The observable effects of climate, habit, diet, and other causes, on length of life, have furnished the pretext for asserting its indefinite extension; and the sandy foundation on which the argument rests is that, because the limit of human life is undefined, because you cannot mark its precise term, and say so far exactly shall it go no further, that therefore its extent may increase for ever, and be properly termed indefinite or unlimited.

An Essay on the Principle of Population

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2023: against « gain of function experiments »

Because people tend to congregate indoors when it is cold or rainy, COVID-19 is weather sensitive

This page was initiated in Hong Kong in year 2000, when blogs did not exist yet, at the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre Ltd, established by Antoine Danchin. It does not compete with information provided by news agencies such as Agence France Presse or Reuters but selects information occasionally not discovered by the mainstream media. It also provides information on the History of Science and the creation of concepts used by modern biology. Access to the very nature of Science is discussed in a lecture given at Zhong Shan University (中山大學) in Guangzhou (广州). You can also follow our E-seminar for ongoing open discussions. Finally, the importance of China is stressed: the Western world is so dominant in its control of the mass media that it seems a necessity.

There are many sites that provide interesting information on seasonal flu (especially type A H3N2), avian flu (H5N1) and swine flu A (H1N1). Crawford Kilian's blog, which has expanded to include all sorts of other diseases and which keeps track of the Web, is highly recommended. The Center for Infectious Disease Research Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota and the World Health Organization (WHO) sites are major sources of information. Unlike 10 years ago, when little information was available, there are now a multitude of data sources. We provide here only updated supplementary information. For H7N7, H7N9, H3N8 and H9N2 influenza, see the Hong Kong Health Authorities alerts. In general, new emerging pathogens are mainly viruses. Note that among the possible outbreaks that would have negative consequences (much more than the COVID-19 episode, which may be relatively mild, but would have negative consequences as it progresses) are influenza outbreaks, especially those related to the H2N2 serotype, which could be much more deadly. Hopefully, unlike SARS, the current outbreak will have served as a lesson.

Continuous update of infection by the 2019-nCoV (from Johns Hopkins CCSE)

For COVID-19 note that the figures provided are purely indicative and changing fast.

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arrow 3 February 2023. Laboratory / factory accidents do happen
Making vaccines with live organisms is important, and containment is important. Because the organisms of interest are innocuous, or even protective, accidents should not be a matter of great concern. However, such accidents are a way to monitor the plausibility that this happens under much more worrying circumstances. The isolation of vaccine poliovirus WPV3 in a sewage sample in the Netherlands, led to identification, isolation and monitoring, as well as tracing of contacts of an infected employee.
arrow 29 January 2023. A terrifying gain of function experiment using the mink-transmitted form of the H5N1 avian flu virus may be under way
According to the Science magazine “Monne says her team and others are now studying the properties of the mink virus and the effects of the mutations it has accumulated. Among other things, they want to study how well the virus transmits through close contact between animals. “We are planning to also do aerosol transmission studies,” she says.” It seems that some scientists, as well as financing agencies did not learn from the past hybris of irresponsible investigators. This type of experiment would not help us understand anything, except if the virus escapes the laboratory and then creates another pandemic, much worse than that of COVID-19.
arrow 19 January 2023. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has modified its requirements for animal experiments
In the “FDA Modernization Act 2.0.” approved on Dec 23rd 2022, accepted that the use of New Approach Methodologies, also known as New Alternative Methods, or NAMs, to establish drug safety and effectiveness may be adopted in place of animal testing where appropriate. The bill amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FFDCA) to:
  • Substitute the term “nonclinical tests” for the current “preclinical tests” (including tests on animals),
  • Substitute the term “animal” for “nonclinical tests” and,
  • Add a new section defining “nonclinical tests” to include human-relevant testing methods such as cell-based assays, microphysiological systems (such as Organ-Chips), or bioprinted or computer models.
This modification will certainly lead to a significant decrease in the use of animal models before clinical studies.
arrow 6 January 2023. The Chinese Academy of Engineering reported on its website that 20 of its members had died between December 15 and January 4
News from major cities suggest that a considerable proportion of the population has been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. More top Chinese engineers and scientists died in less than a month than usually die in a year, following the government’s decision to lift Covid controls. The same is true for famous artists or actors.
arrow 3 January 2023. China sends SARS-CoV-2 sequences to the private data base GISAID
The Chinese health authorities have decided to communicate to the private database GISAID (and not to the International Database Collaboration, INSDC), some of the sequence data they have collected after the cessation of the "zero-COVID" policy. The data display the presence of several variants of omicron over the country. China is also monitoring waste water as an early warning system for the coronavirus, a practice followed by some countries since early in the pandemic. “Sewage surveillance” – a technique piloted in megacities like Beijing and Shenzhen – appeared on China’s national Covid-19 directives for the first time as central authorities issued a new list of monitoring strategies last week.
arrow 1 January 2023. Where are the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences from China?
The Chinese National Health Commission is in the process of evaluating the exact impact of COVID-19 in China. Priority, for the time being is prevention and treatment. The exact fatality rate is still unknown. The worst variant that the world is facing right now is actually XBB 1.5 variant which makes 40% of the new infections in the USA. It seems to be driving new infections in Asia.