Updated @ 03.16.2020:11.10 AM
03.16.2020: 11.10 AM: Breaking my no Buzzfeed rule and linking to a story from them. The site says:
Don’t Believe Those Texts That Say The Federal Government Is Going To Use The Stafford Act To Quarantine The United States. Impossible to trace and difficult to debunk, rumors of a national quarantine are nevertheless false.
03.16.2020: 10.50 AM: You can ask scientists the questions about Covid-19/Coronavirus/Pandemic. This is a great resource from the Federation of American Scientists.
03.16.2020: 9.30 AM: I wrote about the impact of lies on our lives and society. And while politicians are being politicians, at least some companies are stepping up to do the right thing about the veracity of information. Apple has announced that it will be taking extra care around apps that are responsible for health and safety information.
we’re evaluating apps critically to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions. Only developers from one of these recognized entities should submit an app related to COVID-19. Entertainment or game apps with COVID-19 as their theme will not be allowed.
03.16.2020: 6.55 AM: This analysis of South Korean Coronavirus data shows that just ONE patient (Patient 31) and lies and half-truths were responsible for the Covid-19 crisis in Korea. It is staggering that we still have doubts about “self-isolation.”
Also, see this Twitter thread about the role of a strange cult. I have no idea if this is true or not, but some friends from South Korea might be able to add more color soon.
03.16.2020: 6.15 AM: A conversation with Professor John Oxford (Emeritus Professor of Virology at the University of London) and Prof. Christian Bréchot (from the University of South Florida and President of the Global Virus Network). Two points from their comments that stood out for me:
Christian Bréchot: Diagnostics are really the heart of controlling an epidemic. If you are able- really early in the first phased of an epidemic- to identify individuals, check them, and isolate where necessary, you can control an epidemic. What we are witnessing now is a lack of diagnostic tests, and political hurdles in China, the US and other nations. There is an unfortunate blend of a lack of diagnostics, and a lack of political will to rapidly curb epidemics.
John Oxford: We’re going to have to learn to develop some vaccines and anti-viral drugs, these outbreaks will continue to happen again, and again, we have to get ourselves sorted.
03.16.2020: 5.54 AM: The Real Bat Woman: Wuhan-based virologist Shi Zhengli has identified dozens of deadly SARS-like viruses in bat caves, and she warns there are more out there, reports the Scientific American.
03.16.2020: 5.54 AM: The US Federal Reserve cut the interest rates to near zero. I have been trying to understand the implications, thought as PBS reported last year, “given the low-interest rates and low inflation that have persisted since the end of the Great Recession, the Federal Reserve does not have much room to stimulate the economy with traditional monetary policy tools should the economy fall into recession.”
03.15.2020: 9.00 AM: It didn’t take too long, as scammers are out with trying to take advantage of a scared populace with malware and trojans. Be careful, everyone. Read more here.
researchers at MalwareHunterTeam reportedly have exposed a phishing scam that pretends to offer coronavirus information from the World Health Organization, but in reality distributes the GuLoader malicious downloader, which in turn installs the FormBook information-stealing trojan. The emails, best viewed via a browser, include statistics on the virus and encourage the recipient to view an attached file, MY-HEALTH.PDF, in order to view the “the simplest and fastest ways”
03.15.2020: 8.40 AM: The news is a bit overwhelming and that is why sometimes it is good to just read about our current world with some literary context. The New York Review of Books has published this dispatch from China, which is thankfully devoid of anxiety-inducing aspects of a news report but it still punches the gut hard. Highly recommended.
03.15.2020: 8.25 AM: Why do we touch each other including strangers so much? National Geographic explains by digging into the history of the handshake. I wonder if the “handshake” will be one of the victims of the pandemic as well.
03.15.2020: 8.15 AM: Not many of us have actually internalized the severity of our situation, and how difficult it is going to become for society in days and weeks to come. It was brought home by this dispatch from Rome by n+1 writer Francesco Pacifico.
03.13.2020: 9.00 AM: Will COVID-19 go away on its own in warmer weather? Marc Lipsitch, Professor of Epidemiology and Director, Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is not too sure and points out that: ” it may transmit somewhat more efficiently in winter than summer, though we don’t know the mechanism(s) responsible. The size of the change is expected to be modest, and not enough to stop transmission on its own.
03.13.2020: 8.45 AM: What parents should know about Covid-19 and kids. A nice FAQ from folks at Yale School of Medicine’s pediatric department.
03.13.2020: 8.30 AM: How do you really stop touching your face, when it is so much of an integral part of who we really are? Folks from Texas A&M have some suggestions — make small modifications. For instance, use a tissue if you have to rub your eyes. And yes, wash your hands. Rinse, repeat.
Boston University’s Amy Laskowski talks to Ellen Hendriksen, a clinical psychologist at BU’s Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders (CARD) and outlines how to not touch her face and fight the deadly virus, and helping kids do the same. Read the whole piece really.
* Think about it as ‘touch my face less’ often.
* Identify when you are most likely to touch your face.
* Make it a game for kids and offer praise when they don’t.
03.13.2020: 7.30 AM: We are still grappling with the realtime health and human cost of this pandemic, but it is also changing the face of our planet, its economy, and geopolitics. Just as an event in 2001 reshaped how we live as people, sadly, the Coronavirus pandemic is going to create a new future for us. A very good overview from Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University.
03.13.2020: 7.20 AM: Big Data, Transparency, and smart leadership have been key to Taiwan’s fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. This is a simpler and easier to digest version of the study I shared earlier.
03.12.2020: 7.30 AM: California enacted a rule banning non-essential events of more than 250 people. San Francisco city said that they will disallow any gathering of more than 1,000 people. Our politicians, no matter what stripe they wear are as clueless and only want to do things for the sake of “doing something.” That chart pretty much shows the exact risk of having people with the virus at one of the events, especially since we have an increasing number of patients across the country and the fact that we have incomplete data about patients.
03.12.2020: 7.00 AM: Matt Ridley, a well-known science journalist/columnist/book author from the U.K. and “an obsessive and serial debunker of false alarms,” points out that in the past when it comes to pandemics, “we have indeed cried wolf over so many issues, that it has contributed to us being underprepared” because this Coronavirus is the wolf.
03.12.2020: 6.25 AM: I have heard many reports from around town that younger members of our society are being a little careless and going about their day as if nothing is going to happen because they are healthy. That is precisely the wrong attitude. And this missive from a doctor in Western Europe is a good wake up call for all members of our social fabric to care for each other — especially those who are older and more prone to fall victim to the Coronavirus. Read the article
03.11.2020: 10.45 AM: In case you were wondering about what is a pandemic? WHO defines a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.”
03.11.2020: 8.30 AM: What should you read when caught in a pandemic? How about one of these 12 books about pandemics recommended by the fine editors of Electric Literature.
03.11.2020: 07.50 AM: You can’t ignore science and scientists. Seriously, I am so frustrated with everyone who believes that winning votes and getting viewers is all that matters. As if it will matter when we are all karmic and cosmic roadkill. “China has rightfully taken criticism for squelching attempts by scientists to report information during the outbreak. Now, the United States government is doing similar things,” writes Science Magazine. Read this and be angry with your legislators.
03.11.2020: 7.15 AM: What is happening in Seattle could be a preview of what might happen around the US, when it comes to Coronavirus, reports Statnews. You should also want to check the reporting of one of W. Walt Gibbs, a freelance writer for Scientific American, and one who has written many a story about viruses and pandemics. His podcast is quite brilliant.
03.11.2020: 7.00 AM: This is a silent and deadly disease, spreading without us knowing. John Hopkins School of Public Health says that the coronavirus symptoms start about five days after the exposure. The study that was published in Annals of Internal Medicine estimates that about 97.5% of people who develop symptoms of infection will do so within 11.5 days of exposure. This is precisely why taking precautions like staying indoors is better.
03.11.2020: 6.45 AM: How Taiwan came to grips with Covid-19 and what it had learned from the 2004 SARS outbreak. Given the size of Taiwan, there are some good lessons here for smaller nations and mid-sized cities (NFL cities for example) looking to deal with the pandemic.
03.11.2020: 06.30 AM: Marc Lipsitch, an infectious disease epidemiologist and microbiologist at Harvard did a series of Tweets on the fact and fiction of dealing with this crisis, what it means. A recap of his Tweetstorm is here.
03.10.2020: 07.25 AM: Bill Gates on why need to prepare and spend on Pandemic preparedness: “Billions of dollars for antipandemic efforts is a lot of money. But that’s the scale of investment required to solve the problem. And given the economic pain that an epidemic can impose — we’re already seeing how Covid-19 can disrupt supply chains and stock markets, not to mention people’s lives — it will be a bargain.”
03: 10. 2020: 09.45: Which schools and colleges have shut down due to the Coronavirus? A constantly updated spreadsheet.
h/t Steve Crandall.
03: 10. 2020: 07.05: Three good resources of information via the International Society of Infectious Diseases:
- The Lancet‘s Coronavirus Resource Center. All content listed on this page is free to access.
- New England Journal of Medicine: A collection of articles and other resources on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak, including clinical reports, management guidelines, and commentary.
- Corona Free Collection at The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
03.10.2020: 07.00 AM: Charles Wiles, an ex-Google data scientist (with no knowledge of viruses) from the United Kingdom took a look at all the publicly available data and made some correlations to determine the effect of temperature and humidity on the growth of COVID-19 virus. His general point is that higher temperatures and higher humidity lead to a slower spread of the virus. When data analytics are combined with common-sense, we could perhaps be smarter in how we approach quarantine and preparedness to deal with the pandemic. If anyone has comments about Wiles’ research and approach, drop me a note.
03:10.2020: 6.05 AM: Nassim Nicholas Taleb, (author of the Black Swan and many other books) along with Joseph Norman and Yaneer Bar-Yam had put out a short note earlier this year: Systemic Risk of Pandemic via Novel Pathogens. It is short and to the point:
“Fundamentally, viral contagion events depend on the interaction of agents in physical space,” so it is a “necessity of a precautionary approach to current and potential pandemic outbreaks that must include constraining mobility patterns in the early stages of an outbreak, especially when little is known about the true parameters of the pathogen. It will cost something to reduce mobility in the short term, but to fail do so will eventually cost everything—if not from this event, then one in the future. “
Unfortunately, we have had too much dithering among politicians and others who are putting dollars before commonsense.
03.10.2020: 5.45 AM: An American living in Shanghai shares the Chinese response to the Coronavirus pandemic at the ground level. While a lot of the actions might be uncomfortable in democratic societies, there are some commonsense actions – shutting down schools, public places, and events, and aggressive suggestions of self-quarantine. Read over on the Talking Points Memo.
03.09.2020: 17.45 PM: How to clean your smartphone the right way: Wired Magazine says viruses cling to glass surfaces for 96 hours so it is smart to keep cleaning your screens and keyboards. All you have to do is a quick wipe down — wet wipes do the job — after you have been out or others have touched the device. Apple says you are okay to use “70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox disinfecting wipes on hard surfaces.” Turn off the device, do a wipe down and then clean up with a microfiber cloth. I think it is good to wash the cloth too. And be smart — if you can, work from home.
Constantly updates from the World Health Organization. Check often. Also, follow the WHO on Twitter.
Coronavirus FAQ by Dr. Megan Murray (bio, Twitter ) who is the Harvard Medical School Global Health Research Core Director and the Ronda Stryker and William Johnston Professor of Global Health at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine.
[Watch Video] An interview with a British expert who points out that this might be far deadlier than the flu and also more communicable. Given that we don’t know when the vaccine is going to arrive, we should assume that our medical facilities might get stretched. So let’s try and be prudent, and make sure that the medical facilities can cope.
What 25 World Health Organization experts found in China after 9 days. Reddit link, so do exercise caution.
Here’s what the Covid-19 does to your body. This is a good explainer from the National Geographic. and is worth reading.
Like everyone else, I have become anxious about the Coronavirus Pandemic. It is hard to discern the actual impact, especially since social media is conflating facts with fiction. I have begun keeping a document that is full of links to articles, research, commentary, and videos that come from experts — scientists, immunologists, viral disease researchers, and sources that could only be said to be biased toward logic and caution. In other words, I am paying very little attention to the self-proclaimed experts who are investors, car company chiefs, or anyone else who thought Corona was just a beer till about a month ago.
Instead of keeping it on Google Docs, I have decided to share it here on the blog, and I will be continuously updating it with new links. I am no expert, but I have a pretty good sense of who to ignore and when to pay attention. I trust that, if you sift through enough smart stuff, you will come to appropriate, fact-based conclusions about whether you want to keep calm or become paranoid. And if you have some suggestions, please leave a comment or link below. You can keep a close watch on the Global Covid-19 Stats at Worldometer.