.  Quarantine and lockdown powers generally belong to states and cities or counties in the US, and to individual countries in the EU where there is a rough legal correspondence in police powers. The point is, if you spread out the people for maybe three weeks, we find out the number of people infected and needing treatment and isolate them, and the asymptomatic people have time to turn negative (and have built up antibodies). 
I wonder if even the closing of large venues (>250 people, etc) is enough.  Maybe we should shut down everything for three weeks and turn the curve around.
Look at “Flatten the curve”. 

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Italy implements China-style quarantine of 10 million people in northern part of country; numbers suggest US hospitals could be overwhelmed by May

Italy will start a China-style lockdown of 16 million people on Sunday, to run through April 3. BBC reports.

The reported CFR in Italy remains high, around 4%, and cases continue to mount.  Most of Milan is included.
Gyms, ski resorts, bars and discos will close, but some restaurants and stores will stay open, limited.  People will be advised to stay home as much as possible.

There is a rather frightening prediction from the American Hospital Association about the demands on the Health Care system.  Business Insider has a story on the Feb. 26 webinar from James Lawler at the University of Nebraska.  The AHA says this projection does not necessarily reflect its own opinions, but is a matter of running a simulation, or running the numbers.  The projection has the US having 96 million cases this year, 480000 deaths, 10x the normal flu season. This projection may explain the CDC’s request that old people stay home made March 5.   Peak Prosperity and Tim Pool have been talking about it, the mainstream media seem behind. 

NBCWashington reports a Marine at Fort Belvoir (which is an Army post) is Virginia's first case, but the Marine had returned from overseas and does not represent community spread. 

Wikipedia attribution link, CCSA 3.0.  
Update:  March 10
Sunday, the prime minister extended the lockdown to the whole country, BBC story. Tuesday, the country had nearly 100 deaths.  Various media reports show a few hospitals in the Lombardy area totally overwhelmed, with graphic videos and pictures. This seems to be mostly the elderly. 

Friday, March 6, 2020

Canadian WHO doctor explains why the asymptomatic cases may be less important than we "hope" for reducing CFR; China slowly returns to work

I have to share another video by Aylward today (Canadian physician).

What is important here is the discussion of asymptomatic cases.  He does not believe that transmission from people who are asymptomatic for a very long time occurs very much,  He thinks that usually these cases turn to at least minimal symptoms within maybe 48 hours, and then the person may be infectious for some time, but feel mildly ill sometimes for only a short time.  At other times, it may get worse after a mild start.  Perhaps the problem is that many people tolerate mild illness and keep going because they have to remain economically productive, and do recover while infecting other people.

That would suggest we should not expect a large inventory of asymptomatic cases to reduce the CFR in any country if we do massive testing. 
There have, of course, been some studies to the contrary, like the young woman in China. 
There have, of course, been some studies to the contrary, like the young woman in China. 

Here’s a Business Insider story about someone who left Wuhan just before the wall went up and can’t come back.
Bloomberg reports that China is starting to recover outside Hubei and some production may resume.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

W.H.O. puts COVID19 case-fatality ratio in perspective, warns public on being complacent about people who are not yet elderly or who are are now in good health

Dr. Bruce Aylward from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) discusses the reported higher mortality rate for the Sars COV2 virus causing Covid19 disease.
He has an interesting take on China’s lockdown on Wuhan and Hubei province, and says China did not implement  total lockdowns on other cities and was able to control the infections and particularly severity of disease in the other provinces, resulting in much lower CFR’s there.
The CFR needs to be interpreted in view of the circumstances in a particular area where it is calculated.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Hotel in Tenerife locked down (hundred of guests) when one couple from Italy tests positive

Tourists are padlocked in their rooms in a hotel in Tenerife as an Italian man and his wife tested positive for Sars-cov2 and wait a confirmatory test from Madrid tonight.
Daily Mail has a story of British guests trapped. 
It is not clear how long they will be kept, or if the guests would have to be isolated if flown home.
But the CDC in the US, despite its dire warnings today, has said that persons in close contact with asymptomatic carriers need not be isolated.  There is more detail on my GLBT blog today. 

In Iran, the health minister is positive and was speaking publicly while feverish.

Update: March 1
Germany and the UK have said they have not ruled out closing off certain towns around clusters. Stay tuned. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

WHO believed to be ready to announce global pandemic (and then holds off); UK research has especially sobering video this mornign

First, don’t be surprised at the doomsday prepper videos popping up on YouTube this morning, and some of them have been pumping these out.  

Dr. John Campbelll says this morning that he expects WHO to declare a global pandemic of Covid-19 disease today.  I consider that as done now.  There is a difference between global health emergency and pandemic declaration (Science News).  Michael T. Osterholm (University of Minnesota) gives a perspective now in the NYTimes.  (Just in: On Monday morning, WHO postponed this action; source: Fox News channel live.)

 Listen to his discussion of social distancing at the 15 minute mark.

The sudden explosion of positive tests in northern Italy seems shocking, but it may be a result of, well, they started testing a lot of people.  I’m concerned that a western country walled off several towns.  Lombardy is the northern most province in Italy.  Now given the geography access to the towns may be easy to cut off.  What happens in the US if one person in an apartment building is infected?  I haven’t heard anyone say.

The Wall Street Journal reports that EU’s internal “open borders” is challenged.   The DOW was down 1000 points at the open Monday morning as the shock of Italy and South Korea set in, but it is now recovered a bit to down 800.  Peak Prosperity will have plenty to say about this today (well, he did Sunday night as overseas markets crashed). 

Huffpost has a similar article. 
The supposed index case in Italy now is reported as having tested negative.  But Italy had allowed some people into the country illegally without properly examining passport history, this is known.
There are reports of many deaths on North Korea.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Sudden increase of serious cases in Iran, South Korea, and Italy, some of it unexplained

There have been sudden, exponential increases in cases with some deaths in Italy, Iran, and South Korea.

Tim Pool explains:

The South Korea spike may well be related to one congregation.  Iran’s may be related to less controlled traffic with China.  Italy’s is a mystery and what is most disturbing is the severity of cases, compared to communities in US, UK, France, etc.

Peak Prosperity has rather sobering video today here.    The long incubation cases may represent multiple exposures.  I have to admit that there are a lot of inconsistencies in official reports.
The intentions behind the Cosa Mesta move are potentially disturbing, a “halfway house”???  Why do they need to move people out of Travis?

Peak Prosperity also describes a bizarre interaction with Forbes near the end of the video. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Antibody Dependent Enchancement (ADE) probably happens with Covid-19 and could make a vaccine difficult

The later part of this video by Peak Prosperity today explains the concept of Antibody Dependent Enchancement (ADE) leading to more severe second cases of a viral illness after antibody titre falls. This happens with Dengue and SARS and appears to happen with COVID19. This could make a vaccine much more difficult and may help explain the draconian concern with stopping even asymptomatic infection. A superspreader with few symptoms could later get it himself, after seeding it with other people. This sounds like a sci-fi horror scenario.
 In fact, in a sci-fi novel I've written ("Angel's Brother") and will polish I had imagined something like this for a fictitious virus with other bizarre epidemiology driving the plot. But this concept looks important in real life now. It could be critical for what happens a year from now.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

New evidence that Covid-19 came from a Wohan lab surfaces and it's credible; Maoist quarantines in China, and a leak in the quarantine ring in Cambodia could result in more secondary quarantine traps for travelers

A few shocking stories.  The uncertainty about future effects on ordinary American activities because of the compounding effects of quarantines jumped today.
The New York Times today reported on the Maoist quarantines, as Raymond Zhong described Maoist style social control of 760 million peoples in the most affected areas, down to the level of neighborhood “volunteers”, a degree of socialization unthinkable in the West.  It was mentioned on Fareed Zakaria this morning.  
Later today, the New York Times ran a story about a “leak” (ship Westerdam) in Cambodia (Richard C. Paddock et al) .  An elderly American woman who had been on the ship later tested positive in Malaysia after becoming ill. There are serious questions about whether other passengers would be trapped by “secondary quarantines” even if they reach the US.  The story is too new for an answer to that.   The Westerdam has a statement. 
But today Tim Pool posted a video analyzing a Daily Mail story analyzing the street geography of Wuhan, and increasing the probability that the initial infection (“Patient Zero”) occurred inside a bio-research facility near the fish market, when a bat or animal bit a researcher.

The Daily Mail story  by Ross Ibettsson is here. Tim Pool took a close look at the geography of the area near the market and the Wuhan bioresearch facility, and it doesn't look like mainstream media has bothered to do this yet.  I sent the story on to ABC7 in Washington DC immediately.  The story would not mean that the COVID-19 virus is necessarily more virulent than reported.  The Latin Times has more quoted material from the South China University of Technology paper here.
A CNN story indicates that China forces those who have recovered to destroy their own personal belongings and start over. I've never heard of this being done before. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Do "superspreaders" have immune systems that suppress symptoms even as they can transit disease to others?

Here’s a video about the recent superspreader incident with a British businessman, infected in Singapore, who visited a ski chalet in France and several people were infected.

When he arrived in the UK, he apparently had mild disease, as did the other people.

I saw mild cases, because the maps don’t yet show many recoveries in these countries.

Superspreaders may simply have more contact in a short period, or they may have immune systems with strong antioxidant activity that tends to suppress symptoms to viral disease, which may be a fortunate genetic advantage for them, but not for others. Some say that vegan diets high in fiber to make followers more resistant to many viral illnesses as far as actual symptoms. Avoidance of air pollution and smoking sounds important.  A good question would be the relevance of altitude. 

Cases in Singapore are climbing, and the warm temperatures don’t seem to make a difference.
On Feb. 3, Business Insider reported that some people in China had been getting the disease more than once, and the second case could be deadlier.  Peak Prosperity did a video on this alarming possibility tonight.

Zero Hedge has a similar report, saying that reinfection may result in sudden heart attacks. Asian men v. white men may have very small genetic differences that could cause the virus to produce more severe symptoms in Asian men (although there are other theories like more smoking and air pollution).  Zero Hedge has been suspended permanently from Twitter (Bloomberg) for supposedl inciting dangerous attention to a particular Chinese scientist.  Twitter says it has to enforce its rules the same inside non-western countries as in the US and Europe. This is beginning to sound a bit like conspiracy theories attacking Communism. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Recent doxxing on websites in Russia calls attention to the 2013 anti-gay propaganda law

Tim Fitzsimons reports for NBC News that a Russian lesbian activist was murdered (stabbed) in her home after she was doxxed by underground websites in Russia purporting to promote violence against gay, lesbian, fluid and trans persons.   The Russian newspaper report is here

Critics naturally connect these incidents with the 2013 anti-gay propaganda law passed before the 2014 Winter Olympics. The Russian government seems to be attacking gays because of its low birth rate, especially in rural areas.

But another problem is the website, which moves around from host to host, or is probably easily found by P2P on the dark web.
Webhosts (as opposed to large social media platforms) have generally not paid attention to these problems much in the US until Charlottesville, but in Europe they have to respond to hate speech laws. Doxxing is usually a TOS violation but did not get a lot of attention until after Charlottesville.

Monday, February 10, 2020

How to buy 20 years to deal with climate change

Bloomberg has a story by Adam Majendie and Pratik Parija proposing that the Earth could buy twenty years for climate change by reclaiming industrial and desert wastelands, especially in Africa and some areas of Brazil, for a $300 million investment now.
The idea is to put more carbon back into the soil and use a lot of fertilizer.
Would this require a lot of Peace Corps type projects? 
Update:  Feb. 11
There was a story on Smart News this AM that the 5-degree C projection was back in business again. But the best story I can find online is here