🦠COVID-19 | No one "can predict when or if this disease will go away"

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: 

Cumulative case: 4,416,946 (+81,125cumulative cases 

Active cases:  2,471,472 (+10,853) (this is the number of currently infected patients)

Total Deaths:  297,315  (+5,014)

Serious/Critical Cases: 45,932 46,358 (-426)

Recovered:   1,648,159 (+65,258)

Source: Worldometers

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

2) U.S. states reopening risk map (Link) (No Change)

A video from the World Health Organisation daily presser which envisages that COVID-19 could become endemic. Encouraging trends continue in the US which will support less risky exit from lockdowns in many states. School re-opening continues to be an underreported issue and Dimitri Christakis argues for the setting up of an urgent expert task force on it.

A great explainer on herd immunity where the authors advocate against pursuing it as a strategy given its significant human cost. The authors also provide a simple simulation model to help the reader better understand the issue at hand. A commissioner from the Federal Trade Commission advocates for a privacy law to protect citizens from Silicon Valley tech meant to assist epidemiological surveillance of the pandemic.

Another article on the tools and curated resources being built to help researcher deal with COVID-19 research overload. The opposite is true of remdesivir data which has yet to be fully released as reported in STAT news.

NEW❗️I have open-sourced my curated feeds and made them freely available below.

Free COVID-19 curated feeds

🎬 Video of the day: Mike Ryan (Executive Director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme ) answers a question following Soumya Swaminathan (Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation) comment at the FT’s Global Boardroom digital conference today that it could take 4-5 years before controlling the virus.

Ryan bluntly answered the following about COVID-19:

This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away. HIV has not gone away. We've come to terms with the virus and we have found the therapies, and we found the prevention methods. And people don't feel as scared as they did before and we're offering life to people with HIV long healthy lives to people with HIV. And I'm not comparing the two diseases but I think it is important that we realistic and I don't think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear.” (my emphasis)

🇺🇸 Tweet of the day: some positive news on both testing level, testing positivity rate and a slowing epidemic, but as the CovidActNow map shows, most states remain at high risk of reopening for now.

🧒 School re-opening: Dimitri A. Christakis writes “School Reopening—The Pandemic Issue That Is Not Getting Its Due”. Christakis lays out the problem and solutions from a U.S. perspective, but it affects children, families and teachers worldwide:

“However imperfect these data are, they must inform a critical decision that many states and school districts will be making in the very near future. Notably, even as states provisionally plan on opening workplaces, most are giving no consideration to opening schools. Many have already canceled the rest of the year, and all are now considering what to do in the fall. The risks posed by delaying school openings are real and sizeable, particularly for students from low-income families.”

Christakis suggests setting up an “expert task force focusing exclusively on school closure should be convened immediately.”

As he rightly concludes:

“Using all existing and emerging data—however incomplete—they should make their best-informed recommendations to help states make this crucial decision, based on science and not politics, as soon as possible. We owe this to our children. Years from now, when they reflect on the pandemic, they will hold us accountable.”

An important issue, with imperfect data to guide a crucial decision to be made urgently. (Link)

💉 Kaleigh Rogers, Julia Wolfe and Laura Bronner write “Without A Vaccine, Herd Immunity Won’t Save Us” for FiveThirtyEight. An explainer on herd immunity, serological surveys which also offers a simple simulation model where the reader can set parameters to see what it take to reach herd immunity.

The article concludes by citing Emma Hodcroft, a postdoctoral epidemiology researcher at the University of Basel in Switzerland, which by looking at what happened in New York says:

“It really illustrates the price you’re going to pay if you want to get up to the 60 percent or 70 percent that you’ll need for herd immunity, and I hope it really illustrates why that just isn’t a feasible plan.”

A great explainer which will not prevent some people from advocating herd immunity as strategy in the months ahead. (Link)

🦠 Stephen Kissler et al. publish “Reductions in commuting mobility predict geographic differences in SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in New York City”. This is a study of 1,700 women who came to six different hospitals to give birth and whose commuting data was obtained from Facebook. The results showed wide disparity:

The estimated population prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 ranged from 11.3% (95% credible interval 8.9%, 13.9%) in Manhattan to 26.0% (95% credible interval 15.3%, 38.9%) in South Queens, with an estimated city-wide prevalence of 15.6% (95% credible interval 13.9%, 17.4%)

The study found a link between the frequency of travel of the women and the infection prevalence. It is likely that the infected are ‘essential workers’ who need to be urgently protected as the community (or them) cannot afford to stay home. (Link)

🚔 Christine Wilson (commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission) writes a powerful and urgent Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal: “Coronavirus Demands a Privacy Law”. Wilson believes that the American citizen needs privacy protection particularly as Silicon Valley companies are involved in the data collection and infrastructure built to help in the epidemiological surveillance:

“tech companies have begun collecting pandemic-related data. Facebook is joining with universities to distribute a symptom survey to users that will provide “precise data” that “will help governments and public health officials . . . make decisions,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said. Apple and Google are working together to support opt-in contact-tracing apps from public health authorities.”

According to a Washington Post poll only 40% of respondents would download a contact-tracing app. Whilst a FTC commissioner advocating a privacy law in the face of emergency politics is welcomed, the need for it stems in part and paradoxically from the FTC inaction (or even collusion) following 9/11. Shoshana Zuboff claims in her book “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”:

“that in 2000, the FTC was poised to regulate the tech giants, but the war on terror prompted by the 9/11 attacks drained away any support for privacy campaigns in US government circles.” 

Maybe this time if different. (Link)

📃 Jeffrey Brainard write “Scientists are drowning in COVID-19 papers. Can new tools keep them afloat?” in Science.

“By one estimate, the COVID-19 literature published since January has reached more than 23,000 papers and is doubling every 20 days—among the biggest explosions of scientific literature ever.”

Kate Grabowski, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU’s) Bloomberg School of Public Health, is leading an effort to create a compendium of the best research papers on the pandemic (here). It is a great initiative and resource.

Brainard also mentions other notable efforts, to help researchers in this field such a the CORD19 data set which is:

“the largest single collection to date. It holds more than 59,000 published articles and preprints, including studies of coronaviruses dating back to the 1950s.”

There are also a myriad of data mining tools which are being created to help the COVID-19 field.

I hope that this infrastructure will continue to help improve research publishing beyond the COVID-19 field urgent need. (Link)

💊 Ed Silverman write “Where’s the data? In a pandemic, now is no time to sit on Covid-19 trial results” for STAT news. Silverman was one of the author at STAT News who broke an initial promising set of results on a severe trial with remdesivir. He now asks why not all the data has been released for the drug. Physician are currently left with making decision on using or not the drug (which has now received an emergency use authorisation from the FDA) with only partial data. (Link)

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

  1. 🇺🇸 NEW❗️ “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)

  2. 🌎 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)

  3. 🇺🇸  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)

  4. 💊 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)

  5. 🌍 MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis started to publish weekly death estimates for countries (Link)

  6. 🇺🇸 The US Center for Disease Control and Surveillance (CDC) publishes “A Weekly Surveillance Summary of U.S. COVID-19 Activity” (Link)

  7. 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)

  8. 🌎 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)

  9. 🌎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)