The Biology and Immunology Corner

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As requested by unpopular demand, a lounge talk dedicated to biology Q&A and discussion.

I unintentionally contributed to the hijacking of the, still very relevant, supply chain thread in regards to SARS-CoV-2. So here is a thread specifically for the discussion of biology, immunology, virology, and general science as it relates to the current outbreak and larger issues.

Feel free to ask questions (I'll do my best to accurately answer), provide your own thoughts, complain about response, or argue against panic and media coverage. It's all good! That said, I do reserve the right to call you out for misinformation or science rejection in as respectful a manner as possible.
 
WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Modelling MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics (J-IDEA) Imperial College London

And here's their video...

YouTube

Here is the summary from the report.

Summary
Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in late 2019, there are now 29 affected regions and countries with over 1000 confirmed cases outside of mainland China. In previous reports, we estimated the likely epidemic size in Wuhan City based on air traffic volumes and the number of detected cases internationally. Here we analysed COVID-19 cases exported from mainland China to different regions and countries, comparing the country-specific rates of detected and confirmed cases per flight volume to estimate the relative sensitivity of surveillance in different countries. Although travel restrictions from Wuhan City and other cities across China may have reduced the absolute number of travellers to and from China, we estimated that about two thirds of COVID-19 cases exported from mainland China have remained undetected worldwide, potentially resulting in multiple chains of as yet undetected human-to-human transmission outside mainland China.

One of the main takeaways I got from the interview was how to estimate number of infections. Simply take the number of deaths in a region and multiply by 1000. Reading the report and listening to the interview and just general reading has led me to believe the benchmark for healthcare is Singapore. Just something I've noticed...
 
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I'm just troubled by the fact that I am a member of the 'elderly population' which is most at risk.

At which point should I start to panic (or reach for the toilet roll)? :(

My answer would be, you shouldn't. General avoidance of direct human contact is the best defense we have against highly contagious, airborne viruses. Stay 3 (better 6) feet away from people, wash your hands till its annoying, wash surfaces often, and don't touch you face, etc.

I totally get how inconvenient that is, trust me! It's part of my job and I'm sick of it. But, even if you don't get seriously ill, it's better than getting sick and becoming another infectious vector.
 
My father is 84 and my mother is 86. The old man has diabetes, heart condition (heart operation), high blood pressure, dementia...

I will not go see him if I have the Flu, or if I feel unwell in any way...even if it's just a headache. I've also asked my mother to not volunteer at the seniors centre for a while, just till this blows over.
Perhaps you might want to ask your relatives and friends not to visit if they're not feeling well? That might be a prudent step.
 
I'm wondering how much of that conversation should be moved to this thread?

I'm following with great interest and like Galu am experiencing a similar level of concern.

One of my cousins, a school teacher, today informed me that the virus is not air born which was news to me. I've always considered the risk of transmission significant if you were less than 6 - 10 ft from someone infected with the virus.

I'm washing my hands like crazy and limiting my contact to crowds. My wife unfortunately has to ride the MBTA redline to work everyday, and although they now have disinfection protocols in place I wonder if they are effective enough.

I canceled my upcoming trip to a hifi show in Montreal because of covid-19 concerns, and both my employer and my wife's may have asked us to self quarantine for 2 weeks were I to go.
 

billshurv

Member
Paid Member
2014-03-01 11:53 pm
Meanwhile at our local school where the boy child is in reception chicken pox is doing the rounds and we are trying to work out how to get our 2 year old to catch it. I know that stateside it's generally vaccinated against, but UK for now still considers it better* to catch it. Having seen what it does to an adult catching it young is definately best!


* Anyone who has had shingles will probably disagree its better! I suspect the cost of the vaccine has something to do with it.
 

Xoc1

Member
2008-11-08 8:25 pm
Devon UK
One of the main takeaways I got from the interview was how to estimate number of infections. Simply take the number of deaths in a region and multiply by 1000.
So if we take the the current number of reported deaths as 3558 at time of posting (and number of confirmed cases as 105820) by your rule of thumb we would be looking at 3.5 million infections worldwide!

This Dashboard maintained by Johns Hopkins gives a good global assesment of the current official infection rate.
Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS
 

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Meanwhile at our local school where the boy child is in reception chicken pox is doing the rounds and we are trying to work out how to get our 2 year old to catch it. I know that stateside it's generally vaccinated against, but UK for now still considers it better* to catch it. Having seen what it does to an adult catching it young is definately best!


* Anyone who has had shingles will probably disagree its better! I suspect the cost of the vaccine has something to do with it.

Wait, they don't have the chickenpox vaccine in the UK? I had no idea. It's actually one of the best vaccines we have, 95% effective at protecting for quite a while. Only better one might be fellow fever vaccine. It's even effective at reducing the risk of shingles for those who already caught chickenpox as children.
 
That's pretty surprising, the chickenpox vaccine is pretty effective and the later life possibility of shingles should be sufficient incentive to justify its univeral use.

I grew up in the time before the chickenpox vaccine and developed a mild case of shingles, one of the two worst health moments in my life. Shingles is horrible and rarely but potentially life threatening depending on where it manifests.
 
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