from the Tomorrow-is-Friday-the-13th dept.
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as this is a fusion of stories received over the last week or so take all quoted figures of casualties as possibly out-of-date.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 can live in the air for three hours, survive on surfaces for two to three days - UPI.com
According to new research, the novel coronavirus can remain in the air for up to 3 hours and survive on some surfaces for two to three days.
Derek Lowe on Coronavirus
The esteemed Derek Lowe talks Coronavirus.
Since this is going to be a post about the coronavirus, let's start off with this PSA: wash your hands. These viruses have a lipid envelope that is crucial to their structure and function, and soaps and detergents are thus very effective at inactivating them. It's fast, it's simple, and it's one of the more useful things that any individual can do under these conditions.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Declared to be a pandemic
The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. This may mean that some types of insurance may no longer be valid for medical treatment. Italy is now locked down and many other countries now have cases including Australia where there the virus has now reached all states.
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
Trump Announces New Agreements From Health Insurance Companies Amid Wuhan Virus Spread
Trump announced that ten major health insurance companies have agreed to fully cover testing for Wuhan virus, without co-pays. He is following that with an effort to help hourly wage earners avoid missing paychecks due to the epidemic.
Coronavirus: NHS Targets Fake News Spreading Online
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
The decision to delay closing schools and introduce other strict measures to combat coronavirus has been defended by England's deputy chief medical officer.
Dr Jenny Harries said experts are assessing new cases on an hourly basis to achieve a "balanced response".
The NHS has unveiled a range of measures as part of its response to try to stop fake news being spread about coronavirus on the internet.
Searches for "coronavirus" on Google, Facebook and YouTube will now promote information from the National Health Service or the World Health Organization.
The NHS said it had worked with Twitter to take down an account claiming to be a hospital and spreading false information, while it is also speaking out against homeopaths promoting false treatments online.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the actions meant the public could access accurate health information "which is more crucial than ever as we continue our response to coronavirus".
The UK is currently in the first phase - "containment" - of the government's four-part plan.
On Monday, health officials said people who showed "even minor" signs of respiratory tract infections or a fever would soon be told to self-isolate for seven days in an effort to tackle the outbreak.
The change in advice could happen within the next 10 to 14 days, the UK's chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty said.
It came after researchers in the US found it took five days for most people with coronavirus to show symptoms.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also suggested the elderly and vulnerable could be asked to stay home in the near future.
[Editor's Note: In the budget announcement in Parliament yesterday (11 Mar) the Government announced billions of pounds of measures to support businesses during the crisis, and to ensure that anyone who is advised to self-isolate can receive state sickness payments from the start of the absence from their place of work. The UK Cobra (Emergency Committee) are sitting as I edit this round-up and may well announce new measures to address the pandemic in the next few hours and days]
Apple Reportedly Offers Retail Workers Unlimited Sick Leave for Coronavirus Symptoms
Days after the coronavirus outbreak prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to let his employees work from home, 9to5Mac reported that the company's retail and hourly workers are getting unlimited sick leave if they experience the pneumonia-like symptoms linked to the disease.
These workers won't need to give managers a doctor's note either. Apple Stores are remaining open despite the outbreak, but 9to5Mac noted that company is canceling some Today at Apple sessions and other gatherings to limit crowds.
Italy Extends Coronavirus Lockdown to Entire Country
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced Monday that the government has extended internal travel restrictions to the entire country until April 3, after initially locking down the country's northern region in an effort to contain the coronavirus.
Why it matters: It's an extreme measure that effectively locks down 60 million people in one of the most populated countries in Europe, where more people have tested positive for the coronavirus than any country outside of China. Conte also announced that all public gatherings and sporting events would be banned.
Xi Visits Wuhan
Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, the first time he has done so since the epidemic began and a sign that Beijing believes its efforts to control the virus are working.
His arrival in the city comes after its spread in mainland China has sharply slowed in the past week and as attention has turned to preventing imported infections from overseas hot spots such as Iran, Italy and South Korea.
Authorities in China's Hubei said on Tuesday they will implement a "health code" mobile-phone-based monitoring system to start allowing people to travel within the province, as it tries to get life back to normal.
The statement, published on the government's website, said the move was aimed at promoting the resumption of work and production.
China's President Xi Jinping arrived in the provincial capital, Wuhan, on Tuesday for his first visit and is meeting medical workers and others involved in the fight against the virus.
FDA / NY Atty Gen Order Jim Bakker to Stop Selling Fraudulent Coronavirus Products
The Food and Drug Administration said Monday it has sent warning letters to televangelist Jim Bakker and six companies for selling unapproved coronavirus drugs and treatment products.
"The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health. We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one," FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said in announcing the enforcement actions.
The products include teas, essential oils, tinctures and colloidal silver, which have been cited as not safe or effective for treating any disease, the agency said in a statement with the Federal Trade Commission.
The FDA said it was particularly worried that the products may cause people to delay or stop appropriate treatment, "leading to serious and life-threatening harm."
Covid-19 Small Molecule Therapies Reviewed
Let's take inventory on the therapies that are being developed for the coronavirus epidemic. Here is a very thorough list of at Biocentury, and I should note that (like Stat and several other organizations) they're making all their Covid-19 content free to all readers during this crisis. I'd like to zoom in today on the potential small-molecule therapies, since some of these have the most immediate prospects for use in the real world.
The ones at the front of the line are repurposed drugs that are already approved for human use, for a lot of obvious reasons. The Biocentury list doesn't cover these, but here's an article at Nature Biotechnology that goes into detail. Clinical trials are a huge time sink – they sort of have to be, in most cases, if they're going to be any good – and if you've already done all that stuff it's a huge leg up, even if the drug itself is not exactly a perfect fit for the disease. So what do we have? The compound that is most advanced is probably remdesivir from Gilead, at right. This has been in development for a few years as an RNA virus therapy – it was originally developed for Ebola, and has been tried out against a whole list of single-strand RNA viruses. That includes the related coronaviruses SARS and MERS, so Covid-19 was an obvious fit.
The compound is a prodrug – that phosphoramide gets cleaved off completely, leaving the active 5-OH compound GS-44-1524. It mechanism of action is to get incorporated into viral RNA, since it's taken up by RNA polymerase and it largely seems to evade proofreading. This causes RNA termination trouble later on, since that alpha-nitrile C-nucleoside is not exactly what the virus is expecting in its genome at that point, and thus viral replication is inhibited.
There are five clinical trials underway (here's an overview at Biocentury). The NIH has an adaptive-design Phase II trial that has already started in Nebraska, with doses to be changed according to Bayesian readouts along the way. There are two Phase III trials underway at China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Hubei, double-blinded and placebo-controlled (since placebo is, as far as drug therapy goes, the current standard of care). And Gilead themselves are starting two open-label trials, one with no control arm and one with an (unblinded) standard-of-care comparison arm. Those might read out first, depending on when they get off the ground, but will be only rough readouts due to the fast-and-loose trial design. The two Hubei trials and the NIH one will add some rigor to the process, but I'm not sure when they're going to report. My personal opinion is that I like the chances of this drug more than anything else on this list, but it's still unlikely to be a game-changer.
There's an RNA polymerase inhibitor (favipiravir) from Toyama, at right, that's in a trial in China. It's a thought – a broad-spectrum agent of this sort would be the sort of thing to try. But unfortunately, from what I can see, it has already turned up as ineffective in in vitro tests. The human trial that's underway is honestly the sort of thing that would only happen under circumstances like the present: a developing epidemic with a new pathogen and no real standard of care. I hold out little hope for this one, but given that there's nothing else at present, it probably should be tried. As you'll see, this is far from the only situation like this.
[...] There are several other known antiviral drugs [that] are being tried in China, but I don't have too much hope for those, either. The neuraminidase inhibitors such as oseltamivir (better known as Tamiflu) were tried against SARS and were ineffective; there is no reason to expect anything versus Covid-19 although these drugs are a component of some drug cocktail trials. The HIV protease therapies such as darunavir and the combination therapy Kaletra are in trials, but that's also a rather desperate long shot, since there's no particular reason to think that they will have any such protease inhibition against what this new virus has to offer (and indeed, such agents weren't much help against SARS in the end, either). The classic interferon/ribavirin combination seems to have had some activity against SARS and MERS, and is in two trials from what I can see. That's not an awful idea by any means, but it's not a great one, either: if your viral disease has interferon/ribavirin as a front line therapy, it generally means that there's nothing really good available. No, unless we get really lucky none of these ideas are going to slow the disease down much.
There are a few other repurposed-protease-inhibitors ideas out there, such as this one. (Edit: I had seen this paper but couldn't track it down, so thanks to those who sent it along). This paper suggests that the TMPRSS2 protease is important for viral entry on the human-cell-side of the process, a pathway that has been noted for other coronaviruses. And it points out that there is a an approved inhibitor (in Japan) for this enzyme (camostat), so that would definitely seem to be worth a trial, probably in combination with remdesivir.
That's about it for the existing small molecules, from what I can see. What about new ones? Don't hold your breath, is all I can say. A drug discovery program from scratch against a new pathogen is, as many readers here well know, not a trivial exercise. As this Bloomberg article details, many such efforts in the past (small molecules and vaccines alike) have come to grief because by the time they had anything to deliver the epidemic itself had passed. Indeed, Gilead's remdesivir had already been dropped as a potential Ebola therapy.
You will either need to have a target in mind up front or go phenotypic. For the former, what you'd see are better characterizations of the viral protease and more extensive screens against it. Two other big target areas are viral entry (which involves the "spike" proteins on the virus surface and the ACE2 protein on human cells) and viral replication. To the former, it's worth quickly noting that ACE2 is so much unlike the more familiar ACE protein that none of the cardiovascular ACE inhibitors do anything to it at all. And targeting the latter mechanisms is how remdesivir was developed as a possible Ebola agent, but as you can see, that took time, too. Phenotypic screens are perfectly reasonable against viral pathogens as well, but you'll need to put time and effort into that assay up front, just as with any phenotypic effort, because as anyone who does that sort of work will tell you, a bad phenotypic screen is a complete waste of everyone's time.
[...] All this means that any new-target new-chemical-matter effort against Covid-19 (or any new pathogen) is going to take years, and there is just no way around that. This puts small molecules in a very bimodal distribution: you have the existing drugs that might be repurposed, and are presumably available right now. Nothing else is! At the other end, for completely new therapies you have the usual prospects of drug discovery: years from now, lots of money, low success rate, good luck to all of us. The gap between these two could in theory be filled by vaccines and antibody therapies (if everything goes really, really well) but those are very much their own area and will be dealt with in a separate post.
Chinese Robot Is Designed to Help Doctors Fight Coronavirus
Chinese researchers have developed a robot designed to help doctors treat the new coronavirus and other highly contagious diseases.
The machine has a long robotic arm attached to a base with wheels. It can perform some of the same medical examination tasks as doctors. For example, the device can perform ultrasounds, collect fluid samples from a person's mouth and listen to sounds made by a patient's organs.
Cameras record the robot's activities, which are controlled remotely so doctors can avoid coming in close contact with infected patients. Doctors and other medical workers can operate the machine from a nearby room, or from much farther away.
The robot's main designer is Zheng Gangtie, an engineer and professor at China's Tsinghua University in Beijing. He told Reuters news agency that he got the idea for the device around the time of the Lunar New Year in January. At the time, the number of cases of the COVID-19 virus was rising quickly in the city of Wuhan. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Zheng said a friend of his is the head of Beijing's Tsinghua Changgung Hospital. He said his friend told him that one of the biggest problems in dealing with COVID-19 was that healthcare workers treating patients were getting infected themselves. Zheng said he wanted to do something to help this situation.
So the engineer gathered a team and went to work on the robotic device. Zheng said the team was able to convert two robotic arms. The devices use the same technology that is used for space equipment, including moon explorers. The new robot is almost completely automated, Zheng said. It can even disinfect itself after performing actions involving patient contact.
Greece Closes Borders to Millions of Migrants from Turkey as Coronavirus Fears Escalate
Turkey has allowed millions of undocumented migrants to cross into Greece as the coronavirus takes hold in Iran and enters Europe. With more countries around the world reporting cases of infection Turkey, going back on its billion dollar agreement to contain undocumented migrants at its borders, is now assisting migrants to enter Greece. Greek officials are already struggling to manage the undocumented arrivals and provide sufficient care to them in the wake of what looks like a global pandemic. With hundreds of thousands of migrants trying to enter the country locals are repelling boats and border guards are shooting riot gas. At least one undoc has been killed trying to cross the Greek border. The situation is causing panic in Greece as people prepare for the impact of Covid-19.
List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2
The EPA-registered disinfectant products on this list have qualified under EPA's emerging viral pathogen program for use against SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product. The emerging viral pathogen guidance was triggered for SARS-CoV-2 on January 29, 2020.
EPA strongly recommends following the product label use directions for enveloped viruses, as indicated by the approved emerging viral pathogen claim on the master label. If the directions for use for viruses/virucidal activity list different contact times or dilutions, use the longest contact time or most concentrated solution.
- List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (PDF)(7 pp, 270 K, March 3, 2020)
Don't Panic: The comprehensive Ars Technica guide to the coronavirus
[Ed. note: This story is being actively maintained with daily updates. --martyb]
More than 100,000 people have been infected with a new coronavirus that has spread widely from its origin in China over the past few months. More than 3,000 have already died. Our comprehensive guide for understanding and navigating this global public health threat is below.
[...] You should be concerned and take this seriously. But you should not panic.
This new coronavirus—dubbed SARS-CoV-2—is unquestionably dangerous. It causes a disease called COVID-19, which can be deadly, particularly for older people and those with underlying health conditions. While the death rate among infected people is unclear, even some current low estimates are seven-fold higher than the estimate for seasonal influenza.
[...] Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that get their name from the halo of spiked proteins that adorn their outer surface, which resemble a crown (corona) under a microscope. As a family, they infect a wide range of animals, including humans.
[...] SARS-CoV-2 is related to coronaviruses in bats, but its intermediate animal host and route to humans are not yet clear. There has been plenty of speculation that the intermediate host could be pangolins, but that is not confirmed.
While the identity of SARS-CoV-2's intermediate host remains unknown, researchers suspect the mystery animal was present in a live animal market in Wuhan, China—the capital city of China's central Hubei Province and the epicenter of the outbreak. The market, which was later described in Chinese state media reports as "filthy and messy," sold a wide range of seafood and live animals, some wild. Many of the initial SARS-CoV-2 infections were linked to the market; in fact, many early cases were in people who worked there.
[...] That said, a report in The Lancet describing 41 early cases in the outbreak indicates that the earliest identified person sickened with SARS-CoV-2 had no links to the market. As Ars has reported before, the case was in a man whose infection began causing symptoms on December 1, 2019. None of the man's family became ill, and he had no ties to any of the other cases in the outbreak.
[...] In people, SARS-CoV-2 causes a disease dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO). As the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, the 'CO' stands for 'corona,' 'VI' for 'virus,' and 'D' for disease. [...] On average, it takes five to six days from the day you are infected with SARS-CoV-2 until you develop symptoms of COVID-19. This pre-symptomatic period—also known as "incubation"—can range from one to 14 days.
From there, those with mild disease tend to recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe cases can take three to six weeks to recover, according to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who goes by Dr. Tedros.
[...] So far, some preliminary population screening for COVID-19 infections has been done in China, specifically in Guangdong province. Screening of 320,000 people who went to a fever clinic suggested that we may not be missing a vast number of mild cases. This in turn suggests that the CFRs we are calculating now are not wildly higher than they should be. However, experts still suspect that many mild cases are going unreported, and many still anticipate that the true CFR will be lower than what we are calculating now.
Coronavirus's Genetics Hint at its Cryptic Spread in Communities
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Hodcroft decided to generate an infographic showing the connections between the traveler from Singapore and the other coronavirus cases emerging in Europe. "I thought, I'll make an image and see if anyone else finds this useful," she says. She posted the image on Twitter, and "somewhat unexpectedly, it got a lot of attention," she says. "People were definitely really, really interested in this. So I kept that image updated over the next week or so." As she updated it, the graphic showed that at least 21 people were exposed to the virus at the ski resort the traveler from Singapore visited; 13 of those people ended up developing COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. After she'd finished the preliminary work, a colleague of Hodcroft saw it and suggested she write it up for publication. She posted the paper on February 26; the next day it appeared in Swiss Medical Weekly.
Hodcroft talked with The Scientist about the work, how its conclusions have been supported by genetic testing of viral strains from patients, and what it tells us about the spread of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, in other countries.
The other thing that's surprising is that, according to the patient statement that he released, the focal patient never had any symptoms. In his own words, he never felt sick. So he did all of this transmission without ever having any indication that he was unwell or that he should be taking any precautions to modify his behavior. It tells us that some infections might be from people who never even know that they're sick.
A few days ago, the research group called the Seattle Flu Study, which is designed to take community samples from random people who have any kind of cough, runny nose, or cold-like symptoms and look for the flu—they pivoted and started testing some of the samples for coronavirus. They found a case in the Seattle area and sequenced the viral genome of the infected person [posted on NextStrain] and showed it links very closely with another case in the Seattle area that's from mid-January. And so this strongly suggests (though we don't yet know for certain) that there has been ongoing undetected transmission in Seattle since mid-January and wasn't picked up because we weren't looking for it. This has become clearer in the last few days, as more cases and even deaths have been reported in Washington State. That tells us the virus hasn't just appeared in the last few days in the area.
When you have a very small number of cases of a disease, you can do this just through epidemiological contact tracing: you can go to everyone and ask questions and find out the connections between the cases. As the case numbers scale up, this becomes very hard to do. With genetic sequencing, we can do this without having to go and try and figure out where everyone was at the time of infection. We've had an influx of sequences from Brazil, Switzerland, Mexico, Scotland, Germany. These have clustered with sequences from Italy and have a travel history from Italy and so from that we can show that Italy really is now exporting cases around the world to multiple countries.
One thing I would note is that studies have shown that limiting transportation really doesn't make much of an impact for outbreaks. Quarantining particular cities, if they seem to be epicenters, can work as a preventive measure, but as the epidemic scales up, you move past being able to contain it in this sense, [and] what you end up doing is just disrupting supply routes, interrupting business, making all of these things much harder.
Toilet Paper Hoarding Continues as Australia Faces Coronavirus Outbreak
Australians are still going bonkers buying up toilet paper before the coronavirus hits and some people are then selling them online for a profit. This behavior offers an intriguing insight into mob reactions of people when disaster strikes. Still staggering from horrendous bushfires and disasterous flooding, which is still ongoing, Australians now facing another immediate disaster are falling back to mob mentality copying those they see as leaders. People don't seem to understand why they are buying up toilet paper, only knowing that it is something they should do. In the meantime, stores have imposed buying limits and toilet paper heroes are keeping the paper mills running 24/7 to keep up with demand.
Just when you thought Australia could not get any stranger.
Coronavirus may tear apart Australian University that relies on Chinese students
The secondary effects of the coronavirus are being felt around the world as factory production is slower, deliveries are affected and entire countries are shut down. In Australia the University of Tasmania is cutting courses in a bid to survive foreign student loss in the midst of a travel ban imposed by Australia in a bid to slow the coming COVID19 outbreak. With UTAS (University of Tasmania) buying up tens of millions worth of real estate in prime areas for future expansion based on foreign students the future of the university may be in doubt with so many of its wealthy students unable to attend. Given expectations that the virus outbreak is expected to last months, UTAS may have to suck in its belt, reduce courses, and ride out the wave like so many other businesses facing extinction. Already several restaurants in the Sydney Chinatown area have closed due to the ongoing situation with many more predicted to come.
They could get locals to attend their local university like they did in the Old Days.
Hong Kong offers HK$10000 to stem economy free fall pushed by pandemic fears
Hong Kong government is giving out HK$10,000 to residents to stop the slide into recession. With the recent unrest from anti-China demonstrations, stoppages and finally the coronavirus outbreak, the city economy is stalled on the edge of collapse.
Time for a holiday.
Coronavirus Breakthrough: Protein Mutation Affects Spread and Virulence of Respiratory Virus
Thailand Quarantines 32 Due to MERS Case
China Reports 3rd Death, Nearly 140 New Cases of Coronavirus
China Confirms Human-To-Human Transmission of New Coronavirus; CDC Confirms First US Case
Coronavirus: Millions Quarantined in Wuhan City
China Battles Coronavirus Outbreak: All the Latest Updates
In The Pipeline: Coronavirus
Coronavirus Declared a Global Health Emergency by World Health Organization
2019-nCoV Coronavirus Story Roundup
Australia Bans All Arrivals From China [Updated]
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Roundup
Phishers Impersonate WHO, Exploit Coronavirus-Related Anxiety
MWC Barcelona 2020: "Mobile World Congress" or "Most Won't Come"?
Coronavirus Roundup (Feb. 17)
Roundup of Stories about the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus and COVID-19 Disease
Coronavirus Drug Clinical Trials Beginning in Nebraska
COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 - CoronaVirus) Roundup
New Zealand Birds Show Humanlike Ability to Make Predictions
World Health Organization Declares the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak a Global Pandemic
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Quebec researchers have discovered that a mutation in a coronavirus protein slows the spread of the virus in the central nervous system and reduces its neurovirulence. It is the first time that this phenomenon has been observed in the coronavirus family, which is responsible for one-third of common colds and is also suspected of being associated with the development or aggravation of neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and encephalitis. The discovery, which has just been published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, was achieved in the Laboratory of Neuroimmunovirology at INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier.
In analyzing more than 60 human respiratory tract samples from patients infected by the human coronavirus, researchers discovered an important mutation in the S protein that modifies the virus capacity to infect nerve cells. The mutation is associated with the degree of viral virulence.
Book your flights and hotels as deals become available:
Thailand has quarantined 32 people as it seeks to prevent the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) after a second case of the virus was detected on Friday, a health ministry official said on Monday.
The virus was found in a 71-year-old Omani man traveling to Bangkok. His son, taxi drivers, hotel staff and passengers on the same plane are among those quarantined for two weeks, Amnuay Gajeena, director-general of Thailand's Disease Control Department, told reporters. Another eight have been identified and will also be quarantined, he said.
[...] Thailand's tourism industry would not be affected by the latest MERS case, Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told Reuters. "We think we have the situation under control," she said. "We're confident this will not affect tourism in Thailand." Tourism accounts for 10 percent of GDP, and Thailand expects a record number of international visitors in 2016 - some 32 million, up from 29.88 million in 2015.
The World Health Organization said in its latest update on Jan. 7 it has been notified of 1,626 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS from 26 countries, and at least 586 related deaths. MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that triggered China's deadly 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Previously: MERS Outbreak and Quarantines in South Korea
China reported on Monday its third death from a mysterious new virus and nearly 140 fresh cases as the disease spread to other parts of the country, including Beijing, raising concerns about more infections as millions begin trips for the Lunar New Year.
Medical experts are still struggling to understand the new strain of coronavirus but its connection with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome has caused alarm. SARS originated in southern China in 2002 before spreading to Hong Kong and elsewhere in the world infecting thousands and leaving more than 800 people dead.
Coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, such as the common cold, but can also affect the lower-respiratory tract, causing pneumonia or bronchitis.
[...] In Wuhan, the city in central China where the new strain first emerged, 136 new cases were found over the weekend the local health commission said, without giving details about the person who died.
[...] A total of 201 people have now been diagnosed with the virus in China. In Wuhan, 170 people are still being treated in hospital, including nine in critical condition, the city health commission said.
Wuhan is a city of 11 million inhabitants that serves as a major transport hub, including during the annual Lunar New Year holiday when hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel across the country to visit family.
Zhong Nanshan, head of the National Health Commission, said on Monday patients may have contracted the new virus without having visited the central city of Wuhan where it was discovered before spreading across China and reaching three other Asian nations.
"Currently, it can be said it is affirmative that there is the phenomenon of human-to-human transmission," he said in an interview with China's CCTV state broadcaster.
Zhong said two people in Guangdong province in southern China caught the disease from family members who had visited Wuhan.
He added that 14 medical personnel helping with coronavirus patients have also been infected.
Human-to-human transmission could make the virus spread more quickly and widely.
Public health officials have confirmed the first U.S. case of a mysterious coronavirus that has already killed at least six people and sickened hundreds of others in China, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
A male traveler from China has been diagnosed in Snohomish County, Washington State with the Wuhan coronavirus, according to the CDC.
Officials said the sick male, in his 30s, is “very healthy.” He is currently being isolated at a medical center in the state “out of caution” and “poses little risk” to the public, they said. The CDC said the male reached out to local health authorities on Jan. 15 once he started experiencing pneumonia-like symptoms.
Wuhan's public health authorities say they are in a "state of war" as they quarantine the Chinese city in an attempt to halt the spread of a never-before-seen strain of coronavirus. "Strictly implement emergency response requirements, enter into a state of war and implement wartime measures to resolutely curb the spread of this epidemic," urged a committee of Wuhan's top officials. "Homes must be segregated, neighbors must be watched."
Later Thursday, health officials from the World Health Organization decided not to declare the outbreak an international health emergency. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that after two days of meetings in Geneva with the organization's Emergency Committee, the group was divided. "Make no mistake. This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency," Tedros said. "It may yet become one." The WHO is not recommending any international restrictions on trade or travel, but does recommend exit screenings at airports.
Beginning at 10 a.m. local time (9 p.m. Wednesday ET), authorities in Wuhan, about 500 miles west of Shanghai, started sealing off public transportation, including its metro system, airport, train station and long-haul bus hubs. Livestreamed videos from the city show soldiers wearing face masks barricading the entrances to the city's train station Thursday morning to prevent passengers from entering and leaving the city.
The virus thought to have originated in a Wuhan food market continues to spread as China steps up containment efforts.
[...] China is extending the Lunar New Year holiday for three days and enforcing strict containment measures in an attempt to curb the spread of a new coronavirus that has killed 80 people and infected at more than 2,700, most of them in the central province of Hubei where the virus first emerged.
The holiday season was due to end on Friday but will now be extended until February 2.
More than 56 million people in almost 20 cities, including the Hubei capital of Wuhan, have been affected by travel restrictions, introduced amid fears the transmission rate will balloon as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel during the Lunar New Year celebrations.
[...] Health authorities around the world are taking action to prevent a pandemic as more countries report cases. Confirmed cases have so far been announced in several Asiancountries, Europe and North America.
[...] The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged the respiratory illness, which has been traced to the city of Wuhan, is an emergency in China but the organisation said on Thursday it was too early to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
- Coronavirus: Millions Quarantined in Wuhan City
- China Reports 3rd Death, Nearly 140 New Cases of Coronavirus
- China Confirms Human-To-Human Transmission of New Coronavirus; CDC Confirms First US Case
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:
Machine Learning Comes to Biochemistry
Ignition! The Funniest, Most Accessible Book on Rocket Science is Being Reissued
Another Failed Alzheimer's Disease Therapy
Marathon Pharmaceuticals is Part of the Problem
Lobbying Results in FDA Approval for Controversial Drug
"Right to Try" New Experimental Medicine and the Value of Experts
Cancer Hazard vs. Risk - Glyphosate
A Terrific Paper on the Problems of Drug Discovery
Things I Won't Work With
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.
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.
China Reports 3rd Death, Nearly 140 New Cases of Coronavirus
China Confirms Human-To-Human Transmission of New Coronavirus; CDC Confirms First US Case
Coronavirus: Millions Quarantined in Wuhan City
China Battles Coronavirus Outbreak: All the Latest Updates
In The Pipeline: Coronavirus
Plague Inc. Maker: Don't use our Game for Coronavirus Modeling
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.
In the wake of the Coronavirus spreading across the world Australian airline Qantas has cancelled flights from China as the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced "new control measures" to prevent anyone traveling from China to Australia. The official advice is now that Australians "do not travel" to mainland China. This comes as the number of infected people rose to 12 on Saturday with three new cases across Victoria and South Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced unprecedented new control measures that will see all non-Australians travelling from mainland China barred entry at the border in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus. The official advice is now that Australians "do not travel" to mainland China.
The tough new measures, announced on Saturday afternoon, come as the number of Australians confirmed to have contracted coronavirus rose to 12 on Saturday with three new cases across Victoria and South Australia.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today called for all flights to be banned from China while Qantas said it would suspend services to mainland China.
At a press conference late this afternoon, Mr Morrison said all foreign travellers who had left or passed through mainland China 14 days before arriving in Australia will now be denied entry to the country.
In recent days British Airways, United Airlines, American Airlines, Air Asia, Cathay Pacific, Air India, IndiGo, Lufthansa and Finnair have announced plans to slash the number of flights they are operating to China or stop flying to the country entirely. Other airlines are offering customers refunds.
[UPDATE 020220-07:14UTC: First death from coronavirus reported outside China in the Philippines. For those wanting more complete reporting of coronavirus outbreak, CBS News has a live update web page with news as it is reported. --JR]
Editor's Comment: The figures and statistics regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak are changing daily and there are differences between reports from different sources. The latest figures, which we believe to be from a reputable source and which are being regularly updated, can be found at the worldometers. If you have a favourite site for updated information please leave a link in the comments.
Chinese Whistleblower Doctor Dies Due to Coronavirus
A Chinese doctor who tried to issue the first warning about the deadly coronavirus outbreak has died, the hospital treating him has said. Li Wenliang contracted the virus while working at Wuhan Central Hospital. He had sent out a warning to fellow medics on 30 December but police told him to stop "making false comments".
There had been contradictory reports about his death, but the People's Daily now says he died at 02:58 on Friday (18:58 GMT Thursday).
The virus has killed 636 people and infected 31,161 in mainland China, the National Health Commission's latest figures show. The death toll includes 73 new deaths reported on Thursday.
An AC writes:
This story has been updated to reflect the latest statement from Wuhan Central Hospital, after confusion in state media reports.
Li died of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan in the early hours of Friday morning (local time).
"Our hospital's ophthalmologist Li Wenliang was unfortunately infected with coronavirus during his work in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic," the latest hospital statement read.
"He died at 2:58 am on Feb 7 after attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful."
Earlier on Thursday night, several state media outlets had reported Li's death, following which Chinese social media erupted in profound grief and anger.
Media outlets are reporting daily on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and the emergency repatriation of foreign citizens that found themselves in the thick of it.
As cases of the virus infection keep popping up across the world – demonstrating just how small (i.e., well-connected) our planet is – so do fake news and videos about the situation on social media, as well as malware, phishing schemes and other scams in people’s inboxes.
The latest example of the latter are fake emails purportedly coming from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is, ironically, engeaged in fighting an “infodemic” of fake coronavirs-themed news online.
The email, spotted by the Sophos Security Team, uses a trick lately favored by phishers and scammers: “Click here to download safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”
The link takes the potential victim to a compromised web page containing a frame that renders the legitimate WHO page, which currently and prominently sports a link to information about this novel coronavirus.
Unfortunately, it also shows a simple pop-up asking the potential victim to “verify” their email by entering their email address and password. Those who fall for the trick are redirected to WHO’s legitimate page, while their email login credentials end up in the phishers’ hands.
Both c0lo and takyon write in with today's coronavirus collection of stories:
So far, it seems that youth protects against the worst effects of 2019-nCoV.
The outbreak of a new coronavirus in China has killed more than 900 people, but one group has escaped with minimal damage: children.
Youth can certainly contract the virus. Among the infected are at least two newborns, according to Chinese health officials. But few children are among those sick enough to be diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to an article published Feb. 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the data analyzed in that article — and numbers are changing quickly as the outbreak evolves — the median age of patients skews older, between 49 and 56 years old.
It's not entirely clear why children seem to be escaping the worst effects of the virus, dubbed 2019-nCoV. But a similar pattern holds for many infectious diseases, from the familiar, such as chickenpox and measles, to the newly emerged, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), doctors say.
Each year, the GSMA (GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) Association) holds three MWC (Mobile World Congress) events. The next is MWC Barcelona and is scheduled for 24-27 February 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. The next event scheduled for this year is MWC Shanghai 2020, scheduled for 30 June - 2 July 2020 in Shanghai, China. And rounding out 2020 is the last event, MWC Los Angeles, California on 28-30 October 2020.
Since 2011, MWC Barcelona has been known as the GSMA Mobile World Capital. It is the oldest and largest of the MWC series, so some of the largest mobile product announcements occur at this event. The 2018 event attracted attendees around the world. Approximately half of the attendees hold senior positions in their firms. In other words, in the mobile market, MWC Barcelona is a "Really Big Deal."
That was all history. The recent outbreak of the 2019-nCoV Coronovirus has made quite a stir worldwide. Major players in the mobile arena are concerned about sending their representatives to a venue with approximately 100,000 attendees drawn from all around the world.
Major companies in the mobile space have recently announced plans to either skip MWC Barcelona entirely or, in some cases, make presentations remotely. These include: including Intel, TCL, Sony, Amazon, Samsung, Nvidia, Ericsson Vivo, and MediaTek among many others.
[...] It will be "interesting" to see what the follow-on effects will be from the reduced attendance. The June MWC is scheduled for Shanghai (a major city in China - the country that is the apparent source of the 2019-nCov coronoavirus and imposing major quarantines trying to stem its spread). Thus, unless 2019-nCoV is brought under control in record time, things do not look good for those who were diverted from Barcelona to look forward to making up the difference 4 months later. That leaves waiting for MWC LA at the end of October, or making more one-on-one connections to work out buying and selling decisions.
[Editors' Note: The World Health Organisation has formally renamed the virus to COVID-19]
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
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.
There have been several significant developments in the battle against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, and the resulting illness COVID-19. This story gathers a selection of stories from across the web.
WHO Director-General's Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on COVID-19 - 24 February 2020
We're encouraged by the continued decline in cases in China.
Earlier today the WHO-China joint mission concluded its visit and delivered its report.
[...] The team has made a range of findings about the transmissibility of the virus, the severity of disease and the impact of the measures taken.
They found that the epidemic peaked and plateaued between the 23rd of January and the 2nd of February, and has been declining steadily since then.
They have found that there has been no significant change in the DNA of the virus.
They found that the fatality rate is between 2% and 4% in Wuhan, and 0.7% outside Wuhan.
They found that for people with mild disease, recovery time is about two weeks, while people with severe or critical disease recover within three to six weeks.
The team also estimate that the measures taken in China have averted a significant number of cases.
The report contains a wealth of other information, highlights questions for which we still don't have answers, and includes 22 recommendations.
[...] But the key message that should give all countries hope, courage and confidence is that this virus can be contained.
[...] The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning.
There's a lot of speculation about whether these increases mean that this epidemic has now become a pandemic.
Clinical trials of remdesivir, an experimental drug to treat COVID-19, have begun at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha. More detail is provided in an article posted by the National Institutes of Health. The initial trial will involve 400 patients and will be conducted internationally but is beginning in Nebraska. There are currently 15 patients being monitored at UNMC, 13 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19. According to the daily update from UNMC, all of the 15 patients are now in the National Quarantine Unit, which has 20 beds. Previously, some of the patients had been in the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit, which is the largest facility of its kind in the country and had previously been used to treat ebola patients.
Note: The February 25 edition of the daily update mentioned the clinical trial, so there's a good possibility that additional updates will be posted in UNMC's daily update. The additional discussion may help explain why the trial is beginning in Nebraska even though there haven't been any cases that reported there -- all of the COVID-19 patients at UNMC were either sent there originally or were previously quarantined at Camp Ashland or were transported there from elsewhere.
Many nations have begun to take special measures to address the problem of the spread of the COVID-19 virus over every continent. It would be pointless to report the details of all such measures; they are limited to each specific country and liable to frequent change as the situation develops. The USA FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have carried out what they describe as a "Supply Change Update", see the link below, but for others we suggest using a bit of web-search-fu to discover a site more appropriate to your own area of interest.
Worldwide, newspapers and other media need to maintain sales and subscriptions — many tend, therefore, to sensationalize their reporting. This has two undesirable effects: firstly it can result in data being quoted out of context to support the report they are making and, secondly, it tends to stress the possible effects of the COVID pandemic, should it be declared as such. In a comment elsewhere, I reported 2 tables which contain the most accurate figures we can find from a reputable source. They indicate the vulnerability of people to the virus by age, and any links to comorbidity (as far as they are known). There is no doubt that the virus poses a serious threat but it is not the same for all ages and many deaths are attributed to a combination of COVID-19 infection and other pre-existing conditions. For the latter it has not be proven that the virus was the sole cause of death; it is possible that the person would have died anyway. As postmortems have not been carried out in the vast majority of cases, the figures are open to misinterpretation. The WHO (World Health Organization) stresses that they will be unable to clarify these findings for a long time to come.
As it stands, for a person below the age of 70 with no other medical conditions, the chances of dying from a COVID-19 infection is less than 1%. That is still a large number of people at risk and the implications for every nation are significant. It is, however, much lower than some of the figures that have been quoted in the press. The figures for people over 70 and with other conditions cause the rate to rise quite sharply, and I would suggest that we all keep an watchful eye on the elderly or infirm members of our family and friends.
The majority of people will only suffer mild flu-like symptoms and will make a full recovery. - janrinok
Whether it's calculating your risk of catching the new coronavirus or gauging the chance of rain on your upcoming beach vacation, you use a mix of statistical, physical, and social information to make a decision. So do New Zealand parrots known as keas, scientists report today. It's the first time this cognitive ability has been demonstrated outside of apes, and it may have implications for understanding how intelligence evolved.
"It's a neat study," says Karl Berg, an ornithologist and parrot expert at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Brownsville, who was not involved with this research.
[...] The findings indicate that keas, like humans, have something known as "domain general intelligence"—the mental ability to integrate several kinds of information, the researchers argue. That's despite the fact that birds and humans last shared a common ancestor some 312 million years ago and have markedly different brain anatomies. Previously, cognitive researchers have argued that domain general intelligence requires language.
Irene Pepperberg, a comparative psychologist and expert on parrot cognition at Harvard University, is skeptical. Pepperberg, who worked with the famed parrot Alex for 31 years, says the kea showed "some intuitive understanding, but not ... real statistical knowledge." In her view, the study could not prove the birds understand in detail how the proportions of tokens in a jar influence the probability of a reward.
If kea really do have the abilities the study suggests, there's a good reason they evolved it, Berg says. Animals with even basic statistical and predictive skills should be able to estimate amounts of food or the availability of mates, and so end up with more offspring and evolutionary success, he says. In other words, if you've mastered Statistics 101, you're likely to succeed in the game of life.
[Editor's note: We had been gathering together COVID-19 stories for eventual release as a round-up story. I lack time at the moment to personally gather all those together with this most recent submission. We will run the next round-up in the next few days. But given the significance of this submission, I wished not to delay it from being immediately released to the community. --martyb]
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on Wednesday as the new coronavirus, which was unknown to world health officials just three months ago, has rapidly spread to more than 121,000 people from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
“In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva. “In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.”
Tedros said several countries have demonstrated the ability to suppress and control the outbreak, but he scolded other world leaders for failing to act quickly enough or drastically enough to contain the spread.
“We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he said, just before declaring the pandemic. “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”
[Ed. addition follows.]
For those who might not be aware of the distinction, Wikipedia helpfully provides these summaries:
An epidemic (what we have had up to now with COVID-19):
An epidemic (from Greek ἐπί epi "upon or above" and δῆμος demos "people") is the rapid spread of infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time, usually two weeks or less.
[...]An epidemic may be restricted to one location; however, if it spreads to other countries or continents and affects a substantial number of people, it may be termed a pandemic. The declaration of an epidemic usually requires a good understanding of a baseline rate of incidence; epidemics for certain diseases, such as influenza, are defined as reaching some defined increase in incidence above this baseline. A few cases of a very rare disease may be classified as an epidemic, while many cases of a common disease (such as the common cold) would not.
By comparison, a pandemic (which has just now been announced for COVID-19):
A pandemic (from Greek πᾶν pan "all" and δῆμος demos "people") is an epidemic of disease that has spread across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic. Further, flu pandemics generally exclude recurrences of seasonal flu. Throughout history, there have been a number of pandemics, such as smallpox and tuberculosis. One of the most devastating pandemics was the Black Death, which killed an estimated 75–200 million people in the 14th century. The current pandemics are HIV/AIDS and Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Other recent pandemics are the 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish flu), and the 2009 flu pandemic (H1N1).
A lot has already happened this year. SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) which can cause COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease 2019) has been making headlines shortly after it was first reported. The first cases were reported to WHO (World Health Organization) on 2019-12-31. The virus spread. It began as an epidemic in China . The world watched apprehensively. Reports surfaced of cases in other countries and the the apprehension grew. For many folk, it turned to fear when it was upgraded to a pandemic: WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 March 2020: "We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic."
We have seen increasing efforts to stem the spread of the disease. Efforts have run the gamut. Closing of borders. Cancellation of sporting events. Conferences cancelled. Churches and other places of worship also closed. Schools closed. Panic buying of household goods and supplies. Supply chain disruptions affecting manufacturers. Restaurant, bars, and other such establishments closed. Work-from-home policies established and enacted.
The changes have been many, widespread, and continuing.
Reading about all the ways that "other people" have been affected is one thing. It seems different, somehow, when it hits closer to home and affects us directly. With many of our usual social activities curtailed or cancelled, it is easy to begin isolating and lose perspective. SoylentNews arose from a troubled period (the SlashCott) and a community has formed from that challenging period.
How have you been affected? Have you been infected? Had a family member or friend who was? Helped neighbors who are struggling? Hunkering down and isolating? (In a basement is optional.) Are you suddenly working from home and finding it challenging to manage your time? Still working on site, but now have a faster commute due to all the other people staying home? Catching up on watching TV shows? Reading more SoylentNews? How has your life changed?
From a somewhat different perspective, how have others helped you to cope... and how have you been able to help others? One of the potential impacts of social distancing is isolation and depression. I count myself fortunate, indeed, to have served this site for over 6 years and for all the people I have gotten to know, here. For those who may not be aware, SoylentNews has its own IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server. Feel free to drop in to #Soylent and just say "Hi!"
Social distancing is permanent when you're dead. So, practice good hygiene and stay safe.
Previously (oldest first):
China Battles Coronavirus Outbreak: All the Latest Updates
2019-nCoV Coronavirus Story Roundup
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Roundup
Coronavirus Roundup (Feb. 17)
Roundup of Stories about the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus and COVID-19 Disease
COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 - CoronaVirus) Roundup
CoronaVirus (SARS-CoV-2) Roundup 2020-03-12
Working from Home: Lessons Learned Over 20 Years
First, the Artemis Accords go beyond simply rejecting the unpopular 1979 Moon Agreement, which declared lunar resources to be the "common heritage of mankind" and committed parties to establish an international regime to oversee space mining. Only 18 countries have signed the treaty.
In its place, the accords envisage a US-centric framework of bilateral agreements in which "partner nations" agree to follow US-drafted rules.
Second, the accords introduce the concept of "safety zones" around lunar operations.
Although territorial claims in space are prohibited under international law, these safety zones would seek to protect commercial and scientific sites from inadvertent collisions and other forms of "harmful interference". What kinds of conduct could count as harmful interference remains to be determined.
(2020-06-02) Third European Service Module for Artemis Mission to Land Astronauts on the Moon
(2020-05-16) NASA Wants Partner Nations to Agree to "Artemis Accords" for Lunar Exploration
(2020-03-12) CoronaVirus (SARS-CoV-2) Roundup 2020-03-12
(2018-07-22) Who Owns The Moon? A Space Lawyer Answers
(2018-03-07) China to Recruit Civilian Astronauts, Partner With Russia on Upcoming Missions
(2018-01-09) Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway
(2017-10-18) Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022
(2015-11-26) Who Owns Space? USA's Asteroid-Mining Act is Dangerous and Potentially Illegal
Robert Heinlein explored the notion in a novel. Does the future of space exploration lie with governments or corporations?
This story is a merge of 30 story submissions. Given that it was well over 17,000 words of original source material (excluding HTML markup!), a great deal of pruning was performed to get it to a manageable size. I strongly encourage folks to read the linked articles for more information.
For latest statistics, and finer granularity, see https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/.
As of 20200330_151936 UTC, it reported these world-wide totals:
- Coronavirus Cases: 743,081
- Deaths: 35,347
- Recovered: 157,046
- Active Cases:
- 550,688 (Currently Infected Patients)
- 522,206 (95%) in Mild Condition
- 28,482 (5%) Serious or Critical
- Closed Cases:
- 192,393 Cases which had an outcome
- 157,046 (82%) Recovered / Discharged
- 35,347 (18%) Deaths
Stories appear below the fold.
[20200320_184315 UTC: Update: Made the dept. line longer to better demonstrate space [un]availability.--martyb]
[20200320_202305 UTC: Update: Added topics: "/dev/random", "Code", "Software", and "Answers" topics to better illustrate their use of space in a story. --martyb]
[20200321_175412 UTC: Update: superseded by: Skip to comment(s) -- Second Try --martyb]
First: Please accept my best wishes to everyone during SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic. Please take all necessary precautions to keep yourself and those around you safe!
Second: I should not have been surprised, but I must confess my admiration at how the SoylentNews community came together in support of each other in response to SoylentNews Community -- How has SAR-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) / COVID-19 Affected You? As of my writing this, there are over 300 comments! community++ This is what I had hoped for when SoylentNews started over six years (Wow!) ago, and so validates my giving of my time to this site!
Third: (and the focus of this story) our virus roundup stories are... long. An AC posted a comment: thanks to eds:
Thanks editors for pulling together this summary. SN for the win!
One comment--it is kind of long to scroll down through, to get to the comments. Perhaps next time some of the longer stories could be put inside the spoiler tag?"
This was quickly acted on by a member of staff, but that was not universally embraced as a "Good Idea". Both Soylentils, to my eye, had good points. If I am visiting an active story again, I have already read the story (both the "Intro Copy" and the "Extended Copy"). Why should I have to scroll through a wall-of-text to get to the comments? The suggestion of using <spoiler>...</spoiler> to bracket the contents of each of the merged stories seemed like a reasonable suggestion. But, when you have a hammer... Right idea, but maybe not quite the right tool.
Aside: If I am reading a review of, say, a movie, then a spoiler is an appropriate way to hide plot details from those who have not yet seen the movie. That is not the situation here. Why hide details of a story about the pandemic? Hmm. A good first try, perhaps, but it looks like we need something different in this case.
Idea: what if there were, say, a button at the top of the story that I could click and be brought immediately to the comment section of a story? Hey! I can do that!
Acknowledgements: At this point, I hereby express my sincere thanks to AndyTheAbsurd for constructing some CSS which allowed the conditional display of a button, and to FatPhil for his testing efforts. Thanks guys!
Read on past the break for details on the implementation and a request for assistance before I attempt to roll it out to production.
World-wide data as of: 20200615_140637 UTC:
This story presents a roundup of a selection of our COVID-19, SARS-Cov-2, coronavirus story submissions. Some stories have been omitted because they were a duplicate, outdated, superseded, and sometimes just as a matter of keeping the size of these roundups managable. etc. (Before thinning, this story contained over 16,500 words (excluding HTML markup) and that excluded what is contained in this introduction.
If you are not interested in this coverage, then please ignore this story; another story will appear presently. Otherwise, please see the rest of the story below the fold: