Yes, I took a few days off. First, most of the news on COVID-19, aka Winnie the Flu/Xi Flu/Chinese Flu/etc., was political in nature rather than science based. Second, a lot of the more learned discussion had to do with models, and much of the really good discussions on that would be “inside baseball” to most people. Short version remains, however, that the prime model used for policy is seriously flawed and even with corrections is not yet close to reality. Until it is, it should not be used for policy decisions in my opinion. Third, I needed a break and got some other things done.
Before I get to the main topic for today, two quick notes. It is good to see that what was previously taboo is now going mainstream. Back two months ago, if you talked about the safety problems at both labs in Wuhan and even appeared to entertain the idea it could have been a lab accident, you were guilty of spreading false information and could be deplatformed. I’m glad several of us did, and even more glad to see some more open discussion of those problems and the possibility this started in a lab.
This article asks another taboo question that needs full and honest discussion. Given that the Chinese economy is brittle and was already in trouble; and, that Xi seized the opportunity to expand monitoring even as troublesome people were disappeared and various cleansings expanded, it is not outside the realm of possibility that Xi decided to level the world economic field a bit and make the most of it.
The main topic for today, however, is a study being breathlessly touted in the media for saying it is futile to develop a vaccine (and with some other slams). No, no it does not say that vaccine research is futile. Not unless you selectively edit the quote.
“Based on the close relationship of SARS-CoV-2 to SARS, current vaccine and drug development for SARS-CoV-2 has also focused on the S protein and its human binding receptor ACE2 (7, 24). Thus, the observation in this study raised the alarm that SARS290 CoV-2 mutation with varied epitope profile could arise at any time, which means current vaccine development against SARS-CoV-2 is at great risk of becoming futile. “
Let’s break this down and take on some of the media talking points.
Point 1: Until it is peer reviewed, and other studies confirm (or refute) it’s findings, I don’t trust it. Number of reasons, including that early studies can be like early reporting: full of errors and sensationalism.
Point 2: A finding of the study is that a mutation of COVID-19 has been found in India. That mutation, if you go to line 282 in the paper, actually makes that version less infectious as it reduces the ability to bind to ACE2 receptors. Did you get that? The mutation is less infectious, not more.
Point 3: Unlike some other covids and other viruses, the rate of mutation in COVID-19 is slow. If you go to line 229, this paper confirms that and even goes so far as to note “A relatively stable genome of SARS-CoV-2 is a good indication for the epidemic control, as less mutation raises the hope of the rapid development of validate vaccine and antiviral drugs.” Hardly the breathless gloom and doom implied by various headlines and discussion.
Point 4: Going back to the discussion above, changes in the S protein may make vaccine development targeted to that protein (and the related ACE2 binding) futile. Not all vaccines, just that target.
There are some other interesting points in the paper, but again it has to be taken with caution for now. As other studies replicate or provide information, a better assessment can be made.
As I discussed in a previous update that discussed structure-based drug design, viruses mutate. It’s a given. Some mutate slowly, some like an ADD squirrel in a field of nuts. Some mutations make the virus easier to catch, some make it more deadly, others can change receptors, symptoms, and more.
The fact is, however, that quite a few of those mutations are evolutionary dead-ends. Too deadly, and people die before they can transmit it. Less infectious (as seems to be the case discussed here), again, it is a strain that could die out well before others.
The key to vaccine development for fast mutations is to find targets that don’t change, because when those change that strain dies out. There are always such targets, the trick is finding them and finding ways to target them.
In conclusion, don’t let the MSM wind you up or be your main source of info. When it comes to false information, they lead the pack.
Since the media isn’t going to say it, once again, COVID-19 is not Capt. Tripps. It is not the flu or a cold. Chill, distance, and use good hygiene. STOP THE PANIC!
Also, a reminder once again: if you are sick or think you are sick, DO NOT GO TO WORK OR TO VISIT PEOPLE. Stay the frack home. Don’t be Stupid, go to work/out, and insist on getting up close and personal to everyone you meet. Yes, Stupid is capitalized as I work with Stupid, who did just that. Don’t be Stupid.
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If you suspect you have COVID-19 or have been exposed: call your state health department and work with them so that you can be dealt with in a way that minimizes the chance of spreading the virus to those helping you and to the general public. Can’t get them? Call your local department or see if your health service has online/telemedicine screening set up; or see if one who has will let you use it even if you are not in their network. Do not go out in public, and don’t go to an ER or other facility without calling ahead. Be smart.
Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Yes. Is there need for panic? NO. HELL NO. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes. Should you be preparing? Yes, better late than never. And good luck finding/getting stuff.
Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, wash them thoroughly every time you use the bathroom, then follow with hand sanitizer after every washing, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash on a regular basis. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and stay away from those who don’t. Also, keep your bugger hooks out of/away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Do NOT shake hands with anyone, and avoid touching or being touched by strangers. Or your strange friends.
Avoid travel if at all possible. If you have to travel, or go out for any reason, use lots of hand sanitizer and go to full flu protocols. If you have to use a public restroom, take full precautions including using paper towels and such to handle faucets, doors,etc. Believe it or not, this was highly recommended before now, and major grocery chains have long told employees to use those practices to avoid getting or spreading colds, flu, etc. Not many actually do it, but…
If you own a business, make sure your employees know the above protocols. Have someone who refuses to wash their hands or otherwise follow the protocols? Talk to them, write them up, and if necessary fire them as they now pose a risk of infection to you and your customers. Extreme? Yes, but while the CDC and others are working to slow it down, odds are it is already here and could hit hard and fast. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
I want to reiterate that there is no need for panic, but there is a strong need to be alert, be informed, and be prepared.
Good Sources Of Information On COVID-19
Instapundit (no longer doing roundups, but great articles from Glenn and his team)
South China Morning Post (decent, some salt may be needed)
Business Insider (decent, even if they did fall for some lies about Trump)
More to come
Local Independent Businesses That Need Your Support
More to come
Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles: