UPDATE — New COVID-19 Test; Surprise Symptoms; and Scientists Speak Up About Pandemic As Global Cases = 337,533; Deaths = 14,654 and United States Cases = 33,546; Deaths = 419.

 

“Please don’t take hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) plus Azithromychin for COVID-19 UNLESS your doctor prescribes it. Both drugs affect the QT interval of your heart and can lead to arrhythmias and sudden death, especially if you are taking other meds or have a heart condition.”

— Edsel Salvana, Ph.D., Infection Diseases Physician and Molecular Biologist, Republic of Philippines, Tweet on March 21, 2020

“We’re making a faithful replica of the virus packaging that holds everything together. The idea is to figure out what makes this virus fall apart, what makes it tick, what makes it die.”

— Michael Vershinin, Ph.D, Physicist, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

“It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus. … the genetic data irrefutably show that SARS-CoV-2 is not derived from any previously used virus backbone (not manmade).”

— Kristian Andersen, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. and Dir. of Infectious Disease Genomics, Dept. of Immunology and Microbiology, Scripps Research, La Jolla, Calif.

March 22, 2020 UPDATE — South Korean company Sugentech announced today it is going into mass production of an immunoassay for #coronavirus #COVID19 that can determine whether you have ever been exposed to the virus. Takes only 10 minutes.

Tweet from Laurie Garrett, award-winning TV journalist and author of the non-fiction books I Heard the Sirens Scream; The Coming Plague; and Ebola & Betrayal of Trust.
Tweet from Laurie Garrett on March 22, 2020, award-winning TV journalist and author of the non-fiction books I Heard the Sirens Scream; The Coming Plague; and Ebola & Betrayal of Trust.

Also recently, Prof. Hendrik Streeck, Ph.D. (below center),  Director of the Institute of Virology and German Center of HIV and AIDs in Bonn, Germany, on March 10, 2020, went house-to-house to talk with every infected person in the district of Heinsberg, Germany. They took many samples, including toilet water, and discovered that many COVID-19 patients reported the unusual symptoms of loss of smell and taste. One woman cleaned her apartment, but could not smell the bleach. Another browned garlic on the stove and could not smell it. One mother could not smell the soiled diaper of her baby.

March 10, 2020, in Heinsberg, Germany, during house-to-house investigation of COVID-19 patients by Dr. and his team. Image by Lancet.
March 10, 2020, in Heinsberg, Germany, during house-to-house investigation of COVID-19 patients by Virologist Hendrik Streeck, Ph.D.,  and his team. Image by Frankfurter Allgemeine.
"We're getting pounded!" said Dr. Mangala Narasimhan on March 20, 2020, in New York City where health-care workers are struggling with limited personal protective equipment such as N95 respirator face masks and gowns or body suits in the rough battle with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Image by Getty.
“We’re getting pounded!” said Dr. Mangala Narasimhan on March 20, 2020, in New York City where health-care workers are struggling with limited personal protective equipment such as N95 respirator face masks and gowns or body suits in the rough battle with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Image by Getty.

March 21, 2020 UPDATE Albuquerque, New Mexico –  For the first time since December 2019, China’s rising COVID-19 pandemic cases and deaths seemed to finally top out this week. If that’s any guide for us in the United States, we will have four nightmare months to go until June 2020, staying at home in self-quarantine throughout America trying hard to keep new case and death numbers down.  If China’s General Secretary, Xi Jinping, had not ordered the mandatory lockdown of some 100 million people in Wuhan and the surrounding region for weeks, the awful pandemic coronavirus might have wiped out millions of people by now, instead of the thousands it already has.

 

1. Will Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin Drugs Help Fight COVID-19?

President Trump keeps bringing up two malaria-fighting drugs that he thinks will help solve the pandemic crisis:  hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) that can treat malaria, lupus and arthritis; and the anti-fungal Azithromycin. But today on March 21, 2020, a Philippine infectious disease physician and molecular biologist Edsel Salvana, Ph.D., tweeted the following. Please see below the larger font message he wrote:

“Please don’t take hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) plus Azithromycin for COVID-19 UNLESS your doctor prescribes it. Both drugs affect the QT interval of your heart and can lead to arrhythmias and sudden death, especially if you are taking other meds or have a heart condition.” See Websites below.

March 21, 2020, a Philippine infectious disease physician and miolecular biologist Edsel Salvana, Ph.D., tweet warning about the use of
March 21, 2020 tweet from a Philippine infectious disease physician and miolecular biologist Edsel Salvana, Ph.D., warning about the use of hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin for COVID-19.

 

2. Will COVID-19 Stop Spreading in the Heat of July – August?

University of Utah physicists Michael Vershinin, Ph.D., and physicist Saveez Saffarian, Ph.D., have just received a nearly $200,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study how the SARS-CoV-2 — another name for COVID-19 —  hard outer protective shell responds to changes in heat and humidity. Coronaviruses are not able to function on their own as we think of Earth life minds and brains. The coronaviruses don’t have brains. They are simply shells with RNA genetic instructions inside the protective shells. The coronavirus is only 1/20,000th of a millimeter in size and has only one goal:  to invade host cells and then to insert the genetic instructions to take over the host cell’s ability to replicate and the COVID-19 starts making as many copies of itself as possible.

“We’re making a faithful replica of the virus packaging that holds everything together. The idea is to figure out what makes this virus fall apart, what makes it tick, what makes it die,” reported physicist Vershinin.

The physicists want to use the sequenced genome of SARS-CoV-2, the researchers are building synthetic versions of these shells, with no viral genomes inside. This makes the shells uninfectious and safe to work with. 
The University of Utah physicists want to use the sequenced genome of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) to build  synthetic versions of the hard outer shells with all the spikes, but with no viral genomes inside. That makes the shells unable to infect and so can be worked with safely by scientists. Image by Univ. of Utah.

A big question now on March 21, 2020, is:  Will hotter summer temperatures cause COVID-19 to slow down its spread? Utah physicist Saveez Saffarian answers, “Coronavirus spreads similarly to the influenza virus as small mucus droplets suspended in the air. The physics of how the droplets evolve in different temperature and humidity conditions affect how infectious it is.”

And that’s a big unknown. “Just because some respiratory diseases, like flu, have seasonal cycles does not mean that Covid-19 will,” says Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist.  She studied how climate in China paralleled with the spread of COVID-19. Her paper has not been peer-reviewed yet, but she will report that changes in weather across China did not seem to affect the rapidly spreading coronavirus infections. Humidity did not show any impact and she is still studying what the data shows about temperature changes, especially what the coronavirus does in the presence of higher heat?

3.  Could There Be Waves of the Coronavirus Pandemic for 18 More Months?

The coronavirus pandemic could last over 18 months, according to a 100-page federal government response plan dated March 13, 2020,  leaked to the The New York Times this week. On Friday, March 20, 2020, the NYT reported on its front page that, “The spread and severity of COVID-19 will be difficult to forecast and characterize” and for the next 18 months into 2021 could continue in “multiple waves of illness.”

That means humans face being in a world now constantly on guard and staying away from people to avoid illness, which the Imperial College of London echoed this week: “To avoid a rebound in transmission, the ‘shelter-in-place’ policies will need to be maintained until large stocks of vaccine are available to immunize the population.” And that could be 18 months or more.

 

4.  Scientists Say COVID-19 Did Not Escape from Lab.

The journal Nature Medicine has a report from Scripps Research Associate Professor of Immunology and Microbiology Kristian Andersen: “It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus. … the genetic data irrefutably show that SARS-CoV-2 is not derived from any previously used virus backbone.”

Prof. Andersen looked at the genetic template for the spike proteins that protrude from the surface of the virus.

The coronavirus uses these spikes to grab the outer walls of its host’s cells and then enter those cells to replicater. Research found that the “hook” part of the spike had evolved to target a receptor on the outside of human cells called ACE2, a blood pressure regulator. It is so effective at attaching to human cells that the researchers said “the spike proteins were the result of natural selection and not genetic engineering.”

Further, the molecular structure of COVID-19 is different than the previously known SARS and MERS coronaviruses. It is closest to viruses found in bats and pangolin scaly anteaters that are not known to cause humans disease harm. So, why would the new COVID-19 be so contagious and deadly?

Prof. Andersen and his colleagues concluded two possibilities:

1)  Humans contracted the coronavirus directly from an animal, like happened with SARS from civets and MERS from camels. Scientists think the most likely source for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is bats, which might have transmitted the virus through an intermediate animal such as the pangolin which the Chinese eat.

2)  Perhaps the COVID-19 coronavirus emerged after a virus jump from its animal host to humans. Pangolins, for example, might either directly or indirectly have passed a virus onto a human host. Then, once inside a human host, the virus could have evolved to easily break into human cells. That could explain its contagiousness — the extremely rapid spread of COVID-19 between people.


Websites:

Dr. Edsel Salvana, Ph.D., Infectious Diseases Physician and Molecular Biologist, Philippines, March 21, 2020 Tweets:  https://mobile.twitter.com/edselsalvana

Rocky Mountain Laboratories of National Inst. of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID):https://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/rocky-mountain-laboratories

“Australian researchers claim two existing drugs could ‘cure’ COVID-19 after patients tested responded ‘very well’ to treatment,” March 17, 2020:  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8115879/COVID-19-Australian-researchers-CURE-coronavirus.html

“Prophylactic and therapeutic remdesivir treatment in the rhesus macaque model of MERS-CoV infection,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 13, 2020: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/02/12/1922083117

“Remdesivir prevents MERS coronavirus disease in monkeys,” February 13, 2020: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200213160128.htm


More Information:

Earthfiles News About COVID-19:

03-13-2020 – 5:30 PM Eastern UPDATE: Trump Declares National Emergency to Help Fight COVID-19.

03-09-2020 – 7:00 PM Mtn UPDATE: ALL of Italy Now On Urgent Lockdown. Rest of World in 113 Countries = 114,343 Cases; 4,025 Deaths; 63,997 Recovered.

03-08-2020 – 8:30 PM Mtn Update – Half the World’s Countries Now Infected in 104 of 197. Milan Region’s 16 Million People Now On Lockdown Trying to Contain COVID-19. All Italian Schools Closed. Worldwide 110,066 Cases; 3,830 Deaths; 62,278 Recoveries.

03-06-2020 – 2:00 PM Mtn UPDATE: COVID-19 Pandemic Now in 97 Countries = 101,876 Cases; 3,462 Deaths; 56,108 Recoveries. United States Still Without Adequate Test Kits While COVID-19 Hiding Weeks Inside Human Hosts Infecting Other Humans. Implication: Explosion of USA Positive Cases Upcoming.

03-05-2020 – 1 PM Mtn UPDATE – UK’s First Death and World COVID19 Cases = 97,910; Deaths = 3,353, Recovered = 54,124. USA: 16 States; 194 Cases and 11 Deaths.

03-02-2020 – 1 PM March 2nd UPDATE: Pandemic COVID-19 Now In 75 Countries: 90,294 Cases; 3,086 Deaths; 45,705 Recoveries. United States 92 Cases and 6 Deaths.

03-01-2020 – Sunday, 5 PM Update: Italy Reports 50% Spike in COVID-19 Cases; Rhode Island Reports First COVID-19 Case; and the French Louvre Closes Doors. Now In 67 Countries —  88,377 Cases, 3,001 Deaths, 42,743 Recoveries.

02-29-2020 – First COVID-19 Death in U. S. Is In Washington State. King County Press Conference At 4 PM Mtn Today. New Cases in Washington, Oregon and California Could Be “Community Spread.” U. S. 66 Confirmed Cases. World Death Total Now 2,942 and 86,021 Cases.

02-28-2020 – World Health Organization Today: Risk of COVID-19 Spread and Impact Is Now “Very High At A Global Level.”

02-27-2020 – CDC Confirms First “Community Spread” COVID-19 Case in California, Which Means No Clue Where Coronavirus Came From.

02-26-2020 – 8:30 AM Mtn Feb. 26th Update — CDC to Americans: “Prepare for Expectation That This COVID-19 Might Be Bad.” WHO: “World Must Prepare for Pandemic.” See Earthfiles YouTube Livestream Tonight for Latest Details.

02-17-2020 – Monday 7:30 PM Update: 73,335 Confirmed Cases and 1,873 Deaths; 300+ American Diamond Princess Cruise Passengers Land At Lackland AFB Early This Morning with 14 More COVID-19 Newly Infected Patients Who Will Be Quarantined Again, Raising U.S. Confirmed Cases to 29.


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