Barely a month before Europe embarked on a scramble for masks, ventilators and testing kits to fight coronavirus, governments told Brussels their healthcare systems were ready and there was no need to order more stocks, EU documents show. [Reuters]
Here, we attempt to present an initial record of the federal government’s important official actions and communications over the past months, with a particular emphasis on the rules, regulation, and guidance related to the public health challenge.
Using the assumption that the suppression policy can achieve R0 = 1, we assess that it should be kept in place between 30 and 34 weeks. We further show that stopping the suppression policy before six weeks does not produce any meaningful improvements in the pandemic outcome. [PDF]
We conclude that viral spread is too fast to be contained by manual contact tracing, but could be controlled if this process was faster, more efficient and happened at scale. A contact-tracing App which builds a memory of proximity contacts and immediately notifies contacts of positive cases can achieve epidemic control if used by enough people. By targeting recommendations to only those at risk, epidemics could be contained without need for mass quarantines (‘lock-downs’) that are harmful to society.
Another security researcher found two new Zoom bugs that can be used to take over a Zoom user’s Mac, including tapping into the webcam and microphone.
A growing number of experts — medical doctors and virologists among them — say that a homemade mask, even a bandanna, might provide protection from both transmitting and getting the coronavirus. But because there is little research to indicate how well or what homemade masks work, there is no consensus among experts on a best design, and the scientists we spoke to were reluctant to endorse any one homemade mask pattern.
A team of Chinese scientists has isolated several antibodies that it says are “extremely effective” at blocking the ability of the new coronavirus to enter cells, which eventually could be helpful in treating or preventing COVID-19. [Reuters]
Two months of mitigations have not improved the outcome of the epidemic in this model, it has just delayed its terrible effects. In fact, because of the role of weather in the model presented in the Kristof article, two months of mitigations actually results in 50% more infections and deaths than two weeks of mitigations, since it pushes the peak of the epidemic to the winter instead of the summer, whose warmer months this model assumes causes lower transmission rates. [...] This is simply because as long as a large majority of the population remains uninfected, lifting containment measures will lead to an epidemic almost as large as would happen without having mitigations in place at all. [...] This is not to say that there are not good reasons to use mitigations as a delay tactic. For example, we may hope to use the months we buy with containment measures to improve hospital capacity, in the hopes of achieving a reduction in the mortality rate. [...] What should be absolutely clear is that hard decisions lie ahead, and that there are no easy answers. [Maria Chikina and Wesley Pegden]
Do people who survive the infection become immune to the virus? The answer is a qualified yes, with some significant unknowns. That’s important for several reasons. [...] Immunity may bring an early treatment. Antibodies gathered from the bodies of those who have recovered may be used to aid those struggling with the illness caused by the coronavirus, called Covid-19. [...] Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York would become the first state to begin testing serum from people who have recovered from Covid-19 to treat those who are seriously ill. [...] Antibodies to the coronaviruses that cause the common cold persist for just one to three years — and that may be true of their new cousin as well. A study in macaques infected with the new coronavirus suggested that once infected, the monkeys produce neutralizing antibodies and resist further infection. But it is unclear how long the monkeys, or people infected with the virus, will remain immune. Most people who became infected during the SARS epidemic — that virus is a close cousin of the new coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2 — had long-term immunity lasting eight to 10 years, said Vineet D. Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Those who recovered from MERS, another coronavirus, saw much shorter-term protection, Dr. Menachery said. People who have been infected with the new coronavirus may have immunity lasting at least one to two years, he added: “Beyond that, we can’t predict.” Still, even if antibody protection were short-lasting and people became reinfected, the second bout with the coronavirus would likely be much milder than the first, said Florian Krammer, a microbiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. [...] Ultimately, it is only with these tests that scientists will be able to say when enough of the population has been infected and has become immune — and when the virus has begun to run out of hosts. [NY Times]
A person contracts the virus sharing the same airspace — a six-foot radius, the distance droplet nuclei are believed to travel (although with coughing they may travel farther) — and inhaling the infectious particles. Or the droplet nuclei land on an object or surface, making it infectious. Touch that surface and then your face and the chain of transmission is complete. If you do have sex with someone who is infected with the new coronavirus, there is nothing we can recommend, be it showering head to toe with soap before and immediately after sex, or using condoms, to reduce your risk of infection. We don’t know if the new coronavirus is present in vaginal secretions or ejaculate, but it has been identified in stool. Based on what we currently know about transmission of coronavirus, penetrative vaginal or anal sex or oral sex seem unlikely to pose a significant risk of transmission. [NY Times]
While political leaders have locked their borders, scientists have been shattering theirs, creating a global collaboration unlike any in history. Never before, researchers say, have so many experts in so many countries focused simultaneously on a single topic and with such urgency. Nearly all research, other than anything related to coronavirus, has ground to a halt. [NY Times]
Popular video-conferencing Zoom is leaking personal information of at least thousands of users, including their email address and photo, and giving strangers the ability to attempt to start a video call with them through Zoom. [Vice ]
Il ne faut pas avoir peur de s’ennuyer, comme disait Paul Valéry. L’ennui, c’est la vie toute nue. L’existence, quand elle se regarde, est toujours un peu ennuyeuse. [Roger-Pol Droit | France Culture]