Timeline 2020: Week 25

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Sunday, 14 June

Lancet editor Richard Horton describes the management of the outbreak as ‘the greatest science policy failure of a generation’.

Immunologist Scott Canna and rheumatologist Rachel Tattersall publish a 23-minute audio about cytokine storms.

A study by Ben Etheridge and Lisa Spantig shows that one third of women suffered from lockdown loneliness.

Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam… some countries managed to keep COVID at bay.

When should we send children back to school? Here is what 132 epidemiologists would be inclined to do.

Monday, 15 June

Mauro Giacca of King’s College London: “Covid-19 can result in complete disruption of the lung architecture.”

With a few exceptions, all borders in the European Schengen area are open again for free travel of European citizens. The Balearic Islands open to 11,000 German tourists.

Every stairway a marathon? There is no standard therapy for patients who have survived a severe corona infection. For many survivors, the way back to a normal life begins in rehabilitation clinics. If you read German, read this.

Tuesday, 16 June

Results from the RECOVERY trial:  Dexamethasone is the first life-saving coronavirus drug (Study | The Guardian).

After hundreds of infections at the Xinfadi market, the Chinese authorities close all schools and call on residents to avoid “non-essential” travel outside of the city. Around thirty residential areas surrounding the market are quarantined. Companies are encouraged to favor teleworking and people can no longer, except in cases of force majeure, leave the capital. Around 67% of domestic flights are canceled. Libraries, museums, art galleries and parks can only operate at 30% of their capacity. Restaurants can no longer accommodate groups. Beijing begins screening tens of thousands of inhabitants, bringing its daily testing capacity to more than 90,000 people.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration revokes its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate to treat COVID-19.

Coronavirus cases rise in US prisons.

Wednesday, 17 June

Investigations from Nanjing show that turbulence from a toilet bowl can create a large plume that is potentially infectious to a bathroom’s next visitor (Paper | The New York Times).

After two women recently arrived from Britain were infected with COVID-19 and allowed to leave quarantine without being tested, New Zealand puts COVID-19 quarantine in the hands of the military.

Thursday, 18 June

The end of tourism? Christopher de Bellaigue publishes an insightful Guardian long read about the devastated global tourism industry. One key paragraph: “Tourism is an unusual industry in that the assets it monetizes – a view, a reef, a cathedral – do not belong to it. The world’s dominant cruise companies (…) pay little towards the upkeep of the public goods they live off. By incorporating themselves in overseas tax havens with benign environmental and labor laws – respectively Panama, Liberia and Bermuda – cruising’s big three, which account for three-quarters of the industry, get to enjoy low taxes and avoid much irksome regulation, while polluting the air and sea, eroding coastlines and pouring tens of millions of people into picturesque ports of call that often cannot cope with them.”

Eric Rubin and Lindsey Baden discuss SARS-CoV-2 transmission in a 20-minute audio by the New England Journal of Medicine.

A 13-day-old baby becomes one of the UK’s youngest victims.

Antibodies may fade quickly in asymptomatic people (Nature | The New York Times).

Again, meat processing plants are proving to be ideal transmission settings. In the German town of Gütersloh, North Rhine-Westphalia, 657 employees test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Richard Horton publishes The COVID-19 Catastrophe: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Stop It Happening Again. “The book returns again and again to the catastrophe in both the United Kingdom and the United States. It is haunted by the question: how did two of the richest, most powerful and most scientifically advanced countries in the world get it so wrong, and cause such ongoing pain for their citizens?” (Nature)

Friday, 19 June

Beijing residents react with frustration and anxiety after almost 200 new cases of coronavirus.

A study by the Italian Istituto Superiore di Sanità describes SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected in wastewater samples collected in Milan and Turin on 18 December 2019.

Investigations from the University of Sussex describe society as regressing back to the 1950s for many women (The Guardian).

UK abandons developing its own contact-tracing app and switches to the alternative design by Google and Apple.

Three experts exchange their views on the risks of travelling by plane.

Alexandra Villarreal describes a new American way of life: some Americans return to bars, dining and beaches, others shy away, concerned that the virus is still raging.

Sunday, 20 June

The coronavirus outbreak in the German meat processing plant Tönnies near Gütersloh continues. By midday, 1,029 employees test positive and 2,098 negative for SARS-CoV-2. Nineteen people, almost all employees of Tönnies, are being treated for COVID-19. Six of them are in intensive care, two patients are ventilated (DIE ZEIT).

Those who might be tempted to attend a political rally should read the summary of COVID Reference’s Transmission chapter:

  1. It appears that a high percentage (as high as 80%?) of secondary transmissions could be caused by a small fraction of infectious individuals (as low as 10%?; Endo 2020); if this is the case, then the more people are grouped together, the higher the probability that a superspreader is part of the group.
  2. It also appears that aerosol transmission might play an important role in SARS-CoV-2 transmission (Prather 2020); if this is the case, then building a wall around this same group of people and putting a ceiling above them further enhances the probability of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  3. It finally appears that shouting and speaking loudly emits thousands of oral fluid droplets per second which could linger in the air for minutes (Anfinrud 2020, Stadnytskyi 2020, Chao 2020, Asadi 2019); if this is the case, then creating noise (machines, music) around people grouped in a closed environment would create the perfect setting for a superspreader event.

Stay away from mass gatherings.