• COVID-19 Preventative Vaccine Trial for Healthcare Workers

    Professor Kathryn North AC, Director of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, has announced its infectious disease researchers are preparing to roll-out a multi-center randomised controlled clinical trial of the BCG vaccine against COVID-19. 
    The trial has been endorsed by the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom, who has called for global support and assistance in the fight against COVID-19.  

  • U.K. Patient Zero? East Sussex Family May Have Been Infected with Coronavirus as Early as Mid-January

    A family from East Sussex may have been Britain’s first coronavirus victims, catching the virus in mid-January after one of them visited an Austrian ski resort that is now under investigation for allegedly covering up the early outbreak.
    Paul Nuki writes in he Telegraph that if confirmed by official tests, it would mean the outbreak in Britain started more than a month earlier than currently thought.
    As things stand, the first recorded U.K. case was on January 31, and the earliest documented incidence of transmission within Britain occurred on 28 February.
    IT consultant Daren Bland, 50, was skiing in Ischgl, Austria from 15 to 19 January with three friends, two from Denmark and one from Minnesota in America.
    All three fell ill on their return with classic coronavirus symptoms, and Bland passed on the infection to his wife and children in Maresfield, East Sussex.

  • MyPillow, Other U.S. Companies Making Face Masks to Meet Coronavirus Shortages

    As coronavirus cases start to overwhelm U.S. hospitals, American companies say they’re starting to make face masks and other personal protective equipment critically needed by medical staff.
    Brie Stimson writes in Fox News that in Minnesota, the MyPillow company is refocusing 75 percent of its production to face masks for health care workers.
    “We have capacity to make a lot of things at big rates and we’re going to be going hopefully from 10,000 units a day to 50,000 units a day in a very short period of time,” CEO Mike Lindell told FOX 9 of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
    In New Jersey, Stuart Carlitz, president and CEO of mattress company Eclipse International, said he made the decision to switch production to masks last week after hearing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo say that state had a shortage and was paying high prices for masks.
    “I’m not trying to sell masks,” Carlitz said. “Whether it’s a dollar apiece or four dollars apiece, that’s not going to change my business. I’m going to donate the masks.”
    Other companies, too, have converted their production lines to producing masks, among them: The Tablecloth Company in Paterson, N.J., decided to start making masks after requests from customers, including nursing homes where the virus can easily spread, according to NJ.com.
    Los Angeles-based apron company Hedley &Bennett will also be putting its 30 factory employees to work on face masks, Owner Ellen Bennett told Fast Company magazine.
    Other American fashion brands like Hanes, Los Angeles Apparel and Michael Costello and Karla Colletto Swimwear are also asking their workers to start making masks.
    Michigan-based Ford is assisting General Electric Healthcare with ventilator production, according to Yahoo Finance.

  • Economic Crash Could Cost More Life Than Coronavirus, Says Expert

    If the coronavirus lockdown leads to a fall in GDP of more than 6.4 per cent more years of life will be lost due to recession than will be gained through beating the virus, a study suggests.
    Philip Thomas, professor of risk management at Bristol University, said that keeping the economy going in the next year was crucial, otherwise the measures would “do more harm than good.”
    “I’m worried that in order to solve one problem we’d create a bigger problem,” he said a day after economists predicted we were on course for the worst recession in modern history.
    Tom Whipple writes in The Times that there is a clear link between GDP and life expectancy, in part due to richer countries being able to spend more on healthcare, safety and environmental regulations. This means it is possible to calculate roughly the effect of increased, or decreased, wealth on the health of a population.

  • Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine: No Proof These Anti-Malarial Drugs Prevent Novel Coronavirus in Humans

    There’s worrying news around the world of people self-medicating at home with the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. Chloroquine is not yet proven to work against COVID-19, though news reports originating in China have speculated otherwise. But theories about chloroquine and COVID-19 have spread around the world, despite a lack of hard evidence about the value of chloroquine in preventing or treating COVID-19. No one should be self-treating with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 as there is currently no proof they can cure the infection – and accidental harm is more likely if they are used in this way.

  • ECDC Warns of Overwhelmed Hospitals, Italy-Type COVID-19 Pattern

    The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) yesterday warned in its latest COVID-19 risk assessment that cases are rapidly increasing in all of Europe, following rises that look similar to those of China’s Hubei province and Italy and that the risk of overwhelmed health systems is high. Three of the five worst-hit countries are in Europe: Italy, Spain, and Germany. Also, the global number of confirmed deaths passed 20,000 yesterday, with 20,857 reported so far.

  • Initial Results of a New Symptom Tracking App: About 10% of Britons Are Infected

    The first app monitoring symptoms of people in Britain with suspected coronavirus shows that, at present, one in 10 users have a mild form of the virus at present. The app, developed by researchers in King’s College London, was made available to the public on Wednesday. Within the first 24 hours of the app being made available, some 650,000 people had signed up – and an initial analysis revealed that 10 percent of people were showing mild symptoms of the virus.

  • App Helps Doctors Find the Right Dose of Corona Medication

    Researchers have developed an app that doctors can use to more easily determine the right dosage of medication for corona patients. At the moment, doctors are prescribing many existing kinds of medication to patients. Using the app, they can determine a safe and effective dosage.

  • How to Model a Pandemic

    There is, however, a little known but highly successful field of science working in the background to unpick the mysteries of infectious disease. As I explore in The Maths of Life and Death, mathematical epidemiology is playing a crucial role in the fight against large-scale infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

  • In Politics and Pandemics, Russian Trolls Use Fear, Anger to Drive Clicks

    Facebook users flipping through their feeds in the fall of 2016 faced a minefield of Russian-produced targeted advertisements pitting blacks against police, southern whites against immigrants, and gun owners against Obama supporters. The cheaply made ads were full of threatening, vulgar language, but according to a sweeping new analysis, they were remarkably effective, eliciting clickthrough rates as much as nine times higher than what is typical in digital advertising. The Kremlin-sponsored troll farms are still at it, already engaged in disinformation campaigns around COVID-19.

  • How Recovered COVID-19 Patients Might Help Fight the Pandemic

    President Trump is growing so worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic that he’s talking about drastic action, including ending the lockdown in states that haven’t seen lots of infections. Stewart Bakers writes that he’s right to be worried and right to be looking for dramatic solutions. There are responsible solutions which “might address the underlying concern. Instead of easing the lockdown state by state, we could do it person by person. Specifically, we could end the lockdown for people who have already recovered from COVID-19.”

  • New York Notes Dramatic Increase in COVID-19 Numbers as Trump Mulls Lifting Restrictions Soon

    Yesterday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the COVID-19 pandemic case count is doubling every 3 days in his state, as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the United States could become the next epicenter of the novel coronavirus, given that the country accounted for 40 percent of new cases recorded globally over the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, yesterday in the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump told viewers during a Fox News virtual town hall that he wants the country “opened up and raring to go by Easter Sunday,” which this year falls on 12 April.

  • Half of U.K. Population May Already Be Infected: Oxford Study

    A model developed by Oxford University researchers indicates that half of the population of the United Kingdom may have already been infected with the coronavirus. If follow-up studies confirm the modeling’s conclusions, it would mean that fewer than .01 percent of those infected require hospital treatment, with a majority showing only minor symptoms, if any.

  • Coronavirus: How the Current Number of People Dying in the U.K. Compares to the Past Decade

    In England and Wales, the very latest data has just been published on the number of all deaths registered in the week ending 13 March – which was 11,019 people. This was some 186 fewer than in that same week over the course of the last five years. It’s worth looking in detail at the period just before the pandemic reached the U.K. to understand what huge variations in mortality occurred recently before anyone died due to COVID-19. The Oxford estimates suggests that of those actually infected, as compared to those known to be infected following testing, the actual global mortality rate may be as low as 0.2 percent – or less. This is what we should hope for – while preparing for worse.

  • U.S. Intelligence Reports from January and February Warned about a Likely Pandemic

    The U.S. intelligence community was issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Donald Trump and lawmakers who support him played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence community’s reporting. White House officials told Shane Harris, Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey, and Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post that one of the main reasons for Trump’s false and misleading statements in January and February was the fact that he chose to believe China’s President Xi Jingping rather than the U.S. intelligence community on the issue of the coronavirus. During January and February, China was still adamantly denying that there was any epidemic spreading in China.