🦠 COVID-19 | Hitting bottom?

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: (May 29, 2020, 23:57 GMT)

Cumulative case: 6,026,091 (+192,336cumulative cases 

Active cases:  3,003,723 (+55,264) (this is the number of currently infected patients)

Total Deaths:  366,415 (+7,991)

Serious/Critical Cases: 53,730 (+721)

Recovered:  2,655,953 (+129,081)

Source: Worldometers

1) Seven-day rolling average of new deaths (updated daily as ECDC releases). Major update with per country graphs now available (Link) (USUKFranceGermanySweden,  Nordic Comparison)

Showing a chart from the FT today highlighting the worrying situation in Brazil, Mexico, India and Russia. Also the FT comparative charts now allow up to 6 countries

2) U.S. states reopening risk map: this analysis includes current estimated R (reproduction number) for each state (Link) (NEW❗️4th indicator added)

3) Rt estimate per country (NEW❗️). This is a new resource link in the data section from a team which has led accuracy in modelling fatalities in the US for the past few weeks. (Link)


After President Trump declared that he was “terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs”, Helen Branswell followed her article covering the announcement with the following tweet:

And it is true that there has been a number of troubling and shocking news this past few days which we cover in the Corona Daily today. Further data and commentary unfortunately came out today supporting the chosen title of the last edition (“A second spike is coming”). There is a thread showing how science is being censored by the White House preventing it to guide the public and public policy to save lives. The head of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also regrets the actions of Dominic Cummings in a video interview.

An editorial in the BMJ reminds us of the inequality of access to testing from ethnic minorities. This is also true of the African American community in the US, which having already disproportionally been decimated by the virus has had to witness the public killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. Devi Sridhar argues that shielding the most vulnerable (the elderly but also ethnic minorities who are disproportionately living in multigenerational household) though desirable has proven to be near impossible. The Corona Daily decided to include a new data link on the ethnicity of the pandemic in the US.

Disinformation also comes from politicisation of science as CT Bergstrom narrates in his excellent thread on the White House censoring the CDC. Facebook, although not wanting to be an “arbiter of truth” has censored misinformation sites run from Macedonia. Christian Drosten, one of the world leading coronavirus virologist, whose early actions and advice saved countless lives in Germany details the tabloid and criminal attacks he has bee recently exposed to in an excellent interview by Der Spiegel. There is also a great essay from Trisha Greenhalgh on evidence-based medicine being put to the test during this pandemic.

Another article and podcast on the privacy of contact tracing apps and the use big data analytics to contain COVID-19.

Finally an article for CEO and managers on how to safely re-open their business.


🛑 Thread of the day: “Compromising the Science” by Carl T. Bergstrom (Professor of Biology, University of Washington). (Twitter thread)

Professor Bergstrom whose core interest is “modelling the flow of information” is “angry” as the “White House and CDC remove coronavirus warnings about choirs in faith guidance” as reported in the Washington Post:

Bergstrom feels that the White House is treating the pandemic more as a “public relation” exercise than a “public health crisis” and is ready to compromise the advice of the top scientists at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to achieve its short term objective. As Bergstrom concludes in his thread:

Let us remind ourselves that this censorship of the advice from the CDC happens at the same time as President Trump is criticising Twitter for fact-checking or overlaying warning on some of his tweets the platform believes are in breach of its terms of use. Trump has claimed that this was in violation of the First Amendment.

In the case of the CDC, the White House has gone further in pressuring the agency to delete its advice on choirs. The First Amendment that Trump wants to uphold for himself should also apply to Science…


🇬🇧❗️Video of the day: Professor Peter Piot is the head of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He was being interviewed by Jon Snow from Channel4. When asked about Dominic Cummings actions he said:

‘The rules have to be the same for everybody and if there is a breach of trust it will collapse and will not work’ – Prof Peter Piot

Also talks about continuing to suffer from COVID-19 long after being discharged from hospital. (3 min 27 sec)


🇬🇧 Tweet of the day:

In the Guardian article the SAGE adviser is quoted as saying:

“We cannot relax our guard by very much at all,” said John Edmunds, a professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who attends meetings of Sage, the scientific advisory group on emergencies.”


🇺🇸 Tweet of the day: Scott Gottlieb (former Food and Drug Administration director) downplay the uptick in hospitalisation increase in the US in his interview on Squawk Box. (Link)


🏛🇬🇧Picture of the day: “Locking down in the early stages of the spread of the virus is linked to a reduced excess death toll”. The chart below which shows that locking down early saved lives is included in a damning article of the U.K. from the Financial Times titled “UK suffers second-highest death rate from coronavirus”.


Shielding and testing the vulnerable:

🧪 Catherine Dodds (senior lecturer in public policy) et al. write “Covid-19: ensuring equality of access to testing for ethnic minorities” in the British Medical Journal. Dodds focuses on the “hard to reach” in the community, and how important it is for testing policies to willingly focus on this group. As she writes:

“Much work needs to be done to ensure populations at risk are meaningfully prioritised for access to interventions for SARS-CoV-2 testing. Policy makers must build trustworthy surveillance programmes and give everyone the confidence that they can access healthcare equitably during the covid-19 pandemic. Rolling out programmes for self-sampling without regard for these experiences of exclusion will risk exacerbating inequalities.”

An urgent read for policy makers. (Link)

🏛 Devi Sridhar (Professor and Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh) and Yasmin Rafiei write“The problem with 'shielding' people from coronavirus? It's almost impossible” for The Guardian. A popular thinking, particularly amongst the lockdown opponents, has been to implement a policy which shields the vulnerable. Sridhar shows that whilst this is conceptually attractive it is near impossible to successfully implement:

Instead Sridhar advocates a robust test-trace-isolate infrastructure with an exposure assessment for the most vulnerable enabling them to decide individually how much they want to shield themselves from public life and the virus. (Link)

Evidence and misinformation:

💊 Trisha Greenhalgh writes “Will evidence-based medicine survive COVID-19” for the Boston Review. A shrewd and critical analysis of the shortcomings during a pandemic of a field she has helped pioneered. In order to save lives Greenhalgh advocates:

“At a public health rather than individual patient level, we need to embrace other epistemic frameworks and use methods to study how best to cope with uncertainty, unpredictability, and non-linear causality.”

The Boston Review has provided great essays on Science throughout the pandemic. I encourage you to discover and read them. We covered the Marc Lipsicht’s “Good Science is Good Science” in a previous edition. (Link)

🛑 Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny write “Troll farms from Macedonia and the Philippines pushed coronavirus disinformation on Facebook” for NBC news. This article is doubly interesting. First it shows that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook stand ready to fight medical disinformation.

However, it comes on the heels of Zuckerberg criticising Jack Dorsey (CEO) and Twitter for fact-checking and adding warning to some of President Trump tweets (Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"). It appears that Facebook does not want to fact check politicians’ tweets but is happy to take actions against coronavirus disinformation. Macedonia had also been a big “Inside the Macedonian Fake-News Complex” during the 2016 US presidential elections and Facebook benefited from it and did not take any action.

Maybe there is more money in political advertising than in coronavirus advertising. That is the truth Zuckerberg wants to uphold. (Link)

🦠🇩🇪 Rafaela von Bredow und Veronika Hackenbroch write We Managed to Stop a Pandemic Wave with Relatively Mild Measures” for Der Spiegel. A great interview of virologist Christian Drosten whose sound expertise and early contribution have prevented “50,000 to 100,000 more fatalities” in Germany alone. It makes the attacks he is submitted to now by the tabloid press all the more disturbing. (Link)

Privacy

🚔 Jessica Morley et al. write “Ethical guidelines for COVID-19 tracing apps” for Nature. A comprehensive set of principle to assess and maximise public adoption of such technology. Avoiding them could be costly beyond the success if the app:

“Governments might not have a second chance to get an intervention right — failure now could breach public trust for the foreseeable future. Governments, developers and deployers must ensure that COVID-19 contact-tracing apps satisfactorily address the ethical questions we set out. Apps that do not should not be deployed; alternatives should be considered.”

Most of the launch to date have had mixed success, and most governments have been reluctant to adopt some of the recommendation and approach which this article and others have helpfully outlined. (Link)

🎙 Podcast of the day: “Data–driven Responses to COVID–19: opportunities and limitations” from the London School of Economics.

“From contact tracing to address the spread of COVID-19, through to the use of AI in the dashboards that allocate health resources, there is growing pressure to implement a range of data–driven responses as “obvious” solutions to various concerns.”

Corporate leadership:

🏢 Ajay Agrawal et al. write “The CEO’s guide to safely reopening the workplace” for MIT Technology Review. An interesting overview of the types of decision making available to managers as they reopen their business namely “information based solutions” and always on solutions. (Link)


📊 A picture is worth a thousand words:  Global (🌎) and local (with relevant flag) visualisation and forecasting tool

  1. 🇺🇸 (NEW❗️) “The COVID Racial Data Tracker

    “The COVID Racial Data Tracker is a collaboration between the COVID Tracking Project and the Antiracist Research & Policy Center. Together, we're gathering the most complete race and ethnicity data on COVID-19 in the United States.”

    (Link)

  2. 🦠  “Science Forum: SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) by the numbers” (Link)

    “The COVID-19 pandemic is a harsh reminder of the fact that, whether in a single human host or a wave of infection across continents, viral dynamics is often a story about the numbers. In this article we provide a one-stop, curated graphical source for the key numbers (based mostly on the peer-reviewed literature) about the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is responsible for the pandemic. The discussion is framed around two broad themes: i) the biology of the virus itself; ii) the characteristics of the infection of a single human host.”

  3. 🇺🇸🌎 This model has led accuracy for several weeks in the US. It also does projection for Europe and Rest of the World. (Link)

  4. 🇺🇸  “Is your community ready to reopen?”: A map of the US (50 states and 2,100+ counties) looking at reopening risks with metrics around 3 criteria: 1. Is COVID in retreat? 2. Are we testing enough? 3. Are our hospitals ready? (Link)

  5. 🌎 The Financial Times (visualisation) 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)

  6. 🇺🇸  The Johns Hopkins University resource center was the first one I used back in January they have now made available in their latest iteration a county by county dashboard in the US including information about health capacity, insurance coverage, ethnicity and age breakdown of the populatio (Link)

  7. 💊 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)