I am a scientist by education, banker at JPMorgan for a few years, then mature PhD student in Chemical Biology at Oxford under the supervision of Christofer Schofield (FRS) and Peter Ratcliffe (Nobel laureate in medicine in 2019). Founder and tech investor focusing on media and education. I care about science, learning and Democracy which are good bedfellows.
📊 Daily Data Brief:
2,091,279 cumulative cases (+77,279)
Active cases: 1,439,357 (+44,735) (this is the number of currently infected patients)
Total Deaths: 135,229 (+7,637)
Serious/Critical Cases: 51,096 (-420)
Recovered: 516,693 (+34,907)
Death curves (updated daily as ECDC releases). Major update with per country graphs now available (Link)
Hannah Arendt has a short entry in her “Thinking Journal” titled “Amor mundi — warum ist es so schwer, die Welt zu lieben?” translated as “Love of the world — why is it so difficult to love the world?”. There is a wonderful piece by Samantha Rose Hill in OpenDemocracy (“What does it mean to love the world? Hannah Arendt and Amor Mundi”) which she ends with:
“In teaching us to love the world Arendt is teaching us to be thinking, engaged citizens. She cautions us against the impulses of sentiment or affect, and guides us toward political thinking. Loving the world offers us a way of being in the world that plants our feet firmly in reality, so that we can see what is before us.”
And as we face one more day of lockdown, witness the visible failures from the leaders and organisation which we believed we had rightly entrusted to protect us from pandemics, or as we become one of the 22 million Americans which has filed for unemployment, or one of the relative or friend of one of the nearly 140,000 who have now lost their life to COVID19, it might prove challenging or impossible to love the world in the way which Hannah Arendt encourages to.
And yet it is almost an obligation to ensure that we embrace critical thinking and human solidarity in the time of our plague to not only overcome it more decisively but also better protect future generations. And as the lockdown extensions are communicated to us one by one in countries around the world we should also take time to admire and listen to the heartening and wonderful acts of humanity which will make the present times more bearable and give us the hope we need to navigate and face the hard times ahead.
Yesterday, a friend of my parents became the first patient to have been intubated at Mass General Hospital in Boston to get out alive. He shared with his friends a video of his triumphant exit from the hospital. As he was being pushed in his wheelchair, all the healthcare workers who had taken care of him made a guard of honour, some of them with their hands and fists in the air and other clapping, celebrating a first collective victory over COVID19. He wrote that it was one of the most emotional day of his life. One of many victories to come.
So today, it happens that the Corona Daily has a number of positive videos and articles, which will give us the necessary strength and hope to collectively triumph over COVID19.
💡 Video of the day: Angela Merkel (a former physicist) clearly explains transmission rate to her citizens and how thin the margin of manoeuvre is in planning the reopening. Despite being a country with one of the highest testing capacity. in the world and a well contained first phase against COVID19, Angela Merkel rightly says to her citizens: “Caution is the order of the day and not overconfidence”. (Link)
Article of the day: Captain Tom inspiring fundraiser for the NHS (Link)
This story in the BBC with two related-videos tell the story of the fundraiser of 99-year old Captain Tom who collected nearly £16 million from over 700,000 donors with his Just Giving campaign for the NHS. His campaign “Captain Tom Moore's 100th Birthday Walk for the NHS” consisted in doing 100 laps of his garden with this walking frame before his 100th birthday on April 30.
Whilst he completed his objective early on, Captain Tom has now said that he will continue as long as people donate. A wonderful and hopeful story and a great support for the NHS.
💊 Adam Feuerstein and Matthew Herper write “Early peek at data on Gilead coronavirus drug suggests patients are responding to treatment” for STAT. The authors report on a severe trial with Gilead remdesivir drug:
“The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with Covid-19 into Gilead’s two Phase 3 clinical trials. Of those people, 113 had severe disease. All the patients have been treated with daily infusions of remdesivir.”
The trial did not include a control placebo group, but 2 people on the treatment died and most of the patients in the study have already been discharged after 6 days. It is an encouraging development but we should not draw hasty or premature conclusions even though the efficacy of the drug appears encouraging. (Link)
🦠 Xi He et al. publish “Temporal dynamics in viral shedding and transmissibility of COVID-19” in Nature Medicine. The authors observe peak shedding of the virus at or just before onset of symptoms indicating that virus transmission was likely to happen before apparition of symptoms. As the authors note in the abstract:
“We estimated that 44% (95% confidence interval, 25–69%) of secondary cases were infected during the index cases’ presymptomatic stage, in settings with substantial household clustering, active case finding and quarantine outside the home. Disease control measures should be adjusted to account for probable substantial presymptomatic transmission.”
This has implication on scaling tracing and accelerating isolation to reduce the transmission of the virus during the pre-symptomatic phase. It is also the reason why, even though the research is not yet unequivocal, authorities should advise or impose mask wearing for all to limit pre-symptomatic transmission.(Link)
🦠 Sharon Begley writes “Simply speaking could transmit coronavirus, new study suggests” for STAT. The chilling title is unfortunately a good summary of the study and advocates again for pre-emptive mask wearing for all. (Link)
🏛 Graham Teskey writes “The Worry of Governance: Coronavirus and Emergency Politics” for Oxfam Blogs. Teskey’s piece (including the references in it), are exactly the type of critical thinking which Hannah Arendt was encouraging as an act of political love. I remember talking about governance two months ago and the need for change and was told then that it was too early to discuss this.
As the control phase of the epidemic we are entering might lead not only into to immediate surveillance but more worryingly and potentially to a road normalising surveillance, it is becoming urgent to discuss governance issues during and after the crisis. Teskey’s piece frames the issues to consider comprehensively and brilliantly. A must read. (Link)
😰 Joseph Goldstein and Benjamin Weiser “‘I Cried Multiple Times’: Now Doctors Are the Ones Saying Goodbye” for the New York Times. Whilst the focus has been on scaling production and distribution of personal protective equipment to health care workers, this article focuses on the intense and repeated psychological demands placed on nurses and doctors during this pandemic.
The mental health well-being of healthcare workers (HCW) is too often not discussed in normal times, but is reaching trauma-inducing level for HCWs in severely affected cities like New York. The article is a vivid and first person account on the emotional demands placed on these heroes with little mental health support other than ad-hoc solidarity between nurses and doctors. (Link)
📊 A picture is worth a thousand words: Global (🌎) and local (with relevant flag) visualisation and forecasting tool
(NEW❗️)The "Map of Hope" provides a geographical overview of planned, ongoing and completed clinical trials. It is put together with data from WHO Clinical Trials Search Portal by the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation technology. (Link)
🌍 MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis started to publish weekly death estimates for countries (Link)
🇺🇸 The US Center for Disease Control and Surveillance (CDC) publishes “A Weekly Surveillance Summary of U.S. COVID-19 Activity” (Link)
Google has published a new website to “See how your community is moving around differently due to COVID-19”. They have a lot of data to do so… (Link)
🌎The Financial Times has a data tracking page which is in front of the paywall, looking at cases and fatality curves for selective countries and metropolitan areas/region. It is not as extensive as the Madlag link below, where you can see static as well as animated images for a greater number of individual countries. (Link)
🇺🇸/🌍The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington (UW). It has put out a simulation for the US (overall and by state) of what is the expected shortfall in health capacity (bed, ICU, ventilators) and when is the expected peak of the epidemic for each state. It has now added countries in the European Economic Area (EEA). A valuable resource. (Link)
🇺🇸Another valuable resource by Unacast ( a data company providing human mobility insights). Their “Social distancing scoreboard looks and compares (State by State and County by County), the change in mobility to prior to COVID19 (Link)
🌎 Country by Country Curves: This is a GitHub made by my friend Francois Lagunas. He has written a script to scrape deaths and number of cases in order to visualise the rate of growth on a logarithmic scale. Great resource (Link)
CityMapper has started to produce City Mobility Index to show how much a City is moving. This is a very good indicator of how well lockdowns are respected around the world: Barcelona (4% of city moving) at one end and St Petersburg at the other end (68% of city moving) for yesterday (Link)
🌎A great resource put together by Ben Kuhn and Yuri Vishnevsky. At a time when we need solidarity and cooperation, I prefer their subtitle “We need stronger measures, much faster” than their title. It’s a simulator on what case growth looks like depending on your community’s measures. Fantastic resource to stir communities and governments to action (Link)
🇩🇪 The COVID19 dashboard for Germany is one of the best around. (Link)
🌎A helpful guide by VOX of the “9 coronavirus pandemic charts everyone should see” (Link)
🌎Data and chart regularly updated by the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. It maps the effective reproduction number (also known as R0) of COVID19. You want to get it below 1 as fast as possible to contain an epidemic. (Link to see charts and more data about your country)
🌎This is a great COVID19 Dashboard prepared by Andrzej Leszkiewicz. Andrzej has also written an introductory and explanatory blog for it (“Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fatality rate: WHO and media vs logic and mathematics”). I particularly like the country comparison tab, which allows you to track and benchmark the curve of the epidemic (number of cases and deaths) in your country with that of another. Very well done and informative. (Link)
“Going Critical” by Kevin Simler is a detailed interacting essay talking about complex systems, the importance of understanding networks, modelling and how this applies to: memes, infectious diseases, herd immunity, wildfire, neutrons and culture. Must read (Link)
🇸🇬/🌎 Singapore remains the gold standard of dashboard. Here is an article with the Best and Worst of all dashboard in the world, with Pros and Cons prepared by Neel V. Patel for MIT Technology (Article)
🏛 Notable tracking projects
💊“COVID-19 treatment and vaccine tracker”. This tracker contains an aggregation of publicly-available information from validated sourcesby the Milken Institute (Link)
🏛Tariq Krim has started a COVID19 website tracking data about each government policy response to the pandemic (Link)
🏛Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) was launched yesterday. Data is collected from public sources by a team of dozens of Oxford University students and staff from every part of the world. It also looks at stringency of the measures and plots stringency with case curves. A great initiative and resource (Link)
👩💻Mike Butcher (Editor at Large Techcrunch and founder of TechforUK), had refocused TechforUK on the fight against COVID19. It is a very effective hands-on team of volunteer. Do reach out to them. He has also teamed up with We are now working closely with the volunteers behind the “Coronavirus Tech Handbook”. (They are ‘cousins’ of ours who originally created the Electiontechhandbook). Volunteer collaboration at its best! (Link)
📰 Cronycle resource:
Cronycle has made available a number of open-access feeds on its website which I extensively use for the Corona Daily. The four first feeds are:
1. COVID-19 General (Link)
2. COVID-19 x Resilience (Link)
3. COVID-19 x HCQ/CQ (Link) (HydroxyChloroquine and Chloroquine)
4. Gig Economy x COVID-19 (Link)
And I have added a new feed below
I will write more in the future on how you can leverage Cronycle for keeping up to date in between two editions of this newsletter. (Link)
Here is a blog post from Valerie Pegon at Cronycle: “Grow knowledge about Covid-19, not anxiety!” (Link)
🎬 The Grant Sanderson permanent video corner:
Exponential growth and epidemics
This is an excellent video explaining “exponential growth” and epidemics. Although we are all familiar with the phrase, its authors rightly says that “yet human intuition has a hard time recognising what it means”. This is a ❗️MUST WATCH❗️to understand fully what is upon us but also how early behavioural changes at scale can have a massive impact on the level of exponential growth of COVID19 (Link)
“Simulating an Epidemic”
This is the second video by Grant Sanderson looking at simulating an epidemic under different physical distancing measures. (Link)