COVID19 update, July 1, 2020: skipping phase 3 trial, China vaccinates entire army; Hong Kong loses autonomy; Israeli volunteer for “vaccine challenge trial”; how to recondition N95 masks

(1) I had somehow missed this bombshell: China skipped the Phase 3 clinical trial for its vaccine altogether and is now vaccinating its entire “People’s Liberation Army”, reports the Daily Telegraph. Dr. Campbell comments in his daily update. Epoch Times commentator Joshua Philipp (at 4:00 into the video) notes that, in parallel, it will be tested on 9,000 volunteers in Brazil: if these trials are successful, the vaccine will be manufactured in Sao Paulo and distributed free of charge. Free? Timeo DanaosSinos et dona ferentes. Keep watching for some insight on ChiCom influence operations in Brazil from, admittedly, a stridently anti-CCP commentator.

(2) While everybody was preoccupied with COVID19 and with the US riots, China’s sham parliament rubber-stamped the extension of China’s national security law to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, de facto (if not de jure) abrogating the “One Country, Two Systems” agreement. The UK is extending an offer of residence, with a path to citizenship, to the 3 million Hong Kongers with “British National Overseas” status.

(3) “Infect me”. The Times of Israel has an interview with Keren P., a US-born army veteran who just graduated as a mechanical engineer from the Technion. She is one of 61 Israelis who have volunteered to be “guinea pigs” in a vaccine challenge trial through the 1daysooner nonprofit. In a “challenge trial”, people are first vaccinated, then deliberately exposed to the pathogen under controlled circumstances.

(4) Following the sharp rise in new infections in Israel, the relevant Knesset committee has greenlighted the renewal of “track and trace” by Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet.

(5) Can you recondition an N95 mask? An article in ACS Nano studies the question experimentally.

Quoting from the abstract:

We investigated multiple commonly used disinfection schemes on media with particle filtration efficiency of 95%. Heating was recently found to inactivate the virus in solution within 5 min at 70 °C and is among the most scalable, user-friendly methods for viral disinfection. We found that heat (≤85 °C) under various humidities (≤100% relative humidity, RH) was the most promising, nondestructive method for the preservation of filtration properties in meltblown fabrics as well as N95-grade respirators. At 85 °C, 30% RH, we were able to perform 50 cycles of heat treatment without significant changes in the filtration efficiency. At low humidity or dry conditions, temperatures up to 100 °C were not found to alter the filtration efficiency significantly within 20 cycles of treatment. Ultraviolet (UV) irradiation was a secondary choice, which was able to withstand 10 cycles of treatment and showed small degradation by 20 cycles. However, UV can potentially impact the material strength and subsequent sealing of respirators. Finally, treatments involving liquids and vapors require caution, as steam, alcohol, and household bleach all may lead to degradation of the filtration efficiency, leaving the user vulnerable to the viral aerosols.

ADDENDUM: CovidAGE risk calculator by Sanford Health (via Dr. Seheult)

COVID19 update, May 9, 2020: Spreading reconsidered; German pathologist and Swiss doctors identify thrombosis as #1 killer in severe COVID19, Swiss clinical trial with aggressive anticoagulation treatment; meat supply chain disruptions in Germany

(1) The Daily Telegraph has a long article about an epidemiologist at St Andrews U., Scotland, who has been analyzing a number of epidemiological “contact tracing” studies on how COVID19 spreads.


An analysis of such studies was recently posted on Twitter by Dr Muge Cevik, an infectious diseases clinician and researcher from St Andrews University. It was promoted by Sir Jeremy Farrar, the head of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). “If you read one thread,make it this one,” Sir Jeremy said.

(Twitter thread unrolled here)

Dr Cevik starts with a big Chinese study that traced 2,147 close contacts of 157 confirmed Covid-19 cases. The overall infection rate was six per cent, but it was much higher among friends (22 per cent) and family members (18 per cent). In terms of location, the main risk factors were homes (13 per cent) transport (12 per cent) and dinner and entertainment (seven per cent).

Broadly similar findings emerge in several other papers. Risk of infection is much higher within households or other enclosed environments in which contact is close and sustained. In the outdoors, it falls to something in the 0-5 per cent range.

[…]A Chinese study of 392 contacts of 105 confirmed cases found that the attack rate in children was just four per cent within the home, compared with 17.1 per cent in adults, for example. The infection of spouses was super high, at 28 per cent. 

Emphasising the link with age, another study found that household members over 60 were much more likely to become infected (18 per cent) than those under 20 (five per cent).

Children, it seems, are not only better able to resist the infection within the home but also less likely to bring it back with them. A study, funded by the Australian Research Council, of 31 household clusters including children found that only 10 per cent had been sparked by children.

Using these and other studies, Dr Cevik concludes that they suggest (not prove) the following:

[emphases mine in the quote below]
  • Close and prolonged contact is required for transmission of the virus. 
  • Risk is highest in enclosed environments such as houses, care facilities, public transport, bars and other indoor spaces where people congregate.
  • Casual, short interactions are not the main driver of the epidemic. 
  • Susceptibility to infection increases with age.

(2) Die Welt has a video interview (in German) with Prof. Nils Kucher at the Zurich university hospital. 

Summarizing his remarks:

  • We got severe COVID19 completely wrong in the past. This is changing as overwhelming evidence accumulates, e.g. from autopsies, and is published
  • Severe COVID19 is not a conventional viral disease at all, but a coagulation disease
  • Endothelial cells have ACE2 receptors. The virus docks there, cause inflammation of the endothelium, this leads to release of cytokines. (Cf. “cytokine release syndrome”, a.k.a. “cytokine storm”.) Thrombosis ensues, and eventually the patient dies of embolisms
  • It has taken us way too long to figure that out, which has cost needless lives
  • The way to prevent thrombosis is treatment with [?]molecular weight heparin. Guidelines traditionally limit this to hospital settings because of the risk of hemorrhage 
  • Often patients seem to be in decent shape, are sent to home isolation with just antifebriles, and then some die of thrombotic events
  • Now we [=Zurich U. Hospital] are running a clinical trial on 1,000 ambulatory COVID19 patients. Half get standard care, the other half also get heparin injections. All are closely monitored by telephone in case something goes awry. For the heparin treatment with that patient group, the risk of hemorrhage is rated as less than 1%
  • Sadly, doing a control group creates an ethical problem if it’s a deadly disease and you are pretty sure you have the answer

Related: a Hamburg coroner, Dr. Klaus Püschel , talks about what he has learned from 192 autopsies on COVID19 patients (Under a law in the Free City of Hamburg, autopsies are mandatory for deaths from an infectious disease.)

“Of the first dozen I autopsied, seven died of thrombose, four directly of lung embolisms.” 

Those results were just published [following peer review by four experts, which takes a while] in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Independently of his colleague in Zurich, Hamburg University Hospital Prof. Stefan Kluge wonders if treatment of severe COVID19 patients should not primarily feature anticoagulant therapy.

[My “gut” tells me: a combination of anticoagulants and immunomodulators.]

Coroner Klaus Püschel : “This isn’t a killer virus, we’re not at war. We must not fear and should not give up.”

(3) Now even De Standaard (in Dutch) has woken up to the problem of food insecurity in the US. The article is a mixed bag: the journalist is clearly  floored by the generosity of Americans (in “nanny states” like Belgium, there is a tendency on the part of people to say, “oh, helping people, that’s the government’s job”). At the same time gets taken in by socialist snake oil peddled by the likes of “Beta” O’Rourke.

(4) On a related note, supply chain disturbances for meat are not just a US phenomenon: Here are two articles telling of outbreaks at two meat processing plants, one in Schleswig-Holstein in the North, the other in Baden-Württemberg in the South.

Consequently, meat prices are rising in Germany.