Treaty of Floating Bodies
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|22 September 2020. More
than 40 researchers in the laboratory of Pr Malik Peiris at
the School of Public Health of Hong Kong University are
placed in quarantine.
Surfaces in the laboratory have been found to be heavily contaminated by the virus. It is not clear whether this comes from a person who was contaminated in the environment, but this is worrying as this laboratory works on the virus. Sequencing on the isolate that contaminated the affected person should answer the question and solve the problem. Authorities at the University are not worried and reopened today face to face lectures and courses.
|20 September 2020. Excess
mortality splits between good and bad governance in Europe.
Most European countries witnessed a peak of excess mortality during the first phase of COVID-19.
No such excess is seen in either Germany (here shown for Berlin, but this holds for the whole country) and Greece. This implies that governance is faulty elsewhere and citizens should learn from this. The second phase of the epidemic should confirm or discard this observation.
|16 September 2020. Perhaps
worrying long term consequences of COVID-19.
A recent study showed that many patients, even with mild symptoms were affected by serious cardiopathic effects of SARS-CoV-2. The study of a small cohort of 100 patients recently recovered from COVID-19 cardiac revealed in a magnetic resonance imaging revealed a cardiac involvement in 78 patients (78%) and ongoing myocardial inflammation in 60 patients (60%). It must however be noticed that this type of inflammation is constant in infectious processes. This must be followed up however. The PLACID cohort in India did not find any improvement against letality of COVID-19 when using plasma serum from recovered patients. This is both disappointing and a warning against too much hope in an efficacious and innocuous vaccine.
|13 September 2020. A
tale of four countries.
A second phase of COVID-19 is developing in many countries. However the behaviour of people and governments makes that the letality of the disease varies enormously according to countries. This is vividly illustrated by comparing France, Germany, Greece and the USA.
It is obvious that the first phase is not yet under control and might even rise again in the USA (598 deaths per million people). The impact of tourism in Greece is visible as triggering the second phase in this country but it did well and is apparently controlling the epidemic (29 deaths per million people). This country tests all entries in airports using a throat swab and quarantines all positive persons. Germany did well from the start and controls the second wave (112 deaths per million people, while France lets the epidemic grow out of control with dire consequences (473 deaths per million people).
|5 September 2020. At
a time when urgency to find ways to stop COVID-19 it is
critical to exert the utmost care in finding solutions.
The origin of SARS-CoV-2 is still not known. It may well have resulted from a laboratory accident, as indeed happened during the SARS episode, that allowed a virus isolated from an animal to escape from a virology laboratory. Accidents are not the exception, they are the norm, as developed for a long time by Charles Perrow. In this context experiments involving the widely celebrated CRISPR technology should be investigated with considerable attention. In fact there are many features linked to release of modified organisms using this technique which still need to be taken into account before going out of the laboratory. We proposed a DRAQUE measure to evaluate the possible impacts of gene-drive using this approach and a similar method should be used in all cases where applications of CRISPR are considered to be released in the wild.
|27 August 2020. Pathogens
that co-evolved with Homo sapiens are easier to cope
with than newly emerged pathogens.
At a time when governments act as if finding a safe and efficient vaccine was an easy task it may be necessary to remind us that newly emerged diseases do not behave as our common plagues and may be much more difficult to tackle. If we hope for the best, we must plan for the worst (Jack Reacher). Two examples of difficult recent diseases: AIDS and Zika, for example. For the latter two assays for a vaccine are ongoing, but only in phase 2 and phase 1, despite the fact that assays began early in 2017. For HIV there is no vaccine after decades of research. A similar situation exists with Chikungunya, with present actors involved in vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 still in limbo, despite claims of « strong immune response ». By contrast poliomyelitis is eradicated almost everywhere, including, a few days ago, in Africa. It is very important at this stage to understand the hidden side of enthusiasm about vaccination (post in French).
|23 August 2020. China
has been administering Covid-19 vaccine candidates to
selected groups of medical and border control personnel for
at least one month.
Zheng Zhongwei, Director of the Science and Technology Development Center of the National Health Commission (NHC), did not specify which product had been used or whether the program included more than one product. Four of the candidate vaccines in final testing around the world are manufactured by Chinese companies.
|21 August 2020. Many
dailies and other mass media supports, followed by governments
give a very wrong idea of the severity of COVID-19: long term
very negative consequences are observed in many so-called «
mild » forms of the disease.
« Long hauler » patients suffer from a variety of debilitating symptoms that often affect their nervous system. This fits with a neuronal tropism of the virus which has been considerably underestimated. This phenomenon affects people of all age, showing that it is extremely misleading to let younger people believe that the disease is innocuous and should not be put at bay at all cost.
|20 August 2020. Kids
are not immune to COVID-2 and they are strong spreaders of the
A study in the Journal of Pediatrics has shown that school-age children are silent spreaders of the SARS-CoV-2 virus: « This study reveals that children may be a potential source of contagion in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in spite of milder disease or lack of symptoms, and immune dysregulation is implicated in severe post-infectious multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children ». This is extremely worrying if schools are soon to re-open normally.
|19 August 2020. Second
wave of COVID-19 in many countries world-wide.
After more than six months in the epidemic we now can understand that it is a vectorial disease propagated not by ticks or mosquitoes, but by Homo sapiens (subsp. idioticus as it seems that human behaviour is the major cause of the epidemic). The obvious best propagation situation is in unventilated crowded environments. This accounts for the apparent seasonality of respiratory diseases because people tend to cluster indoor when the outside weather is cold. Several specific places trigger formation of clusters: nightlife clubs, cult temples, companies with closed setups, family gatherings. It is remarkable that the second wave in South Korea is caused, as was the first wave, by a cult. Lessons are really hard to take. It now appears that as little as about 200 viral particles are enough to initiate the disease. This small amount can be carried over for fairly long times (hours) in closed environments. Finally, the severity of the disease is linked to the initial amount of contamination (viral load). This explains why, again, severity is particularly seen during winter time: people being indoor, they contaminate each other with higher amounts of the virus.
|13 August 2020. 4-vinylanisole
is the pheromone that triggers swarming in locusts.
At the time when the locust plague is affecting the Horn of Africa, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan the discovery of the pheromone that triggers the change of shape and behaviour of locusts could help control formation of swarms.
|12 August 2020. When
people group together irresponsibly, they create COVID-19
This is what is happening again in South Korea, in churches as at the beginning of the epidemic, following nightlife quarters. In Spain and France, the failure of governments and extreme non-compliance with the rules of social distancing are triggering a second wave that will have disastrous economic consequences. A worrying obervation for the vaccine's effectiveness: a patient infected five months ago is infected for the second time in Jingzhou (Hubei).
|11 August 2020.
After 102 days with no local cases, New
Zealand recorded four contaminations.
22 people arriving in New Zealand were declared positive and placed in quarantine. However, this does not explain how a local family became infected in Auckland. The city is being in lockdown for three days to give the health authorities time to decide on the measures to be taken.
|8 August 2020.
Primum non nocere must be the motto kept in mind when
proposing new antivirals. 20 million cases have now been
Obviously we need to find effective antivirals. Nucleotide analogues have been used successfully against HIV in the past. The discovery of new antivirals should always involve exploring the mechanism of their action, because if they jeopardize the virus' replication machinery, this can develop into a highly mutagenic (and carcinogenic) process. A new drug currently being tested in Japan, under the brand name Avigan, is already being used there against the flu. It is a molecule (favipiravir) that enters the cell's metabolism via the formation of an analogue of a nucleoside triphosphate. This analogue induces massive transversions that scramble the genome sequence of the virus and kill it. Unfortunately, it is likely to do the same in host cells. What would happen if a temporary treatment for SARS-CoV-2 developed into a cancer epidemic ?
|6 August 2020.
The Chinese daily Global Times reports new cases of
severe tick-borne fever associated with bunyavirus
thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV).
SFTSV has been identified in East Asia in recent years. 37 people were infected this year in Jiangsu province and the letality is very high. The virus has a wide variety of animal hosts and its spread needs to be carefully monitored. It should also be noted that an Italian study has just demonstrated that pets such as dogs and cats are infected by SARS-CoV-2 in a proportion similar to that found in their owners' homes. It is important to remember this at a time when the second wave of COVID-19 seems extremely likely due to the irresponsible behaviour of a significant portion of the population.
|30 July 2020.
COVID-19 is at a turning point, preparing for a second phase.
The COVID-19 epidemic is now entering a new phase in many countries. It is important to follow its evolution in Australia, because that country is a model of what is likely to happen in the northern hemisphere next fall. The situation in that country seems to be out of control. On the other hand, in India, it seems that the level of infection in the extremely poor slums has stabilized as it is close to achieving herd immunity, with more than 60% of people having antibodies against the virus locally. The number of deaths has been low, despite poverty, as the population is very young. It is essential to monitor the evolution of this population over the coming months or years, as protection against the current form of the virus could result in sensitization to subsequent infection, as was the case with dengue fever.
|22 July 2020.
Hong Kong struggles to contain COVID-19.
Lack of insight about imported sources of the disease and lax behaviour of a part of the population has led COVID-19 to become out of control for the time being. The map created by the South China Morning Post shows how the number of cases is increasing while spreading all over Hong Kong.
|19 July 2020.
Torrential rains are causing the worst floods in decades and
landslides all over China, affecting tens of millions of
The Three Gorges Dam on the Yang Tse river had only a limited protective impact.
The Horn of Africa, Yemen, Pakistan and west India continue to be plagued by locusts' swarms invasions.
Hong Kong is now witnessing a surge of new COVID-19 cases, at a time when the number of new infections worldwide passes one million in just four days. The second wave of the disease in Australia is worse than the first one and for the moment out of control.
|13 July 2020.
The East Arctic path is open to navigation.
The COVID-19 epidemic goes on steadily and we will soon reach 20 million cases. Hong Kong had to resume constraining measures for social distancing because of a surge of new locally transmitted cases.
This year the Arctic navigation path is open much earlier than last year (when it was at the beginning of August).
|9 July 2020.
The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan warns of a new deadly
epidemic of pneumonia in the country.
While the authorities in the country reimposed COVID-19 lockdown at the end of June, the resurgence of severe pneumonia cases there does not seem to be entirely related to the present epidemic. It is difficult at this point to identify the exact cause of the disease, which could still correspond to a virulent mutant of SARS-CoV-2.
|8 July 2020.
Human behaviour makes the situation of COVID-19 hopeless.
Far from being contained the disease is expanding, with several second waves worse than the first wave. In Europe the Balkan regions see a surge of the number of cases, and some parts of Catalonia are again lockeddown. In Australia the city of Melbourne is now in lockdown for six weeks because the guards who were supposed to implement quarantine for buildings where contaminated people from abroad were staying had close contacts with them and propagated the virus all over the city. Hong Kong has a small third wave of the disease, with 14 new cases, among which 9 local transmission, and South Korea is at pain to contain its resurgence from nightlife quarters. Everywhere the behaviour of a very small minority is triggering the disruption of the life of millions. It seems now certain that when people in the northern hemisphere go back indoors as the weather will become cold again a surge of the number of cases will develop. By contrast China appears to have contained a second wave that started in Beijing a month ago.
|a||27 June 2020.
The number of COVID-19 cases will reach 10 millions tonight,
while several countries fail to contain its spread.
It is remarkable that people do not accept that they are the cause of the disease, that it is no fatality, that it is not similar to something like an earthquake. Of course, only a minority, made of those people who advocate the right of the strongest, without understanding what "strong" means in a disease, refuse social distancing, but this is enough to maintain a steady state of the disease, ready for a new surge. At this time, being strong is equated with being young. It is commonplace to read that because the majority will not die from the disease the only problem is that social distancing will deprive the majority from its right to absolute freedom, so that one should let COVID-19 take its natural course (as if there were a "natural" course...). Interestingly, this fails to understand two major features of the disease: yes, old age takes anybody closer to death, but it also highlights a hidden feature of immunity, which rests on memory, hence on time. It can well happen—it does happen—that, instead of protecting you, having been infected previously will sensitize you in the near future. It this were the case, then, those who got a benign infection now, and accept easily that older people die from the disease, are those who will have a large probability to die when still young when a similar disease will come into play. Also, this ignorant view assumes that the human population is homogeneous, while it is extremely polymorphic. The disease will play the role of a selection process typical of eugenics. We know how small pox destroyed Central America's civilizations. This is a hidden reason for the satisfaction of some when they observe that who is killed by the virus is not a random person. Remember that when you refuse the rules implemented to contain the disease you practice eugenics.
|21 June 2020.
Correlation is not cause, but it seems interesting to note
that a surge in dengue fever cases parallels the COVID-19
outbreak in Singapore and South East Asia.
Cases of dengue fever are up 60% in Indonesia, while Singapore reached a sustained level of 165 new cases per day in the past few weeks. While the disease is transmitted by mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, this indicates that the conditions triggered to manage COVID-19 spread may have favoured multiplication of these insects. Dengue fever is a very dangerous disease as, while benign for a first infection by a first virus type, it sensitizes many people for a secondary infection from a different type of the virus rather than protect them and causes a letal form of the disease. We should note that features of severe cases of COVID-19 are reminiscent of dengue fever, casting doubt on the facility to get an anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccine easily.
|17 June 2020.
Coping with a second wave: testing, contact trancing, personal
It is obvious that another lockdown for several months is not possible, despite the high probability of a second wave of the disease in autumn (and perhaps earlier, as we already see in China). Do we have examples of countries that succeeded in containing the disease—with a concomitant low level of fatalities? South Korea and Hong Kong are excellent examples of what could be done.
However this assumes that the vast majority of the population must comply to strict constraints of confinement as soon as new cases are identified. This has been extremely efficient in both these places, with a very low number of fatalities, demonstrating that there is a way to control the epidemic without forcing the whole population into a tight lockdown. Unfortunately, and this is well illustrated in Korea, special interests groups often refuse to comply with what causes displeasure to their personal choices, for whatever reason. Most outbreaks there were caused by such groups. This explains why, even when vaccination is compulsory by law groups will refuse to get vaccinated, with a very negative outcome for the rest of the population. This explains why we are the cause of our major epidemics. In Hong Kong the recent local outbreak is linked to a particular building in Sha Tin, but its origin is not yet known.
|16 June 2020.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst: COVID-19 in the
COVID-19 is contained in Australia and New Zeland, with sporadic cases. However the situation is dire elsewhere, in particular in South Africa.
This implies that a reservoir is building up, which may fuel the disease in northern temperate countries when people begin to stay indoors. More than 100 local cases have now appeared in Beijing and they are spreading elsewhere as well. Among good news, the RECOVERY trial low levels of dexamethasone for severe cases is lowering signicantly the death rate from COVID-19 (7 deaths on average rather than 8).
|15 June 2020.
From R0 to R effective.
Phenomenological description of epidemics starts by identification of a general parameter, R0, that accounts for the initial transmissibility of the pathogenic agent. Once the disease is established it becomes possible to measure another phenomenological parameter Reff which takes into account the probability of transmission β, the number of "productive" contacts, c, and the doubling time of the number of cases, d. Reff = β x c x d. Actions may be taken to control β and c, but d is only under control when we have access to antivirals, for example. We should note however that even a partial effect on the doubling time of the number of cases may show an important contribution to the control of the disease. This is interesting when looking for antivirals. β is where wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing play an important role. The combination of β and c may be, in fact at the origin of the apparent seasonal display of respiratory diseases. The underlying reason is temperature, but not directly: when temperature is below 15°C or so people tend to gather indoors. There, lack of proper aeration is an efficient cause of spread of the disease. This implies in particular that social distancing could be poorly effective indoors, unless forced aeration limits the stability of viral particles in respiratory minute droplets. The consequence is that the only parameter on which we could act efficiently is c, using mass testing and tracing of contacts. This is what was done in Hong Kong or South Korea, and was quite successful. Overall cooperation with all people involved is essential and, in a way, the outcome of the epidemic could be linked to the average intelligence of a particular population, in complement to its general genetic setup.
|14 June 2020.
Sweden: the tragedy of the commons.
Sweden has followed a way to manage COVID-19 completely different from other countries, including Northern Europe countries. The rationale behind this management was that the swedish society is fairly egalitarian, with people aware of the fact that their personal behaviour affects the community as a whole. Initially this looked very promising, in particular when comparing the situation there with places with severe lockdown. Unfortunately it now appears that Sweden is doing much worse than Germany, and even worse than France. And the prediction of the immediate future is worrying.
This reflects the well-known tragedy of the commons, long explored in game theory. In rich countries, access to health care becomes a common good when it approaches saturation. The only way to provide correct medical assistance to all, it is necessary that everybody cooperates to the common good, by wearing a mask, following social distancing etc. The very fact that we have a common good makes that everybody will tend to extract the best, and therefore, in a way, cheat the others. Nobody has personal interest in contributing to the common access to care and health for through a preventative behaviour, because everyone is supposed to benefit from it regardless of individual behaviour. The individual costs linked to social distancing or the wearing of masks in public spaces are indeed at the origin of a similar temptation to cheat. Unfortunately, this selfish behaviour can easily be hidden behind wrong definitions of freedom, forgetting that "Liberty consists in being able to do everything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of each person has no limits except those which assure the other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights. These limits can only be determined by law."
|13 June 2020.
Lessons from the way the epidemic has been handled: Belgium,
France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, UK.
While it seems unlikely that the prevalent viruses are very different in these countries, the outcome of the disease varies widely, in particular in terms of the COVID-19 death rates. While this could, at least in part, be due to the way the different countries identify the cause of death, it seems obvious that the way the disease has been managed had considerable consequences in terms of letality of the disease. This should be taken into account for the next wave of the epidemic, or for the inevitable epidemics that will spread in the future.
Cases in Belgium and Netherlands follow the same course, but with the death rate (death per million people) in Belgium is more than twice that in Netherlands. Italy and France witness a parallel development of the epidemic, but data in France are extremely poorly reported while the number of deaths in the former country is 25% higher than in the latter. The epidemic spans a significantly longer time in UK and fails to go down as in other countries (this is somewhat similar to what happens in Netherlands) and its death rate is one third higher than in France, while Germany seems to have managed the disease very efficiently, with a death rate much lower than in the countries displayed here (one eighth of the Belgium rate, one sixth of UK, less than one fourth of France). Even if we take into account the way deaths are reported in these different countries this demonstrates that the general heath policies have vastly different consequences. Management of a possible second wave must take lessons from these observations. In a scenario reminiscent of what happened in Wuhan more than 50 people were tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 at the Xin Fa Di wholesale market in the center of Beijing. Two people in Dalian, in the province of Liaoning who had connection with infected people in Beijing have also tested positive. In Poland, clusters of cases in coal mines substantiate the idea that confined environments favour propagation of the disease.
|12 June 2020. COVID-19
slowly tapers out in Europe. It is time to prepare for a
It is at present commonplace to find relevant information about COVID-19 and it is not useful to repeat here what can be easily found on the WWW. However the general behaviour of people in Europe and in particular in France make it necessary to understand that we should hope for the best but prepare for the worst, as Jack Reacher would say. HIstory shows us that most pandemics gave rise to a second wave, sometimes more severe than the first one, as shown here in a work by Cécile Viboud and colleagues, published in 2005.
An interesting observation reported in this work is the time lag between the waves in the Northern and the Southern hemispheres. We do not know yet the reason why, in temperate countries, respiratory diseases spread essentially during winter. Here is a tentative explanation. While temperature may play a role by stabilizing the virus, it is unlikely to be the direct cause of the propagation of an epidemic. However, indirectly, this may be a cause, essentially because, when it is cold outside, people tend to group together in crowded places. This fits with a general observation associated to COVID-19: we observe two types of the epidemic, either sporadic cases or cases happening in clusters, usually following meetings where people went together in closed spaces. The latter should be monitored closely as this is also the cause of co-infections that result in restoration of the original virulent forms of the virus, with further possibilities of "innovation". Governments should make compulsory to wear masks not only in public transportation but in all closed unventilated places, at all times, at least until the last second wave has disappeared from the world. In the next few days, we will analyse how different countries reacted to the epidemic to see what should be a proper answer next autumn in the Northern hemisphere. We can already note that, because countries, in particular Australia, implemented fairly strict containment measures, this had consequences not only on COVID-19 but also on seasonal flu: there does not appear to be a flu epidemic there at this time and this should also be the case in the northern hemisphere next autumn.
|5 June 2020. Fans
providing aeration in kitchens might be at the origin of the
Sha Tin COVID-19 cluster in Hong Kong.
KY Yuen, who created with me the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre Ltd in Hong Kong in 2000 (now dismantled), thinks that the extraction fans located in the kitchens could have spread the virus from an apartment where a contaminated person lived.
He also has demonstrated, using hamsters, that wearing masks is very efficient to prevent spread of the disease, with a role more important in the direction from a patient to an naïve person than as a protection. This is consistent with the widespread practice asking the personnel in surgical blocks to wear a mask. Facing surgery, who would ask surgeons to remove their masks? Why, then, is it not a compulsory practice in crowded environments?
|3 June 2020.
Further waves of COVID-19 are not a fiction, they are already
The most obvious wave is in Iran, where the government authorized large religious gatherings. This wave may even be worse than the first wave.
A second interesting situation is that of Singapore where the first wave affected a tiny proportion of the population, followed by an explosion of cases in dormitories used by migrant workers and not monitored properly. In Hong Kong the situation was contained but a few days ago a local cluster of cases in a residential building is unexplained and may be linked to a "superspreader" case. Finally, South Korea had contained very early on the disease, but groups of people going to bars where it is fashionable not to follow rules, started a novel series of clusters of the disease.
|2 June 2020.
Hong Kong records a new local community COVID-19 outbreak.
Seven persons are probably contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 in Hong Kong. This would not be a matter of concern if this new cluster could be related to contamination by somebody coming from outside Hong Kong. For the time being it goes as if the virus had remained invisible for more than two weeks, suggesting that a second wave could start again anywhere anytime.
|29 May 2020. A
surge of new cases in Seoul have forced authorities to close
hundreds of schools.
The situation in South Korea has been a sentinel at the beginning of COVID-19. We must be concerned by a new surge of cases there in densely populated areas, as this may be the first signal of a second wave of the disease. 13 new cases in Hong Kong all coming from Pakistan: the highest number since April 13th.
|26 May 2020.
epidemic hypothesis that we proposed back in 2003 may
explain discrepancies between different courses of the virus
Back in 2003 the SARS epidemic did not spread to Shanghai, despite considerable contacts with Hong Kong. We explained the situation if a previous epidemic had somehow protected the people in Shanghai against the disease. A similar situation seems to prevail in some environments for COVID-19. In a way somewhat similar to what happens with AIDS, a study from Zhong Shan University in Guangzhou (Sun Yat Sen university in Canton) showed that protein ORF8 of SARS-CoV-2 is used to remove molecules of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) from the surface of infected cells, making them invisible to the immune system. This is a very worrying observation as this implies that the virus may remain invisible for an unknown period of time in infected persons.
| 23 May 2020.
In virology, accidents are not the exception, they are the
Many examples illustrate this observation. Accidents happened before, including with small pox in UK (Harling, 2002), with an anthrax attack in the USA (Anderson and Eisold, 2002), and of course SARS in Singapore and Taiwan (Normile, 2004), and in China (Enserink and Du, 2004). An article providing all the recipes required to make chimeric coronaviruses, published in 2015 (of course not cited here) shows that publishers, editors and authors, when aiming at getting a high impact factor are absolutely shameless. And it is even more of a concern to know that constructs making easy to build up a functional coronavirus are publicly available on the market! It may be interesting to note that research at the Wuhan BSL-4 laboratory on transmission of coronaviruses between bats and other animals, man included, was supported by a grant of a program of EcoHealth Alliance, financed by the USA NIHs. Knowing that accidents happened before—nothing more normal than accidents as noticed by Charles Perrow—does not help in understanding what has happened with the COVID-19 epidemic. Furthermore, there appears to be lingering observations that suggest that a virus causing severe cases of atypical pneumonia already existed mid-December 2019 in China, and even possibly even in Italy or in France, with cases in the USA not initially ascribed to COVID-19 in January 2020. It could well be, therefore, that early ancestors of SARS-CoV-2, producing asymptomatic infections had already spread before causing clinical—COVID-19—disease.
Also, the behaviour of people worldwide, with widespread relaxation of social distancing, does not fit with the present state of the epidemic, which is not yet fading away.
|20 May 2020.
More than 5 million of COVID-19 cases have been recorded.
During this time it is unfortunately difficult to get a relevant view of the science behind the disease because the journals that are the most visible to mass media prevent access to relevant information. This is despite an official openness for all COVID-19-related research. Contrary to what should be the basis for science, the way articles are retained by the boards of editors is designed to reject, without review, the papers which do not make sufficient reference to articles published in comparable journals, following a mafia-like behaviour. This is a very efficient way, obviously quite contrary to science ethics, to maintain a high impact factor, at the cost or reproducibility and quality of content, explaining the very large proportion of fakes in these journals.
|18 May 2020.
China is on alert for a possible second wave of COVID-19.
The number of cases involved is very small but local transmission is worrying. In the northern Jilin province, after 73 days without any case, a cluster of infection seems recurrent. In Shanghai also at least one case of local transmission has been identified, as well as cases in Heilongjiang (next to Russia) and Wuhan again. Taking the matter seriously, the authorities plan to test for the virus all the Wuhan population (11 million persons).
|15 May 2020.
With the large number of patients recovering from COVID-19 new
pathological consequences become visible.
Most COVID-19 patients with no or benign symptoms recover without sequelae. Unfortunately this is not the case of patients who were affected by severe symptoms as they have long term sequelae in their lungs, muscle, cardiovascular system, kidneys as well as sometimes neurological disorders. Prevention of getting into the severe phase of the disease becomes a priority.
|12 May 2020. A
new bat coronavirus, close to SARS-CoV-2 has just been
discovered in the Yunnan province in China.
Like SARS-CoV-2, the new virus as an aminoacid insertion at the junction of the two domains of the spike protein that is used by the virus to bind to its host targets. Crowd behavior world wide, and in particular in the Western world, seems uncontrollable and may lead to a second wave of COVID-19, mainly outside of Asia.
|10 May 2020.
After the emergence of a new cluster of infections, South
Korea fears a second wave of the epidemic.
Health authorities in South Korea have closed more than 2,000 nightly meeting places following the emergence of clusters of infection, one of which has been linked to dozens of people. This warning appears at a time when in Germany the slackening of individual behavior stopped the decrease in the rate of infection. Hong Kong will deliver free 60 times reusable masks from tomorrow to people who registered in a program meant to prevent a second wave of the disease (almost half of the population has registered). No local transmission there for three weeks.
|9 May 2020.
The number of identified COVID-19 cases passes four millions.
In the mean time treatments proposed by self-acclaimed doctors are progressively shown to be useless or even dangerous. Unfortunately this used a lot of resources and had a negative impact on patients and this gives a very bad image of what science is. Let us hope that the course of science will prevail. Our diseases and their cures are the reflection of our societies. The same is true in countries where wearing masks has not been made compulsory because of incompetent advice. In the meantime the origins of the virus (place and time) keep being enigmatic with a variety of intermediate possible hosts, including animals used as pets. Besides airways, eyes are a major source of contamination by SARS-CoV-2 and this apparently contrasts with SARS-CoV-1.
|7 May 2020. A
study from Singapore shows how poorly COVID-19 was handled
In this study of by Singapore-based independent pollster Blackbox Research, reported by the South China Morning Post, France fares particularly low, and this is not unexpected when comparing the country with other European countries. Hong Kong is not credited of a high mark either. Curiously, despite the explosion of cases in dormitories in Singapore, the city-state is still perceived as doing better. Also the note for South Korea is surprising, but not that for Japan (in particular because of the management of the Diamond Princess cruise ship).
|6 May 2020.
SADS, a coronavirus-mediated disease of pigs is spreading.
SARS-CoV-2 is not the only coronavirus disease which is a matter of concern. At the end of 2016, a new pig disease appeared in the Chinese province of Guangdong, about 100 km from where the SARS index case was reported. This diseases causes an acute diarrhoea in piglets and was named SADS (swine acute diarrhea syndrome), accordingly. Again its causes is an alphacoronavirus (similar to that of TGEV, the previous severe diarrhoea disease that developed mid-1980) which is very similar to a bat virus. While the epidemic ends up in Swizerland it is interesting to see its impact on the death toll as compared to previous years.
|2 May 2020.
The management of the epidemic in Taiwan is probably one of
the best in the world.
The Taiwanese Health Minister Shih-Chung Chen can be proud to have limited the outbreak to 429 cases with no local transmission for 20 days in a row. He has been helped by the collective behaviour of his fellow citizens who carefully wear masks in all circumstances when they cross the road of others. What a difference with people in Francerunning and blowing their lungs out, without a mask! All this is reflected in the disastrous proportions taken by the disease in most European countries. The total absence of understanding common interest is the plague of Western cultures. In this context it is interesting to see how Sweden will keep faring, since the country only introduced limited lockdown measures. The death-rate figures are interesting (deaths per million citizens):
These figures do not tell us the underlying reasons of success, in particular in Germany (with limited lockdown) and Denmark (with strict lockdown). Social distancing, and compulsory wearing masks may be the way to go. Despite discussions about the role of this type of protection a visualisation of how droplets are emitted while speaking, with, or without a mask looks compelling.
|1 May 2020.
Identification of « invisible » carriers becomes a priority.
The disease, in its more benign form continues to spread in Singapore (17,000 cases) but the increase remains limited to migrant dormitories, while the city prepares to resume exchanges with foreign countries (Australia, Canada, South Korea and New Zealand).