Updated IHME Model Projects New York’s Use of Hospital Resources Will Peak Today
“African Americans are getting hit very, very hard by the virus.”
— President Trump
“We’re up to about 90,000 available hospital beds, so we have more than enough hospital beds available.” — NY Governor Cuomo
The World Health Organization really blew it on virus. They could have called it months earlier, they should have known, and they probably did know.” — President Trump
- Recent Developments and Headlines
- Numbers and Trends
- Projections and Our (Possible) Future
- Potential New Treatments
- New Scientific Findings
- Updates & New Information
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Note: As there is a lot of inaccurate information circulating, we only include information that we can confirm from a credible source or that is based on data that we can verify. To the extent that we derive information from an online source, we provide a link to the source, which typically provides more detail that is included in our update. If you have any questions about any information included in an update, or if you have a different view, please let us know and we will supplement or correct as needed.
A. Recent Developments and Headlines
Note: All changes noted in this Update are since the 4/07 Update
Sources: New York Times Coronavirus Updates, New York Post Coronavirus Updates, Zero Hedge Coronavirus Updates, Drudge, Breitbart, Wall Street Journal, Coronavirus White House Task Force Briefing, NY Governor Daily Briefing, and Worldometers
- The coronavirus is affecting 209 countries and territories (+1)
- Worldwide Total Cases: 1,349,823 (+5.9%)
- Worldwide Active Cases = 988,126 (+5.1%)
- US Active Cases = 336,897 (+8.9%)
- NY Active Cases = 113,792 (+5%)
- US deaths = 10,943 (+1,323) (+13.8%)
- NY deaths = 4,758 (+602) (+14.5%)
- Surgeon General warns African Americans at greater risk for coronavirus
- WHO Official Floats Removing the Infected from Their Homes to Stop Spread
- President Trump: WHO funding to be reviewed
- US cases accelerate faster than Europe’s
- IHME Model Claims Hospital Bed Shortage in NY; Cuomo Says ‘We Have More than Enough’
- ICU admissions, intubations down significantly in New York
- NYC Mayor de Blasio says ventilator shortage is easing
- New York State reports biggest one-day jump in deaths with 731
- Report: NYC auctioned off ventilator stockpile several years ago due to budget cuts and other priorities.
- NY Gov. Cuomo: hydroxychloroquine reportedly helped many people infected with the disease
- President Trump Gets Millions of Hydroxychloroquine Pills from India
- California is trying to organize states to work together, instead of competing, to secure medical supplies.
- NY Gov. Cuomo: NYC heroes lost to coronavirus may get 9/11-like benefit packages
- Gov. Cuomo working with CT, NJ governors on a post-coronavirus plan
- New Jersey’s governor extends state’s health emergency
- New York sees a possible plateau, but warns that it is still in crisis.
- Amid quarantine orders, highway checkpoints appear along some state lines.
- Major Retailers to Expand Rapid Coronavirus Drive-Through Testing Soon
- Truckers warn supply chain in jeopardy; confusion reigns on shutdown
- A ‘Liberty’ Rebellion in Idaho Threatens to Undermine Coronavirus Orders
- Dubai now requires police permits for anyone who wants to leave their house
- Japan kicks off 1-month state of emergency
- India closes hospitals after cases confirmed
- Israel imposes Passover lockdown, Irish asked not to visit holiday homes for Easter
- “We Will Whip You” – Zambian Police Crackdown On Quarantine Violators
- Kenya Bans Being Outside Without a Mask
- U.N. Staffer Brings Coronavirus to South Sudan
- Report: Wuhan Funeral Homes Burned Coronavirus Victims Alive
- Wuhan lifts lockdown
- Wuhan residents crowd train platforms as they’re finally allowed to leave after 10+ weeks
- 55k expected to leave Wuhan by Wednesday evening (local time)
- Iran will lift a nationwide shutdown of businesses
- Russia reports another concerning jump in cases
- Italy reports another deceleration in cases + deaths
- UK reports deadliest day yet
- Spain reports nearly 900 deaths
- Germany reports another jump in deaths
- France reports massive jump in deaths breaking above 10k
- New Jersey also reports highest fatality numbers
- As Europe looks for lockdown exit strategy, WHO urges “Don’t ease measures too early”’
- Domestic abuse is rising worldwide amid widespread lockdowns.
- 12 NYPD officers have died of COVID-19
- German health ministry unveils app to help track COVID-19 patients
- France prepares to ban exercising outside as lockdown tightens
- 30 Coronavirus Patients at Texas Nursing Home Getting Hydroxychloroquine
- Burglaries, Thefts Up More Than 75% In Major Cities Amid Coronavirus Lockdown
- China Forces Italy To Buy Back PPE That Italy Previously Donated to China
- Robo Van Shuttles COVID-19 Tests At Mayo Clinic In Florida
- NFL 2020 Draft to be ‘Fully Virtual’ with All Teams in Different Locations
- Hilton, American Express to Provide 1,000,000 Rooms to Medical Workers
- Vivid ‘pandemic dreams’ and nightmares keep nation awake during coronavirus outbreak
- ‘Shut It Down’: MTA Drivers in LA Worried About COVID-19, Say Riders Now ‘Mostly Homeless And Sick People’
- “I’d Rather Stay Unemployed Than Risk My Life” – Grocery Store Workers Strike As COVID-19 Deaths Soar
- Grocery stores turn to robots during the coronavirus
- Online grocery services struggle to meet spike in demand
- ‘I Just Need the Comfort’: Processed Foods Make a Pandemic Comeback
- Beaver Co. Nursing Home Presuming All 800 Residents And Staff Have Coronavirus
- Pastor who criticized coronavirus ‘mass hysteria’ dies from illness
- Housebound and bored, people appear to be drinking more booze, toking more weed, watching more porn and smoking more butts.
- Modeling coronavirus: Uncertainty is the only certainty
- Adjusted coronavirus model predicts fewer people in US will need hospitals, but 82,000 will still die by August
- MLB, union discuss playing all games in Arizona without audiences
- Smoking marijuana could make the lungs more susceptible to COVID-19, experts say as cannabis sales spike
- New Zealand isn’t just flattening the curve. It’s squashing it.
- Riding out the pandemic, Rio surfers catch a wave of controversy
- Sex. Drugs. Virus. Venezuela elites still party in pandemic
- Pandas use lockdown privacy to mate after a decade of trying
- Baltimore Police investigating video of officer appearing to cough on purpose at public housing complex
- Seven-year-old Greek piano prodigy pens an ‘isolation waltz’
- 101-year-old German woman escapes senior home amid coronavirus lockdown
- Egg prices crack records thanks to coronavirus panic shopping
- Doctors strike in Pakistan over lack of coronavirus protection
- Robots help Japanese students attend graduation from home
- NYC residents still flocking to public parks despite coronavirus warnings
- Coronavirus task force logistics unit working from home after positive test
- New Zealand’s health minister demoted for breaking coronavirus lockdown
- Boris Johnson ‘stable’ amid coronavirus battle in ICU, UK Foreign Minister says
- Verizon customers say they can’t get internet fixed for months
- Louisiana family said final goodbye to Air Force vet on FaceTime
- AGs urge Trump to increase production of coronavirus safety gear
- Polish parliament approves election by postal vote only
- Japanese brewers suggest ‘slowly’ drinking a ‘moderate amount’ of sake
- Actress who fronted coronavirus PSAs arrested for throwing wild house party
- Couple married for over 50 years die of coronavirus while holding hands
- Finland to begin randomized coronavirus antibody testing
- Airbnb hosts reportedly listing rentals as ‘COVID-19 retreats’
- Federal agencies buy massive supply of hydroxychloroquine
- Colorado county threatens tourists with fines, jail time amid coronavirus crisis
- USNS Comfort’s capacity cut in half to treat coronavirus patients
- Dem lawmaker says that malaria drug touted by Trump saved her life
- Amazon threatens to fire workers who break social distancing rules
- Boris Johnson receives oxygen in ICU as he continues coronavirus battle
- Hasidic Jews hold another funeral in Brooklyn despite coronavirus pandemic
- Actress who fronted coronavirus public service announcements arrested for throwing wild house party
- The first legal challenge to public health restrictions has been filed by the A.C.L.U. in Puerto Rico.
- Thousands of cases in India are connected to an Islamist mosque in New Delhi.
- Poland’s governing party presses ahead with election plan, despite the lockdown.
- The asylum process grinds to a halt in Greece as a second migrant camp is quarantined.
- Illinois Mayor Who Sent Cops to Break Up Banned Party Finds Wife There
B. Numbers and Trends
[Note: All numbers in this update are worldwide unless otherwise indicated. The numbers in this update only include cases that have been (i) confirmed through testing, and (ii) reported. The actual number of cases may be materially higher than confirmed cases, which means that the number of actual deaths from COVID-19 and recoveries may both be materially higher than reported. As testing in US ramps up, confirmed cases may rise rapidly as actual but unidentified cases are confirmed.]
1. Confirmed Total Cases and New Cases
- Worldwide: 1,432,663 Total Cases (+6.1%)
- New Cases = 82,840 (+8,163) (+10.9%)
- Europe: 700,802 Total Cases (+5.1%)
- New Cases = 34,314 (+6,942) (+25.4%)
- Asia: 128,494 Total Cases
- United States: 400,829 Total Cases (+9%)
- New Cases = 33,179 (+2,380) (+7.7%)
- US States:
- 37 States > 1,000 cases (+3), plus DC
- 24 States > 2,500 cases (+3)
- 15 States > 5,000 cases (+1)
- 9 States > 10,000 cases (+0): NY, NJ, MI, CA, LA, MA, FL, PA & IL
- Top 5 States: (i) NY: 142,348 (+10,432); (ii) NJ: 44,416 (+3,326); (iii) Michigan: 18,970 (+1,749); (iv) California: 17,620 (+1,257); and (v) Louisiana: 16,284 (+1,414)
- For more information on US States, see https://ncov2019.live/data
- New York State:
- NY Total Cases = 142,348 (+7.9%)
- NY New Cases = 10,432 (+1,534) (+17.2%)
- New York City:
- Total Cases = 74,601 (+3.3%)
- NYC New Cases = 2,420 (-2,183) (-47.4%)
2. Confirmed Active Cases
- Worldwide: 1,048,227 Active Cases (+6.1%)
- New Active Cases = 60,101 (+11,729) (+24.2%)
- Europe Active Cases = 486,782
- Asia Active Cases = 34,530
- US Active Cases = 365,972 (+8.6%)
- US New Active Cases = 29,075 (+1,432) (+5.2%)
- NY Active Cases = 123,529 (+7.8%)
- NY New Active Cases = 9,732 (+1,321) (+15.7%)
3. Series or Critical Cases
- Worldwide serious or critical cases = 47,915 (+506)
- US series or critical cases = 9,169 (+186)
- NY serious or critical = 4,504
- US serious or critical cases = 2.5% of Active Cases (-0.2%), compared with worldwide percentage of 5%
[Note: Serious and critical cases give insight into the need for ICU beds and ventilators]
- Worldwide deaths = 82,121 (+7,301) (+9.8%)
- Europe: 57,317 deaths
- Asia: 4,439
- US deaths = 12,857 (+1,914) (+17.5%)
- NY deaths = 5,489 (+731) (+14.5%)
- Deaths per 1M population: (i) Italy: 283; (ii) Spain: 300; (iii) US: 39; (iv) France: 158; & (v) Germany: 24
- Worldwide Total Confirmed Case Fatality Rate = 5.7%
- US Total Confirmed Case Fatality Rate = 3.2% [Note: The number of cases in which infected people recovered without being tested is believed to be a large number, which would substantially reduce the fatality rate. US health officials have estimated that the US actual fatality rate is 1% or less.]
- Worldwide recoveries = 302,315 (+5.4%)
- US recoveries = 21,711 (+9.6%)
- NY recoveries = 13,366
C. Projections and Our (Possible) Future
1. Are Multiple Waves of Coronavirus Our Future?
- Although the current outbreak of the coronavirus appears to be moving quickly to the apex of the infection curve (faster and with much less hospitalizations than projected), the CDC is warning that (i) infections will rebound if we stop social distancing too quickly, and (ii) we should expect the coronavirus to become a seasonal flu. As a result, future outbreaks will likely recur until a vaccine is developed. There are several potential scenarios in which future outbreaks might occur.
- First, the second wave could be worse than the current outbreak, which is what happened with the Spanish flu (the second wave was 5x more deadly than the first wave).
- Second, as illustrated in the chart below, subsequent waves of infection could be at a smaller amplitude with lower mortality rate potential compared to the current first wave. This is due to (1) strong risk awareness among stakeholders; (2) faster government response potential at the infection tipping point; and (3) enhanced risk manual at the containment stage.
- However, even a substantially reduced amplitude of wave 2 (and 3 and 4), suggest that ongoing economic shutdowns could be recurring feature of life for quarters if not years!
- The amplitude could be higher, however, if it turns out that the life cycle of the coronavirus is far longer than assumed. As JPM notes, the COVID-19 infection life cycle could last for 4-5 weeks, including a 2-week incubation period.
- The bottom line, and somewhat counterintuitively, the sooner the world declares victory against the Wu Flu, the faster the general population will rush back into “social undistancing”, sparking countless new case clusters as the infection restarts from scratch, forcing authorities to re-establish social distancing once again, and so on, as the entire process repeats from square one.
2. IHME Model: Updated on 4/7/20
- The IHME Model projects that New York’s peak day for utilization of hospital resources (e.g., hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators) will be today, April 8.
- The IHME Model continues to show the need for hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators will substantially exceed those available.
- However, NY Governor Cuomo said that New York has sufficient hospital resources available to deal with current and expected cases even though some hospitals are under significant strain.
- The updated IHME Model includes its first estimates of predicted peaks in COVID-19 deaths and hospital resource use among countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).
Key Findings Regarding Europe
- Current trajectories suggest a total of 151,680 COVID-19 deaths could occur during the epidemic’s first wave for EEA countries. The United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and France are among those with the highest predicted cumulative deaths from COVID-19 during this first wave (as shown below).
|Total cumulative COVID-19 deaths predicted through first wave: average projection (estimate range)|
|United Kingdom||66,314 (55,022 to 79,995)|
|Italy||20,300 (19,533 to 21,185)|
|Spain||19,209 (18,049 to 20,651)|
|France||15,058 (12,906 to 17,715)|
- Predicted peaks in daily COVID-19 deaths appear to be highly variable among EEA countries, likely reflecting the equally variable ways that the novel coronavirus initially spread and then continued to affect Europe. According to the latest available data, countries including Italy, Spain, Netherlands, and France may have already seen their peak daily COVID-19 deaths: 969 on March 27 for Italy; 175 on March 31 for the Netherlands; 950 on April 1 for Spain; and 801 on April 3 for France. In contrast, populous countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany could experience peaks exceeding an average of 100 daily deaths from COVID-19 in the coming weeks (see below).
|Country||Predicted peak date of daily COVID-19 deaths||Predicted daily COVID-19 deaths at peak: average projection (estimate range)|
|United Kingdom||April 17||2,932 (829 to 7,922)|
|Germany||April 19||377 (83 to 1,237)|
|Poland||April 24||104 (14 to 202)|
|Sweden||April 27||134 (53 to 296)|
Specific country findings include:
- Italy: The first wave of the pandemic has peaked in Italy at the national level, and peak resource use for ICU beds and ventilators was on March 28. Deaths are forecast to peak in Calabria on April 7, and in Puglia on April 16. On April 6, 699 daily deaths were projected, with only three provinces (Lombardy, Piedmont, and Emilia-Romagna) seeing more than 50 deaths daily.
- Spain: Almost all regions of Spain are at or past the peak. Excess demand for ICU beds is particularly high in Spain compared to many other countries in Europe. The forecasts predict 19,209 total deaths from COVID-19 in Spain by August 4.
- Portugal: Deaths in Portugal peaked on April 3 with an estimated 37 deaths. The model shows that while Portugal did not have a total bed shortage on that date, it did not have enough ICU beds to meet demand, with the shortage peaking at 118 ICU beds on April 3. The model predicts 471 total deaths in the country by August 4.
- France: The model shows that France is just passing its peak and will have a total of 15,058 deaths by August 4. The country is expected to have enough total beds to meet demand, but a shortage of 4,330 ICU beds. The forecasts predict 6,091 ICU beds will be needed for COVID-19 patients in France.
- Germany: Deaths in Germany are forecast to peak in the third week of April, with an estimated 377 deaths on April 19. The model shows that Germany will have enough beds and ICU beds to meet demand, with the required number of total beds peaking at 12,222 on April 14, and predicts 8,802 total deaths in the country by August 4.
- Sweden: Deaths in Sweden are forecast to peak the last week of April, with an estimated 134 deaths on April 24. The model shows that Sweden will not have enough beds and ICU beds to meet demand, with the shortage peaking at 1,090 ICU beds on April 25, and predicts 4,182 total deaths in the country by August 4.
- UK: Deaths in the UK are forecast to peak the third week of April, with an estimated 2,932 deaths on April 17. The model shows that the UK will not have enough beds and ICU beds to meet demand, with the shortage peaking at 23,745 ICU beds on April 17, and predicts 66,314 total deaths in the country by August 4.
Source: ZeroHedge here.
D. Potential New Treatments
- For 10 patients severely ill with the new coronavirus, a single dose of antibodies drawn from the blood of people who had recovered from COVID-19 appeared to save lives, shorten the duration of symptoms, improve oxygen levels and speed up viral clearance, newly published research reports.
- The preliminary findings emerged from a “pilot study” published Monday in the journal PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. Conducted at three hospitals in China, it promised only to suggest the benefits of harvesting immune antibodies from recovered people (also called convalescent plasma) and administering it to people battling a severe case of COVID-19.
- But its findings offer hope that a therapy with a long history and a simple premise could be a powerful treatment for COVID-19 patients fighting for breath. In the early 20th century, doctors transferred the bloodborne antibodies of patients who had recovered from polio, measles, mumps and flu to those who were in still in the grips of those infections. Armed with a veteran infectee’s immune memory of the virus, patients getting convalescent plasma appeared to recover more quickly and completely than patients who did not get the treatment, physicians observed.
- In all ten patients, the symptoms that had driven them to seek emergency care had either disappeared or largely improved within one to three days of their receiving a transfusion of antibodies from a recovered donor. Two of the three patients who had been breathing with the help of a mechanical ventilator were able to step down to oxygen delivered into the nose.
- None of the 10 patients died, and only one unexpected side effect — a red bruise on one patient’s face — was detected.
- This pilot study on [convalescent plasma] therapy shows a potential therapeutic effect and low risk in the treatment of severe COVID-19 patients,” the authors of the new research wrote. “One dose of [convalescent plasma] with a high concentration of neutralizing antibodies can rapidly reduce the viral load and tends to improve clinical outcomes,” they added.
- In recent days, the New York Blood Center (NYBC) has issued an urgent appeal for recovered COVID-19 patients to donate blood plasma for the creation of antibody-rich infusions. The first state blood bank to become a central repository for convalescent plasma, NYBC will collect, process the plasma for infusion, and maintain a bank for hospitals to treat patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections.
- The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., also has launched a small trial of convalescent plasma as a means of reducing COVID-19 complications. A link to the study is here.
E. New Scientific Findings and Other Advancements
- For weeks, infectious disease experts have been investigating why the coronavirus is proving particularly devastating to males, with early theories from China suggesting that higher rates of smoking among men may be to blame. But a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is suggesting it may have more to do with biology — specifically, genetics — than lifestyle.
- The research, released on Monday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found a higher prevalence of COVID-19 in males across every pediatric age group — including infants. Fifty-seven percent of the more than 2,572 pediatric cases of COVID-19 studied (out of 149,750 cases overall) were found in males, ranging in age from newborns to 18.
- To be clear, the research did not suggest that parents should now be concerned about their male children — or female children — getting seriously ill from COVID-19. The risk for children remains very low.
- Most of the children reported symptoms of cough or fever, but only a small fraction (five percent) were hospitalized, bolstering reports that kids often develop a mild case of the virus. Those hospitalized were far more likely to report underlying health conditions than those who weren’t, including asthma, chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease. Only 0.1 percent of the children infected died.
- The median age of the more than 2,500 children with COVID-19 was 11, with over a third of cases involving teens between the ages of 15 and 17. But the most striking statistic for the researchers was that 57 percent of cases occurred among males — an even higher number than the adult group, in which 53 percent of the cases involved males. The researchers conclude that the higher rate of boys testing positive in every pediatric age group “suggests that biologic factors might play a role in any differences in COVID-19 susceptibility by sex.”
- So what exactly may be driving the higher incidence in young boys, and should parents take this as a concern? Gregory A. Poland, MD, an infectious diseases expert and head of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the study is no reason to panic, and shouldn’t be taken as a roadmap for parents with boys. Instead, Poland helps unpack what the new research can teach us.
- Poland says the concept that females are less susceptible to disease is a “generalizable phenomenon beyond just infectious diseases” (such as COVID-19). “In fact, women also tolerate starvation and dehydration and survive longer than men do in austere environments,” Poland tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “So there does appear to be a sex advantage on the side of females that males don’t have,” meaning a better immune response.
Hormones are unlikely to be the driving factor
- Although the gender disparity may lead to theories about hormones, Poland says studies like this one are the reason researchers don’t consider hormones to be the source. “These are children who are absent the kind of hormonal levels or differences that we would see post-pubertal,” Poland says, adding that the disparity in infection is one seen in post-menopausal women, too. “That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be some still fine hormonal differences. But it leads to the idea that while hormones are important, it’s again just one factor in this complex web that still needs to be teased apart.”
The higher prevalence in COVID-19 in boys may involve genetics
- It’s still unclear to experts exactly why women respond better to certain diseases and harsh environments, but Poland says that genes may inform the answer. “We don’t fundamentally understand this… but what we do know is that females — depending on the virus — will tend to activate or suppress different genes than males do when their cells are exposed to these viruses,” says Poland. “So we think a strong driver of this is going to be just genetic, not just hormonal.” [Note: an earlier Update indicated that women’s extra X-chromosome may be a reason women are less likely to have severe COVID-19 outcomes.]
Some hypothesize that this may be linked to evolution of the genders
- There is no evidence that females may be better equipped to fight disease due to evolution, but Poland says the idea has been floated. “We don’t have any evidence but people always postulate … the idea has been in general: ‘Is it this way for the primary reason of propagation of the species?’” he says. “You need women to have children. You can have a lot of children with a few men, but you can only have them one by one with women.”
- An immunologist at the Heinrich Pette Institute in Hamburg, Germany, Marcus Atlfeld, raised another theory in a Scientific American piece from 2016 suggesting that “women might have evolved a particularly fast and strong immune response to protect developing fetuses and newborn babies.” Poland says that, in the absence of evidence, it may not be possible to form a conclusion.
Researchers have found a similar disparity with vaccines
- Poland says males facing disease at higher rates than women is something currently being studied through the lens of vaccines. “When you give males versus females of any age a vaccine, females almost always respond better than males,” Poland says. He says that it shows females, even when faced with a small viral load of an inactivated disease, are often able to respond better than males — something seen with vaccines against smallpox, measles and influenza.
Females’ “supercharged immune system” has a downside
- Women responding more efficiently to disease may be beneficial in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, but Poland says it has a negative side, too — a higher likelihood that the immune system will overreact. “This supercharged immune system has a negative side to it,” says Poland. “And that is women have higher rates of autoimmune diseases — diseases where their own immune system attacks their own body.” (According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly eight percent of the population has an autoimmune disease; 78 percent of them are women).
It could also be true that young girls simply aren’t showing symptoms
- Like the authors of the CDC study, who note many limitations of the research, Poland says the study doesn’t necessarily mean that more young boys are getting the virus. Instead, it could be showing that they do not have the same “quality” of immune response that girls do. “There could be a lot of girls out there who had it but had zero symptoms,” says Poland. “So she may not even go and be tested to know that she has COVID-19. The boy is more likely to have symptoms [and] that may drive testing.”
- Parents should not panic, nor consider females immune from COVID-19
- For that reason and many others, Poland says the new research should not be a reason for parents of boys to panic, nor for parents of girls to consider them immune. “I would not want this to give false reassurance to a parent because yes, there were girls that got sick,” Poland tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There were girls that had severe illness. So I would put it in the category of, that’s interesting. More research needs to be done. But for me as a parent, I put whatever appropriate layers of protection around my children, regardless of their gender.”
2. There’s been a call to arms for data scientists to mine terabytes of available research data on COVID-19.
- To give scientists easy access to the research, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has uploaded a database to a centralized hub named The COVID-19 Open Research Dataset.
- It’s an opportunity for data scientists to help healthcare workers and policymakers understand a growing dataset that holds the key to making informed decisions. At the moment, we lack the most basic knowledge about COVID-19, including an answer to the most fundamental question: how many people have been infected? Health experts agree that reliable data answering this question and other fundamental questions are needed to guide difficult decisions ahead.
What role do data scientists have to play in the response to the pandemic?
- To answer that question I reached out to Gordon McDonald, CEO of Capice, a Florida-based team of AI experts whose tools and deep learning network are used by corporate clients to quickly train their models and generate predictive insights into things like customer buying habits, product pricing, and employee attrition. After the White House call, McDonald decided to temporarily divert his company’s expertise and resources to helping with the COVID-19 data.
- The good news is we have lots of data,” says McDonald. “The bad news is the organization and accessibility of that data is very spread out or difficult to access.”
- Given the difficulties with the dataset, McDonald points to AI deep learning as a necessary tool.
- “Deep Learning is not a typical algorithm. A user literally “teaches” the platform with hundreds of examples of the various classifications or predictions. Once taught, then future classifications and predictions are in the hands of the deep learning platform.”
- This can be applied to health data in general, which is a growing trend in data-driven medicine.
- “Does this CAT scan report any issues in any scan frame?” McDonald asks by way of example. “Listen to audio and find instances of sleep apnea. Predict the patients quality of life as good, medium, issues after they have an upcoming surgery.”
- What progress, if any, has been made so far? How might the effort evolve in the next weeks or months?
- “There is at least one company, engine.is, attempting to link data science researchers with data with technology,” says McDonald. “I have offered my company’s full services to that effort. But all Deep Learning starts with data and data is what we need. I am aware of one COVID-19 data set that has been published for others to use.”
- More coordination is necessary, McDonald points out. Out of this pandemic, it’s possible there will emerge a new framework out of which to deploy data scientists as first-responders to meet urgent and developing problems like pandemics. Until then, the ad hoc response is the best we have.
F. Updates and New Information
- A Los Angeles doctor said he is seeing significant success in prescribing the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in combination with zinc to treat patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19.
- Dr. Anthony Cardillo said he has seen very promising results when prescribing hydroxychloroquine in combination with zinc for the most severely-ill COVID-19 patients.
- “Every patient I’ve prescribed it to has been very, very ill and within 8 to 12 hours, they were basically symptom-free,” Cardillo told Eyewitness News. “So clinically I am seeing a resolution.”
- Cardillo is the CEO of Mend Urgent Care, which has locations in Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys and Burbank.
- He said he has found it only works if combined with zinc. The drug, he said, opens a channel for the zinc to enter the cell and block virus replication.
- He added that the drug should not be prescribed for those who are presenting only mild symptoms, as there are concerns about shortages for patients with other conditions who need to take the drug on a regular basis.
- “We have to be cautious and mindful that we don’t prescribe it for patients who have COVID who are well,” Cardillo said. “It should be reserved for people who are really sick, in the hospital or at home very sick, who need that medication. Otherwise we’re going to blow through our supply for patients that take it regularly for other disease processes.
- The U.K. became the latest country to stock up on faulty Covid-19 tests after Oxford University researchers found that many of the kits can’t accurately show whether someone was exposed to the new coronavirus.
- Multiple tests provided for evaluation “have not performed well,” said John Bell, a professor of medicine at Oxford and adviser to the government on life sciences. The home-testing kits are designed to look in people’s blood for antibodies produced by the immune system to fight the virus.
- Many countries are hoping these kinds of tests can help grasp the true scope of the pandemic and reveal who has built up immunity to Covid-19 and can return to a more normal life — but they must be accurate. Germany estimates such tools may be three months away, Bell wrote. It could be at least a month before the U.K. can find a reliable version, he said.
- “Sadly, the tests we have looked at to date have not performed well,” Bell said in a blog post. “This is not a good result for test suppliers or for us.”
- British officials said on March 25 that they’d ordered more than 4 million of these tests, which can be as simple as finger-prick devices. They said the kits could have been made available on Amazon.com Inc. and at pharmacies.
- U.K. officials were hoping to turbo-charge the country’s Covid-19 testing, which lags other countries in Europe. Already, Spain, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have reported similar rapid-test failures. The U.K. will cancel orders and recover the costs where possible, said James Slack, a spokesman with the prime minister’s office.
- While the underlying technology is sound — antibody tests have been used for years with diseases including HIV and dengue fever — so far the ones developed for Covid-19 fail to pass muster. The tests either show too many negatives, indicating people aren’t immune when in fact they were exposed to the virus, or too many positives, which suggests someone is protected when they aren’t.
- “We clearly want to avoid telling people they are immune when they are not, and we want all people who are immune to know accurately so they can get back to work,” Bell said.
3. This nurse demonstrates just how fast germs spread even if you’re wearing gloves
- To stop the spread of coronavirus, many states are under stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions limit where you can go.
- But that doesn’t mean many well-meaning people may not wind up exposing themselves to germs unwittingly.
- On a recent trip to the grocery store, Molly Lixey, a former emergency room nurse in Saginaw, Michigan, told CNN she noticed a lot of people wearing gloves, which she thought was great.
- But what wasn’t so great? All the cross-contamination she saw.
- In an off-the-cuff Facebook video, Lixey decided to demonstrate just how quick and easy it is to spread germs at a grocery store.
- “I was doing some painting around the house and it hit me that paint would be a perfect medium to use to explain this (cross contamination),” she told CNN. “It terrifies me to think people believe they’re safe only because they are wearing gloves and not have them be aware that they could still be harming themselves or others,” she said.
- We know that coronavirus can spread through sneezes and coughs, and new research shows it can be passed from talking, or possibly even just breathing, which makes passing germs from object to object that much easier.
- In her video, Lixey simulates going to the grocery store and she starts off by putting gloves on her hands, grabbing her cell phone as she leaves her car, cleaning a shopping cart and grabbing some toilet paper. She uses a piece of cardboard as her cell phone and dips her fingers in a plate of paint to symbolize the germs on her hands as a result of grabbing toilet paper.
- We have no idea what the spread of this virus truly is thanks to costly under-testing at the start of this pandemic, but all of the evidence points to mass testing as the only way out of a perpetual cycle of social distancing and caseload spikes. Social distancing is buying us time, but without universal testing, this period of pause delays the inevitable. That’s why we’re calling for a national mobilization to create a universal testing program for every American.
- Such a program should categorize people in three ways: they had Covid-19, they have Covid-19, or they are still at risk for getting Covid-19. Green, Red, Yellow—that simple, no more uncertainty. It would use two types of tests to accomplish this categorization.
The Two Types of Tests for Covid-19
- When testing for Covid-19, we can look at the presence of either (1) the actual viral antigen during infection or the (2) antibodies during the middle stage of infection and after. (For the sake of simplicity we are only going to talk broadly about the antibody test as one type of antibody.)
- Covid-19 testing in the US currently is focused on antigen testing; a nasal swab is used to test for the presence of Covid-19 proteins in your mucus.
- Such tests need to be made widely available in ways that do not clog our emergency rooms. Mobile testing for at risk seniors as well as rapid expansion of drive through testing facilities, or even self-administered home swab kits that can be securely sent to labs can help rapidly identify those who need to be on the strictest quarantine (Red).
- We also need to increase the capacity to read these tests. South Korea reported its first Covid-19 case the same day as the USA, but had six times the testing capacity per capita. Fortunately, the science behind analyzing Covid-19 antigen tests is widely available—university labs, commercial labs, and the government all have the equipment needed to read them. They just need to be set up for testing and approved to analyze samples. That requires no medical breakthrough, just political leadership, which may be the taller order right now
- These antigen tests, however, can only tell providers if a person has an active Covid-19 infection or are asymptomatic carriers.
- We also need to approve serological blood and/or ELISA antibody tests that can be rapidly deployed to detect disease immunity. In some cases these tests can be self-administered at home to test for immunity from Covid-19. This isn’t a fairy tale idea. Public Health England is attempting to make millions of 15-minute at-home testing kits available to the general public at pharmacies and via mail the moment one of the tests proves efficacious. The UK’s first options just recently failed, but the science behind antibody tests tell us it is a matter of when, not if one of these tests are successful. Dozens of similar tests are racing towards approval in the USA and other countries as well.
- The goal is to make these tests available for 10 pounds per test at local drug stores: that would equate to around $4 billion to make a test kit available to every single person in the United States—a paltry sum compared to the $2 trillion disaster relief package Congress just passed. Similar tests to detect the presence of other viral antibodies are currently available in the U.S. for around $10. One can expect the COVID test to cost around the same amount.
- We should be in the planning stages now so that we are prepared to send hundreds of millions of test kits, beginning with the hardest hit cities and first responders in them and then to the general public the minute they are approved. The CDC could create an online portal could for people to report their results so public health officials can get an accurate reading of the pandemic’s spread by zip code. There is little to no incentive to falsely report a result but uploading the results could come with mail-in verification if deemed necessary.
- In sum, to be able to categorize all Americans as either red, yellow, or green, we’d need to follow three steps:
- Continue with current social distancing guidance to buy time.
- Provide self-administered, self-reported antibody testing to every American. Those who test positive can reenter daily public life with standard precautions.
- Continue to improve access and speed of antigen testing so we can quickly and strictly quarantine those that have active disease and are contagious.
It’s Never Too Early To Plan and Prepare
- The first antibody tests have just been approved by the FDA and others are closely behind. It’s not too early for the government to plan to get them developed at mass scale and get them distributed. Plants should be preparing to develop 300 million test kits now so that once the final spec is approved, there is no lag time to production. The USPS, the CDC, and the private sector, including pharmacies and hospital systems should be ready to deliver and collect data. In parallel, we need to set up emergency labs and test kits and test centers outside of hospitals for the antigen test in every state. Pre-planning is the order of the day, because each day’s delay will cost us unfathomable amounts of lives and dollars.