Coronavirus Special Coverage

A collection of news posted throughout the week for those that want signal, not noise.

  • Previous coverage - all of our posts in this ongoing series.
  • Coronavirus status page - learn how to prepare for possible spread to your area. Scenarios, shopping lists, background info and everything else you need, all in one place.

Key developments for Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Welcome to the newly revamped Key Developments, now twice weekly and with non-COVID news. Right now, it’s actually still just COVID news, but we’ll be slowly morphing it into something broader as we go.

There are over 25.8 million global cases.  Cases have grown around the world by over 1.8 million since last week; global case growth has kept this pace for over a month. There have been over 859,000 total deaths. There are over 6.2 million cases in the US. There have been over 188,000 deaths in the US, and we’re still losing over 1,000 people per day, as we have for about 2 months.

August was not a great month for some western states:

Those things we have long recommended to our readers during this pandemic (masks, social distancing, and eye protection) have been studies by the WHO and found as effective means of reducing rates of illness. If there’s been any question in your mind about whether the steps you are taking to protect yourself and loved ones are useful or worth the energy, be assured that they are.

Distance learning for kids is not universally achievable in the US because of inequality: girls in Monterey County, California struggled to complete their schoolwork using a local Taco Bell’s wi-fi. How many others are lacking access?

There are a few variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but they’re not so differentiated that they would render a vaccine moot. See the link to the PNAS article:

Iowa was fudging their COVID-19 numbers by back-dating their reporting. A nurse practitioner blew the whistle. Iowa has one of the highest case rates per capita in the US.

Officials at the FDA indicate a willingness to green-light emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines before phase III trials end. This is a disastrous policy direction that could seriously jeopardize both public trust in vaccine safety, and public enrollment in the needed phase III trials.

In more distressing US policy news, a new White House pandemic advisor is touting the big-burn herd immunity approach to the pandemic. More than 2 million Americans would likely have to die to reach herd immunity in the absence of a vaccine.

Travel limitations mean Americans are stuck with American healthcare costs.

Schools have been closed, so data on rates of illness in children is falsely skewed. Now that schools are opening we’re going to see higher case numbers in US children. I spoke with a pediatrician recently and he said he’s seen a few kids in the ICU, but no child deaths. He also says he’s seen multiple parents of sick kids die. This is a risk we know to be true, and I’m here to tell you it’s happening:

 Prepping has become more popular during the pandemic.

Job cuts at blue chip companies are a worrying economic indicator.

France and Spain are driving a resurgence in Europe:

Tens of millions of vaccine doses might be available in the US by the end of the year or early into 2021. But who gets them first?  First responders and those at high risk should clearly be prioritized, but what does that mean when half the population is risk because of comorbidities like obesity and hypertension?

When we look at clinical research data, there are hierarchies in levels of evidence that help guide clinical decision-making: observational study à randomized, controlled trial à meta-analyses of RCTs and other studies. A meta-analysis of multiple RCTs and observational studies on hydroxychloroquine shows a) it is not an effective treatment for COVID-19, and b) when combined with azithromycin it can increase the mortality rate. Even outside of this meta-analysis, not a single RCT has shown it to work. The more robust the study, the more it’s clear that it’s not a useful treatment.


    • Cia

      Elsevier is a pharma player and any publication sponsored by it must be read with a very critical eye. Its meta study looked only at studies carried out on hospitalized patients. While HCQ (especially when given with azithromycin  and zinc) does have benefits when given later in the disease, the study carried out at the Henry Ford institute showing that it halved deaths, it is most beneficial when given in the first two days of symptoms. The recommended dose is 400 mg once a day. So what were researchers in the U.K. RECOVER trial thinking when they gave it as 2400 mg a day, three doses of 800 mg? Hoping for adverse reactions?

      Everyone should at least read the following before making up his mind to support or reject the availability of this treatment.

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    • Cia

      I just saw this meta study comparing outcomes for countries using or limiting early treatment with HCQ.

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    • Cia

      An anti-parasitic drug, Ivermectin, has been found to provide very effective treatment of Covid, especially when given with doxycycline. It has become the standard of care in India. Ivermectin is a remarkably safe and inexpensive drug.

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      • Cia Cia

        Darn it, I’ve lost all my automatic upvotes again.

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      • Cia Cia

        Now my zeros have been changed to negative one. Wouldn’t it be better to bring evidence to bear on what I have said? The articles I have linked contain dozens of relevant facts which cannot be obliterated by querelous cancelling.

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      • Cia Cia

        I just got one automatic upvote. Will you change it to negative two right away this time to express your disapproval?

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      • JB Cia

        Gave you an upvote. Not because I agree with you (I strongly don’t and think your sources come from questionable sites), but because it seems like you’re at least trying to have a civil and source-based convo. 

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      • Cia JB

        Thank you. I would be interested in knowing what information I have described or linked that you think is incorrect. If it is correct, then the sites which publish it are not important. Since making valid treatment decisions in many cases is a matter of life or death, considering the factual nature of the information is what is important. 

        I respect your desire to support discussion of other viewpoints which I believe are fact-based.

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