ROMO, the reality of missing out

Big tech doesn’t build anything. It’s not likely to give us vaccines or diagnostic tests. We don’t even seem to know how to make a cotton swab. Those hoping the US could turn its dominant tech industry into a dynamo of innovation against the pandemic will be disappointed. The pandemic shows that the US is no longer much good at coming up with technologies relevant to our most basic needs.

Combining these large-scale data with a transmission model of social interactions and transmission in four settings (home, school, work, other) we were able to simulate where contacts are typically made, and how effective different approaches might be. [...] If there were 10,000 new symptomatic cases per day, it meant around 150,000 to 400,000 contacts would be quarantined each day under the scenarios we considered. [...] We also looked Iceland-scale mass population testing (i.e. 0.7% of population per day). Such testing would be very helpful for monitoring the epidemic, but unsurprisingly it had a negligible impact on reducing transmission, because cases would be detected too late (if at all) [Adam Kucharski, Twitter thread]

Of the 661 participants, 171 participants (25.9%) had anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. [...] The proportion of infected individuals who had no symptoms during the study period was 17.0%. [...] The infection attack rate (IAR) was defined as the proportion of participants with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection based on antibody detection. [...] The relatively low IAR observed in an area where SARS-CoV-2 actively circulated weeks before confinement measures indicates that establishing herd immunity will take time, and that lifting these measures in France will be long and complex. [medRxiv]

A small but rising number of children are becoming ill with a rare syndrome that could be linked to coronavirus, with reported cases showing symptoms of abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms and cardiac inflammation

We Still Don’t Know How the Coronavirus Is Killing Us

Mortality statistics show 122,000 deaths in excess of normal levels across these locations, considerably higher than the 77,000 official Covid-19 deaths reported for the same places and time periods.

Women are better at fighting Covid-19, so doctors are giving men estrogen patches

One of Israel’s largest health maintenance organizations is using artificial intelligence to help identify which of the 2.4 million people it covers are most at risk of severe covid-19 complications. Once identified, individuals are put on a fast track for testing. The AI was adapted from an existing system trained to identify people most at risk from the flu, using millions of records from Maccabi going back 27 years. To make its predictions, the system draws on a range of medical data, including a person’s age, BMI, health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, and previous history of hospital admissions. The AI can trawl through a vast number of records and spot at-risk individuals who might have been missed otherwise. [Technology Review]

The Oxford scientists now say that with an emergency approval from regulators, the first few million doses of their vaccine could be available by September — at least several months ahead of any of the other announced efforts — if it proves to be effective. Now, they have received promising news suggesting that it might. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana last month inoculated six rhesus macaque monkeys with single doses of the Oxford vaccine. The animals were then exposed to heavy quantities of the virus that is causing the pandemic — exposure that had consistently sickened other monkeys in the lab. But more than 28 days later all six were healthy, said Vincent Munster, the researcher who conducted the test. “The rhesus macaque is pretty much the closest thing we have to humans...” [NY Times]

A purified inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus vaccine candidate (PiCoVacc) confers complete protection in non-human primates against SARS-CoV-2 strains circulating worldwide by eliciting potent humoral responses devoid of immunopathology [bioRxiv]

Preliminary results from a clinical trial of remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug being tested for coronavirus, could come in as little as one to two weeks. Information leaked to STAT News suggested that coronavirus patients receiving remdesivir in a clinical trial were recovering quickly. But STAT's report was based on a recorded discussion of the trial, and it offered few details.

A Chinese trial showed that the drug [remdesivir] had not been successful. The US firm behind the drug, Gilead Sciences, said the document had mischaracterised the study.

04 February 2020.— An efficient approach to drug discovery is to test whether the existing antiviral drugs are effective in treating related viral infections. The 2019-nCoV [subsequently named SARS-CoV-2] belongs to Betacoronavirus which also contains SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV). Several drugs, such as ribavirin, interferon, lopinavir-ritonavir, corticosteroids, have been used in patients with SARS or MERS, although the efficacy of some drugs remains controversial.3 In this study, we evaluated the antiviral efficiency of five FAD-approved drugs including ribavirin, penciclovir, nitazoxanide, nafamostat, chloroquine and two well-known broad-spectrum antiviral drugs remdesivir (GS-5734) and favipiravir (T-705) against a clinical isolate of 2019-nCoV in vitro. [...] Our findings reveal that remdesivir and chloroquine are highly effective in the control of 2019-nCoV infection in vitro. [Cell research]

While we will run very big budget deficits over the next couple of years, they will do little if any harm. [...] The government will be able to borrow that money at incredibly low interest rates. In fact, real interest rates — rates on government bonds protected against inflation — are negative. So the burden of the additional debt as measured by the rise in federal interest payments will be negligible. [Paul Krugman]

Drive-in movies are proving popular in a pandemic

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this will be our year (The World vs. SARS-Cov-2) [Audio]