The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Highlights The Importance Of Scientific Expertise – Forbes

The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Highlights The Importance Of Scientific Expertise – Forbes

The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Highlights The Importance Of Scientific Expertise – Forbes

The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Highlights The Importance Of Scientific Expertise – Forbes

March 16, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of those moments in time that feels like we have no borders. With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day rapidly approaching, the world is fighting this one together. While initially there were misinformed or ideologically-hampered people downplaying the threat, I am noticing, anectdotally, a decline in such sentiment in my own social media spaces. People now understand the seriousness or realize how out of touch and insensitive they sound talking about hoaxes. A popular scientist once said, The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it. As I watch the U.S. response to COVID-19, this immediately came to mind as leaders, businesses, and citizens look to science expertise for clarity and solutions.

UNITED STATES - MARCH 12: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and ... [+] Infectious Diseases, and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testify during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Coronavirus Preparedness and Response, in Rayburn Building on Thursday, March 12, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Over the past several years, there have been a litany of articles about how science has been under attack at EPA, Department of Energy, CDC and in other science circles. Concerns were also amplified by the March for Science movement. As recently as December (2019), the New York Times published an article about how the Administration is sidelining scientific researchers. Science magazine recently documented how the Presidents 2021 budget was littered with cuts to major federal science agencies. For a complete list of proposed cuts, this link is a good source. According to David Malakoff and Jeffreyy Mervis writing in Science, Overall, federal spending on research would drop by 9%, or $13.78 billion, to $142.185 billion. This budget dance has played out every year, but a bipartisan Congress has always restored or increased funding for critical agencies now helping lead the charge against COVID-19. While budgets were generally restored, the Associated Press (AP) reports that a National Security Council team that focused on pandemics was dismantled in 2018.

Beyond budget cuts, there have been some interesting dynamics emerging with the concept of science expertise. The Dunning-Kruger Effect (people overstating how much they know about topics or underestimating what they dont know) is rampant in social media. The availability of information and data has, in the minds of some people, equalized the scientific playing field. However, clear deficiencies in scientific grounding, methodologies, data quality control, publishing in the peer-review literature, and significance testing are often quite evident. I have literally seen people get angry because a climate scientist establishes her expertise on a complex science topic being incorrectly discussed on Twitter. When a plumber comes to my house to fix a water line, it is because I value the expertise and am perfectly fine with him knowing more about that situation than me. I value other peoples expertise rather than display insecurities or inferiority complexes about it.

This brings me back to COVID-19. It is so refreshing to see Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health, taking an important role in the counseling and messaging with COVID-19. He is very effective, exudes credibility, and navigates the fine line between science complexity and so what? Vice President Pence also tapped Deborah Birx as his coronavirus response coordinator. Dr. Birx served as Ambassador-at-Large and United States Global AIDS Coordinator. She was appointed by President Obama in 2014 and was instrumental in advancing a key HIV vaccine trial. While I highlighted these high-profile scholars, an army of scientists, public health officials, lab technicians, doctors, and graduate students are working this problem in government labs, academia, and the private sector, and we are grateful. My colleague Paul Hanle, former President of Climate Central, told me via email:

"The coronavirus crisis has put a spotlight on the importance of science in supporting our nation's well being. The public increasingly understands that it must listen to expert advice of credible scientific leaders like Dr. [Tony] Fauci of the NIH over vague guidance and misinformation from the administration. This applies just as surely to the warnings of [expert] climate scientists that we must act swiftly to address the climate crisis. Science health and in climate change. If we fail to support it, and to listen to the experts, we risk retreat to the kinds of ravages not seen since the middle ages...or worse "

It is refreshing to see actual scientists being tapped for their expertise rather political alignment to get us through this challenge. COVID-19 is bigger than one party, belief system, or donor base and will require all hands on deck. For example, much of the terminology being thrown around with COVID-19 is anchored in the public health, epidemiological, or medical sciences communities. Proper consumption of this information is critical, but most people idonthave a Masters Degree in Public Health. Heres a little cheat sheet for some of the terms that you may be seeing in social media:

Epidemiology is the method used to find the causes of health outcomes and diseases in populations. In epidemiology, the patient is the community and individuals are viewed collectively. By definition, epidemiology is the study (scientific, systematic, and data-driven) of the distribution (frequency, pattern) and determinants (causes, risk factors) of health-related states and events (not just diseases) in specified populations (neighborhood, school, city, state, country, global). It is also the application of this study to the control of health problems (Source:Principles of Epidemiology, 3rd Edition).

Science is a public good. It should never be viewed through partisan or adversarial lenses. As a climate scientist, I have provided scientific input to policymakers from all parts of the political spectrum, most recently when I testified before the House Science Committee on extreme weather events of 2019. I challenge you to pause and identify major aspects of your life not impacted by science. You probably are reading this on a smartphone or computer. You likely used GPS to get to a recent destination. Some of you will take medication today or look up a weather forecast. These are the obvious things. Your smartphone or GPS system didnt just poof into existence from the science fairy. There have been years of basic and applied scientific research and development that led to these conveniences. Likewise, the research enterprise fighting COVID-19 has always been there too. Americans generally trust scientists and in a time of crisis, it seems that policymakers do too.

A2018 Pew Research Center surveyfound a similar pattern when asking respondents about their confidence in certain groups and institutions to act in the best interests of the public. Americans expressed the most confidence in the military to act in the public interest, followed by scientists. In that survey, 79% of U.S. adults had either a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in scientists to act in the public interest.

Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (2nd L) of the Public Health Agency of Sweden speaks during a press ... [+] conference to update on the COVID-19 coronavirus situation on March 12, 2020 in Solna, Sweden. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)

Original post:
The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Highlights The Importance Of Scientific Expertise - Forbes
The Guardian view on the UKs Covid-19 response: confused and hesitant – The Guardian

The Guardian view on the UKs Covid-19 response: confused and hesitant – The Guardian

March 16, 2020

Boris Johnsons decision to go it alone, in global policy terms, over the UKs Covid-19 outbreak is being challenged every day and there is a sense of foreboding that the government is coming up short with its answers. Unlike our nearest neighbours, ministers said there would be no imminent ban on mass events because such a prohibition would do no good. On Friday night it was announced that there would be such a proscription. The government then had to make a U-turn this weekend over its message that the UK is pursuing a policy of herd immunity. It was troubling and reflects badly on ministers that an epidemiological outcome of mass infection was confused with the dubious policy aim of building resistance in the population.

The muddled thinking at the heart of government will not engender public confidence. The spectre of mass deaths and possible chaos in an under-funded NHS hangs over ministerial indecision. This is the worst public health crisis for a generation and the government must respond to a level of scrutiny of its policies that some ministers have been, perhaps, unaccustomed to. This is especially true of senior figures who had got used to dismissing criticism as unpatriotic. The buck stops in Downing Street and the prime minister must take a lead. Britain has some simple lessons to learn if it is to avoid fatalities. It should follow some basic principles of transparency in keeping the public informed. Publishing the appropriately anonymised scientific advice and data sets that inform government decisions must be a priority.

Voters are expected to take it on trust that ministers are making the right decisions. This faith is shaken when the public sees other countries taking more drastic steps. There may be good reasons for a divergence of policy response, but it is worrying that ministerial explanations do not convince many experts. The government had resisted clamping down hard with strict quarantine and social distancing of the kind successfully implemented in China, because ministers said this would lead to fatigue and allow the virus to make a comeback. Yet on Sunday Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said emergency laws to quarantine people deemed a threat to public health would be put forward. The other model for tackling Covid-19 is South Koreas massive free testing and treatment, which has corralled the disease and kept new infection rates low. In the UK, government MPs claim the concern is that the testing is inaccurate and that a false result may lead to more infections. If the past few weeks are anything to go by, ministers will be walking back from this too.

The government policy to combat Covid-19 should be guided by science, but is ultimately a political decision. There will be an imperative to avoid an epidemic peak that overwhelms the NHS and to soften the blow to the economy. Both pose ideological questions for the government. How far and fast does it intervene to requisition beds in the private sector to increase capacity is a question that exposes the shrunken state of the health service. A prime minister who has in the past treated business as a nuisance now finds he needs industry to help address the shortage of ventilators. While the headlines scream of a war footing, the government appears hesitant and unsure in the face of a crisis.

Britains response compared with the speed and aggression of that pursued by other European countries carries political dangers. The first is that the government reaction does not match the severity of the threat the nation faces. The second is that experts have underestimated the publics stamina and resilience to maintain discipline in a lockdown or in a mass testing regime. The third is that the government has not specifically said the state will ensure the burden of the coronavirus outbreak will be borne equally. It might be that relying on the market and appealing to the publics good nature and understanding is enough. But if it is not, as the historian Jonathan Boff notes, there is more at risk, from what will look with hindsight like complacency and a lack of concern with equal sacrifice, than Mr Johnsons political future. The country needs firm leadership and needs it now.

More here: The Guardian view on the UKs Covid-19 response: confused and hesitant - The Guardian
COVID-19 can last a few days on surfaces, according to new experiment findings – ABC News

COVID-19 can last a few days on surfaces, according to new experiment findings – ABC News

March 16, 2020

March 13, 2020, 10:12 PM

5 min read

As scientists scramble to understand more about the novel coronavirus, a new government-funded experiment shows that the virus can survive on surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.

Though preliminary, the experiment emphasizes the importance of diligently sanitizing cellphones, plastic and metal surfaces regularly to prevent the spread of SARS-COVID-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The study has not yet gone through the normal scientific peer review process, but outside experts nevertheless say it offers important new clues about the infectiousness of coronavirus.

The experiment was led by researchers from Princeton, UCLA and the National Institutes of Health. The researchers involved set out to learn how long the virus can survive when sprayed on different surfaces and in the air.

They found that the virus can survive up to three days on plastic and stainless steel, and up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to four hours on copper surfaces. In a second part of the experiment, the researchers used a spray can-like device to spritz the virus into the air and discovered that the virus can survive suspended in a fine mist for up to three hours, though longer times were not tested.

But the findings do not mean the virus is "airborne," according to one of the primary authors of the paper, Dylan Morris, a Ph.D candidate at Princeton. Morris cautioned that these aerosol findings must be interpreted carefully, since they may not apply to real-life settings, like on the train or in the office because the conditions created in the laboratory are not necessarily identical to conditions that would be created when someone coughs or sneezes. Thats because when someone coughs or sneezes, most of the droplets are heavy enough that they quickly fall to the ground.

However, Morris said the findings might be relevant in health care settings -- particularly for medical professionals caring for patients with COVID-19. Certain medical procedures , such as bronchoscopy and ventilation, can kick up a fine mist of viral particles similar to the conditions simulated during the experiment.

More research is needed to fully understand how long the virus can survive in the air under normal conditions. However, the research does strongly suggest that frequent and vigorous sanitizing of hard surfaces like phones, handles and doorknobs will go a long way in preventing the spread of the virus.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University who was not involved in the research, called this an "important study" which "demonstrates further how contagious this virus is."

In this March 2, 2020, file photo, a biologist analyzes Coronavirus tests at the facilities of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Mditerrane Infection, in Marseille, France.

Dr. Seema Yasmin, who specializes in epidemics at Stanford University, cautioned that more research is needed. "Even finding the virus surviving on a surface doesn't speak to its infectiousness, she said. The study was performed in a petri dish, not in the human body, she noted.

"This is an area of rapid research, and I expect more studies to be coming through the pipeline," Morris noted.

Vinayak Kumar, MD, MBA is an Internal Medicine Resident at Mayo Clinic and is a contributor to the ABC NEWS Medical Unit. Sony Salzman is a journalist for the ABC NEWS Medical Unit.

Go here to read the rest: COVID-19 can last a few days on surfaces, according to new experiment findings - ABC News
Hackers are jumping on the COVID-19 pandemic to spread malware – TechCrunch

Hackers are jumping on the COVID-19 pandemic to spread malware – TechCrunch

March 16, 2020

If theres one thing certain during a pandemic, its that hackers will use it for their own gain.

Dont be too surprised. Every time theres a major news story, a world event or even regular national events like tax preparation season, hackers jump at the chance to take advantage of the uptick in chatter to launch attacks against unsuspecting victims.

As it turns out, the COVID-19 pandemic isnt any different.

Several cybersecurity firms are reporting an uptick in attacks against a range of targets, all using the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a hook to hoodwink their victims into running malware. It comes as large portions of the globe are on lockdown amid the outbreak of the coronavirus strain. The World Health Organization said as of Thursdays situation report that the coronavirus has resulted in 125,000 confirmed cases and 4,613 deaths.

FireEye said it has seen an uptick in targeted spearphishing campaigns from hackers in China, North Korea and Russia, to deliver malware. Ben Read, a senior manager in FireEyes intelligence analysis unit, said all of the campaigns it has witnessed have leveraged the coronavirus as a lure to compromise their victims computers.

Recorded Future has also observed a number of cybercriminals using the coronavirus to spread a number of different types of malware against targets in the U.S., Europe and and Iran three areas most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak outside of China, where the new coronavirus strain first emerged. The researchers found that some of these campaigns imitate trusted organizations like the World Health Organization and the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to infect their victims.

And Check Point, which last month found a number of coronavirus-themed disinformation campaigns, now says it has found a new malware campaign leveraging the fear of the outbreak to surreptitiously install a powerful remote access trojan designed to take full control of a victims computer.

But researchers say that attackers arent just using the coronavirus as a cover for spreading malware.

Email security firm Agari told TechCrunch that it has evidence of what appears to be the first case of a coronavirus-themed business email compromise attack, designed to trick businesses into turning over money.

While Agari said it has seen several coronavirus-related emails used to deliver spam, steal credentials and infect victims with malware, the company said it has seen a threat group it calls Ancient Tortoise using spoofed emails in an effort to trick a victim companys customers to pay an outstanding balance but to a different bank than usual, due to the coronavirus outbreak. The different bank is a mule account based in Hong Kong, said Agari researchers.

As governments and companies scramble to contain the pandemic, security researchers are trying to better understand and detect the current spike in malware. And as long as the threat from the coronavirus remains, so will the risk from hackers.

More here:
Hackers are jumping on the COVID-19 pandemic to spread malware - TechCrunch
Coronavirus disease 2019 – Wikipedia

Coronavirus disease 2019 – Wikipedia

March 16, 2020

Viral respiratory disease first detected in 2019

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).[10] The disease was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has spread globally, resulting in the 201920 coronavirus pandemic.[11][12] Common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Muscle pain, sputum production and sore throat are less common symptoms.[6][13] While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms,[14] some progress to pneumonia and multi-organ failure.[11][15] The deaths per number of diagnosed cases is estimated at between 1% and 5% but varies by age and other health conditions.[16][17]

The infection is spread from one person to others via respiratory droplets, often produced during coughing and sneezing.[18][19] Time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between 2 and 14 days, with an average of 5 days.[20][21] The standard method of diagnosis is by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab or throat swab. The infection can also be diagnosed from a combination of symptoms, risk factors and a chest CT scan showing features of pneumonia.[22][23]

Recommended measures to prevent the disease include frequent hand washing, maintaining distance from other people and not touching one's face.[24] The use of masks is recommended for those who suspect they have the virus and their caregivers, but not the general public.[25][26] There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19; management involves treatment of symptoms, supportive care, isolation and experimental measures.[27]

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the 201920 coronavirus outbreak a pandemic[12] and a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).[28][29] Evidence of local transmission of the disease has been found in many countries across all six WHO regions.[30]

Those infected with the virus may either be asymptomatic or develop flu-like symptoms that include fever, cough and shortness of breath.[6][32][33]Diarrhoea and upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, or sore throat are less common.[34] Cases can progress to pneumonia, multi-organ failure and death in the most vulnerable.[11][15]

The incubation period ranges from two to 14 days, with an estimated median incubation period of five to six days, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).[35][36] The median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately 2 weeks and is 3-6 weeks for people with severe or critical disease. Preliminary data suggests that the time period from onset to the development of severe disease, including hypoxia, is 1 week. Among people who have died, the time from symptom onset to outcome ranges from 2-8 weeks.[37]

One study in China found that CT scans showed ground-glass opacities in 56%, but 18% had no radiological findings. 5% were admitted to intensive care units, 2.3% needed mechanical support of ventilation and 1.4% died.[38] Bilateral and peripheral ground glass opacities are the most typical CT findings.[39]Consolidation, linear opacities and reverse halo sign are other radiological findings.[39] Initially, the lesions are confined to one lung, but as the disease progresses, indications manifest in both lungs in 88% of so-called "late patients" in the study group (the subset for whom time between onset of symptoms and chest CT was 612 days).[39]

It has been noted that children seem to have milder symptoms than adults.[40]

The disease is caused by the virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), previously referred to as the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).[41] It is primarily spread between people via respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes.[19]

Lungs are the organs most affected by COVID-19 because the virus accesses host cells via the enzyme ACE2, which is most abundant in the type II alveolar cells of the lungs. The virus uses a special surface glycoprotein, called "spike", to connect to ACE2 and intrude the hosting cell.[42] The density of ACE2 in each tissue correlates with the severity of the disease in that tissue and some have suggested that decreasing ACE2 activity might be protective,[43][44] though another view is that increasing ACE2 using Angiotensin II receptor blocker drugs could be protective and that these hypotheses need to be tested.[45] As the alveolar disease progresses respiratory failure might develop and death might ensue.[44] ACE2 might also be the path for the virus to assault the heart causing acute cardiac injury. People with existing cardiovascular conditions have worst prognosis.[46]

The virus is thought to have an animal origin,[47] through spillover infection.[48] It was first transmitted to humans in Wuhan, China, in November or December 2019, and the primary source of infection became human-to-human transmission by early January 2020.[49][50] On 14 March 2020, South China Morning Post reported that a 55-year-old from Hubei province could have been the first person to have contracted the disease on 17 November 2019.[51] As of 14 March 2020, 67,790 cases and 3,075 deaths due to the virus have been reported in Hubei province; a case fatality rate (CFR) of 4.54%.[51]

The WHO has published several testing protocols for the disease.[53] The standard method of testing is real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR).[54] The test can be done on respiratory samples obtained by various methods, including a nasopharyngeal swab or sputum sample.[55] Results are generally available within a few hours to 2 days.[56][57] Blood tests can be used, but these require two blood samples taken two weeks apart and the results have little immediate value.[58] Chinese scientists were able to isolate a strain of the coronavirus and publish the genetic sequence so that laboratories across the world could independently develop polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect infection by the virus.[11][59][60]

As of 26 February 2020, there were no antibody tests or point-of-care tests though efforts to develop them are ongoing.[61]

Diagnostic guidelines released by Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University suggested methods for detecting infections based upon clinical features and epidemiological risk. These involved identifying people who had at least two of the following symptoms in addition to a history of travel to Wuhan or contact with other infected people: fever, imaging features of pneumonia, normal or reduced white blood cell count, or reduced lymphocyte count.[22] A study published by a team at the Tongji Hospital in Wuhan on 26 February 2020 showed that a chest CT scan for COVID-19 has more sensitivity (98%) than the polymerase chain reaction (71%).[23] False negative results may occur due to PCR kit failure, or due to either issues with the sample or issues performing the test. False positive results are likely to be rare.[62]

Typical CT imaging findings

CT imaging of rapid progression stage

Because a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 is not expected to become available until 2021 at the earliest,[68] a key part of managing the COVID-19 pandemic is trying to decrease the epidemic peak, known as flattening the epidemic curve.[64] This helps decrease the risk of health services being overwhelmed and provides more time for a vaccine and treatment to be developed.[64]

Preventive measures to reduce the chances of infection in locations with an outbreak of the disease are similar to those published for other coronaviruses: stay home, avoid travel and public activities, wash hands with soap and hot water often, practice good respiratory hygiene and avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.[69][70]Social distancing strategies aim to reduce contact of infected persons with large groups by closing schools and workplaces, restricting travel and canceling mass gatherings.

According to the WHO, the use of masks is only recommended if a person is coughing or sneezing or when one is taking care of someone with a suspected infection.[71]

To prevent transmission of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States recommends that infected individuals stay home except to get medical care, call ahead before visiting a healthcare provider, wear a face mask when exposed to an individual or location of a suspected infection, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, regularly wash hands with soap and water and avoid sharing personal household items.[72][73] CDC also recommends that individuals wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the toilet or when hands are visibly dirty, before eating and after blowing one's nose, coughing, or sneezing. It further recommended using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, but only when soap and water are not readily available.[69] The WHO advises individuals to avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.[70] Spitting in public places also should be avoided.[74]

There are no specific antiviral medications. People are managed with supportive care such as fluid and oxygen support.[76][77] The WHO and Chinese National Health Commission have published treatment recommendations for taking care of people who are hospitalised with COVID-19.[78][79]Steroids such as methylprednisolone are not recommended unless the disease is complicated by acute respiratory distress syndrome.[80][81]Intensivists and pulmonologists in the US have compiled treatment recommendations from various agencies into a free resource, the IBCC.[82][83] The CDC recommends that those who suspect they carry the virus wear a simple face-mask.[25]

Management of people infected by the virus includes taking precautions while applying therapeutic manoeuvres, especially when performing procedures like intubation or hand ventilation that can generate aerosols.[84]

The CDC outlines the specific personal protective equipment and the order in which healthcare providers should put it on when dealing with someone who may have COVID-19: 1) gown, 2) mask or respirator [1], 3) goggles or a face shield, 4) gloves.[85][86]

Most cases of COVID-19 are not severe enough to require mechanical ventilation (artificial assistance to support breathing), but a percentage of cases do. This is most common in older adults (those older than 60 years and especially those older than 80 years). This component of treatment is the biggest rate-limiter of health system capacity that drives the need to flatten the curve (to keep the speed at which new cases occur and thus the number of people sick at one point in time lower). This is why social distancing is so important to saving the lives of others, not just to preserving one's own. This fact falsifies the argument that a young healthy adult can ignore the need for social distancing, accept a mild flu-like illness, recover, and move on. The burden on the healthcare system will also limit the availability of other types of health care, such as that required after a motor vehicle collision.

Antiviral medication may be tried in people with severe disease.[76] The WHO recommended volunteers take part in trials of the effectiveness and safety of potential treatments.[87] There is tentative evidence for remdesivir as of March 2020.[88]Lopinavir/ritonavir is also being studied in China.[89]Chloroquine was being trialled in China in February 2020, with preliminary results that seem positive.[90]Nitazoxanide has been recommended for further in vivo study after demonstrating low concentration inhibition of SARS-CoV-2.[91]

Tocilizumab, an immunosuppressive drug, mainly used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, has been included in treatment guidelines by China's National Health Commission after a completed small study by the University of Science and Technology of China.[92][93] The drug is undergoing testing in five hospitals in Italy after showing positive results in people with severe disease.[94][95] Combined with a serum ferritin blood test to identify cytokine storms, it is meant to counter such developments which are thought to be the cause of death in some patients.[96][97] The interleukin-6 receptor antagonist was approved by the FDA for treatment against cytokine release syndrome induced by a different cause, CAR T cell therapy, in 2017.[98]

In February 2020, China launched a mobile app to deal with the disease outbreak.[99] Users are asked to enter their name and ID number. The app is able to detect 'close contact' using surveillance data and therefore a potential risk of infection. Every user can also check the status of three other users. If a potential risk is detected, the app not only recommends self-quarantine, it also alerts local health officials.[100]

Infected individuals may experience distress from quarantine, travel restrictions, side effects of treatment, or fear of the infection itself. To address these concerns, the National Health Commission of China published a national guideline for psychological crisis intervention on 27 January 2020.[101][102]

Many of those who die of COVID-19 have preexisting conditions, including hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.[103] In a study of early cases, the median time from exhibiting initial symptoms to death was 14 days, with a full range of 6 to 41 days.[104] In a study by the National Health Commission (NHC) of China, men had a death rate of 2.8% while women had a death rate of 1.7%.[105] In those younger than 50 years, the risk of death is less than 0.5%, while in those older than 70 it is more than 8%.[105] No deaths had occurred in people younger than 10 as of 26February2020[update].[105] Availability of medical resources and the socioeconomics of a region may also affect mortality.[106]

Histopathological examinations of post-mortem lung samples showed diffuse alveolar damage with cellular fibromyxoid exudates in both lungs. Viral cytopathic changes were observed in the pneumocytes. The lung picture resembled acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).[107]

It is unknown if past infection provides effective and long-term immunity in people who recover from the disease.[108] Immunity is likely, based on the behaviour of other coronaviruses,[109] but some cases of someone recovering and later testing positive again have been reported in various countries.[110][111] It is unclear if those cases are the result of reinfection, relapse, or testing error; more research is needed about how the SARS-CoV-2 virus interacts with the human immune system.

The severity of diagnosed COVID19 cases in China[115]

Case fatality rates by age group in China. Data through 11 February 2020.[116]

Case fatality rate depending on other health problems

On 12 March, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority announced they had found a drop of 20% to 30% in lung capacity in two to three of around a dozen people who had recovered from the disease. The people who recovered gasp if they walk more quickly. Lung scans of the nine people infected at Princess Margaret Hospital suggested they had sustained organ damage.[117]

The case fatality rate (CFR) depends on the availability of healthcare, the typical age and health problems within the population, and the number of undiagnosed cases.[118][119] Preliminary research has yielded case fatality rate numbers between 2% and 3%;[16] in January 2020 the WHO suggested that the case fatality rate was approximately 3%,[120] and 2% in February 2020 in Hubei.[121] Other CFR numbers, which adjust for differences in time of confirmation, death or cured, are respectively 7%[122] and 33% for people in Wuhan 31 January.[123] An unreviewed preprint of 55 deaths noted that early estimates of mortality may be too high as asymptomatic infections are missed. They estimated a mean infection fatality ratio (IFR, the mortality among infected) ranging from 0.8% - 0.9%.[124] The outbreak in 20192020 has caused at least 174,893edit[7] confirmed infections and 6,705edit[7] deaths.

An observational study of nine people, found no vertical transmission from mother to the newborn.[125] Also, a descriptive study in Wuhan found no evidence of viral transmission through vaginal sex (from female to partner), but authors note that transmission during sex might occur through other routes.[126]

Because of its key role in the transmission and progression of the disease, ACE2 has been the focus of a significant proportion of research and various therapeutic approaches have been suggested.[44]

There is no available vaccine, but research into developing a vaccine has been undertaken by various agencies. Previous work on SARS-CoV is being utilised because SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV both use ACE2 enzyme to invade human cells.[127] There are three vaccination strategies being investigated. First, researchers aim to build a whole virus vaccine. The use of such a virus, be it inactive or dead, aims for a prompt immune response of the human body to a new infection with COVID-19. A second strategy, subunit vaccines, aims to create a vaccine that sensitises the immune system to certain subunits of the virus. In the case of SARS-CoV-2 such research focuses on the S-spike protein that helps the virus intrude the ACE2 enzyme. A third strategy is the nucleic acid vaccines (DNA or RNA vaccines, a novel technique for creating a vaccination). Experimental vaccines from any of these strategies would have to be tested for safety and efficacy.[128]

No medication has yet been approved to treat coronavirus infections in humans by the WHO although some are recommended by the Korean and Chinese medical authorities.[129] Trials of many antivirals have been started in COVID-19 including oseltamivir, lopinavir/ritonavir, ganciclovir, favipiravir, baloxavir marboxil, umifenovir, and interferon alfa but currently there are no data to support their use.[130] Korean Health Authorities recommend lopinavir/ritonavir or chloroquine[131] and the Chinese 7th edition guidelines include interferon, lopinavir/ritonavir, ribavirin, chloroquine and/or umifenovir.[132]

Research into potential treatments for the disease was initiated in January 2020, and several antiviral drugs are already in clinical trials.[133][134] Although completely new drugs may take until 2021 to develop,[135] several of the drugs being tested are already approved for other antiviral indications, or are already in advanced testing.[129]

Remdesivir and chloroquine effectively inhibit the coronavirus in vitro.[91] Remdesivir is being trialled in US and in China.[130]

Preliminary results from a multicentric trial, announced in a press conference and described by Gao, Tian and Yang, suggested that chloroquine is effective and safe in treating COVID-19 associated pneumonia, "improving lung imaging findings, promoting a virus-negative conversion, and shortening the disease course".[90]

Recent studies have demonstrated that initial spike protein priming by transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2) is essential for entry of SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV via interaction with the ACE2 receptor.[136][137] These findings suggest that the TMPRSS2 inhibitor Camostat approved for clinical use in Japan for inhibiting fibrosis in liver and kidney disease, postoperative reflux esophagitis and pancreatitis might constitute an effective off-label treatment option.[136]

Using blood donations from healthy people who have already recovered from COVID-19 holds promise,[138] a strategy which has also been tried for SARS, an earlier cousin of COVID-19.[138] The mechanism of action is that the antibodies naturally produced in the immune systems of those who have already recovered are transferred to people in need of them via a nonvaccine form of immunization.[138] Such convalescent serum therapy (antiserum therapy) is also analogous to the way that hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) is used to prevent hepatitis B or human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) is used to treat rabies.[138] Other forms of passive antibody therapy, such as with manufactured monoclonal antibodies, may come later after biopharmaceutical development,[138] but convalescent serum production could be increased for quicker deployment.[139]

The World Health Organization announced on 11 February 2020 that "COVID-19" would be the official name of the disease. World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said "co" stands for "corona", "vi" for "virus" and "d" for "disease", while "19" was for the year, as the outbreak was first identified on 31 December 2019. Tedros said the name had been chosen to avoid references to a specific geographical location (i.e. China), animal species, or group of people in line with international recommendations for naming aimed at preventing stigmatisation.[140][141]

While the disease is named COVID-19, the virus that causes it was named SARS-CoV-2 by the WHO.[142] The virus was initially referred to as the 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.[143] The WHO additionally uses "the COVID-19 virus" and "the virus responsible for COVID-19" in public communications.[142]

Read more: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | SCDHEC

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | SCDHEC

March 16, 2020

If you have fever, cough or shortness of breath, call your doctor or healthcare provider to discuss your concerns or get medical care. You can also use MUSC Healths virtual visit by using the promo code "COVID19.". For general questions about COVID-19, the DHEC Care Line is here to help.

Read this article: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | SCDHEC
COVID19  Mesa County Public Health

COVID19 Mesa County Public Health

March 16, 2020

Continuity of Operation guidance:COVID-19 for Business.

There are things businesses should be doing now to stay informed and be prepared.

All businesses should plan for how they would prevent further spread of illness and limit the impact of an infectious respiratory illness (like novel coronavirus) in the event of an outbreak in the US. Key priorities should include:

Its also a good idea to prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members, dismissals of early childhood programs and K-12 schools due to high levels of absenteeism or illness.

Coordinate with local public health as the local public health authority, we are closely monitoring novel coronavirus. We are available to consult on disease prevention and control strategies. You can reach our on-call staff at

Follow this link: COVID19 Mesa County Public Health
Houston-based company ready to test COVID-19 ‘vaccine candidate,’ but doesn’t have the funds –

Houston-based company ready to test COVID-19 ‘vaccine candidate,’ but doesn’t have the funds –

March 16, 2020

HOUSTON A Houston-based genetic engineering company says its ready to start animal testing of its COVID19 vaccine candidate.

When will we have the vaccine? That's the one everybody wants to know, said Greffex President and CEO John Price.Nobody wants to wait 18 months. Nobody.

Price said a vaccine candidate is a vaccine that still has to go through testing in order to be widely available.

In terms of the timeline, Price is referring to the 12- to 18-month window some scientists suggested as possible timing to have the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 vaccine available. The typical timeline for something like that is about 5 years.

Price said Greffex could make a vaccine faster than 18 months, but funding is a major factor.

Price said it takes millions of dollars to do the testing and produce the vaccine. Hes hoping federal dollars and private funding will come through. Price said hes reaching out to Congressmen and Senators to secure funding.

I'm begging, Price said.

Federal dollars, like the $8.3 billion given by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump recently, can take months to get.

KHOU 11 reached out to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on March 12 to find out how the money will be distributed and when. As of this writing, the Department has not responded.

In a press release from March 4, HHS said it will give money to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to award tens of millions of dollars to some state and local jurisdictions dealing with COVID19. The press release didnt list specific states or agencies that will receive the money, nor did it outline a timeline for the distribution.

In September 2019, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) awarded Greffex an $18.7 million contract.

NIAID told KHOU 11 the money was for Greffex to develop its plug-and-play technology to speed up production of vaccine candidates for biodefense and emerging infectious diseases to target emerging infectious treats, whether natural or man-made.

NIAID said it didnt provide funding for Greffexs work on the COVID19 vaccine.

Price told KHOU 11 the $18.7 million was earmarked for specific work, and based on federal contract rules, cant be used for COVID19 development.

Price said he was confident the funding will come through for Greffex to make the vaccine.

I have ultimate faith that we will (get the funding), Price said. That mana who will appear, (we) will figure out how to do it.

Tom Kowalski, President of Texas Healthcare & Bioscience Institute, told the Texas House Committee on Public Health Committee on March 10 that multiple scientists, including those at Greffex, were working to develop the COVID19 vaccine.

San Antonio-based Texas Biomedical Research Institute has a portfolio of COVID19 projects underway, Kowalski said. The Woodlands-based VGXI announced it will start a production of a DNA vaccine against the coronavirus. They received that from a $9 million grant from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations that will fund the vaccine development, manufacturing and early stage clinical trial testing. Dallas based ISLA Pharmaceuticals is involved with the therapeutic development for the virus.

Kowalski also mentioned Austin-based pure MHC as another biotech company working on COVID19-related projects.


Texas governor declares statewide public health disaster over coronavirus

Coronavirus updates: 4th presumptive positive case confirmed in Houston

Website will be used to screen those seeking coronavirus testing

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See the original post: Houston-based company ready to test COVID-19 'vaccine candidate,' but doesn't have the funds -
COVID19: Broome County Executive expected to sign executive orders on virus – WBNG-TV

COVID19: Broome County Executive expected to sign executive orders on virus – WBNG-TV

March 16, 2020

12:07 P.M. UPDATE:

TOWN OF DICKINSON (WBNG) -- Broome County Executive Jason Garnar signed two executives orders Monday morning in relation to the counties response to the coronavirus.

The first executive order mandates that all mass gatherings of over 50 people are prohibited.

The county executives' office says this includes: conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings and other assemblies.

This order does not apply to the day-to-day operations of schools, "institutes of higher learning" and businesses, Garnar's office says.

The second executive order directs daycare facilities in the county to open new slots for children of "essential employees.

Garner's office says essential employees are those with responsibilities that deal with the public's health, safety and welfare.


TOWN OF DICKINSON (WBNG) -- Broome County Executive Jason Garnar is expected to sign two new executive orders in relation to the coronavirus.

The county executives' office announced it will hold a news conference at 11:30 a.m. at the Emergency Operation Center.

More details will be released as information becomes available.

More more coverage of the coronavirus, click here.

The rest is here:
COVID19: Broome County Executive expected to sign executive orders on virus - WBNG-TV
Coronavirus Scam Alert: Watch Out For These Risky COVID-19 Websites And Emails – Forbes

Coronavirus Scam Alert: Watch Out For These Risky COVID-19 Websites And Emails – Forbes

March 16, 2020

Computer viruses are likely to spread as malicious hackers make the most of the COVID-19 panic. ... [+] (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Cybercriminals and nation state-sponsored spies didn't take long to catch onto the coronavirus panic. Research released Thursday shows crooks and snoops have been rapidly registering vast numbers of potentially-malicious websites and sending out masses of scam emails as they try to make money from the pandemic.

A report from cybersecurity company Recorded Future noted a significant rise in website registrations related to the COVID-19 virus, some of which it believes are being used to either pilfer information from recipients or infect them with malware.

Lindsay Kaye, director of operation outcomes at Recorded Future, specifically called out the following domains as potentially dangerous:

Forbes also had Bernardo Quintero, founder of the Google-owned malware repository and anti-virus testing service VirusTotal, take a look at the domains reported by Recorded Future. He said the following websites also showed signs of malicious behavior, as theyre being detected by anti-virus software:

To avoid any risk, avoid visiting any of those websites. If you see any emails coming from such domains (e.g. those sent from @coronavirusstatus[.]space addresses) or if theyre linked in any emails, its worth taking extra precautions. Dont click on any links within the email and dont open any attachments. Simply close the email and delete to avoid further risk.

A significant number of additional coronavirus-related domains have been registered in recent days, and whilst they hadnt yet been linked to criminal activity, they may do in the coming weeks, said Kaye.

There are, for instance, domains registered that appear to come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when in fact theyre from dangerous spammers. Researchers have already found one malware that was spread via the legitimate-looking email address CDC-Covid19@cdc[.]gov. And, as previously reported, there is at least one malicious coronavirus map that secretly installs malware that can steal information from victim PCs.

It is advisable to treat all emails regarding the COVID-19 outbreak with caution, wrote Recorded Future.

Cybersecurity company FireEye provided Forbes with a handful of example spam emails. Often such scams will ask you to click on a link or attachment so that you can get more information about protecting yourself from coronavirus.

Again, if you see anything that looks like they following, its wise to close and delete the email, and not click on links or attachments.

A criminal phishing email seeking to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Another malicious phishing email seeking to take advantage of the coronavirus panic.

FireEye also looked at some of the attachments being sent in COVID-19 phishing emails. If youve downloaded something similar to this, run your antivirus and any other security tools that can help you check for infection.

A "lure" document that FireEye believes a Chinese group of hackers used to try to infect targets in ... [+] an espionage operation.

Its not just opportunistic scammers whore making the most out of coronavirus. Espionage groups associated with China, North Korea and Russia have been seen sending out spear phishing emails trying to find routes onto business networks.

Entire industries are being targeted. In February, cybersecurity company Proofpoint noted Coronavirus-themed email attacks tried to play on concerns about disruptions to global shipping. The hackers behind the operation were exclusively targeting industries that are particularly susceptible to shipping disruptions including manufacturing, industrial, finance, transportation, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic companies.

In late February and early March, FireEye suspected a group of Chinese hackers had sent malware-laden documents to targets in Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan. The documents included legitimate statements by political leaders and advice from official sources, but hidden underneath was data-slurping spyware. As reported by Forbes Thursday, a Chinese hacking crew has been linked to coronavirus-led attacks on Mongolians.

FireEye also reported that an espionage group called TEMP.Armageddon, which acts in support of Russian interests, sent a spear phishing email with a malicious, coronavirus-themed document to Ukrainians. And the companys researchers said theyd seen South Korea NGO targeted with a Korean-language lure entitled Coronavirus Correspondence. Though theyre still probing the attack, the analysts have already noted some similarities to previously-seen North Korean hacks.

If youre a potential target for cybercrime or international spies - which means you are a human being who uses the internet - be careful with what emails are trying to stoke the fire of your coronavirus fears.

Originally posted here: Coronavirus Scam Alert: Watch Out For These Risky COVID-19 Websites And Emails - Forbes
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