Saturday, September 19, 2020 1:49am EDT
Other corticosteroid drugs in addition to Dexamethasone are effective for treating COVID-19 and can reduce death rates. Remdesivir and plasma treatments can ease symptoms. The virus has been shown to be able to jump back and forth between animals and humans. A new drug called Ab8 which uses an antibody component shown to neutralize the virus in animal models, has been developed for potential therapeutic and prophylactic use.
Approximately 75% of children who die from COVID-19 are minorities, with three quarters of them having underlying conditions. There are now more than “half a million cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in U.S. children”. The most common symptoms in children are headache and fever, and children are also experiencing heart damage resulting from “immense inflammation” which may appear weeks after infection. “Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native persons accounted for 94 (78%) of these deaths; [and] 33% of deaths occurred outside of a hospital” (CDC). Children can have antibodies and the virus in their system simultaneously.
Doctors are still trying to understand what is happening. Widescale studies should be conducted on recovered patients experiencing heart problems (strokes), and also those experiencing chronic fatigue (half of patients) amongst other long-term chronic symptoms including prolonged gut infections. China has begun testing a nasal spray vaccine. Nine drug companies have signed a safety pledge for the development of vaccines (AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novavax, BioNTech and Sanofi). Dr. Fauci says if results are overwhelmingly positive, vaccine trials could end early, but 49% of Americans would not get the vaccine if it were available today citing concerns about safety and effectiveness. Russia has begun mass testing of its “expedited” COVID-19 vaccine.
14% of U.S. adults say they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are “pretty sure they have had it”. A vaccine trial participant experienced “serious neurological symptoms” but is expected to recover and trials have resumed in the U.K. where the reproduction number has risen above 1.0. The U.K. is contemplating a second national lockdown. Israel is the first nation to announce a second lockdown. A group of indigenous people in Brazil who guard the gates to the village with bows and shotguns, still has zero cases. Mexico has run out of death certificates. Dr. Birx is calling for aggressive face mask mandates and Dr. Fauci is urging Americans to “hunker down”.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is threatening tax hikes to offset losses due to COVID-19, which may cause people and businesses to move. The Batman production in the UK has shut down after Robert Pattinson tested positive for COVID-19. A 28-year old in the U.S. developed a bacterial super infection after being critically ill with COVID-19; a blood purifying filter and antibiotics dramatically improved the patient’s condition.
The FBI has raided a nursing home in Pennsylvania which recorded 73 deaths among 447 cases; it was found they were administering experimental doses of hydroxychloroquine to half of its residents. The motorcycle rally in South Dakota has been so far linked to one death and 260 infections; German researchers are reporting it is linked to more than 250,000 cases which is likely not accurate given the virus’ incubation period. One superspreader infected over 20 people on a single bus ride. Musicians and a monk have been tied to superspreading in Hong Kong. In Canada, outbreaks are being seen in strip clubs, church services, weddings, and karaoke bars (unmasked singers spread COVID-19 through aerosols) and restaurants. Stadiums with reduced capacity are still resulting in outbreaks and deaths. Fish (salmon) may be a source of infections.
Apple has designed its own face masks for its employees, and Apple’s Series 6 watch can monitor people for COVID-19 symptoms. The University of Illinois has repurposed its veterinary lab and will conduct 20,000 tests per day. “At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable to the coronavirus, and at least 63.2% of employees live with someone who is at increased risk, according to a new study published in Health Affairs.”
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been shown to kill brain cells in mice and prone ventilation, while reducing mortality, can result in permanent nerve damage. Autopsies have revealed “NETs” in lung tissue which may be a major contributor to severe complications. Exercising after contracting COVID-19 might kill you. Fresh air can prevent aerosol transmission. Inhaled nitric oxide has been shown to help pregnant women with severe COVID-19. Mutations in the virus are disguising it from antibodies.
There are more reports of COVID-19 reinfection, with the second infection being more severe. Rapid testing will be key to resuming activities and “combining tests at point of care dramatically increases COVID-19 detection in hospitalized patients”. Re-testing four weeks after symptoms appear can “curb infection risk”. A rapid testing device developed by DnaNudge that is currently being used in UK hospitals can produce highly accurate results in 90 minutes. McDonalds is the largest distributor of toys (plastic) in the world and could work with companies that produce pregnancy tests to develop a standardized rapid antigen test in collaboration with drug companies that can be easily available worldwide.
The CDC is asking states to plan for vaccine distribution beginning in late October, and the Trump administration has released its COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy. The CDC has also reversed its testing guidelines and now recommends that anyone who has been exposed be tested; they have also found that adults who have tested positive were “twice as likely to have been to a restaurant”. Masks can be more effective than vaccines if 80% of people wear them. The University of Toronto is testing face masks embedded with copper to slow transmission.
Indonesia is punishing people who don’t wear masks by forcing them to dig graves for COVID-19 victims. Doug Ford and other municipal leaders are implementing fines for noncompliance.
The President of Canada’s Public Health agency has resigned amid rising cases and Canada’s Health Minister has ordered a review of the pandemic warning system. Hundreds of nurses in Montréal, Québec have quit and intensive care has been halted at Gatineau Hospital due to a shortage of nurses.
Cases are beginning to rise in Quebec (where recommendations were not followed) and Ontario where restrictions are being eased; the seemingly premature spikes are likely due to noncompliance in anticipation of ‘re-opening’. Ottawa is now experiencing its ‘second wave’. One family who hosted a family gathering in August in Windsor-Essex County has been linked to 31 recent cases. The Island (Toronto waterfront) has had 55 cases over the last three weeks, more than any other neighbourhood in the city.
Cases in Ontario schools increased 50% overnight on September 17th. A highschool in eastern Ontario has shut down after three staff tested positive. Doug Ford is contemplating a second lockdown and the Ontario government wants to freeze rents in 2021. Gathering limits are now 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. A study by SickKids “suggests Ontario’s back-to-school plan is unsafe” and school staff are staging walkouts. Three Peel Public School Board staff have tested positive.
Antibody tests are now available in Toronto. There are reportedly long lineups for antigen tests and John Tory has called for extended hours. Tests will be available in Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall and Walmart. Over 80 TTC employees have tested positive and fare inspectors have been pictured not wearing masks properly. TTC operators are now required to wear masks at all times. Face masks are also mandatory in all condos and apartments in Toronto. University Health Network’s chief executive is “worried” about society’s behaviour which can lead to a resurgence. The pandemic, in combination with high rents, is making people move.
Striking New Images Reveal How SARS-CoV-2 Infects Lung Cells in Detail (ScienceAlert)
MIT Presents a Free Course on the COVID-19 Pandemic, Featuring Anthony Fauci & Other Experts (Open Culture)
Summary of Cases in Schools and Child Care Centres (Ontario, Canada)
Getting Real: When COVID-19 Enters a Busy Household (Johns Hopkins)
How to help your child cope with the transition back to school during COVID-19 (The Conversation)
Listen now: U of T Podcast Focuses on COVID-19 Public Health Challenges and Next Steps (University of Toronto)
These Are The World's Most Troubling Hotspots of Vaccine Hesitancy (Science Alert)
Study: Portable, point-of-care COVID-19 test could bypass the lab (Science Daily)
Immune Biomarkers Tied to Severe COVID-19: Study (TheScientist)
Severe COVID-19 Infections—Knowledge Gained and Remaining Questions (Jama Network)
SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) by the numbers (eLife)
Why Obesity Worsens COVID-19 (Science)
Saliva or Nasopharyngeal Swab Specimens for Detection of SARS-CoV-2 (nejm.org)
Why Automation Will be the Cornerstone of the Post-COVID Biology Lab (Technology Networks)
SARS-CoV-2 Uses Heparan Sulfate To Get Inside Cells (Technology Networks)
Feline coronavirus drug inhibits the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 and blocks virus replication (Nature Communications)
Lab Tests Show Minibinder Proteins Are as Effective as Antibodies at Blocking SARS-CoV-2 (genengnews.com)
CD209L/L-SIGN and CD209/DC-SIGN act as receptors for SARS-CoV-2 and are differentially expressed in lung and kidney epithelial and endothelial cells (biorxiv.org)
Digestive system is a potential route of COVID-19: an analysis of single-cell coexpression pattern of key proteins in viral entry process (BMJ Journals)
Direct ACE2- Spike RBD Binding Disruption with Small Molecules: A Strategy for COVID-19 Treatment (ChemRxiv)
In vivo antiviral host transcriptional response to SARS-CoV-2 by viral load, sex, and age (PLOS Biology)
Does Lithium Deserve a Place in the Treatment Against COVID-19? A Preliminary Observational Study in Six Patients, Case Report (frontiersin.org)
Jumping back and forth: anthropozoonotic and zoonotic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 on mink farms (biorxiv.org)
Coronavirus dons a new crown (Science)
Persistent immune memory of COVID-19 found in recovered patient T cells (Medical Xpress)
Phenotypical and functional alteration of unconventional T cells in severe COVID-19 patients (JEM)
T cells take the lead in controlling SARS-CoV-2 and reducing COVID-19 disease severity (Science Daily)
Unconventional T cells in severe COVID-19 patients could predict disease outcome (Science Daily)
Researchers say artificial intelligence and machine learning could enhance scientific peer review (Medical Xpress)
A highly conserved cryptic epitope in the receptor binding domains of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Monday, September 7, 2020 – Toronto Update
Toronto currently has 1,586 active cases - 57.4% of cases in Toronto are due to close contact with a case, 21.8% due to community transmission, 10.4% from ‘healthcare’, 7% from travel, and 3.4% from an institutional setting.
6.8% have been under the age of 19 (1 death - 0.09%);
29.8% between 20 and 39 (0.17% of deaths);
29.5% between 40 and 59 (3.7% of deaths);
17.3% between 60-79 (27.8% of deaths);
16.4% are 80+ (accounts for 68% of deaths).
The death rate in Toronto is 7.37% (1,174 deaths / 15,925 cases). Those 60+ are at high risk.
We will likely see cases begin to rapidly rise again 2-4 weeks after re-opening (October). I expect another shut down to occur in October or November.
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