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Friday, May 1, 2020

#COVID19 May Day, lockdown protests, and Remdesivir

From the Editor of Science Magazine.
Pandemics are international. A virus doesn't respect borders between countries—or between states, as we are seeing with severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the United States. Unfortunately, too many world leaders want to treat the situation as a problem for their nation alone and not the world.

Science will rise to the challenge of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and is doing so. The structures of the most important SARS-CoV-2 proteins are now known. Although we are still in the early stages of understanding human immunity to the virus, neutralizing antibodies are being identified. Clinical trials have begun on vaccines and drugs. There's no shortcut, but there's reason to think we can conquer this if we can get enough time and collaboration. Most world leaders don't seem focused on giving the scientific and biomedical communities these two things…

Nobody wants to continue social distancing forever (or thinks they can). Even the most pessimistic modelers of COVID-19 spread agree that this degree of behavioral change can't be sustained for many months. But the tools needed to get to the next phase in the United States are still not showing up: increased testing, staffing and gear for the hospitals with the greatest needs, and masks for everyone.

Courageous and confident world leaders believe that nations work best together through international institutions; this process has benefited the world for decades. Weak leaders believe in this but only if it benefits their country alone or even themselves. The WHO is not perfect, but it has helped put out many fires around the world for a long time. - H. Holden Thorp

More editorial content from the same issue of Science Magazine:

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been the greatest disruption to the movement of people since World War II. Many who had plans—and permission—to move permanently from one country to another have seen their transition put on hold. Worldwide, the flows of tourists, business and professional travelers, and students are all affected. But those most vulnerable to the virus and virus-related policies are low-paid migrant workers who have lost their jobs, and refugees or displaced people. Their lives were precarious even before the pandemic spread.

Migrant workers suffer as they struggle to return home with little or no money, often in the face of travel restrictions and suspension of transport links. In India, after Prime Minister Modi imposed a country-wide lockdown on 24 March, hundreds of thousands of internal migrants crowded the roads on foot, creating the very conditions that the lockdown was meant to prevent. Many foreigners are being summarily expelled, such as in India and Saudi Arabia. Others are stranded in foreign countries. Losing jobs creates a cascade of other losses for migrant workers—of legal status and access to health care and other public services. Only a few places, including Portugal and New York state, have opened their health care systems to migrants regardless of legal status (as Thailand has done since 2013 in response to the AIDS epidemic and other infectious diseases brought to the country by migrant workers). These migrants' families back home will suffer too, from the loss of remittances that fund health care, housing, education, and better nutrition. The departure of temporary migrant workers also creates risks for the native population. Agricultural producers in Europe, for example, are predicting crippling labor shortages this spring and summer.
Refugee camps are densely packed—the largest one in the world, in the Cox's Bazar District of Bangladesh, has three times the population density of New York City, without a single high-rise building. Social distancing is impossible in such a setting. Clean water for handwashing is scarce. Medical resources are thin, although humanitarian agencies are ramping up hand-washing stations, protective gear, isolation units, and ambulance services. Conditions in European “reception centers” for refugees and asylum seekers, like that near Moria village on the Greek island of Lesvos, are worse than in many refugee camps in poor countries. Moria holds about 22,000 people in a site built for 3000. There are 1300 residents per water tap... - Kathleen Newland

Meanwhile in the U.S., armed Branch Covidian Playtriots are storming a number of state capitols to protest their relatively comfy stay-at-home inconveniences.

Manly stuff, 'eh?


Just got emergency FDA clearance. Good idea?

Early tentative efficacy findings, via WIRED.


From Science Based Medicine.
COVID-19: Out-of-control science and bypassing science-based medicine
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there hasn’t just been a pandemic of coronavirus-caused disease. There’s also a pandemic of misinformation and bad science. It turns out that doctors today are just as prone as doctors 100 years ago during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic to bypass science-based medicine in their desperation to treat patients…
Important reading.

More to come...

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