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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 28 2020, @11:38PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the clearing-the-air dept.

https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/01/27/coronavirus

As the world knows, we face an emerging virus threat in the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. The problem is, right now there are several important things that we don't know about the situation. The mortality rate, the ease of human-human transmission, the rate of mutation of the virus (and how many strains we might be dealing with – all of these need more clarity. Unfortunately, we've already gone past the MERS outbreak in severity (which until now was the most recent new coronavirus to make the jump into humans). If we're fortunate, though, we'll still have something that will be worrisome, but not as bad as (say) the usual flu numbers (many people don't realize that influenza kills tens of thousands of people in the US each year). The worst case, though, is something like 1918, and we really, really don't need that.

[Ed note: The linked story is by Derek Lowe who writes a "commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry". He is perhaps best known for his "Things I Won't Work With" blog entries which are as hilarious as they are... eye opening. I have found him to be a no-nonsense writer who "tells things as they are", holding no punches. The whole story is worth reading as he clearly explains what a coronavirus is, about the current one that reportedly originated in Wuhan, China, what could be done about it, how long that would likely take, and what can be done for those who have already been infected. --martyb]

Previous Stories Referencing Derek Lowe:

Original Submission

Related Stories

Things I Won't Work With 28 comments

Derek Lowe keeps a blog, that alone wouldn't be news worthy but his blog is the home of Things I Won't Work With, a fascinating look at chemicals so noxious, so volatile that even the names will make amateur chemists flinch.

Such things as:

Peroxide Peroxides

Everyone knows hydrogen peroxide, HOOH. And if you know it, you also know that it's well-behaved in dilute solution, and progressively less so as it gets concentrated. The 30% solution will go to work immediately bleaching you out if you are so careless as to spill some on you, and the 70% solution, which I haven't seen in years, provides an occasion to break out the chain-mail gloves.

Mercury Azides

When we last checked in with the Klapötke lab at Munich, it was to highlight their accomplishments in the field of nitrotetrazole oxides. Never forget, the biggest accomplishment in such work is not blowing out the lab windows.

and FOOF

And a hard core it is! This stuff was first prepared in Germany in 1932 by Ruff and Menzel, who must have been likely lads indeed, because it's not like people didn't respect fluorine back then. No, elemental fluorine has commanded respect since well before anyone managed to isolate it, a process that took a good fifty years to work out in the 1800s. (The list of people who were blown up or poisoned while trying to do so is impressive). And that's at room temperature.

Has anyone here had to work with any of these?

A Terrific Paper on the Problems of Drug Discovery 6 comments

Derek Lowe brings us a paper on the problems in drug discovery

Here's a really interesting paper from consultants Jack Scannell and Jim Bosley in PLoS ONE, on the productivity crisis in drug discovery. Several things distinguish it: for one, it's not just another "whither the drug industry" think piece, of which we have plenty already. This one get[s] quantitative, attempting to figure out what the real problems are and to what degree each contribute.

As they finish up by saying, we have to realize what the "domains of validity" are for our models. Newtonian physics is a tremendously accurate model until you start looking at very small particles, or around very strong gravitational fields, or at things with speeds approaching that of light. Similarly, in drug discovery, we have areas that where our models (in vitro and in vivo) are fairly predictive and areas where they really aren't. We all know this, qualitatively, but it's time for everyone to understand just what a big deal it really is, and how hard it is to overcome. Thinking in these terms could make us value more the data that directly reflect on predictive value and model validity (read the paper for more on this).

Be sure to read the comments at the end of Dr Lowe's article.


For those who may not recognize the name, this is the Derek Lowe who is author of: Things I Won't Work With and Things I'm Glad I Don't Do. He has a gift for writing that conveys complicated concepts in a very readable and entertaining fashion.

Original Submission

Cancer Hazard vs. Risk - Glyphosate 9 comments

[The WHO] and the Food and Agriculture Organization have come out with a statement that glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk in humans". And this only a year after another UN agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, stated what looks like the exact opposite, that it could "probably" be a cause of cancer in humans. Later on last year, the European Food Safety Authority said that glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard".

[...] the difference is that the IARC is looking at the question from a "Is there any possible way, under any conditions at all, that glyphosate could be a carcinogen?", while the FAO and WHO are giving an answer to the questions "Is glyphosate actually causing cancer in people?"

[...] "Risk", technically speaking, refers to your chances of being harmed under real-world conditions, while "hazard" refers to the potential for harm.

Under real-world conditions, eating a normal amount of bacon raise your risk of colorectal cancer by an amount too small to consider. But it does appear to be raising it by a reproducible, measurable amount, and therefore bacon (and other processed meats) are in the IARC's category 1.
[...] It's important to note that some hypothetical substance that reproducibly, in human studies, gives anyone cancer every single time they touch it would also be in category 1, the same as a hypothetical substance that reproducibly, in human studies, raises a person's risk of cancer by one millionth of a per cent. Same category. These categories are not arranged by relative risk – they're arranged by how good the evidence is. Glyphosate is in category 2A, which means that there is evidence from animal studies, but limited/insufficient evidence from humans as of yet.
[...] So yes, by the standards of the available evidence, glyphosate is in the same cancer hazard category as working the night shift, or working as a hairdresser.

TFA is interesting and worth a read, especially for its use of a shark analogy explaining the difference between risk and hazard.

Link: Glyphosate And Cancer By Derek Lowe
Additional Wired link: Does Monsanto's Roundup Herbicide Cause Cancer or Not? The Controversy, Explained


Original Submission

"Right to Try" New Experimental Medicine and the Value of Experts 10 comments

At what point should an experimental drug be made available for anyone to try it?
[...] "Right To Try" law [allows] a therapy to be prescribed after it's passed Phase I and is under active investigation in Phase II. [...] Insurance companies are not required to pay for these, it should be noted, nor are drug companies required to offer access.

The big underlying question here is "Who gets to make the decisions?" Right-to-try advocates would say that the patients themselves should be making those calls (presumably with some advice from their physicians). Others would say no, we need an FDA, some sort of regulatory authority to make sure that the therapies people are choosing from are actually worth choosing. Another argument is that the underlying medical and clinical issues are complex enough to make some sort of expert review worthwhile, and that we can't necessarily expect "informed consent" to always be informed enough under some of the more wide-open proposals.

[...] The Limits of Expertise

Past that, though, you run into the folks who aren't even bothering to appeal to experts at all, because they simply don't trust them much and don't believe what they have to say. Here, too, we have gradations. If we're talking about the Poincaré Conjecture, to pick an issue on one end of the scale, the only people that will be of much use while discussing the details of Grigori Pearlman's proof of it will be those who have devoted serious time to the study of topology. No one who is not comfortable dropping the phrase "Riemannian manifold" into their conversational flow can really have a seat at that table. Even world-renowned prize-winning scientists from many other fields are not going to able to pull up a chair.

Dr. Lowe breaks these types of questions into "Matter for Experts", "Just Plain Facts", "Flat-Out Unknowable", and "Matters of Opinion" and the relative value of expertise for each.

http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2016/06/30/expertology

Background on "Right To Try" laws:
http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2014/06/10/right_to_try_here_we_go

[Ed. note (martyb): This is the same Dr. Derek Lowe who authored the hilariously-written and highly-informative blogs: Things I Won't Work With and Things I'm Glad I Don't Do.]


Original Submission

Lobbying Results in FDA Approval for Controversial Drug 35 comments

Eteplirsen received approval for use as a Duchenne muscular dystrophy therapy despite the FDA review team concluding that the treatment was unlikely to show any benefit for patients.

Dr. Janet Woodcock's (Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research) decision was heavily influenced by the "parading diseased children in front of the cameras" and was made before the FDA's review team completed their analysis.

Part of Dr. Woodcock's rational for approval included the stock price of Sarepta (the pharmaceutical company responsible for eteplirsen):

She opined that Sarepta in particular "needed to be capitalized." She noted that [Sarepta's] stock went down after the AC meeting and went up after FDA sent the June 3, 2016 letter. Dr. Woodcock cautioned that, if Sarepta did not receive accelerated approval for eteplirsen, it would have insufficient funding to continue to study eteplirsen and the other similar drugs in its pipeline.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, Acting Chief Scientist Dr. Luciana Borio, and Dr. Ellis Unger, the Director of the Office of Drug Evaluation, all opposed the approval but Dr. Califf declined to overrule Dr. Woodcock's decision.

Dr. Unger argued that the approval was unethical and counterproductive:

By allowing the marketing of an ineffective drug, essentially a scientifically elegant placebo, thousands of patients and their families would be given false hope in exchange for hardship and risk.

Dr. Borio argues:

Granting accelerated approval here on the basis of the data submitted could make matters worse for patients with no existing meaningful therapies — both by discouraging others from developing effective therapies for DMD and by encouraging other developers to seek approval for serious conditions before they have invested the time and research necessary to establish whether a product is likely to confer clinical benefit.
[...] [Sarepta] has exhibited serious irresponsibility by playing a role in publishing and promoting selective data during the development of this product. Not only was there a misleading published article with respect to the results of Study 201/202147 –which has never been retracted—but Sarepta also issued a press release relying on the misleading article and its findings.

Dr. Derek Lowe, from In The Pipeline, agrees with Dr. Unger and Dr. Borio that the drug is "unlikely to provide much benefit, and is reasonably likely to provide none at all" and that the drug "may well be [$300,000 per year] worth of placebo".

Note: Bold was added by the submitter.

http://endpts.com/senior-fda-officials-warned-that-eteplirsen-ok-would-lower-fda-standards/
http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2016/09/20/sarepta-gets-an-approval-unfortunately
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eteplirsen


Original Submission

Marathon Pharmaceuticals is Part of the Problem 17 comments

Dr. Derek Lowe, from In the Pipeline, writes:

So since drug pricing and FDA regulations are so much in the news, it would seem like the perfect time for a small company to game the system for big profits, right? That's apparently what Marathon Pharmaceuticals believes. They just got approval for deflazacort, a steroid, as a treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

[...] So what's not to like? Well, this drug has been around since the early 1990s. Marathon most certainly did not invent it. Nor did they think of applying it to DMD patients – the biggest clinical trial of the drug for that indication was done over twenty years ago, by someone else. DMD patients in the US were already taking the (unapproved) drug by importing it from Canada. Marathon just dug through the data again and ran a trial in 29 patients themselves, from what I can see. I should note that this is not any sort of cure, nor does it address the underlying pathology of the disease. The steroid treatment makes muscle strength in DMD patients stronger – barely. But even for that benefit, US patients will now have to get it from Marathon at something like 50 to 100 times the former price.

[...] So while I defend the FDA's function of making it tough on new drugs (making them prove safety and efficacy), I cannot stand how loose they are with old generic compounds. The agency hands out extremely valuable rewards like lollipops in these cases – a priority review voucher can be sold for hundreds of millions of dollars

[...] And they're also allowing the likes of Marathon to make the rest of the drug industry look like greedy sociopaths. Marathon, Catalyst, T*ring and all the rest of the people who are pulling these tricks have the word "Pharmaceuticals" in their name, but they are not drug companies. They discover nothing. They do no research. They take virtually no risks. They exist only to play legal games and watch the money roll in.

[...] As for the FDA, the agency probably can't change this on its own, though, even if it wants to – Congress has to act to give them the authority to deny market exclusivity or priority review vouchers under some conditions. Either that, or we should rethink these incentives entirely, because they are (clearly) too easy to exploit for fast bucks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deflazacort

Also at ArsTechnica.


Original Submission

Another Failed Alzheimer's Disease Therapy 10 comments

Dr. Derek Lowe, from In the Pipeline, writes about another disappointing failure to treat Alzheimer's Disease:

Merck announced last night that the first Phase III trial of their beta-secretase (BACE) inhibitor verubecestat was stopped because of futility. The monitoring committee, after looking over the data so far (the trial's been running since 2012) concluded that there was no real chance of seeing efficacy.

[...] The list of Alzheimer's clinical failures is impressive, but the list of failures to clinically validate the amyloid hypothesis is even more so.

[...] Beta-secretase inhibitors have failed in the clinic. Gamma-secretase inhibitors have failed in the clinic. Anti-amyloid antibodies have failed in the clinic. Everything has failed in the clinic. You can make excuses and find reasons – wrong patients, wrong compound, wrong pharmacokinetics, wrong dose, but after a while, you wonder if perhaps there might not be something a bit off with our understanding of the disease. Remember, every time one of these therapies comes around, it builds on the failures before it. Better and better attempts are made – I mean, verubecestat seems to be a pretty good compound, from the preclinical drug discovery perspective. It's surely the best swing anyone's taken at beta-secretase (and there have been many). But it just flat out did not work.

The good news about this study is that it adds to the evidence that the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer's Disease is a blind alley and that the presence of amyloid plaques is simply correlative and not causative. As more data comes in from the study, I hope that the evidence will be conclusive enough that more effort will be spent on pursuing other therapeutic targets.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alzheimer's_disease#Amyloid_hypothesis


Original Submission

Ignition! The Funniest, Most Accessible Book on Rocket Science is Being Reissued 18 comments

It's rare that the forthcoming publishing of a book fills me with excitement and anticipation. Doubly rare when said book has been out of print for decades. Elon Musk may have popularized the term RUD (Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly), but his experiences can barely hold a candle to the tales told by John D Clark, author of Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants. Read on for the scoop from Ars Technica:

Often hilarious, always informative, this history of rocket science is a must-read.

It's rare that a book about as high-minded and serious a topic as rocket science manages to be both highly informative and laugh-out-loud funny. But if there's a better way to describe John Clark's Ignition!, I've yet to discover it. A cult classic among chemists, many of the rest of us discovered the book via one of Derek Lowe's tales of hilariously scary chemicals.

[...] Rutgers University Press has decided to dust it off and reissue it. From May it will finally be possible to put a physical copy on one's bookshelf. And honestly, if you've got any interest in chemistry—particularly the branch of it involving violent, energetic, and occasionally explosive reactions—it's a book you need to read.

Ignition! is a history of liquid rocket propellants, but it's also a history of cold war and the space race, told from a particular point of view. Clark was the chief chemist at a rocket lab in New Jersey, operated first by the US Navy, then US Army. He was a central figure in what was a relatively small field, one with a definite purpose. This wasn't science just for science's sake, but a quest to find new oxidizers and fuels for rocket engines, to make better missiles or space probes.

The propellants being asked for would have to be liquids throughout a range of temperatures, and preferably completely innocuous and easily stored until reacting violently together upon combination. However, if you guessed that many of the chemicals suitable for energetic reactions in a rocket often tend to react energetically in many other situations—often with no provocation at all—Clark's tales of "catastrophic self-disassembly" might not be entirely surprising.

Pricing ranges from $24.95 to $95.00 with pre-orders being accepted now. A PDF is available on February 14th; other formats and a reduced-price PDF is available on May 15th.

Read on for a sample passage from Chapter 6 of Ignition!:

Machine Learning Comes to Biochemistry 4 comments

Making New Drugs With a Dose of Artificial Intelligence

Every two years, hundreds of scientists enter a global competition. Tackling a biological puzzle they call "the protein folding problem," they try to predict the three-dimensional shape of proteins in the human body. No one knows how to solve the problem. Even the winners only chip away at it. But a solution could streamline the way scientists create new medicines and fight disease.

Mohammed AlQuraishi, a biologist who has dedicated his career to this kind of research, flew in early December to Cancun, Mexico, where academics were gathering to discuss the results of the latest contest. As he checked into his hotel, a five-star resort on the Caribbean, he was consumed by melancholy. The contest, the Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction, was not won by academics. It was won by DeepMind, the artificial intelligence lab owned by Google's parent company. "I was surprised and deflated," said Dr. AlQuraishi, a researcher at Harvard Medical School. "They were way out in front of everyone else."

[...] "It is not that machines are going to replace chemists," said Derek Lowe, a longtime drug discovery researcher and the author of In the Pipeline, a widely read blog dedicated to drug discovery. "It's that the chemists who use machines will replace those that don't."

After the conference in Cancun, Dr. AlQuraishi described his experience in a blog post. The melancholy he felt after losing to DeepMind gave way to what he called "a more rational assessment of the value of scientific progress." But he strongly criticized big pharmaceutical companies like Merck and Novartis, as well as his academic community, for not keeping pace.

[For those who might not be aware, the Derek Lowe mentioned above is the author of the Things I Won't Work With blog. If you want to read about things that burn, go BOOM, or otherwise wreak havoc you'd be hard pressed to find a more entertaining source. --martyb]


Original Submission

2019-nCoV Coronavirus Story Roundup 75 comments

Multiple Soylentils have submitted stories regarding the 2019-nCoV coronavirus which is believed to have originated in the city of Wuhan, China in December 2019. Rather than have a smattering of stories appear on the site, they have been gathered here in one story. Read on if you are interested; otherwise another story will be along presently.

CoronaVirus (SARS-CoV-2) Roundup 2020-03-12 93 comments

Even though it has only been a short while since our last round-up there are 22 separate stories merged into this round-up. Many report duplicate news but, nevertheless, we have tried to distill the important elements of each submission.

Firstly, there is some confusion regarding the actual names that are reported for the virus, the disease that it causes, and names frequently seen in media reporting. From https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-020-0695-z:

The present outbreak of a coronavirus-associated acute respiratory disease called coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is the third documented spillover of an animal coronavirus to humans in only two decades that has resulted in a major epidemic. The Coronaviridae Study Group (CSG) of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, which is responsible for developing the classification of viruses and taxon nomenclature of the family Coronaviridae, has assessed the placement of the human pathogen, tentatively named 2019-nCoV, within the Coronaviridae. Based on phylogeny, taxonomy and established practice, the CSG recognizes this virus as forming a sister clade to the prototype human and bat severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoVs) of the species Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus, and designates it as SARS-CoV-2.

In order to facilitate communication, the CSG proposes to use the following naming convention for individual isolates: SARS-CoV-2/host/location/isolate/date. While the full spectrum of clinical manifestations associated with SARS-CoV-2 infections in humans remains to be determined, the independent zoonotic transmission of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 highlights the need for studying viruses at the species level to complement research focused on individual pathogenic viruses of immediate significance. This will improve our understanding of virus–host interactions in an ever-changing environment and enhance our preparedness for future outbreaks.

There is much more information at the link provided.

Secondly, as this is a fusion of stories received over the last week or so take all quoted figures of casualties as possibly out-of-date. At the time of merging these stories (12 Mar 20) there have been 127,863 confirmed cases world-wide resulting in 4,717 deaths. 68,309 people have already recovered with the remainder either in self-imposed or advisory isolation, in basic hospital care and a relatively small number in critical care. The pandemic has affected 116 countries/regions. Source: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6 - a graphical display produced by Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

Many countries have taken emergency measures to restrict travel or large gatherings of people. As this is a very fluid situation we suggest you refer to the media of any specific country in which you have an interest. President Trump has banned transatlantic air travel from countries in mainland Europe to the USA from Friday 2020-03-13 at 23:59 (no timezone stated) for a period initially of 30 days, and air travel within Europe is also significantly disrupted.

Coronavirus Declared a Global Health Emergency by World Health Organization 84 comments

Coronavirus declared global health emergency by WHO

The new coronavirus has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization, as the outbreak continues to spread outside China.

"The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The concern is that it could spread to countries with weaker health systems.

1st Person-To-Person Spread Of Coronavirus Has Occurred In U.S., CDC Says

Coronavirus: US reports first person-to-person transmission

Chicago health officials have reported the first US case of human-to-human transmission of the deadly coronavirus.

The new patient is the spouse of a Chicago woman who carried the infection back from Wuhan, China, the US Centers for Disease Control said on Thursday.

The discovery marks the second report of the virus in Illinois and the sixth confirmed case in the US.

This paper provides early estimates of 2019-nCoV epidemiological parameters: Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV: early estimation of epidemiological parameters and epidemic predictions (open, DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.23.20018549) (DX)

Used model does not offer much grounds for optimism.

Previously:


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2Original Submission #3

Coronavirus Roundup (Feb. 17) 65 comments

This story is a roundup of several virus stories that were submitted over the past few days. This is a changing story, so some of what is posted below may have changed since the time of their originally being published.

What's in a name? One significant change is what the names are for everything. There is the question of what to call the actual virus and then what to call it when someone is infected.

Virus: The virus by itself is now officially referred to as SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). It was formerly known as 2019-nCoV (2019 novel coronavirus).

Disease: Those who have been infected by this virus are said to have a disease. The name of the disease is coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which is also known as 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease.

More details are available on Wikipedia.

The six submitted stories are presented below.

NIH Official Says Coronavirus 'on the Verge' of Becoming Global Pandemic Unless Containment Improves

NIH official says coronavirus 'on the verge' of becoming global pandemic unless containment becomes 'more successful':

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS's "Face The Nation" that multiple person-to-person transmissions need to occur in multiple countries in order to reach the pandemic threshold.

[...] "Technically speaking, the [World Health Organization] wouldn't be calling this a global pandemic. But it certainly is on the verge of that happening reasonably soon unless containment is more successful than it is right now," he said.

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  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:02AM (5 children)

    by c0lo (156) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:02AM (#950328) Journal

    The linked story is by Derek Lowe who writes a "commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry". He is perhaps best known for his "Things I Won't Work With" blog entries which are as hilarious as they are... eye opening. I have found him to be a no-nonsense writer who "tells things as they are", holding no punches.

    His right to not be willing to work with some sorts of things, but it turns out some compounds he doesn't want to work with are accessible to (literally) "shed synthesis" for determined-enough humans that lived to tell the tale.

    Example: Azidoazides azides [sciencemag.org] - shed synthesis [youtube.com] and demo [youtube.com].

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Snotnose on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:37AM (1 child)

      by Snotnose (1623) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:37AM (#950390)

      I'm an embedded software engineer, not a chemist. Found Things I won't Work With maybe 5-10 years ago, and have made his blog a daily destination ever since. Once or twice a week he has something I find interesting, plus as others have said the guy is a helluva writer.

      --
      I hate when I put something off to tomorrow, and tomorrow arrives.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:00AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:00AM (#950424)

        I'm an embedded software engineer, not a chemist.

        See also appeal to non-authorities [wikipedia.org].
        The "tells things as they are" part may not be such a clear cut verdict when it comes from a S/N editor/submitter. Taking Derek's or anyone's choices as "the things that are" means one may never discover an actual value or less dangerous paths in things he deemed useless or too dangerous.

        Granted, internalizing the cautionary messages on his writings is a thing that may make all the difference in regards with the life and limb of the daredevils who wander in dangerous territories.

        Once or twice a week he has something I find interesting, plus as others have said the guy is a helluva writer.

        The above being said, nothing wrong in enjoying his style and picking whatever information one finds useful.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:43AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:43AM (#950491)

      but it turns out some compounds he doesn't want to work with are accessible to (literally) "shed synthesis" for determined-enough humans that lived to tell the tale.

      Unless the laws of physics are different for sheds, everything Mr. Lowe is not willing to work with are accessible to shed synthesis. The shed might not be around afterward, but it's quite feasible to do suicidal chemistry out of your shed.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:45AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:45AM (#950494) Journal
        Sorry, accidentally logged out. The above post was mine.
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday January 29 2020, @06:09AM

        by c0lo (156) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @06:09AM (#950527) Journal

        Unless the laws of physics are different for sheds, everything Mr. Lowe is not willing to work with are accessible to shed synthesis.

        Theoretically, you are right.

        Practically, it may hinge on what one is willing to include in the definition of "shed" - e.g if you include "availability of pressure [sciencemag.org] in 10+GPa range [nature.com]" and/or "controlled fluid speeds in continuous flow reactions [sciencemag.org]" and/or "appropriate conditions to settle matters of honor [sciencemag.org]" in the definition of "shed", you may end with out-of-this-world meanings for the word.

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:15AM (31 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:15AM (#950337) Journal

    China demands apology over Danish newspaper’s cartoon flag 'insult' [thelocal.dk]

    China has objected to a satirical drawing of the Chinese flag published by a Danish newspaper on Monday.

    [...] “The current outbreak of a new coronavirus has cost 81 precious lives in China. At the same time as the Chinese government and the Chinese people are making every effort to combat this unusual and urgent health threat, Jyllands-Posten has published a ‘satirical drawing’ by Niels Bo Bojesen which is an insult to China and hurts the feelings of the Chinese people,” the embassy wrote according to a translation by Politiken.

    How about releasing the real death counts.

    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Bot on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:32AM (3 children)

      by Bot (3902) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:32AM (#950344) Journal

      China does worse things like asking, oh wait I mean demanding, foreign people to boycott Tibet.
      The funny thing is that Italy and possibly other EU countries have signed treaties with China that makes the country liable for any loss any Chinese enterpreneur should encounter, so the situation is like this:
      - your country lets the Dalai Lama speak
      - chinese decide to go nuclear and pull some investment
      - your country must pay damages to the enterpreneur

      So, if your prez is paid by Israel and Russia, our politicians and mainstream media and "grassroots" movement leaders are literally lapdogs for China, unless of course they interfere from the obligations from mr. Soros.

      --
      Account abandoned.
      • (Score: 0, Troll) by Ethanol-fueled on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:11AM (2 children)

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:11AM (#950369) Homepage

        We've been pretty fucked by China as well. They've stolen almost all of our technology, worked with Jews to subvert America culturally and especially at the college level, buying up expensive American properties with dirty money and exerting the leverage those property values have on "Fifth-columnist Feinstein" (herself having a Chinese spy as her confidant for over a decade) and now they might even be bringing us lethal diseases when we realize the jig is up and want to get both Feinstein and her Chinese handler death-sentences at Gitmo.

        And yet the Jewish gatekeepers keep awarding Chinese "academics" and other suspect solicitors open arms into our security industries. My question is, where were the fuck all of you who were supposed to stand watch on our security industries? Are you all Jews? Were you too cowardly to not say anything about that?

        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:59AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:59AM (#950399)

          I can't believe that someone as obviously retarded as you could possibly figure out how to use a computer to post here. Did your boyfriend help you?

          • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:01AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:01AM (#950402)

            Ah, so the 50c army strikes back in a little over 2 hours, I see.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Ethanol-fueled on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:01AM (2 children)

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:01AM (#950358) Homepage

      I think we should first talk about the Jews seeking to work with China [nbcboston.com] against America's best interests. It's not the first time the Jews helped facilitate the transfer of America's secrets to its enemies.

      There are 3 things working to destroy the United States of America now, and they are: Jews, Chinese, and Mexicans. The sooner we send all those chucklefucks back to their home nations or put them in camps, the better.

      • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Wednesday January 29 2020, @06:03PM (1 child)

        by istartedi (123) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @06:03PM (#950748) Journal

        I've seen your ID for a long time here, and I had no idea you were like that. You should change it to Cocaine-fueled [npr.org]

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @08:29PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @08:29PM (#950828)

          Most of us think stupidity-fueled would be more appropriate.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:19AM (18 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:19AM (#950376)

      Total symptomatic patients was 7 million:
      https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/reasons-for-china%E2%80%99s-unreliable-death-and-infected-statistics--finally-revealed-insufficient-test-kits,-also-cambodia-reports-first-case [thailandmedical.news]

      Max mortality rate is deaths/confirmed (because only the sickest will get confirmed) = 2-2.5%

      So max mortality rate is 0.25*7e6 = 175k deaths.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:21AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:21AM (#950378)

        Sorry, max death count = 175k.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:27AM (14 children)

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:27AM (#950382) Journal

        Bird flu. SARS. China coronavirus. Is history repeating itself? [statnews.com]

        Sometimes history seems to unspool in a continuous playback loop. That is the feeling I get from watching Hongkongers donning face masks, dousing hands with sanitizer, and once again bracing for the possibility that a deadly new coronavirus outbreak originating in mainland China will spread here.

        Chinese authorities’ delayed response, the secrecy breeding mistrust, the lack of full transparency, and efforts to control the narrative by downplaying the seriousness — it all rings sadly familiar.

        Public health emergencies should be handled quickly, transparently, and devoid of political considerations. But public health is inherently political and, with anything involving China, politics can never be fully excised. For Chinese Communist officials, particularly at the provincial level, there is an innate tendency to cover up and conceal, their long-imbued penchant for secrecy always taking precedence over trifling concerns like promoting public awareness and advocating proper precautions.

        That was certainly the case in late 1997, just after China’s assumed sovereignty over Hong Kong, when the territory was hit by an outbreak of the H5N1 virus known as “bird flu.” Well into the outbreak, with people sick and some dying, Hong Kong officials were reluctant to finger China as the source, even though 80% of the territory’s poultry came from the mainland. Hong Kong ordered the slaughter of more than 1.3 million chickens, ducks, pigeons, and other birds, but officials were still nonsensically hesitant to point to China as the culprit behind the contagion out of fear of contradicting Beijing, which insisted — wrongly — that all its chickens were healthy.

        The same obfuscation and denial came from China’s Communist authorities in reaction to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, also caused by a coronavirus, in late 2002 and 2003. Even as the virus spread, Chinese officials continued to undercount cases and delay reporting information to the World Health Organization.

        The government did not warn the public for months, allowing people carrying the virus to migrate freely, and did not alert the WHO until February 2003. China finally began concerted action in the summer of 2003 and SARS was quickly brought under control. But the inadequate reporting and delayed response led to a public health trust deficit that persists today.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:38AM (12 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:38AM (#950392)

          So you think the death rate is even higher in the unconfirmed cases? Or that more than 7 million people went to the hospital (most being turned away for having moderate symptoms0?

          • (Score: 5, Insightful) by takyon on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:01AM (11 children)

            by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:01AM (#950401) Journal

            I think the death toll is probably higher than officially reported, and 3% could be an optimistic death rate. People are just not getting treated, dying, and not being counted. Hence the rapid construction of field hospitals and videos of crowded hospitals.

            https://www.cbsnews.com/live-updates/china-coronavirus-outbreak-us-plans-wuhan-evacuation-death-toll-number-cases-rises-today-2020-01-28/ [cbsnews.com]

            A resident in Wuhan, the quarantined metropolis at the heart of the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak, told CBS News Friday that he waited overnight at one of the city's overwhelmed hospitals to get treated for the illness but couldn't access a doctor.

            The man asked not to be identified as Chinese authorities struggle to show they're in control of the outbreak, which has now killed 26 people in China and infected more than 800. He said he was diagnosed with the virus Thursday at the Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan, and that he has passed it to his mother.

            He waited from Thursday night into Friday morning at the hospital for an injection he was told he needed to treat the illness, but never managed to see a doctor to have it administered.

            The man said he saw patients at the rammed hospital on Thursday falling to the ground "one after another," but there was no room for more patients to be admitted. Videos posted to social media have shown patients laying on the floor in Wuhan hospitals, some crying out for help. One, which was removed from China's popular Twitter-like platform Weibo, purportedly showed dead bodies covered with sheets on the floor near other hospital patients.

            The irony could be that uninfected people are crowding into the hospitals and getting infected there.

            --
            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:34AM (6 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:34AM (#950414)

              But basically you have to be proposing that it is not the sickest people who are getting tested for the virus.

              • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:45AM (5 children)

                by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:45AM (#950416) Journal

                Just give them vitamin C at the door. That will sort it out.

                --
                [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:55AM (4 children)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:55AM (#950421)

                  No, I mean you are saying that the Chinese are specifically not testing the patients most likely to die, or are hiding those test results. This is a level of corruption above and beyond what most are proposing.

                  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:11AM (3 children)

                    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:11AM (#950430) Journal

                    I would agree with that conclusion, but I don't have any hard evidence to support it.

                    You can find unverified videos floating around on social media of doctors and nurses contradicting official numbers and painting a grimmer picture than ~132 deaths.

                    https://www.thedailybeast.com/deadly-coronavirus-throws-china-hospitals-into-chaos [thedailybeast.com]

                    Another doctor in Wuhan wrote an open letter to Chinese officials on the message board of state-run publication People’s Daily, calling for an investigation of the Wuhan Health Commission. The doctor said that the commission attempted to cover up the coronavirus outbreak by banning mentions of lung infections in CT scan reports. (The post has been censored.)

                    There is undoubtedly heavy censorship on Weibo et al. no matter what the real situation is.

                    --
                    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:26AM

                      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:26AM (#950439)

                      There are also a bunch of disturbing videos of people supposedly suddenly fainting/collapsing due to this virus but that is not a symptom according to any authority (WHO/CDC/etc).

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @05:37AM (1 child)

                      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @05:37AM (#950515)

                      If you are going to accept that degree of lying why not assume it is all fake and mean to suppress protests?

            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by barbara hudson on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:04AM (2 children)

              by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:04AM (#950426) Journal

              He waited from Thursday night into Friday morning at the hospital for an injection he was told he needed to treat the illness

              We don't have a cure so I don't know what that's about.

              --
              SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
              • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:25AM (1 child)

                by c0lo (156) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:25AM (#950436) Journal

                We don't have a cure so I don't know what that's about.

                One is right to say chicken soup doesn't actually fights the cold away, yet it's helping.
                Measles - once infection is on its way, it is mostly deadly without proper health care; becomes just a nuisance with supportive treatment [mayoclinic.org].

                Symptom relief treatment may make all the difference on a patient's life or death - just help the body fight the virus better may be all that it takes to survive the infection.

                --
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                • (Score: 2) by barbara hudson on Wednesday January 29 2020, @05:54PM

                  by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @05:54PM (#950741) Journal
                  He never got the injection, whatever it was, so there was zero palliative or supportive care, and given the overcrowding and the shortage of basic supplies , and the ineffectiveness of masks, if he didn't have the virus he was safer not hanging around, and if he did have the virus others would be safer him not hanging around, since there isn't any cure yet anyway.

                  When there's a flu outbreak the last place you want to be is the ER. Unless it turns into pneumonia, everyone is better off if you just stay home in bed.

                  So what did they want to inject ? My guess is that it wasn't a doctor telling him this, just someone like a security guard, so no harm done that he didn't get the mystery injection. You don't give antivirals to everyone who walks in the door, so the injection was fake news.

                  --
                  SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:00PM

              by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:00PM (#950600)

              People are just not getting treated, dying, and not being counted.

              You could probably cross out the not getting treated part. The causes of death per wikipedia seem to be:

              pneumonia and kidney failure in severe cases

              The problem is:

              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2909231/ [nih.gov]

              Would seem to imply, because China is large, that the government approved low fake number is around 2.5M pneumonia cases per year is normal and 125K pneumonia deaths are normal. A western non-government approved number being thrown around was 21M cases per year mostly in kids.

              Statista claims there's 3.8 million doctors in China. Admittedly a podiatrist or psychiatrist isn't going to see many emergency room pneumonia cases, but its an upper bound, at least.

              So the fake "everything is awesome" government stats imply each doc in China sees one pneumonia case per year and realistic western data implies one pneumonia case per month. Obviously this is ER docs and as a smaller segment of the medical doctor profession the numbers seen are maybe 10 times higher. Figure the fake number for ER docs in china is a couple per week and the real world number is around one sometimes two per day.

              Suddenly, one day, three cases show up; should the ER doc immediately detect its an outbreak and raise alarms and all that?

              There's only been 6000 cases per wikipedia which may be false low stats; however; locally Wuhan has 11M people which is about one percent of China's population, so they should have somewhere around 1653 to 13888 pneumonia cases per month under normal circumstances depending on how fake the government figures usually are. Lets assume all 6000 wikipedia cases are in Wuhan, which they are not, as an extreme upper bound.

              This is the real risk of fake government numbers, because docs on the ground can't assess risk properly. So if the fake government figures are real, normally docs in Wuhan should see 1653 pneumonia cases per year and they have 6000 pneumonia-like coronavirus infections and holy shit thats three times normal and why aren't they in outbreak mode? Or, more realistically, if the western non-propaganda figures are real, they usually see 13888 pneumonia infections per month and an extra unexplained wintertime 6000 pneumonia-like infections is "just another day at the office" random statistical fluctuations that appears to mean nothing.

              This also makes me wonder about legacy media and attention whoring social media reporting megadeaths and hospitals in chaos. Outside "western civilization" hospitals are ALWAYS overcrowded in chaos with dead people, no outbreak needed. I'm sure those hospitals were really busy and crowded a couple months before the outbreak. So whats the real story?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:10AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:10AM (#950428)

          there is an innate tendency to cover up and conceal, their long-imbued penchant for secrecy always taking precedence over trifling concerns like promoting public awareness and advocating proper precautions.

          "Saving face" is not a "penchant for secrecy" and not specific to Chinese - you will see it in every bureaucracy.
          Just look at Trump for examples of placing his face above public concerns.

      • (Score: 2) by legont on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:57AM (1 child)

        by legont (4179) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:57AM (#950496)

        Perhaps a better mortality definition at an early and exponential infection stage is number of death / (number of death + number of cured) and this one is ugly.

        --
        "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @05:11AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @05:11AM (#950502)

          That is the same as deaths/confirmed.

    • (Score: 2) by barbara hudson on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:10AM (4 children)

      by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:10AM (#950405) Journal

      China will always seek to be outraged at the slightest provocation. It's one way to draw attention away from their 1 million Urgers in concentration camps.

      If they're offended by a flag, they're really going to hate me. Every time I hear "coronavirus", I keep hearing the tune "9 Coronas."

      It's like a virus ... " do dah do da do da Nine Coronavirus!"

      I can't be the only one ....

      --
      SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:13AM (1 child)

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @02:13AM (#950407) Journal

        s/Urgers/Uyghurs/g

        Speaking of them, I wonder if they will get the best coronavirus "treatments" in their vocational education and training centers. Cough cough.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2, Offtopic) by VLM on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:04PM (1 child)

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:04PM (#950601)

        China will always seek to be outraged at the slightest provocation.

        We have an entire political party in the US devoted to self hate, which is actually pretty rare worldwide.

        China is normal; it just feels weird for us, to see a government that doesn't hate its own people.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:42AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:42AM (#950351)

    Unfortunately, we've already gone past the MERS outbreak in severity

    This seems a bit alarmist. I thought MERS had a staggering mortality rate compared to the estimates I've seen for the Coroaovirus. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:14AM (5 children)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:14AM (#950371) Journal

      The problem with the coronavirus doesn't seem to be the mortality rate (although that could be difficult to quantify given bad data from China), but the fact that it can spread easily and with asymptomatic transmission. Then you have people boarding planes and making it through screenings, masks not being very effective, etc.

      The comparison to MERS is about quantity.

      https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how-new-wuhan-coronavirus-stacks-up-against-sars-mers [sciencenews.org]

      MERS = 30% mortality, 2,494 cases

      2019-nCoV = 3-4% mortality (supposedly), X cases

      X is officially around 5,000 globally, more than MERS, but another estimate being thrown around is 100,000 [theguardian.com].

      Mutations could also be a problem: Coronavirus's ability to spread getting stronger, China suggests [theguardian.com]

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by deimtee on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:38AM (4 children)

        by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:38AM (#950442) Journal

        Mutations could also be a problem: Coronavirus's ability to spread getting stronger, China suggests

        A basic understanding of evolution would indicate that. If the virus is mutating then the variants that spread the best will be the ones that spread the most. It's practically a tautology. The only reason everything on the planet hasn't already been wiped out by disease is that efficiency in spreading usually involves becoming less lethal. After all, dead organisms generally don't move around much.

        --
        No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:48AM (3 children)

          by c0lo (156) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:48AM (#950447) Journal

          The only reason everything on the planet hasn't already been wiped out by disease is that efficiency in spreading usually involves becoming less lethal.

          On the long run, the best parasite is the one that doesn't kill the host?

          Take the herpes virus as example - still in the 'warts relief, no actual cure' state since forever (HPV and herpes are two different things [healthline.com])

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
          • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:21AM (2 children)

            by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:21AM (#950472) Journal

            Usually, but there are some pretty wacky parasites out there. Multi-host ones often need to kill the intermediate hosts. For instance that liver fluke one that gets in an ant and makes it climb up a grass stalk and wait to be eaten by a sheep.

            Here's a fun read with nice pictures: https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/body-snatching-parasites/ [nzgeo.com]

            --
            No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
            • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:43AM (1 child)

              by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:43AM (#950490) Journal

              Shit like this is why there are so many atheists in the life sciences. I do not blame them one bit.

              --
              I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @06:08AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @06:08AM (#950526)

                The curious thing is that God seems to love the pathogens as much as He loves the victims.

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