Gilead Has Treated More Than 1,700 COVID-19 Patients With Remdesivir – Motley Fool

Gilead Has Treated More Than 1,700 COVID-19 Patients With Remdesivir – Motley Fool

Gilead Has Treated More Than 1,700 COVID-19 Patients With Remdesivir – Motley Fool

Gilead Has Treated More Than 1,700 COVID-19 Patients With Remdesivir – Motley Fool

April 6, 2020

Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) has made remdesivir, its Ebola-turned-COVID-19 drug, available to more than 1,700 patients through compassionate-use and expanded-access programs, according to an update from Gilead's chairman and CEO, Daniel O'Day, that was posted on the company's website on Saturday.

The number of COVID-19 patientstreated with remdesivir is likely to go higher. On Friday, EU regulators recommended expanding access to remdesivir for patients who are unable to partake in one of the nine clinical trials testing remdesivir that are ongoing or in the process of being set up.

Because remdesivir isn't approved to treat any disease -- it was never approved to treat Ebola given the lackluster clinical trial results and the waning Ebola virus outbreak -- there wasn't a warehouse full of the drug nor a manufacturing plant set up for large-scale production.

Image source: Getty Images.

Fortunately, Gilead recognized the potential for remdesivir to treat COVID-19 early and increased production at risk. O'Day noted: "Then, as now, there were many unknowns including how long the outbreak would last, at what scale, and whether remdesivir is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. We made the decision to invest and scale up regardless, because if remdesivir was going to be needed for patients, we had to be ready."

Through improved production times and increasing manufacturing at external partners, Gilead has been able to manufacture 1.5 million doses, which should be able to treat over 140,000 patients depending on the optimal dose, which is still being determined.

Longer term, Gilead is looking to have enough drug to treat more than 500,000 patients by October and more than 1 million treatment courses by the end of this year.


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Student’s COVID-19 explainer video becomes an educational tool in Thailand – The Hub at Johns Hopkins

Student’s COVID-19 explainer video becomes an educational tool in Thailand – The Hub at Johns Hopkins

April 6, 2020

ByJacob deNobel

When Johns Hopkins junior Jessie Kanacharoen put together a slideshow presentation about the importance of social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, she hoped the project might convince her parents and sister to stay home more often. What she didn't expect was that her YouTube video would soon be shared throughout her home country of Thailand and become a centerpiece to the Thai government's response to the disease.

In just seven minutes, "The Real Deal on Covid-19" explains, in simple language, many of the most pressing questions people have about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, including what the pandemic designation means, how the disease is transmitted, what its symptoms are, how it affects the elderly and immunocompromised, what it means to be an asymptomatic carrier, and the effectiveness of social distancing techniques at slowing the spread.

As an international student, Kanacharoen is one of the few remaining on the Homewood campus. After Hopkins announced its transition to remote learning on March 10, she gave her parents a call to tell them the news and check in on the family. In talking with them, she found that there was a lot of misinformation at home, and she wasn't sure how best to combat it.

"I was kind of frustrated, so I went on social media and I looked at the information my friends at Hopkins were sharing, then compared it to the info my friends from back home were sharing," said Kanacharoen, a pre-med molecular and cellular biology major. "There was a huge disparity. The information here was mostly factual and science-based, and the information people were sharing back home was either straight-up fake news about the virus or based in superstition."

Kanacharoen said she noticed that much of the most accurate information about COVID-19 in the early stages of the global spread was not available in Thai. To help her family prepare for the impacts of the disease, she began translating the information and pairing it with short animations and graphics.

With information sourced from the World Health Organization, the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems and Engineering, and The New York Times, the video quickly and simply summarizes what people need to know about the virus. The video is narrated in English but features Thai captions written for each slide to make it more accessible.

Coverage of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting operations at JHU and how Hopkins experts and scientists are responding to the outbreak

"It's difficult to visualize how one person can make a massive difference by staying at home," Kanacharoen said. "So I wanted to help give people context they could understand."

After sharing with her parents and grandparents, Kanacharoen said she went back to her classes and forgot about the video. But while she was studying in Baltimore, at home her video was spreading through group chats and social media across the country, amassing thousands of views.

Soon, it was viewed by members of the Thai Medical Society who shared the video on their social channels and began using it in training for their COVID-19 response teams.

Kanacharoen, who only became aware of its popularity after friends in Thailand began sharing itnot knowing she was the creatorsaid it was surreal to see something she had created having such a large impact at home.

The video aired twice on Thailand's Workpoint TV, and it was translated into different dialects to be distributed to rural areas. Because the concepts are broken down into simple terms and concepts, Kanacharoen said officials have found the video useful for sharing with less-educated viewers.

"I'm very grateful that a lot of people found the information useful, but the media attention isn't that important to me, " Kanacharoen said. "What's important is that now I know that someone must have watched this video and thought 'Maybe I should stay at home,' and in that way, I have made some sort of difference."


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Student's COVID-19 explainer video becomes an educational tool in Thailand - The Hub at Johns Hopkins
Detroit Bus Driver Who Called Out Coughing Rider Is Now Dead Of COVID-19 : Coronavirus Live Updates – NPR

Detroit Bus Driver Who Called Out Coughing Rider Is Now Dead Of COVID-19 : Coronavirus Live Updates – NPR

April 6, 2020

Jason Hargrove was behind the wheel of a bus in Detroit when he said a passenger began to cough. The middle-aged woman let loose four or five times without covering her mouth, he said, and watching her do this at the same time Michigan was under a state of emergency for the coronavirus got him so upset, he felt compelled to vent his frustrations in a video afterward.

"I'm mad right about now because that s*** was uncalled for. I'm trying to be the professional that they want me to be, and I kept my mouth closed," he said, voice breaking with emotion. "I kept my mouth closed, but it's at some point in time we've got to draw the line and say enough is enough."

Now, nearly two weeks after he recorded the video, which viewers shared widely on Facebook Live, Hargrove himself has died of COVID-19. The Amalgamated Transit Union confirmed his death in a tweet posted Thursday.

The bus driver's death "should touch everybody in the city of Detroit, should touch everybody in the country," the city's mayor, Mike Duggan, said at news conference Thursday, noting that Hargrove "knew the risks, was vocal about the risks, he went to work anyway."

Duggan urged people to watch the video.

"Some of his language is graphic, but I don't know how you can watch it and not tear up. He knew his life was being put in jeopardy even though he was going to work for the citizens of Detroit every day by somebody who just didn't care, who didn't take this seriously," the mayor added. "And now he's gone."

Just days before Hargrove posted his video, bus drivers in Detroit refused to work, saying the city's authorities were not doing enough to protect their health. The walkout, which ground Detroit's public bus service to a halt, quickly prompted a spate of measures to keep drivers healthy amid the pandemic, including gloves for drivers and boarding at the back of buses.

Nevertheless, the danger has persisted partly because of riders like the one Hargrove described in his video, half a week after the work stoppage, "who don't take s*** for real while this s*** is still existing and still spreading."

"I feel violated. I feel violated for the folks that was on the bus when this happened," he said, adding: "To those who are watching, this this is real. And y'all need to take this serious."

Duggan said at his briefing Thursday that so far, eight Detroit Department of Transportation workers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Glenn Tolbert, who heads Hargrove's transit union local, told the Detroit Free Press that drivers across the city are "obviously scared" and seeking further protection from city authorities.

Tolbert told the paper that he has tested positive for the virus, as well.

"Every time I see images of a group of people still clustering in this city or this country," Duggan said Thursday, "I think about the Jason Hargroves on the buses, I think about the cops, I think about the nurses and the doctors in the hospitals who are going to work for you every single day. And for you not to honor the social distancing requests, you're putting really good people like Jason Hargrove's lives on the line."


Read more: Detroit Bus Driver Who Called Out Coughing Rider Is Now Dead Of COVID-19 : Coronavirus Live Updates - NPR
Zoox, citing COVID-19 shutdown, lays off its autonomous vehicle backup drivers – The Verge

Zoox, citing COVID-19 shutdown, lays off its autonomous vehicle backup drivers – The Verge

April 6, 2020

Zoox, the ambitious self-driving startup said to be worth over $3 billion, laid off almost all of its contract workers last week, including its backup drivers who ride around in the companys autonomous vehicles. Around 120 people are said to be out of work.

Zoox workers were informed in an email sent on Friday that their jobs were being terminated effective immediately. They were told that they were being locked out of the companys email, Zoom, and Slack, and would be required to turn in their company-issued laptops and badges. But Zoox also insisted that this should not be considered a standard layoff. The company said that it will hire everyone back once the shelter in place is lifted, unless stated otherwise.

Zoox has every intention to resume testing and normal business practices, and will need your efforts in getting back on track, the email said.

Several former workers interviewed by The Verge said they didnt expect Zoox to follow through on its promise. One former Zoox worker who left the company last December said the company had a high turnover rate, noting that of the seven people who joined Zoox when this worker was initially hired, five were laid off or fired three weeks later.

It would be amazing if Zoox brought everyone back, but Im doubtful, the worker said. That just sounds like they are all fired to me.

Zoox appears to be the first AV operator to eliminate jobs during the viral outbreak. Most of the industry has temporarily halted operations in response to the pandemic.

In a statement, Zoox said its adherence to Californias order to shelter-in-place until May 3rd comes with logistical and financial challenges to our operations, including a stop to payment of Zoox contractors beyond April 7th if they are unable to work remotely.

This decision was not made lightly, and is an unfortunate reflection of the difficult situation faced by many organizations in an uncertain economic climate, the company said, adding that contractors who are able to work remotely were not laid off.

Based in Foster City, California, Zoox was founded in 2014, with the ambitious mission of developing and building self-driving cars from the ground up, rather than retrofitting traditional vehicles like many of its competitors. The company gained some notoriety for its plans to build a vehicle that can travel in both forward and reverse directions without needing to turn around, which it planned to unveil by the end of 2020. The following year, Zoox said it expected to begin testing its own robot-taxi service.

The company has hundreds of full-time software engineers, AI researchers, and coding experts on staff. Like the vast majority of AV companies, it relies on third-party staffing agencies to fill a variety of other roles, such as safety drivers, mechanics, vehicle cleaners, and others involved in the daily operation of its fleet. Zoox has multiyear contracts with two such agencies, Aerotek and Experis. This keeps Zooxs costs down, as well as puts some legal space between it and many of its workers.

Zoox has 50 test vehicles registered in California, as well as a smaller fleet based in Las Vegas. In early March, as cities were beginning to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by issuing shelter-in-place orders, Zoox said it would stop testing its vehicles on public roads in San Francisco and Las Vegas.

Initially, some of the companys contract workers were under the impression they were being laid off, according to online chats viewed by The Verge. One safety driver said they reached out to their Experis representative about the shutdown and received a link to information about unemployment insurance in response.

But Zoox dismissed those claims as the result of miscommunication, and promised to continue to pay workers until April 7th assuming they would be going back to work after that. The pandemic-imposed shutdown has continued unabated, so the company instead opted to lay off those workers.

Californias statewide shelter-in-place rule has been extended to May 3rd, which means many AV companies are or will be in a similar position as Zoox. Some are exploring how to get designated as an essential business so they can continue to test during the shutdown. But backup drivers have told The Verge they would be extremely reticent to go back to work without rigid social distancing guidelines in place.

Personally I dont think itd work, said one backup driver who has worked at three self-driving car companies over the years, including Zoox. But I also dont wanna go back to work if Im gonna be in a space with hella people and no indication of the virus slowing down.

Update April 6th, 3:28PM ET: This story was updated to include Zooxs statement, and to correct the number of vehicles in the companys fleet.


Continue reading here: Zoox, citing COVID-19 shutdown, lays off its autonomous vehicle backup drivers - The Verge
Three CBP officers in the Valley test positive for COVID-19 – Monitor

Three CBP officers in the Valley test positive for COVID-19 – Monitor

April 6, 2020

Three U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers based in the Rio Grande Valley tested positive for COVID-19.

CBP posted the number of confirmed cases on their website listing two officers in Rio Grande City and one officer in Brownsville.

A total of 160 CBP officers around the country have tested positive for the coronavirus.

If you have news you would like to contribute, you can reach The Monitor at (956) 683-4000.


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Three CBP officers in the Valley test positive for COVID-19 - Monitor
2 more die of COVID-19 in RI as cases spike; jobless benefits expand Tuesday – WPRI.com

2 more die of COVID-19 in RI as cases spike; jobless benefits expand Tuesday – WPRI.com

April 6, 2020

Key takeaways from Mondays RI COVID-19 briefing:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Monday that two more Rhode Islanders have died due to COVID-19 and 160 more people have tested positive, but said residents should take heart from the newly announced launch of a rapid-testing site run by CVS Health.

There are also 109 COVID-19 patients currently in the hospital, with 37 of them in the ICU and 26 of them intubated, according to the R.I. Department of Health.

Ive said all along these numbers are going to continue to go up, Raimondo said, adding, Its serious very serious but this increase is not cause for panic. Its totally consistent with what weve been planning for now for over a month.

The latest data means 27 people have died and 1,082 people have tested positive in Rhode Island since the state reported its first case of COVID-19 March 1.

Ten of the deaths, including one of the two announced Monday, have been linked to Golden Crest Nursing Centre in North Providence, according to Dr. James McDonald, medical director at the Health Department. The latest two people who died were in their 80s and 90s.

There are currently 17 nursing homes that have COVID-19 positive cases, according to the Health Department. A plan is currently being finalized to put all nursing home patients with COVID-19 together in the same facilities.

About one in three of the positive cases are health care workers, but none of them have died, according to McDonald.

Raimondo expressed excitement about the launch of CVSs new rapid-testing site in the parking lot of Twin River Casino in Lincoln.

Today is a good day in the fight against coronavirus in Rhode Island, Raimondo said. Georgia and Rhode Island are the first two states doing this with CVS, which is based in Woonsocket.

CVS will be able to test 1,000 people a day and give them results in 15 minutes. The tests are by appointment for adult Rhode Island residents showing symptoms. No doctors note is needed. (Officials are asking people who dont have symptoms not to sign up for a test just because theyre curious, citing limited capacity.)

Details: Who can get a test and how at CVSs new RI COVID-19 testing site

We have quite literally, overnight, doubled our testing capacity in the state of Rhode Island, the governor said, calling it a huge announcement. She thanked CVS as well as members of her staff and the Rhode Island National Guard for getting the rapid-testing site up and running, calling it a game-changer.

Between the CVS site and the ones operated by the National Guard, Rhode Island will now be able to test more than 2,000 people a day, which Raimondo said would give it one of the highest per-capita testing rate in the country. The Department of Health said more than 1,300 COVID-19 tests were done on Sunday alone.

We have widespread community spread of the virus many, many, many of us are going to get sick, she said.

CVS is using Abbott Laboratories new high-speed testing machines for its site, and the federal government has separately sent Rhode Island an additional 15 of the machines. But she said each machine was supposed to come with 150 test kits for a total of 2,250 and instead only 120 were provided.

Asked about the latest projections from the University of Washington which now predict nearly 1,000 Rhode Islanders will die due to COVID-19 and the outbreak will peak in the state later this month Raimondo said the schools model has been updated after conferring with Rhode Island officials. She again declined to share the states own predictive modeling, but indicated she thinks the peak could be as late as mid-May.

If anyone tells you they know exactly when Rhode Islands peak is, and what the number of hospitalizations will be at that peak, theyre not being honest with you, she said.

In addition, good news arrived Monday for some Rhode Islanders who are out of work.

Raimondo announced the R.I. Department of Labor and Training will begin accepting applications Tuesday at 8 a.m. for the new unemployment program created under the $2 trillion federal CARES Act. The program will offer jobless benefits to self-employed individuals, gig workers, independent contractors and others not covered by traditional unemployment insurance.

The CARES Act will also add another $600 a week to unemployment benefits for all workers through the end of July. That money is expected to be provided retroactive to March 28.

More than 100,000 Rhode Islanders have filed for unemployment benefits since March 9. Raimondo said DLT employees are working to get payments out as quickly as possible, and said anyone who has been waiting two weeks or so should expect to get their money any day now.

(Story continues below.)

Raimondo again asked Rhode Islanders to maintain a daily log of anyone they come in contact with, something she says will help the Department of Health do contact tracing for individuals who eventually test positive. This is an unbelievable tool, she said.

Contract tracing information is retained longer than 14 days but is protected by HIPAA and will not be used for any other purpose, according to Health Department leaders.

Too many Rhode Islanders were still leaving their homes regularly as of a week ago, according to the governor.

We have been using cell phone information publicly available information about peoples cell phones allows us to track how mobile people are, how much people are moving, and I said the last time I checked on that data about a week or so ago, we were moving too much, she said.

Asked about the use of hydroxochloroquine to treat COVID-19, a hot topic as President Trump promotes it, McDonald noted there were limited studies about its effectiveness. Doctors have been given emergency authorization to try if they see fit, he said.

Eventually, Raimondo said, there will be blood tests to determine whether you previously had the novel coronavirus virus that causes COVID-19, and that will show how much of the population has immunity. We are a ways from that but it is coming, she said.

Speaking to people of faith, Raimondo acknowledged the ongoing ban on religious services will be hard for Christians marking Holy Week and Jews preparing for Passover. She noted that many services are available online, and said prayers are still needed.

Raimondo said she did spot checks at a few stores on Sunday and was pleased to see most people keeping their distance as ordered. She said she is not currently planning to fine offenders, though she left the door open to that down the road if she deems it necessary.

For the first time, Raimondo followed the on-camera news briefing with a telephone conference call where reporters could ask follow-up questions. Reporters have been submitting questions remotely for the daily briefing because of health officials guidelines barring large gatherings.

Listen to the full audio of the governors conference call with reporters here:


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2 more die of COVID-19 in RI as cases spike; jobless benefits expand Tuesday - WPRI.com
How Hospitals Are Using AI to Battle Covid-19 – Harvard Business Review

How Hospitals Are Using AI to Battle Covid-19 – Harvard Business Review

April 6, 2020

Executive Summary

The spread of Covid-19 is stretching operational systems in health care and beyond. The reason is both simple: Our economy and health care systems are geared to handle linear, incremental demand, while the virus grows at an exponential rate. Our national health system cannot keep up with this kind of explosive demand without the rapid and large-scale adoption of digital operating models.While we race to dampen the viruss spread, we can optimize our response mechanisms, digitizing as many steps as possible. Heres how some hospitals are employing artificial intelligence to handle the surge of patients.

Weve made our coronavirus coverage free for all readers. To get all of HBRs content delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Daily Alert newsletter.

On Monday March 9, in an effort to address soaring patient demand in Boston, Partners HealthCare went live with a hotline for patients, clinicians, and anyone else with questions and concerns about Covid-19. The goals are to identify and reassure the people who do not need additional care (the vast majority of callers), to direct people with less serious symptoms to relevant information and virtual care options, and to direct the smaller number of high-risk and higher-acuity patients to the most appropriate resources, including testing sites, newly created respiratory illness clinics, or in certain cases, emergency departments. As the hotline became overwhelmed, the average wait time peaked at 30 minutes. Many callers gave up before they could speak with the expert team of nurses staffing the hotline. We were missing opportunities to facilitate pre-hospital triage to get the patient to the right care setting at the right time.

The Partners team, led by Lee Schwamm, Haipeng (Mark) Zhang, and Adam Landman, began considering technology options to address the growing need for patient self-triage, including interactive voice response systems and chatbots. We connected with Providence St. Joseph Health system in Seattle, which served some of the countrys first Covid-19 patients in early March. In collaboration with Microsoft, Providence built an online screening and triage tool that could rapidly differentiate between those who might really be sick with Covid-19 and those who appear to be suffering from less threatening ailments. In its first week, Providences tool served more than 40,000 patients, delivering care at an unprecedented scale.

Our team saw potential for this type of AI-based solution and worked to make a similar tool available to our patient population. The Partners Covid-19 Screener provides a simple, straightforward chat interface, presenting patients with a series of questions based on content from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Partners HealthCare experts. In this way, it too can screen enormous numbers of people and rapidly differentiate between those who might really be sick with Covid-19 and those who are likely to be suffering from less threatening ailments. We anticipate this AI bot will alleviate high volumes of patient traffic to the hotline, and extend and stratify the systems care in ways that would have been unimaginable until recently. Development is now under way to facilitate triage of patients with symptoms to most appropriate care setting, including virtual urgent care, primary care providers, respiratory illness clinics, or the emergency department. Most importantly, the chatbot can also serve as a near instantaneous dissemination method for supporting our widely distributed providers, as we have seen the need for frequent clinical triage algorithm updates based on a rapidly changing landscape.

Similarly, at both Brigham and Womens Hospital and at Massachusetts General Hospital, physician researchers are exploring the potential use of intelligent robots developed at Boston Dynamics and MIT to deploy in Covid surge clinics and inpatient wards to perform tasks (obtaining vital signs or delivering medication) that would otherwise require human contact in an effort to mitigate disease transmission.

Several governments and hospital systems around the world have leveraged AI-powered sensors to support triage in sophisticated ways. Chinese technology company Baidu developed a no-contact infrared sensor system to quickly single out individuals with a fever, even in crowds. Beijings Qinghe railway station is equipped with this system to identify potentially contagious individuals, replacing a cumbersome manual screening process. Similarly, Floridas Tampa General Hospital deployed an AI system in collaboration with Care.ai at its entrances to intercept individuals with potential Covid-19 symptoms from visiting patients. Through cameras positioned at entrances, the technology conducts a facial thermal scan and picks up on other symptoms, including sweat and discoloration, to ward off visitors with fever.

Beyond screening, AI is being used to monitor Covid-19 symptoms, provide decision support for CT scans, and automate hospital operations. Meanwhile, Zhongnan Hospital in China uses an AI-driven CT scan interpreter that identifies Covid-19 when radiologists arent available. Chinas Wuhan Wuchang Hospital established a smart field hospital staffed largely by robots. Patient vital signs were monitored using connected thermometers and bracelet-like devices. Intelligent robots delivered medicine and food to patients, alleviating physician exposure to the virus and easing the workload of health care workers experiencing exhaustion. And in South Korea, the government released an app allowing users to self-report symptoms, alerting them if they leave a quarantine zone in order to curb the impact of super-spreaders who would otherwise go on to infect large populations.

The spread of Covid-19 is stretching operational systems in health care and beyond. We have seen shortages of everything, from masks and gloves to ventilators, and from emergency room capacity to ICU beds to the speed and reliability of internet connectivity. The reason is both simple and terrifying: Our economy and health care systems are geared to handle linear, incremental demand, while the virus grows at an exponential rate. Our national health system cannot keep up with this kind of explosive demand without the rapid and large-scale adoption of digital operating models.

While we race to dampen the viruss spread, we can optimize our response mechanisms, digitizing as many steps as possible. This is because traditional processes those that rely on people to function in the critical path of signal processing are constrained by the rate at which we can train, organize, and deploy human labor. Moreover, traditional processes deliver decreasing returns as they scale. On the other hand, digital systems can be scaled up without such constraints, at virtually infinite rates. The only theoretical bottlenecks are computing power and storage capacity and we have plenty of both. Digital systems can keep pace with exponential growth.

Importantly, AI for health care must be balanced by the appropriate level of human clinical expertise for final decision-making to ensure we are delivering high quality, safe care. In many cases, human clinical reasoning and decision making cannot be easily replaced by AI, rather AI is a decision aid that helps human improve effectiveness and efficiency.

Digital transformation in health care has been lagging other industries. Our response to Covid today has accelerated the adoption and scaling of virtual and AI tools. From the AI bots deployed by Providence and Partners HealthCare to the Smart Field Hospital in Wuhan, rapid digital transformation is being employed to tackle the exponentially growing Covid threat. We hope and anticipate that after Covid-19 settles, we will have transformed the way we deliver health care in the future.


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How Hospitals Are Using AI to Battle Covid-19 - Harvard Business Review
Why are young, healthy people dying from COVID-19? Genes may reveal the answer. – Live Science

Why are young, healthy people dying from COVID-19? Genes may reveal the answer. – Live Science

April 6, 2020

Young, healthy people are dying of COVID-19 infections, even if most serious cases occur in the elderly and those with preexisting conditions. Now, scientists are looking to see if genes may explain why some people fall seriously ill while others show only mild symptoms, Science magazine reported.

Several ongoing projects aim to analyze and compare the DNA of those with severe COVID-19 infection to those with mild or asymptomatic cases. Differences may lie in genes that instruct human cells to build a receptor called ACE2, which the novel coronavirus relies on to enter cells, Science reported. Alternatively, it may be that genes that support the body's immune response to the virus differ between individuals, or that those with particular blood types carry protective genetic traits that shield them from illness, as suggested by a preliminary study from China.

For now, we don't know which genes might render people susceptible to serious COVID-19 infection, but given the pace of the pandemic, researchers could identify likely candidates within a few months, Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the University of Helsinkis Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), told Science.

Related: 10 deadly diseases that hopped across species

Ganna and FIMM Director Mark Daly are heading an international effort to collect genetic data from COVID-19 patients, known as the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative. Several biobanks, including FinnGen in Finland and the 50,000-participant biobank at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, have "expressed interest" in contributing data to the study, according to Science. Some groups working with the initiative plan to collect DNA samples from willing patients who are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 infections. Alessandra Renieri, a geneticist at the University of Siena in Italy, expects 11 Italian hospitals to participate in such a study with her own research group.

"It is my opinion that [host] genetic differences are a key factor for susceptibility to severe acute pneumonia," Renieri told Science. Jean-Laurent Casanova, a pediatrics researcher at the Rockefeller University, is organizing a similar effort within a global network of pediatricians. Their aim is to study "previously healthy" patients under age 50 who have developed severe COVID-19 infections, as their vulnerability to the virus likely lies in their genes, Casanova told Science.

As part of their own initiatives, the UK Biobank will also begin curating data from COVID-19 patients, and the Iceland-based company deCODE Genetics will partner with the country's government to do the same. In the U.S., the Personal Genome Project at Harvard University is recruiting volunteers to share their genetic data, tissue samples, health data and COVID-19 status, Science reported.

In the coming weeks and months, these and other projects may reveal why COVID-19 only triggers a transient cough in some people, while endangering the lives of many others.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Why are young, healthy people dying from COVID-19? Genes may reveal the answer. - Live Science
Disrupting the disruptors: how Covid-19 will shake up Airbnb – The Guardian

Disrupting the disruptors: how Covid-19 will shake up Airbnb – The Guardian

April 6, 2020

Airbnb was built on the premise of bringing the world closer together. Tourists could travel like locals, while locals could cash in on their desirable neighbourhood properties by letting those visitors in. Last year the company was estimated to be worth more than US$30bn. It is scheduled to go public in 2020. Then came the Covid-19 pandemic.

Travel is suspended. Australians are almost entirely confined to their homes. Now the once heralded disruptor is seeing a collapse in bookings. The hosts who have become reliant on income-generating properties to pay their bills are being bled dry by a lack of business, and already-suspicious neighbours are up in arms over the potential that short-term renters may spread the virus.

In the decade before the pandemic, Airbnb became this very attractive thing, says Chris Martin, a senior research fellow at the University of New South Waless City Futures Research Centre. The platform, and others like it, fundamentally changed not only the travel industry but housing and rental markets. A home is no longer just a home, Martin says. [The company] tapped into the idea that a persons house can also be viewed as an asset that has capacity for generating income.

This shift massively upped the scale of [short-term rental], which in turn put pressure on residential rental markets. The changes have resulted in lawsuits in the US and a petition by 10 cities to the European parliament in 2019. There are more than seven million Airbnb listings spread across 100,000 cities with an estimated 346,581 listings between July 2016 and February 2019 in Australia alone.

Stephen Colman, who was an Airbnb host and ran an Airbnb management business up until last year, says the whole industry has fallen through. Many hosts are either pulling out of Airbnb to find cheaper long-term tenants or have been offering 14-day isolation suites.

The former, Colman says, will come with a long wait and big rent cuts, as everyone else rushes to do the same. The latter is even more fraught. This week the Greens state MP for Ballina, Tamara Smith, called on online holiday booking websites such as Airbnb and Stayz in the Byron Bay region to stop marketing regional properties as ideal places for self-isolation, saying it wasnt fair on regional hospitals and communities.

There are real concerns around cleaning stuff, Colman says, How many hours between checkout and check-in [Hosts] have seen a fightback from body corporates who are just outright cancelling the key fobs for anyone who they believe is doing Airbnb. Theyve just gone were going to take this hard line to protect the safety of our long-term tenants.

Jane Hearn, deputy chair of the Owners Corporation Network, has argued that opening Airbnb properties for quarantine increases the viral load on apartment owners and tenants. Resident advocacy groups such as We Live Here and Neighbours Not Strangers were already lobbying against Airbnb on behalf of local communities who were sick of rowdy travellers in their apartment complexes. In a letter to New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian on 1 April, Neighbours Not Strangers called for an immediate ban on all short-term rentals, due to the risks from Covid-19.

Airbnb does not support reservation requests from users who are showing symptoms, or those who are awaiting test results. Last week the company instituted a ban on any listings that reference Covid-19, coronavirus or quarantine and listings which incentivise bookings through Covid-19-related discounts, stocks of limited resources, or the highlighting of quarantine-friendly listing attributes. The companys updated instructions for cleaning and hygiene recommend hosts stock their properties with a few extras like antibacterial hand sanitizer, disposable gloves and wipes, hand soap, paper towels, tissues and toilet paper.

The government has now mandated that all international arrivals must complete their quarantine at designated pre-booked hotels. But, before that, some Australians were happy turning to Airbnb. Comedian Alice Fraser is currently in a good value Bondi Airbnb after returning from London. She saw Airbnb as the responsible option: [Its there] for people who dont have favours to call in, or family who happen to have a massive home that can be segmented into parts.

Lisa Porgazian and her husband have listed their three Gold Coast apartments on Airbnb for the past four years. Now the properties are empty, and the mortgage payments will come out of the couples superannuation. We were relying on this for our income, as well as our retirement plan, she says, distraught. Now thats completely died in the arse.

Porgazian, a 46-year-old former IT contractor, has been managing her property portfolio full-time. Shes unable to work in many other jobs due to rheumatoid arthritis. Im earning zero. My husbands earning zero. And weve still got these mortgages to pay.

With the spread of Covid-19, a downturn in business was inevitable. But many Airbnb hosts were shocked at how quickly it came. The company introduced a policy earlier this month allowing all guests who booked prior to 14 March (and were checking in no later than 31 May) to cancel existing bookings for free. Porgazian says this left hosts holding the cheque.

We lost everything straight away Everything is cancelled, basically until Christmas.

Susan Wheeldon, Airbnbs country manager for Australia and New Zealand, said offering these free cancellations wasnt an easy decision, but it was one made with public health considerations front of mind. The primary consideration for us was protecting the wellbeing of the community.

Travis Lipshus, a real estate agent in Byron Bay, thinks this chaos for Airbnb hosts could result in cheaper long-term rent for locals. Hes getting flooded with properties from Airbnb hosts who now need permanent tenants. But with so many of the towns hospitality staff and backpackers currently out of work theres not enough tenants to fill these places.

If rents did lower, it would be a massive relief. Its notoriously difficult for locals to find affordable rentals in Byron Bay, as 17.6% of properties are listed as holiday accommodation. Airbnb should be banned up here, Lipshus says. The cost of living is insane. Ive lived in all sorts of places here, and its not uncommon to pay at least 50% of your wage in rent.

Martin describes the current regulation around Airbnb as really quite liberal. He says at present, it didnt seem to fit well with highly local impacts. Local councils [should] have a strategy and a plan around short-term letting especially around limits.

For now, he is not so certain well see a drop in rents. Landlords may still withhold properties and leave them vacant instead, he says. For whatever reason, that seems to be a surprisingly common scenario in the high-pressure [locations].

Wheeldon says that Airbnb has not seen a material drop in the overall number of listings on our platform. While the Covid-19 crisis has significantly disrupted the tourism industry and wider economy, we know that travel is resilient in the long term and will ultimately recover.

But will the hosts recover?

We know our hosts are doing it tough, Wheeldon says. The peak body representing Airbnb and other short term rental companies has sought urgent support from the federal government for hosts in the form of mortgage payment deferrals, among other measures. For many, that may not be enough.

A lot of people have over-leveraged themselves with these properties, Lipshus says. The upper-middle class are probably going to be fine. But the middle class the ones taking risks, trying to get up that class ladder theyre going to be pretty fucked.

Lisa Porgazian knows what people are saying. The criticism that were getting is well you shouldnt have a business if you cant pay for it, but who ever predicted something like this?


View original post here: Disrupting the disruptors: how Covid-19 will shake up Airbnb - The Guardian
Residents at another Taylorville apartment complex test positive for COVID-19 – Herald & Review

Residents at another Taylorville apartment complex test positive for COVID-19 – Herald & Review

April 6, 2020

The number of people infected in the U.S. has exceeded 337,000, with the death toll climbing past 9,600. More than 4,100 of those deaths are in the state of New York, but a glimmer of hope there came on Sunday when Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state registereda small dipin new fatalities over a 24-hour period. Still, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said his state may run out of ventilators by week's end.

Former Vice President Joe Biden suggested his party's presidential nominating convention, already pushed from July into August because of the outbreak, may have to movefully onlineto avoid packing thousands of people into an arena in Milwaukee.

Biden has all but clinched his party's presidential nomination and held an online town hall from his home in Delaware at the same time Trump was addressing reporters. His tone was far less confrontational than Trump, who clashed with reporters and criticized Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker as being demanding and complaining while having not performed well.

Biden sought to be uplifting and almost grandfatherly, taking questions from children with his wife. But he also said the president has been awful slow to use the powers of his office to compel private companies to make protective equipment for doctors and nurses, adding that we should be much more aggressive.

Trump angrily deflected questions regarding the slow pace of the federal governments response to the pandemic, praising federal officials he has elevated in recent weeks to coordinate the distribution of hard-to-find supplies.

The people that youre looking at, FEMA, the military, what theyve done is a miracle, Trump told reporters. What theyve done is a miracle in getting all of this stuff. What they have done for states is incredible.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Also Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the toll in the coming week is "going to be shocking to some, but that's what is going to happen before it turns around, so just buckle down."

Fauci said the virus probably wont be wiped out entirely this year, and that unless the world gets it under control, it will assume a seasonal nature.

We need to be prepared that, since it unlikely will be completely eradicated from the planet, that as we get into next season, we may see the beginning of a resurgence, Fauci said. Thats the reason why were pushing so hard in getting our preparedness much better than it was.

The Defense Department released new requirements that all individuals on its property will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers. That is in compliance with new federal guidelines that Americans use face coverings when venturing out.

Trump had said previously that he's choosing not to wear a face mask and scoffed at the idea of using one while answering questions as he held news briefings like Sunday night's.

I would wear one," he said, but only if I thought it was important.

Associated Press


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