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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.
  2. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Well it's been a while since I posted here and that's mainly because it's been a bit of a lull here in the UK. The number of deaths fell to double then single digits, we started wearing face masks where we should and had a fairly under control summer, with the exception of a few hot-spots.

    The hot-spot idea is a really great one, it should rally have been adopted from the start. Lock down only the places where the R0 is over 1 or even better when they are approaching 1. We could have left some of the smaller communities to carry on with business as usual, with the obvious addition of the face masks which hopefully we all see now REALLY do help! F**k knows why it took them so long to come round to that obvious conclusion.

    There are a few interesting developments on the treatment front... Firstly it's quite amazing that 9 months after the world became aware of this virus we still don't seem to have had proper medical trials on all the available options. There is a growing amount of evidence that shows hydroxyzine administered in the right way and right time can help a lot. Ivermectin is looking like an even better drug as it appears to have a wider timeline where it can be an effective treatment. Zinc and Vitamin D help out a lot too...

    In fact there is a new theory come from looking at how the virus attacks the body and it's now believed the virus could create a Bradykinin Storm.

    View: https://youtu.be/tDbRfur36sE?t=333

    The basics of this is that Covid19 seems to trigger a few things so the body creates more cells that it can easily affect and restrict the production of their regulators. It appears that Vitamin D and Zinc can help to rebalance this. This is encouraging as it means we are starting to understand the effects of the virus on a macro level. Which should help to develop more efficient treatments.

    It does seem that the pharmaceutical complex would rather have a vaccine for the virus that they can sell for a high price rather than these off the shelf drugs that make them very little money. Obviously governments should be thinking the opposite and looking for the cheapest solution too. Though it appears that, at least in the western world, the governments seem to be siding with the drugs companies. Vested interests?

    So we still don't have conclusive proof because there have not really been the studies we need to rule things out or see how well they really work. For example hydroxyzine seems to work but we only really know this because people have pulled all the data from all over the world and found enough little studies to make assumptions that it works.

    On the other hand some governments have basically said that if you give people hydroxyzine then you will loose your medical licence! So politics is still getting in the way of good science.

    We have recently had a steady growth in number infected but the number of deaths has stayed low, though starting to grow again. Today it was announced that it's doubling about every 8 days. Globally the number of cases has been growing without a stark increase in number of deaths. There seems to be a number of reasons for this.

    Firstly we have a better understanding on how to treat people now. Maybe not a universally agreed solution but I'd imagine most countries by now have worked out some sort of treatment plan that will save a lot of lives. So the people expected to go onto ventilators at the start now are given the right drugs, some form of steroids I believe fix the problem along with a few other things.

    There is another factor that seems to show that older people are mostly following the rules and stopping the spread quite a bit with the use of masks, social distancing and a bit of caution. There seems to be evidence that a lot of the summer infections have been in the younger section of the population, who are at less risk of getting serious complications or death from the virus. Though not fully immune. This may not be such a bad thing, maybe getting some sort of heard immunity in the low risk part of the population could be advantageous. Of course the problem with that is these people then come into contact with older people and can then spread it on. Also there seems growing evidence that it's going to be possible to catch the virus again so the benefits are short lived.

    The final part of the puzzle would be that we are better at testing now. Today we had 14 deaths and about 2900 new infections registered. March 27th was the first time we came close to that many infections and then had 280 deaths. We had 14 deaths on March 15th with 228 announced cases. So we have got a better picture of how many are really infected now, though still not perfect. We have also worked out how to test and register deaths from Covid19 in a more logical way. So it's probably better to say we probably had closer to 3,000 new infections on the 15th March but were only detecting 228 of them.

    We also know there is a good few weeks delay between catching the virus and a death from it. So it's quite possible that the number of deaths may rise in a few weeks along with the increase of new cases. Though hopefully with the new treatments the numbers will be lower.

    I think this really highlights the case of act fast and act hard in the early days of a pandemic. The countries that did that certainly came off better. The main reason is to reduce the number of deaths at the start and give scientist the time to find out how it works, like we are finding now. If the UK went into lockdown two weeks earlier we could have had half the number of deaths in the early stages, two weeks before that and maybe got it down to a quarter of the number if deaths. That's 20k - 30k worth of people that did not need to die from the virus.

    Globally it seems highly likely that the number of deaths is going to hit a million before the end of the month. Currently at 918,000 and going up 5k - 6k every day. As to how well this reflects the true numbers is hard to tell. There are almost certainly some countries underplaying the figures and it won't really be till early next year when every country has tallied up it's total number of registered deaths that we can compare it to the norm and see how bad it really was.

    The registered global numbers for 'Serious or Critical', people taking up hospital beds, has fallen to 1%, which I believe was closer to 10% in the early days. Also the number of 'Recovered / Discharged' is now at 96% with deaths around 4% Deaths, again used to be closer to 10%. Like before this is probably due in part to more tests so we have a better idea of how many people are infected but not having any symptoms or not needing hospitalisation.

    This still seems far from over and the winter months will be very revealing about whether it can come back and infect many people, if so do the symptoms change? Also there is a good chance there will be more strains and we will have to see if they become more or less dangerous.
  3. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Well it's been a while since I did one of these... Let's start off with the UK office of stats death figures (provisional for 2020 but I reckon close enough).


    2019 - 2020 - % change

    Total deaths:
    525,250 – 604,045 – 115.00% (15% increase is about one extra death for every 7 deaths)

    Under 1 year
    2,567 - 2,367 - 92.20% (Birth rate 0.48% decline from 2019)

    934 - 492 - 52.67%

    14,714 – 15,443 - 104.95%

    63,195 – 44,111 - 69.80%

    87,492 – 65,815 - 75.22%

    149,651 – 174,602 - 116.67%

    208,681 – 240,416 - 115.20%

    I think it's quite interesting the breakdown of different ages. Deaths are down for people under the age of 15 and have to wonder if that is because less of them have been out and about. The 15 - 44 age group is up and that could be the people who thought they were immune that caught it or just that's the age group of most of the key workers. The 45 - 75 is down maybe they are the group that actually stayed at home. Unsurprisingly the over 75 got hit the hardest and I guess that could be people in care homes.

    Will be interesting to see if 2021 gets us back to normal sort of figures, guess that all depends on the vaccines and if they work as well as how quickly they can be rolled out. I would presume the Pfizer vaccine is fairly dead on arrival now. It cost a lot more, is harder / slower to manufacture, is incredibly hard to store and therefore hard to get it out to people in the real world. The alternatives seem a much better choice.

    As to the new strain, it seems the main difference is the it causes more mucus in the nostrils and that's why it is spreading more quickly. Yet more reason to wear a face mask if you needed one. It does seem that even the most stupid corrupt government officials and WHO 'experts' seem to agree now that face masks do actually work and 2 meters is the minimum safe distance. Although they won't tell the teachers that!

    As far as the number of deaths go the official figures are just under 2 million but I would not be surprised if some countries are under reporting the data... China for sure is. This puts Covid-19 in 9th place on the most deadly virus' of all time and I reckon it's on target to top out at about 3-5 million in the end. Though as a lot of previous pandemics happened with much lower population figures then it's still less deadly in the percentage of population that have died from it.

  4. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Well today is 1 year since I started taking this new virus seriously. I'd heard about it a bit during January but it was when China decided to lock down a few hundred million people in Wuhan that I started to think this was something different. Even for a state like China, you don't lock down that many people without good reason.

    What still baffles me is how this did not seem to set off alarm bells around the world. Officially the UK did not get it's first case till the middle of February but I am fairly sure there were more before then that went undetected. It seems quite likely this started in China way back in the autumn and slowly built up to critical mass in late January when China when into lockdown. It's quite likely to have been spreading around the world by December 2019 or at the very latest the beginning of January 2020.

    Obviously we know now that the WHO advice that it could not be transmitted between people, face masks don't work and other advice was totally wrong at the worst time to be wrong. This helped the virus spread more than it needed to and ultimately caused 10,000's more deaths than was needed.

    A year on and we are at more than 2 million deaths globally, probably much more as some countries like China have been hiding the true figures from their countries and they are presumably not the only ones. As far as the UK goes we will top 100,000 well before the end of this month and you have to blame that figure on incomitance by the UK government. From the beginning when they wanted heard immunity right up to Christmas 2020 when they returned the schools for one day before going into lockdown... They have seemed to do too little too late to save lives.

    Even the roll out of vaccines seems to be strange as they are changing the scientifically recommanded time between injections to suit their agenda rather than doing the prudent thing as follow the science. Something they have claimed to do more often then they have actually done.

    When we hit the record 1,820 deaths in one day I would guess that meant that on that day more people died from covid than all the other deaths combined on that day. I've not seen any reports confirming that and not sure if any other nation has come close to that sort of figure. You have to say that the time to have done a full lockdown had to be September or the very latest November last year. If we had done a full lockdown then rather than the tiered disaster, then we could have got the number down by Christmas to allow a safer dropping of restrictions a week or so before Christmas and that could have saved many thousands of lives.

    We will have to wait and see if this lockdown gets the numbers low enough for track and trace to work and if the government can convince enough people to take part for it to actually work. Otherwise it's all down to the vaccines and whether they work. The Chinese one has been tested in Brazil now and been found to only be about 50% effective. There are doubts about the Russian one too and even the Western versions it will take months to see how well the actually work in the real world.

    So for now it seems the best plan is stay at home as much as possible and keep contact with people as low as piratical. Wear them masks properly whenever in company and hope for the best.