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Discussion in 'Biology' started by amusicsite, 5 Mar 2020.

  1. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Well it's been over a month now since I last posted here and from a science point of view it don't feel link a whole lot has changed. We still don't seem to have any universally agreed course of treatment for people with this virus and none of the 'miracle cures' drugs that have been floated around seem to have been taken up on mass. Although the news and information on the science side seems to have become politicised all over the world making it hard to sort fact from hype.

    One thing that don't seem to get mentioned but seems quite obvious is that the need for ventilators seems to have gone away. I can't seem to find any hard data on this but it looks like after we worked out the breathing problems were partly due to blood circulation problems then a mixture of steroids and blood thinners may have helped reduce the number of people that need ventilation.

    As far as the numbers go. We are rapidly approaching 10 million confirmed cases with 5 million labelled as recovered and just under half a million confirmed deaths. Which would indicate that of the detected and resolved cases about 10% seem to have died. Obviously there is still massive holes in the data. For example the UK and Spain, two of the worst hit countries in Europe, have not released any data on recovered people. While other countries in the developing world don't seem to have the resources to find and document how many cases they have and I'm sure there are still some countries being conservative with their numbers to make them look better. I remember early on it was thought that there would be a death rate of somewhere between 4%-7% and that still seems to hold up today.

    I've been thinking a lot recently about what we have learnt from this pandemic so far and heard one interesting summery yesterday saying that up to 100 or so years ago we lived in fear of virus' as we had not cure for them. Then we had the medical revolution which meant we could cure a lot of the things that used to kill us. This virus has taught us that we can't cure everything yet but like pre-1900s it's not the end of the world. Yes people will die and a virus like this is world changing but we used to survive things like this as a society and will do this time.

    There seems to be a new dominant strain doing the rounds now. the D614G mutation, which I believe means that the bit at marker 614 has changed from a D to a G. It seems to have originated in Europe, it's more robust, more infective and possibly bypasses any immunity built up by the 'classic' version before this mutation. So a high risk of this spreading back into Asia. We still don't really know when the virus first broke out into the human population but the earliest seems to be August last year with it really getting going around December. So this new version has popped up in well under a year and maybe within 6 months of it spreading in the wild and seems to have come from the widespread infection of Europe. As the virus moves around the world it seems likely that other mutations will come as it hits different populations and climates. If these mutations also can infect people that have had a different strain then we should be informing people that having had the virus may not make you immune for long. Otherwise we could get new super spreaders from people who think they are immune but are not.

    The evidence for face masks seems to be overwhelming now and it does seem the best way to keep this under control would be for the whole world to wear some sort of basic face mask for a year or two, well at least when outside or in the company of others. Though I think it may have to get worse before people realise this is the case and it's enforced in enough countries to make a difference.