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Everything posted by CharonY

  1. I think I have mentioned that before but in order for a seroconversion to happen, you'd need a signficant amount of exposure (most commonly during actual infection). Or at least strong exposure to inactivated viruses. Licking body fluids form recovered folks does not seem prudent.
  2. Well, yes we could discuss those, but ultimately the increase of cases starting January was what ultimately solidified concerns of human to human spread. The fear was also driven by the upcoming Chinese New Year which would have had massive consequences, which were at least somewhat mitigated (luckily). But again, starting January there were more cases which could indicate transmission of it, but as it could not be diagnosed clearly it was still suspicion at that point. The correct (in hindsight) reaction would have been to assume transmission, unless proved otherwise, rather than doing the opposite. I have yet to see hard evidence that should have forced the WHO to change its stance at that point. Unless, of course we can agree on stopping criticizing the WHO when they make calls for caution that do not turn into predicted disasters. I.e. if we allow them to make more cautionary calls. But I think a lot of countries (not only China) would not agree to that, either. And that goes to my previous post, which level (without the luxury of hindsight) of caution can we agree to?
  3. I think the first article at least references a similar timeline as the one that I have seen. So roughly having first evidence around 15th of January. But perhaps taking a step back, this is an issue which epidemiologists, medical professionals and microbiologists are facing. At which point do we make a call? Is circumstantial evidence enough? But if you are wrong there is a chance that you are considered an alarmist and with enough backlash it could sink your career. This is especially problematic if you live in an authoritarian regime, of course. But even elsewhere, if you piss of the folks from granting agencies or those you rely on to conduct your research, it may kill your future chances. Or just say something after you have ironclad evidence? But then it may be too late and folks may consider yourself incompetent. There is a huge pressure for not being wrong (and I think partially that also explains the sluggish response in many countries) and in this case it came to bite us. Hard.
  4. While I agree with the general sentiment (though Taiwan's status was always problematic, and it was always in a state of "we do not want to talk about it"; things may change now that there finally movement from Taiwan to drop the one China view- i.e. claiming to be the "real" but no acknowledged China so to say. Mainland China will still block it, but at least it would make it easier for other countries to support Taiwan.). But I think you got the timeline wrong. Taiwan did not issue any warnings in December 2019. On the 31st Taiwan only sent a request for more information to Beijing and the WHO. Only on Jan 13-15th did a Taiwanese team arrive in Wuhan and there they found a family that appears to be indicative of human to human transmission. It took until the 20th for Chinese researchers to publicly state that there were human-to human transmission and WHO followed suit two days later. So while Taiwan may have been suspicious, they were not sure, either. It is true that China should have engaged more aggressively (or truthfully) inf figuring the risk of human-human transmission rather than sitting on the fence on it. In fact even while sitting on the fence they should erred on the side of caution. And that bit is where the Taiwanese criticism came from: The text of the mail from Taiwan was as follows: The bit they are now highlighting is the fact that folks were put in isolation- a good precaution, but the question is whether that is also indicative of risk of human-human transmission. I.e. if folks were careful about that, why was it not announced as such more broadly? The flipside of course is if folks claimed transmission resulting in lockdowns and it turns out not to be true, there would likely also be unpleasant consequences. Now, from the viewpoint of the WHO, unless there were more unreported exchanges, I can see why the mail itself would not be sufficient to change the narrative. Assuming that they were informed regarding the thoughts on the Taiwanese team (which included folks from Macau and Hong Kong) there was a delay of about a week. But I have not found reports on further exchanges so far. Also, it should go without saying, but during that time there was obviously no way to accurately diagnose COVID-19. The genome was published January 11 (I think) first tests were developed about a week after? The only thing to go on were pulmonary disease that was not flu. So while initial response was botched, it is difficult (without insider information) to figure out how much was actually known at any given point. Prior to mid-end January.
  5. That I can answer. These levels of crises generally require somewhat centralized responses. States are not able to track or control international travel, for example. Now we have documented it before, but the big issue with the WH response is not only that they were too late in their response (which to various levels was also the case in other countries). But the problem is that even once the issue was recognized, the WH continued to downplay the risks and contradicting their own experts, which effectively puts folks at risk. And obviously there are federal responses to, say PPE seizure and redistribution that appear to be confusing at best. They might be redistributing them to where they are needed, for example, though the WH says that everyone has enough (thus indicating seizures and redistribution are not needed) whereas local leaders indicate that they are in a bidding war to actually get supplies. So not only being inactive, the actual actions are problematic or at least unexplained. None of which is good in a crisis. In other words, if you are given the power to actually coordinate efforts around the country but cannot make up your mind even within a single interview whether a crisis actually exists, I think it is fair to state that one is not fulfilling ones responsibility. Now going back to the impact, other countries that were hit harder, also had the issue of belated responses. Effectively for most of the Western world Italy was the start signal, rather than China. But the difference is that after that most governments (local and federal) kind of agreed on a strategy, and started implementing them. Meanwhile, the US had a strategy and then they basically said that they are not necessary (including their own guidance, or shelving guidance from the CDC). Yes the US has lower population density overall resulting in less spread in certain areas, similar to, say Canada there are hotspots. But even so death rates are close to much more densely populated areas. But perhaps worse than that, the other countries that have been hit harder, are flattening the curve. New cases are dropping across the board (except perhaps the UK), with levels around 12-15% compared to peak times. The US, is still at around 70%. And it is hard to believe that the political climate in the US is not at at fault for that. The US has some of the finest institutions in the world to deal with these issues- and normally states would be expected to fall in line when the Feds are creating strong responses. Now we have got folks thinking that it is a hoax.
  6. It could be well posted into the other thread as the overall strategy is pretty much the same, regardless whether there is an international crisis or something really unimportant. It is part of a larger effort to remove accountability from their actions. Obviously, if politicians are not accountable for their actions anymore, it will boil down entirely to pundits duking it out in a fact-fee conversation. Fundamentally that will entrench positions into partisan clusters. The fatal bit is that any group that still insists on relying (at least partially) on facts, science and/or reason are likely to be pounded into submission as it is much faster to just make up things than waiting until data comes in. It also has the risk that data does not agree fully with ones position. And we just see that that happening in realtime. Typically, you would expect this only to happen in authoritarian regimes, where the government controls the information. Now it seems that folks have successfully found a way for folks to do it to themselves. Sure it was predicted some time ago, such as during the rise of the Murdoch empire, but back in my mind I had always the thought that actual challenges (say a pandemic...) would bring folks to their senses as the impact could not be talked away by pundits. Obviously, I was wrong.
  7. It is interesting (well, to put it nicely) how many folks actually think that Trump did a good job..
  8. So while the issue with pre-/post-fusion proteins is an issue, I would like to note that in many cases one would frame it more about the conformation of the protein rather than overall energetics. There are several ways to stabilize a particular structure, independent on whether protein is ever part of a virus, or involved in membrane fusion or not. I.e. it is helpful when we think in terms of the dynamics and mechanisms of viral actions (as it needs to be performed within an energy gradient) but it may be less useful when we talk about other things, such as in this case recognition of structures. Specifically, a particular structure is formed in dependence on its milieu, its amino sequence as well as other elements such as chaperones that help in folding the protein a specific way. Perhaps more importantly, recognition of the molecule by the immune system is only dependent on a fairly small part- the epitope. Moving on to RNA vaccines, in other viruses it already has been shown that antibodies raised just by simply introducing the primary sequence has resulted in antibodies that are able to bind pre- as well as post-fusion protein structures. They also stabilized the pre-fusion structure by introducing additional sequences (not dissimilar to the wiki article linked above) but the overall titer did not shift much. This is not to say that this is not an issue with SARS-CoV-2, but it does not seem to be a fundamental issue, at least.
  9. It is like the worst storyline of a badly produced soap opera. Only that folks are dying.
  10. The Moderna vaccine mentioned earlier is almost done with phase I but preliminary results already indicate that some participants developed antibodies. This bodes well for the efficacy test.
  11. Also non-coding DNA have numerous structural and regulatory functions.
  12. CharonY


    Eugenics does have a different connotation relative the motivation behind abortion. There is the ideology that lives can be a priori divided into desirable and undesirable. While these may factor into individual decisions to various degrees, the idea of eugenics is more societal rather than individual. Of course if everyone in a society subscribe to an ideology that subscribes to that notion, it will become indistinguishable and I would argue that the society is pretty messed up.
  13. Typically you take the sample and apply it to a cell culture and see how many are getting infected compared to the reference.
  14. In certain contexts it might be though I think most folk would actually state whether it is more or less infectious. Virulence refers the relative degree of disease caused by an organism. More commonly it could refer to e.g. severity or extent of infection (but I can see contexts where it might be used to minimal infective doses too).
  15. Infections are to some degree stochastic, but there is the concept of the minimum infective dose, which indicates the minimum dose required to infect someone. However, it is actually a fair bit more compicated as folks rarely quantify individual virus particles, which is difficult. In practice, many virology labs use a tissue-based quatification system which cell destruction using dilutions of a a virus dilution. The dilution at which 50% of the tissue show damages or other cytopathic effects are then defined as the TCID50. I.e. the actual particle count is often not actually known. However, a single particle is highly unlikely to elicit any kind of meaning full effect, you need quite a few more than that. How many, depends a lot on virus and host factors. I seem to recall that I found an estimate of as low as ~200 virus particles in the cases of some coronaviruses, but frankly I do not recall it very well and may be mistaken. That being said, there is support for for single-hit models, in e.g. noroviruses. They are more theoretical and assume that the virus slip through all defensive barriers and reach their target fully functional. Effectively more than than one particle are needed for exposure, but this model have some what different dose response models compared to the more simple one which only looks at exposure and outcome. If the question is whether the mere exposure to a single virus is sufficient to create immunity, the answer is no. Acquired immunity requires sensing of a significant amount of antigens through a process called seroconversion. So it would only work if the virus in your body replicates sufficiently trigger first the primary infection (which is not associated with immune responses) and then persist enough to lead to to the buildup of immunological memory.
  16. There is something to that. There have been observation consistent with observations of cytokine storm syndrome.
  17. It is rather unlikely that it is a significant path. First of all, respiratory droplets are (hopefully) deposited much more frequently and broader than semen fluids. Second, I do not think that the receptor is found in significant abundance in female tissue. Now, as mentioned, vaginal tissue does not seem a likely target of the virus. However there are than the lung. One of them, the kidney is also a target and in some patients renal failure has been reported. That is obviously not good either. However, ACE2 receptors are found in the gastrointestinal tract. There is at least one guy who has speculated that potentially infecting folks through the GI tract might be a way to induce immunity with potentially less harmful symptoms. However, ultimately we know to little about the pathophysiology to make any calls at this point. But there is more research looking at GI infections now. As a minor point: note how fast research has been moving (relatively speaking). Beginning of the year we weren't sure what we were dealing with at all, now folks are exploring things on a rather broad front.
  18. It is not 100% understood. Indirect (i.e. epidemiological data) suggest highest likelihood during symptomatic periods and it appears that respiratory titer go down or vanish after symptoms are gone (or ~10- days after onset of illness in mild cases). Shedding e.g. by feces seem to go on for longer, but it is not clear whether those are a source of infections. I do not think anything is known about potential of persistence at this point.
  19. Check the updated CDC numbers https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html. The have updated the data considerably, though it is true that that year was pretty bad. I will acknowledge that you actually did see the number somewhere, and did not make it up. My apologizes. Your propensity to make unsubstantiated claims have tainted my assumptions. It does how show that even with all the restrictions the US has outpaced some of the worst annual outbreaks. You can clearly see that not having them in place would make things worse, no?
  20. Based on your second I suspect it is based on the observation that a phylogenetic tree using a given gene does not always 100% accurate reproduction of the relationship of different species. This is actually expected as not all genes are under the same selective pressure in the same organism. For example in some species a given gene may be more important and therefore does not mutate much, whereas in others there may less conserving pressures, allowing accumulation of mutations. These are expected and well known effects. There are are other issue that could complicate phylogeny, which is why folks do not use any random locus to reconstruct relationships. I other words, if someone thinks that the observation somehow disproves evolution, then it is pretty obvious that the person has no idea what they are talking about.
  21. Indeed. There are more studies looking into the potential benefits of large-scale mask wearing and the most promising one indicate that it might cut down transmission by a fair bit if every infected person wears one. This is especially important when there are many pre- or asymptomatic folks around. Categorically not wanting to wear a mask is therefore also on the selfish side (and obviously there is little benefit wearing it if alone and/or being in ones own personal space).
  22. Their genomes are quite different and critically, SARS-CoV-2 has a proof-reading enzyme that cuts down on replication errors and hence, mutation rate. It is utterly unknown. Could be between 0-100%.
  23. There is little relation between these observations. For influenza a challenge is that there are numerous strains and the annual vaccines are designed around the modeling of which strains migh be dominant. There are years where the predictions fail or when something really unexpected happen. Now SARS-CoV-2, has a significantly lower mutation rate than influenza. While different variants have been detected to since the outbreak, the changes were fairly minor among the dominant variants. Most vaccines target conserved parts of the virus which so far did not seem to vary much. However, there are other challenges surrounding the development of a new vaccine, of course. So to re-iterate, I do not see any information from influenza vaccines that we could meaningfully translate to COVID-19.
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