Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Trump wants ‘the country opened,’ but easing coronavirus restrictions now would be disastrous, experts say

The Washington Post reports: With President Trump saying he wants “the country opened” by Easter to salvage the U.S. economy, a fierce debate is now raging among policymakers over the necessity of shutting down vast swaths of American society to combat the novel coronavirus. Health experts point to overwhelming evidence from around the world that closing businesses and schools and minimizing social contact are crucial to avoid exponentially mounting infections.

Hong Kong appeared to have the coronavirus under control, then it let its guard down

James Griffiths writes: Only a week ago, Hong Kong seemed like a model for how to contain the novel coronavirus, with a relatively small number of cases despite months of being on the front lines of the outbreak. That was in large part thanks to action taken early on, while cases were spreading across mainland China, to implement measures that are now familiar throughout the world: virus mapping, social distancing,

Far more people in the U.S. have the coronavirus than you think

Marc Lipsitch writes: As an infectious disease epidemiologist who has worked on pandemics for two decades, I’ve talked in recent days to journalists and health officials in the United States and from halfway around the world about how to stop the novel coronavirus that causes the disease covid-19. They all have the same questions: How many tests do we need? How should we use tests? For each case we know

Why Germany’s coronavirus death rate is so much lower than other countries’ rates

The Washington Post reports: For weeks, virologists here have been asked a persistent question: Why, compared to other countries, are so few of the Germans who are diagnosed with the coronavirus dying? In Italy, 9.5 percent of the people who have tested positive for the virus have succumbed to covid-19, according to data compiled at Johns Hopkins University. In France, the rate is 4.3 percent. But in Germany, it’s 0.4

COVID-19’s stop-gap antibodies solution until vaccines and antivirals are ready

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: As novel coronavirus cases continue to mount globally, humanity can’t turn to its go-to infectious disease fixes: vaccines and drugs. At least not yet. A new vaccine might be at least 12 to 18 months away though new drug treatments will likely come sooner. Arturo Casadevall, chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public

Trump claims America’s shortage of ventilators was ‘unforeseen.’ Nothing could be further from the truth

Nick Turse writes: In recent days, President Donald Trump has repeatedly defended his administration against the suggestion that the government is failing to secure enough ventilators, medical devices that help Covid-19 patients breathe and can save the lives of those suffering serious respiratory distress. “We have tremendous numbers of ventilators, but there’s never been an instance like this where no matter what you have, it’s not enough,” Trump said on

Humans (and most other animals) appear to be the descendants of tiny worms

Reuters reports: A worm-like creature smaller than a grain of rice that burrowed on the sea floor in search of meals like dead organic matter about 555 million years ago may be the evolutionary forerunner of most animals living today – including people. Scientists on Monday announced the discovery in the Australian outback of fossils of this creature, named Ikaria wariootia, that represents one of the most important primordial animals

Music: Bim Sherman — ‘Can I Be Free From Crying’ (The Underwolves Mix)

 

Trump weighs restarting economy despite warnings from U.S. public health officials

The Washington Post reports: President Trump is weighing calls from some Republican lawmakers and White House advisers to scale back steps to contain the coronavirus despite the advice of federal health officials as a growing number of conservatives argue that the impact on the economy has become too severe, according to several people with knowledge of the internal deliberations. Loosening restrictions on social distancing would override the internal warnings of

The coronavirus can be stopped, but only with harsh steps, experts agree

The New York Times reports: Terrifying though the coronavirus may be, it can be turned back. China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have demonstrated that, with furious efforts, the contagion can be brought to heel. Whether they can keep it suppressed remains to be seen. But for the United States to repeat their successes will take extraordinary levels of coordination and money from the country’s leaders, and extraordinary levels of

Hold the line as the epidemic inevitably gets worse

Jonathan Smith writes: As an infectious disease epidemiologist (although a lowly one), at this point I feel morally obligated to provide some information on what we are seeing from a transmission dynamic perspective and how they apply to the social distancing measures. Like any good scientist I have noticed two things that are either not articulated or not present in the “literature” of social media. I have also relied on

Can Denmark’s attempt to freeze their economy help the world avoid a Great Depression

Derek Thompson interviewed Flemming Larsen, a professor at the Center for Labor Market Research at Denmark’s Aalborg University: Larsen: [T]he government is paying companies for employees who are going home and not working. These workers are being paid a wage to do nothing. The government is saying: Lots of people are suddenly in danger of being fired. But if we have firing rounds, it will be very difficult to adapt

I’m 26 and was healthy. Coronavirus sent me to the hospital

Fiona Lowenstein writes: I’m 26. I don’t have any prior autoimmune or respiratory conditions. I work out six times a week, and abstain from cigarettes. I thought my role in the current health crisis would be as an ally to the elderly and compromised. Then, I was hospitalized for Covid-19. On Friday, March 13, only a few hours after deciding I would begin to socially distance for the well-being of

Lost sense of smell may be peculiar clue to coronavirus infection

The New York Times reports: A mother who was infected with the coronavirus couldn’t smell her baby’s full diaper. Cooks who can usually name every spice in a restaurant dish can’t smell curry or garlic, and food tastes bland. Others say they can’t pick up the sweet scent of shampoo or the foul odor of kitty litter. Anosmia, the loss of sense of smell, and ageusia, an accompanying diminished sense

Can a century-old TB vaccine steel the immune system against the new coronavirus?

Science reports: Researchers in four countries will soon start a clinical trial of an unorthodox approach to the new coronavirus. They will test whether a century-old vaccine against tuberculosis (TB), a bacterial disease, can rev up the human immune system in a broad way, allowing it to better fight the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 and, perhaps, prevent infection with it altogether. The studies will be done in physicians

Music: Bim Sherman — ‘Just Can’t Stand It’