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The few places that escaped the Spanish Flu — lessons from Samoa

A fateful decision that led to many deaths

Samoa

The Samoan Islands, 1896 | Wikimedia

Western Samoa and American Samoa are side by side islands in the Pacific. When the Spanish Flu arrived in 1918, one would instigate a quarantine while the other had a trading community that did not want to stop trade. American Samoa survived the Spanish Flu without a death. Western Samoa kept trading and lost a quarter of the population.

Influenza 1918: the Samoan experience

John Ryan McLane

In 1918 the Samoan archipelago was split between American Samoa (a United States territory) and Western Samoa (previously a German colony but under New Zealand governance from 1914). The 1918 influenza pandemic killed a quarter of Western Samoans, while leaving American Samoa unscathed.

The dangers of ship-borne disease were well known, and exclusion of many diseases, especially plague, had been implemented since the imposition of colonial governance nineteen years before.

On 30 October 1918 the Union Steamship Company’s Talune left Auckland for its run through Polynesia… The new, more lethal influenza variant had arrived in Auckland with the spring, and several crew members were ill.

Western Samoa was a German colony that had three times as many foreign ships visiting as American Samoa which was a semi-neglected military base. Western Samoa had been handed over to New Zealand management.  But when the Talune arrived the sailors that were sick hid their illness (captains orders). The Governor of Western Samoa,  Colonel Logan, hadn’t been warned of the new Flu, the traders didn’t want a quarantine, and Logan decided to wait for orders. American Samoa was a military base, and it was easy to set up quarantine.

To officials in Washington, American Samoa was a naval station with an incidental indigenous population. There was scant need for traders to maintain a permanent presence in the colony and no effort to attract settlers. This facilitated the American Governor’s use of quarantine: the absence of a trader community allowed General Poyer to impose measures without resistance, and the small number of ships visiting Pago Pago made such an effort manageable. When descriptions of the flu reached Poyer, he acted decisively. Quarantine was established, and implemented under the leadership of traditional chiefs. With modifications, the quarantine in American Samoa continued, with no fatal cases of influenza reported, until late 1921.

In contrast, Western Samoa suffered the highest known mortality of any state during the 1918-1921 pandemic. At least 24 percent of the population died, and most who died were between 18-50 years of age. Half of the most productive age cohort of Western Samoa, and the chiefly and religious elites, died. Western Samoa collapsed.

It was a “bungle that amounts to a crime”. The rampant influenza in New Zealand should have been noted in the ships “bill of health”. It was a reportable disease by the time the ship arrived in Western Samoa.

Even though the virus will arrive eventurally, despite the best efforts, the delay by quarantine is very useful. It’s a general rule of infectious diseases that viruses often mutate and become more infectious but less deadly with time. Natural selection naturally selects the more “fertile” virus, not the one that kills the host in 24 hours before they can spread it to Aunt Martha and her six kids.

In the places that escaped the Spanish Flu, by Richard Gray

 … there may be some benefit to keeping the virus out for as long as is possible. American Samoa implemented a five-day quarantine for all boats that kept influenza from its shores until 1920. When it finally did arrive, the virus appears to have lost much of its sting and there were no deaths attributed to influenza in a population of more than 8,000. The main island of Samoa to the northwest, however, lost around a fifth of its population to the pandemic.

 Gray looked at all the pockets in the US that escaped the worst of the Flu:

“These communities basically shut themselves down,” explains Howard Markel, an epidemiological historian at the University of Michigan who was one of the authors of the study. “No one came in and no one came out. Schools were closed and there were no public gatherings. We came up with the term ‘protective sequestration’, where a defined and healthy group of people are shielded from the risk of infection from outsiders.”

The people of Gunnison managed this by erecting guarded barricades on the main highways in and out of the surrounding county. Railway passengers were forced to submit to two days of quarantine upon arrival.

Tasmania had a quarantine too

A similar story unfolded on the on the Australian island of Tasmania, which implemented strict quarantine measures for boats arriving on its shores that required all passengers and crew to be isolated for seven days. When the infection penetrated the island in August 1919, medical officers reported that it was a milder infection than that on the mainland. The death rate on Tasmania was one of the lowest recorded worldwide.

Villagers in Barrow and Wainwright in north Alaska posted armed guards around their villages and travel between settlements was prohibited. When scientists tested people living in a number of remote settlements in north Alaska, they found they too were free of antibodies, suggesting they had never been exposed.

It appears that many of these villages were given advanced warning of the oncoming virus as it spread across Alaska by dog sled teams that raced ahead of the infection to alert villages. It was an incredible gamble – mail delivery teams and seal hunters moving through the region were already spreading the virus from settlement to settlement – but one that paid off.

Delaying an infection has other benefits too. It can help spread the peak, thus making resources more available.  There are around 2,000 ICU beds in toto in Australia, that’s about 1 bed per 12,000 people. The high Ro infections (which rise and fall the fastest) will be bad news if they are also nastier germs and a high proportion of people need an ICU bed. The system gets overwhelmed.

Remember those exponential curves are so unforgiving. If CoronaVirus has a 6 day doubling period, without any quarantine China is potentially only three months away from having 300 million cases. Officially some 12% or so get the severe form. In the Lancet study 29% got acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Watching those CoV numbers (not the Chinese ones so much as all the other nations.) The good news is that in the Western world the numbers don’t seem to be growing rapidly. We are only 5 days in from stopping the flights, but that’s getting close to the average incubation period. The few new cases in Australia and the US still seem to have come direct from China or through a close relative.

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The few places that escaped the Spanish Flu -- lessons from Samoa, 9.9 out of 10 based on 65 ratings

106 comments to The few places that escaped the Spanish Flu — lessons from Samoa

  • #
    Kalm Keith

    It’s amazing what the past can teach us.

    Good find Jo.

    In a world of political and media confusion it’s good to find something real to latch onto: even if the lesson is a century old.

    The current “bug” has a life cycle so use that sensibly and Isolate it.

    Maybe even give the process a name: How about “Quarantine”.

    If China’s borders are shut for a month it may be that pockets of infection can be identified along with Wuhan, be treated and watched and eventually returned to normal.

    Isolation. Christmas island is starting to look like something sensible from our government, what a change.

    KK

    220

    • #
      Dennis

      Not according to the Labor Opposition, not sensible at all.

      And this is a perfect example of the never ending negativity the government faces with partisan media spreading the misinformation and deliberately failing to report achievements.

      No wonder the general public becomes confused and anxious.

      191

    • #
      Latus Dextro

      It’s amazing what the past can teach us — KK

      Which is, as we all know, why Orwell wrote:

      If you control the language, you control the argument.
      If you control the argument, you control information.
      If you control information, you control history.
      If you control history, you control the past.
      He who controls the past controls the future

      For further insight, this interview at The Epoch Times: THE CHINA REPORT (Feb 3)
      Did the Chinese Coronavirus Start as a Bioweapon Program? | The China Report

      In this episode of The China Report, we speak with Casey Fleming, CEO of BlackOps Partners, about allegations that the Coronavirus spreading in China may have originated from a bioweapon program. We also discuss the Chinese regime’s programs for asymmetrical hybrid warfare and its programs for waging an “unrestricted war” on the United States

      — Discussing the Chinese Communist warfare doctrine, A War Without Morals.
      The Beijing communist thugs, the Chinese Communist Party, (CCP) MO on full display apparently involved in the immediate disposal of bodies and the threat of imprisonment for disagreeable internet postings. This appears to be no regular coronavirus with a possible modified virus containing a spliced segment of HIV. A valid point made by one biosecurity expert was that the CCP is a very rigid bureaucracy, with an inherent ideological and cultural hierarchical rigidity that predisposes to a severe accident.

      91

    • #
      hatband

      Completely O/T, but where’s the power come from on Christmas Island?

      They’d need AirCon 24/7 in those Detention Centres.

      23

  • #

    On that basis the current strategy appears to be the right one.
    Still, even if it loses potency whilst becoming more infectious this variant still seems to be likely to overwhelm the medical facilities in any nation where it gets a local foothold.
    Most sufferers will need to reconcile with sitting it out at home without reliance on medical support.
    That seems to be what is happening in Wuhan with its empty streets and it will be a while before we can ascertain how the population at large coped with it.
    Hopefully, it will decline in seriousness with passage of time and distance from epicentre.

    130

    • #

      Stephen, from what I can tell people are isolating themselves in fear, but there are also guys with guns roaming the streets. Some are dressed in medical type garb with ambulances. Some are dressed like the army…

      80

      • #
        Stephen Wilde

        It seems that those infected are being rounded up and moved to large scale containment centres.
        The likely conditions in such centres are not going to be of a high standard.
        The next week or so in our isolation units is going to reveal the extent of the problem. I live about 5 miles from our unit at Arrowe Park.
        The people repatriated to there are currently half way through the isolation period. What happens to them and those in other Western units is the critical test.

        20

        • #

          those centres are a worry and I’d guess that death rates in those will be higher even thanexpected for normal health care in that region. It is something to factor in when comparing mortality vs infection rates.

          01

      • #
        Slithers

        Hi Jo,
        Slightly off topic, but….

        Some high official, probably at the insistence of a senior medical person, set in motion a 1000 bed emergency hospital; TEN or more weeks ago. Then followed up with a second similar structure. 2,500 beds don’t materialize out of thin air, the Land/power/heating/water/bed linen and staff had to be mobilized as well.

        This response by that official would if he got it wrong and wasted all that money he would be in serious trouble, therefore he must have had significant confidence that those hospital beds would be needed.

        My point is there had to be in existence some plans and feasibility study with land and materials available to get that structure built in just ten weeks. It would seem that China was prepared for a worst case scenario.

        Some one very senior in the Chinese hierarchy had to know just how bad it can get

        30

    • #

      You used the word “passage” which has another pertinent meaning.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_passage

      basically as the virus spreads it infects a host, reproduces and then infects a new host. This is a form of serial passage and with the right public health response can result in a still infectious but mostly harmless or slightly annoying disease.

      05

      • #
        Bill In Oz

        Some infectious diseases with rapid & high mortality
        Burn themselves out
        Because they kill before they infect enough other victims.
        We now know that this does NOT apply to Novel Corona virus
        As a person carrying this disease can pass it on to others
        While displaying very mild or no symptoms

        The Dr Campbell video on Youtube demonstrates this with a Wuhan Chinese man with no symptoms at first, passing the disease after visiting to his on in Hanoi.
        ( Though the Wuhan Chinese mother could also have infected both while not getting sick at all. She was not tested for the virus. )

        30

      • #
        Peter C

        Stephen Wilde used the phrase “passage of time”.

        You have changed the topic. Having said that, CoV cases on the Diamond Princess have now reached 61. Are some of these Serial Passage? If the number goes higher it seems very likely. The Diamond Princess is a closed experimental chamber of viral transmission.

        60

        • #

          he did write regarding “passage of time”… mine was a clever segue, I thought, using the same word. My comment was adding to SW’s and was completely ON topic (but thanks for being disingenuous) specifically regarding this

          Still, even if it loses potency whilst becoming more infectious this variant still

          I was drawing to the attention the process of infection and re-infection and how just this process contributes to the abatement of deadly infection.

          13

          • #
            Bill In Oz

            Is that an optimistic perspective G A ?
            I suggest you go mention it to the already sick folks on that cruise liner !
            :-(

            20

            • #

              it was a comment which raises a particular possibility. It is going to be very difficult to discuss anything optimistically or pessimistically if we have to consider someone with the disease would respond to the discussion.

              31

          • #
            Peter C

            I was drawing to the attention the process of infection and re-infection and how just this process contributes to the abatement of deadly infection.

            Do you have any comment about how many serial passages might be required to attenuate the virus?

            Red thumb not from me by the way.

            20

  • #

    [...] The Spanish Flu in North and South Samoa. [...]

    00

  • #
    hatband

    So the Spanish Flu wasn’t spread by birds, but by Human contact.

    Then the Death Toll may have been minimal or nil in most of Africa, Asia, and South

    America, not the uncounted millions claimed by extrapolating the known toll in the

    Western Countries.

    In fact, Brazil was the only South American Country that participated in the 14/18 War,

    and it was also the only South American Country struck by the Spanish Flu.

    https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/brazil

    So it appears certain that the returning soldiers and Sailors were the carriers

    Pago Pago is a Naval Base, so there must be more to the story on why there was no

    outbreak on American Samoa.

    14

  • #
    Peter C

    Melbourne had a quarantine station at Portsea. It became an Army training facility, then was turned over to the Point Nepean national park.

    Maybe it is time to put it back into use.

    110

    • #
      hatband

      Okay at this time of year, but too damp by April.

      How about those old Refugee camps in the Outback?

      Air quality is good out there, plenty of life saving Sunlight during the days.

      72

    • #
      WXcycles

      The warmer and more humid the environment the more unsuitable for virus to spread. It would be better to transport cases out of communities to a suitable commandeered tropical island with a runway for the duration of active illness and recovery.

      Lizard Island well north of Cooktown has the facilities and a 3,100 ft runway. It rarely drops below about 18 C at night in mid-winter and remains fairly humid all year round. And it’s relatively close to major medical facilities in Cairns and Townsville for support. RAAF C-27s could probably land there to ferry cases, and larger logistics aircraft could deliver prompt supplies via parachute. Plus more routine supplies could be moved to Cooktown by air then moved to island beaches by military landing craft, without direct contact with the people isolated on the island. There are many GBR islands where that sort of option is available.

      53

      • #
        Graeme Bird

        Yeah fantastic. There’s the answer right there.

        11

      • #
        Graeme Bird

        And even if this approach turns out to be overkill this time around its basic prudence, for a more integrated approach to national defence, to trial run such a great idea. Better to have such a system and not need it, than to need such a system and not have it.

        10

  • #
    David Maddison

    Sorry, off topic but important:

    EXACTLY as I predicted. Don’t they ever get sick of their own fbfabricated bull excrement?

    https://www.sbs.com.au/news/january-2020-was-the-hottest-month-on-record-globally

    [Can we post these on topic. I'll try to get back to normal posting soon. - Jo]

    100

    • #
      Analitik

      The BoM even managed to fabricate a hot trend exemplified by January this year by comparing number of January days in Melbourne above 40 degrees over time. Gosh – the hot week at the end of the month gave a larger number of days vs other recent years. Nevermind the abnormally cool and wet conditions for the rest of the month (highest rainfall since 1970, Tim Flannery)

      [Off topic. Can we try to use the unthreadeds. I will try to get back to normal topics soon. - Jo]

      30

    • #
      TedM

      Only if you ignore the raw data for the 1930′s.

      00

  • #
    thingadonta

    I read somewhere that in some of the worst pandemics, you can have 2 or more separate viruses or bacteria operating in tandem. They theorise this might have been the case with the Black Death, the idea being that a second opportunistic disease tags along somehow and attacks people in addition to the plague, which may even kill more people. There is insufficient evidence, but a form of pneumonic plague -that’s is spread by air -seems to explain the spread of the Black Death, which seemed to have travelled way too fast to be borne solely by rats or fleas. For example it rapidly spread in places like Iceland where there apparently wasn’t any rats or fleas. This ‘pneumonic form’ might have been another disease ‘hitchhiking’ along with the plague.

    Modern medicine would however pick this sort of thing up very quickly, enabling much better response. (You can’t fight what you don’t know), showing overall how far we have come in making future pandemics less likely and less lethal. Plague itself responds very well to antibiotics ensuring any hitchhiker wouldn’t get a ride for very long.

    50

    • #
      Graeme Bird

      I think thats probably all quite right thingadonta. We also don’t want to dismiss the idea that state-sponsored biological warfare was not possible many centuries ago. Say for example even in the plague of Justinian. You don’t necessarily need a powerful microscope to bring a few diseases together and put together a campaign of infecting various water storage facilities. Plus we have a bit of a distorted idea of ancient technology. Things often pop out in the archeological record which seem to show technological developments that are forgotten for many centuries.

      I once read this fascinating book by Robert Temple showing conclusively that the ancient world had the telescope. This is back before the internet where some people couldn’t go anywhere without a stack of books. Its just a hop skip and a jump from the telescope to the microscope and there is nothing to say that, for example the Sasanian Persians, couldn’t weaponise a good witches brew of the sort that you describe. Some other people talk about cosmic ray bursts that can leave us more than usually vulnerable to pandemics.

      61

      • #
        thingadonta

        I know that in the early USA people would take blankets of those infected with smallpox to give to the Indians/other enemies , whom they knew had less immunity to it. That’s biological warfare. Not sure about the telescope story though….

        10

        • #
          Roger Knights

          “I know that in the early USA people would take blankets of those infected with smallpox to give to the Indians/other enemies , whom they knew had less immunity to it.”

          Wikipedia’s entry, The Siege of Fort Pitt, says this:

          “The Siege of Fort Pitt took place during June and July 1763 in what is now the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The siege was a part of Pontiac’s War, an effort by Native Americans to remove the British from the Ohio Country and Allegheny Plateau after they refused to honor their promises and treaties to leave voluntarily after the defeat of the French. The Native American efforts of diplomacy, and by siege, to remove the British from Fort Pitt ultimately failed.

          “This event is best known as an early instance of biological warfare, where the British gave items from a smallpox infirmary as gifts to Native American emissaries with the hope of spreading the deadly disease to nearby tribes. The effectiveness is unknown, although it is known that the method used is inefficient compared to respiratory transmission and these attempts to spread the disease are difficult to differentiate from epidemics occurring from previous contacts with colonists.”

          The British commander there was Jeffery Amherst.

          20

  • #
    TdeF

    I have a pet theory about the sudden end of WWI. After all, the Germans were winning, despite what we were told.

    It involves the Spanish flu which was brought by a particular American soldier into the front line. The Americans arrived late and with no weapons. They bought rifles from the French. However one US soldier and his name and origin have been traced, brought the ‘Spanish’ flu. It devastated the trenches. However the combatants did not want panic, so it was named the “Spanish” flu because Spain was not involved.

    It spread quickly in the cold, damp, terrible, crowded conditions in the trenches. Lice would not have helped. What was peculiar about this flu was not only the speed but the fact that unlike most flus, it preferentially killed young men with a strong immune system and a very nasty reaction. Not the young and the elderly. Those with a strong immune system drowned.

    So it was that the Germans, who arguably were winning the war, were suddenly unable to fight. They did not tell their own people, so the people created villains, traitors, including the ‘November traitors’ and the punitive reparations added insult to injury and subsequent economic devastation. Plus the loss of millions of young men. The stage was set for WWII. This story is not told.

    I cannot imagine a worse time for a pandemic than trench warfare. In a time of peace though, it should be able to close ports and wait our the time. Elevated temperatures can be captured by infrared cameras as being used in airports today. These will become widespread but quarantine, forty days was the old standard.

    Quarantine from the French, quarante for 40.

    My great great grandmother arrived in Port Melbourne from Tipperary in 1842 after seven months in total but on the final ship some 65 people died. Such ships were quarantined at Point Ormond, Elwood and later Flinders had a quarantine station. In later years incoming cattle were routinely quarantined on the island created by the Coode canal, an island which disappeared when the old riverbed was filled in and became Coode road. Quarantine was part of life at the hint of a problem when people did not move so quickly.

    I am surprised at the outbreak on the cruise ships. On the upmarket Cunard, the washing of hands at every entrance is mandatory and staff spend a lot of their time cleaning handrails and touch panels. This is because of the eternal curse of norovirus which produces diarrhea. It appears that precautions on other ships are less stringent, as we have seen so often in the Caribbean. Otherwise cruise ships are infection centers, as people learn quickly. Except when the virus takes two weeks to appear.

    120

    • #
      TdeF

      And from what I have heard, people in other countries have seen the videos from Wuhan, of many people lying in the streets, dead and dying, untouchables. All governments want to censor or sugarcoat news, hope problems go away and that everything will be fine in the end, but the reaction of so many countries in slamming the doors shut tells us that the official story is wrong. Death rates must be approaching 1/3 and the virus is escaping early detection, allowing it to cross borders. Total isolation and quarantine are the ONLY solutions, as with Smallpox.

      You can be sure the government officials in Wuhan responsible went into isolation early. Allegedly 5 million people escaped the city before it was closed. What sort of closure was that at half the population of 11 million? Now 53 million in five cities are trapped.

      I also read that the ‘forbidden city’ was closed, which is really puzzling. The place is empty, a tourist destination. What is more likely is that the same size Administration and party headquarters immediately next door was closed, the new Imperial city.

      80

    • #
      Brian the Engineer

      Tdef
      Under relentless attacks by the Allied forces in particular by Monash and the AIF the Germans were on the ropes but not defeated. This campaign was the start of combined arms and lightning war (blitzkrieg).
      On another note my Grandfather died of Spanish flu in Randwick in January 1921 just before my mother was born.
      It’s all statistical until it’s personal.
      Cheers BtE

      40

      • #
        Graeme Bird

        My Nanna’s family was mostly wiped out. She had to be adopted by the Yorks who treated her as a kind of house servant, though I should be grateful to them. She was a Macquarie and descended from a brother of the Governor. I don’t know if she would have been well to do if her family wasn’t basically taken clean out except for maybe one her sisters. This flu actually all but disappeared from the public memory until the 80′s or so. Then people started talking about it again. But my grandfather talked about it. I don’t think we took notice of what he was saying or even fully believed him. Until the 80′s then I made the connection of what he had been talking about. What he described was shockingly akin to the Monty Python Holy Grail “Bring Out Your Dead” scenario. He was about 9 years old and somehow he was part of the team going around, where people were loading bodies onto carts. Not a great many combustion engines in the very Far North of New Zealand at that time. Just to show that he wasn’t completely full of it, he also claimed that the depression started in the early 20′s. My Mum said that was all wrong and everyone knew it started in 1929 after the stock market crash. But the old man’s memories were quite correct, being as for the Empire, people who were on the pound sterling, felt a depression as soon as the complete criminal and clown Churchill had put the pound back on gold at the pre-war exchange rate vis a vis the Americans.

        Yeah Tdef the Spanish Flu definitely came from America. Neither Spanish nor just only Flu. I have noticed lately that they have been blaming it on one individual infected American but thats just a plea bargain. How did it get called “Spanish” in the first place if we can clearly trace it to America? A load of nonsense. To finally acknowledge the source country but blame it on an individual is just distracting from the biowarfare operation.

        00

    • #

      TdeF — washing hands does not stop airborne droplets from being inhaled.

      Elevated temps and IR scanners won’t stop asymptomatic people from bringing in a virus, though they may pick up the most infectious ones. Usually we’d expect people to be most contagious in the day before they show symptoms, though there are a few diseases where people can continually shed virus without getting sick themselves.

      Mass testing and two week quarantines are the primary defense.

      100

      • #
        Alfred

        Sorry to spoil the party (again) :)

        At presentation, he was afebrile and well. He reported no previous or chronic illnesses and had no history of foreign travel within 14 days before the onset of symptoms. Two nasopharyngeal swabs and one sputum sample were obtained and were found to be positive for 2019-nCoV on quantitative reverse-transcriptase–polymerase-chain-reaction (qRT-PCR) assay.2 Follow-up qRT-PCR assay revealed a high viral load of 108 copies per milliliter in his sputum during the following days, with the last available result on January 29.

        The fact that asymptomatic persons are potential sources of 2019-nCoV infection may warrant a reassessment of transmission dynamics of the current outbreak. In this context, the detection of 2019-nCoV and a high sputum viral load in a convalescent patient (Patient 1) arouse concern about prolonged shedding of 2019-nCoV after recovery. Yet, the viability of 2019-nCoV detected on qRT-PCR in this patient remains to be proved by means of viral culture.

        Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany (New England Journal of Medicine)

        The PCR is an extremely sensitive test – so there is hope yet.

        40

        • #
          TdeF

          Frightening if the virus detected after convalescence remains viable. During convalescence is no surprise.

          10

      • #
        TdeF

        Of course. Hand washing has proven extremely effective in stopping norovirus. Of course it will not stop airborne virus.
        It is possible even masks will not stop this contagion but I can only assume that is another method and the balance between the two is not known. The lifetime of the virus in dry hot air as well. All viruses need moisture to survive in the open. They are doing aerial spraying in the streets of Wuhan!

        As for the asymptomatic, yes they are undetectable in mass screening but there are people who have mild symptoms who are just as dangerous and they are detectable. Isolation and quarantine.

        30

    • #
      Graeme Bird

      “Elevated temperatures can be captured by infrared cameras as being used in airports today. These will become widespread but quarantine, forty days was the old standard.”

      One of the reasons this one may be nastier than most is that its not elevating everyones temperature apparently. Usually if you can get a fever you can fight these things off. This one has the innovation that it can get you through the eyeballs and the innovation that it doesn’t necessarily cause a fever. Thats pretty crafty being as a fever is one of our best ways to fight these things.

      11

  • #
    David Maddison

    The people who survived the Black Death 700 years ago appear to have survived due to a mutation that coincidentally also provides resistance to infection by HIV.

    https://www.the-scientist.com/research-round-up/could-the-black-death-protect-against-hiv-54468

    50

    • #
      TdeF

      Interesting. Unfortunately mutation as a defence is not commandable. You either have the mutation or you die. That is natural selection and personally, I do not want to be selected against. Many contagions can be eliminated though through lack of transmission by the host. Viruses have a lifespan, as do the infected.

      10

  • #
    WXcycles

    Great article, where do you get this stuff? Hard lessons. I hope we caught it in time and keep doing the right things. At some foreseeable point isolation from international air links will have to increase for the countries that have not made the right moves, and that’s where effective national isolation will flounder. Being in Summer buys us time as virus propagates less in warm humid air so we may have 3 to 4 months left to better prepare both medical capacity, and personal health, diet and readiness to self-isolate for as long as possible. Auto-payments and internet connections will be needed to allow people to pay bills from home plus food drops to people’s door may become necessary to sustain the community isolation, if it gets to that.

    30

  • #
    hatband

    The Americans arrived late and with no weapons.

    The Americans had the M-1 in 1918.

    It proved very successful, so they switched to the French Garand, which wasn’t much good

    in the early Twenties and stuck with it in WW2 for a while.

    16

    • #
      TdeF

      Once again as with Climate, where do you get your facts?

      No machine guns, no cannons, no tanks, no aircraft.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauchat

      “After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) arrived in France without automatic weapons or field artillery. Consequently, it turned to its French ally to purchase ordnance. General Pershing chose the Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun and the Chauchat machine rifle (designated as “Automatic Rifle, Model 1915 (Chauchat)” by the AEF and nicknamed the “Sho-Sho” by the troops) to equip U.S. infantry. Between August 1917 and the November 11, 1918 Armistice with Germany, the Gladiator factory delivered to the AEF 16,000 Chauchats in 8 mm Lebel and, late in 1918, 19,000 Chauchats in .30-06.”

      “The AEF used French and British equipment. Particularly appreciated were the French canon de 75 modèle 1897, the canon de 155 C modèle 1917 Schneider, and the canon de 155mm GPF. American aviation units received the SPAD XIII and Nieuport 28 fighters, and the U.S. Army tank corps used French Renault FT light tanks. Pershing established facilities in France to train new arrivals with their new weapons.”

      “I spent the last few weeks back in the hospital, but I’ll tell you one thing the boys later told me: The day after the Armistice they got the word to turn in their Chauchats and draw Browning Automatic Rifles. That BAR was so much better than that damned Chauchat. If we’d only had the BAR six months before, it would have saved so many lives.”

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        TdeF

        And the Spanish flu devastated more Germans more than guns could ever do. The first case being in Fort Riley, Kansas,

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        hatband

        TdeF said:

        Once again as with Climate, where do you get your facts?

        I don’t comment on climate issues,

        so I’m not sure where you’re coming from with that assertion.

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          TdeF

          Good. Stick to that.

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          Sceptical Sam

          I don’t comment on climate issues,

          That’s good.

          But answer the question.

          Where do you get your facts?

          You are usually wrong. Do you not check anything?

          You seem to have nothing other than a motor-mouth.

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            Serp

            “logorrhoea” is the term.

            Just another blog clogger to ignore. Jo’s amassing quite a following of such pests.

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            sophocles

            Where do you get your facts?

            Facts? You’re being generous, aren’t you, Sam?
            His assertions are mostly Male Bovine Scat. Any facts seem to be or are entirely accidental.

            Sam says:
            You are usually wrong.” Correct. Well spotted that man.
            – Methylated Spirits being absorbed through the skin is an outstanding example.
            -`Humans are carnivores’ is another great success.
            and:
            Do you not check anything? That seems to be a case of `Not if it can be avoided.’

            Well put Sam.

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          Kalm Keith

          ” I’m not sure where you’re coming from with that insertion.”

          I love that new new term “logorrheah”, sort of a short version of blogoreah.

          None of us are certain.

          Life is a big mystery that we have to try and make sense of.

          KK

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    WXcycles

    It’s a good thing our electrical grid is so rock solid, as we would be in deep if workers got so sick that major generators had to close units and downscale output. We still have windmills and solar to save us! Yay!

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    hatband

    Hi Ed.

    The Conspiracy Theories are all yours.

    I’m talking about what actually happened:

    Demobbed Troops were given a slew of vaccines, all Live Virus at the time.

    What could the results have been, with the information we have today?

    No Conspiracy there.

    Try to remember:

    Never attribute to Conspiracy what can be laid at the Door of Stupidity

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      Graeme Bird

      “Never attribute to Conspiracy what can be laid at the Door of Stupidity.”

      No thats no good. Thats letting the bad guys off the hook and prejudicing one hypothesis over another.

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        TdeF

        You can interpret the actions of most people through overwhelming self interest and preservation. That means a conspiracy is less likely than a widespread lack of morality as with the captain first off the boat and refusing to go back, as in the case of the Costa Concordia.

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        hatband

        “Never attribute to Conspiracy what can be laid at the Door of Stupidity.”

        Yeah, that’s a blatant lie, but ED has got his fangs in my 2 previous comments and

        won’t let go, citing spreading of Wild Conspiracy Theories.

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    cedarhill

    A key fact would be the recovery time after infection. Haven’t been able to find anything regarding what duration is recovery after symptoms.

    The Spanish, Swine, etc., are between 4 and 12 days after symptoms. Noting, in passing, the Spanish flu had people dying in 2-3 days, sometimes hours. Some suspect cytokine “waves” over reacting to the infection may be the cause of the severe cases of Spanish flu.

    The first cases outside of China were reported in mid-January (confirmed). It’s been around 21 days since confirmed cases appeared in the West. Unless the recovery period is nearly unbelievably long for the illness to run it’s course, the first cases should be recovered or dead starting this week?

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    Bill In Oz

    Jo, interesting Youtube video ( 20 minutes ) by a Dr John Campbell in the UK.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaIjwvjBwqg&feature=emb_logo
    The UK is now recommending isolation or quarantine of anyone travelling to the UK from the following countries/regios
    Hong Kong
    Macao
    Vietnam
    Malaysia
    Singapore
    South Korea
    Taiwan
    And to that list we should add
    The Philippines as a death has occurred there as well.

    Dr Campbell has an easily undertood explanation of the symonms of Novel Corona virus disease and a timeline of when these develop.

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      Bill In Oz

      From Dr Campbell Youtube above :
      1 I there are more than 2000 infected person Britain will not have the ‘oxygen delivery capacity’ to get people though the stage when the lungs cannot work effectively because of fluids in the lungs of all diseased persons .

      2 : Dr Campbell is concerned that less developed countries without the capacity to offer universal effective medical treatment & quarantine, will become new centers for the future spread of novel Corona virus.
      .
      3; Said is that ever so British gift for understatement, that the WHO is ‘behind the curve’. In other words bloody useless !

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      Kalm Keith

      Is Dr Campbell aware that after the Chinese New Year a huge number of celebrants flew back to their current home countries?

      Why hasn’t he listed them?

      KK

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    Peter Fitzroy

    A good parasite (for that is what we are talking about here) does not kill its host, and in fact the best parasites are those that you never notice, and possibly give you a benefit. Those like the coroana virus are mal adapted in the evolutionary sense as this outbreak will become a dead end for it.

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    • #

      No Peter. There is serious discussion about whether this virus will become the fifth endemic coronavirus among epidemiologists.

      I may be unstoppable already in Africa. (We have no data). If it has an animal vector, once it is “out” we will not put the genie back in the bottle. We will have to develop vaccines and fend off repeat outbreaks.

      It is only possible to eradicate diseases that have no animal vector. Eg theoretically, measles.

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      • #
        Peter Fitzroy

        Well I’m taking it seriously, all I was suggesting is that killing your host is maladaptive (even if you manage the serial passage trick). As to eradication, as a maladapted disease, once the pool of potential hosts is dispersed enough then the virus will be removed from the environment, as the transmission vectors will no longer be available. This can be done with vaccines, quarantine, and for animals, theriocide.

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        • #

          Flat out “No”. Unless you want to exterminate all bats in every cave or vaccinate them all.

          It may well become a seasonal infection like influenza, but with an initial high death rate that reduces in subsequent rounds as both vulnerable people are removed, and milder versions of the virus dominate (we hope).

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          • #

            however there is not good evidence about transmission from an/the animal vector. Animal vectors can be poor at transmitting a disease to humans and then there is the fact that the animal might not be numerous and could be confined geographically/ecologically.

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            • #

              Yes, we can always hope that will minimize the outbreaks, but PF was claiming maladaption = dead end.

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              • #

                I know… you dealt with that I was just adding relevant detail to the animal reservoir.

                “Maladaptation” is not a term an evolutionary biologist would use except in very particular and well defined circumstances.

                There will be a bunch of evolving that will occur after passage and millions of rounds of replication through humans – there are too many different but plausible outcomes

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                Peter Fitzroy

                I was taking the point of view of the virus – it’s best strategy is to infect as many as possible, killing the host is against that, hence maladaptive.

                05

        • #
          Peter Fitzroy

          I was thinking more along the lines of malaria, but I do take your point, about the host population. I would be suggesting that removal of all ‘bush meat’ and live animal markets would be a start, as this would remove one of the vectors. Upping the herd immunity, for humans, by vaccination (like smallpox – where the cowpox virus proved an effective vaccination to smallpox) would also be on my list. Reduction in the bat populations would also be part of the strategy, which would reduce the reservoir for the disease.

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      TdeF

      No. Some hosts are more effective dead, as with ebola and the West African rituals which ensured rapid mass transmission.

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        TdeF

        Also you are talking about living symbiotic parasites, like tics. Viruses are not living. Their only function is infection and the only reason to keep the host alive is to infect more. The critical issues include the period of incubation and the most effective pandemic is this type, where people are carrying and spreading the virus while no one is aware. Then what happens to the host is irrelevant. The job is done. The selfish gene at work.

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        • #
          TdeF

          And as with ebola, disposal of the victim is another big opportunity to spread the virus.

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        • #
          Peter Fitzroy

          Firstly – a virus does not cause humans to invent rituals, if it is advantaged thereby – that is serendipity
          Secondly – a virus is alive – once it is in a cell. If you have a definition of life that excludes viruses, it would also exclude a lot of other parasites and symbiotes as well. I would like to see such a definition

          04

          • #
            TdeF

            Then a computer virus is also alive. The method of reproduction is similar. Whether is it benign is the question.

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            TdeF

            Life is a self sufficient organism. What it eats is another matter. If it eats you and is small and often undetected, it is a parasite. If large it is a predator If it eats lettuce, it is a rabbit.

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    Bill In Oz

    This new disease is causing fear among many of us
    Here in Australia and across the world.
    Many thousands of people in China are infected and many many deaths have happened.
    We fear being infected as well.We fear death.
    So we need to quarantine ourselves asa country from possible infection.
    But…
    The people suffering & dying from this new disease are also humans like us…
    It’s important to stay open to the people of China at the heart level..
    I’ve been reading the Twitter post of this Whuan Chinese woman living in Hong Kong. She has parents there in lockdown. And talks of them plit of of her home city.

    https://twitter.com/once?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1224382373598416905&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fchiefio.wordpress.com%2F2020%2F02%2F06%2F6-feb-2019-ncov-corona-virus-outbreak%2F

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    Bill In Oz

    Chinese researchers in Guangdong say they found beta corona virus in Pangolins which Is 99% identical to 2019-nCoV. They believe Pangolins is the intermediate host. It’s not clear where they got the Pangolins samples. Probably the intermediate host.

    Pangolin wild meat is considered a rare delicacy in China.

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2020/02/06/6-feb-2019-ncov-corona-virus-outbreak/#comment-124334

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    Alfred

    “Doubling every 5 days”
    “50,000 new cases per day”

    Professor Neil Ferguson on the current 2019-nCoV coronavirus outbreak (youtube)

    Professor Ferguson is from Imperial College (I went there twice) :)

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    pat

    17 Jan 2013: Popular Science: FYI: Why Is There A Winter Flu Season?
    An illustrated explanation of why the world’s most obnoxious virus at least doesn’t stick around all year.
    By Emily Elert
    …the timing of flu season is a little hard to predict. Except for one thing: it always happens in winter. In fact, everywhere on Earth where people have a winter season, they also have a flu season..
    https://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-01/fyi-why-winter-flu-season/

    26 Nov 2019: Popular Science: A warmer climate could make every season flu season
    It could also make vaccinations trickier by causing the viruses to mutate faster.
    by Marlene Cimons
    This story was published in partnership with Nexus Media News, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art, and culture.
    https://www.popsci.com/story/health/flu-climate-change-bad/

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    pat

    6 Feb: Yahoo: The flu has killed 10,000 Americans as the world worries over coronavirus
    by Rachel Grumman Bender
    An estimated 19 million Americans have been infected with the flu so far this season, and 180,000 of them have been hospitalized because of the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The flu virus has already killed an estimated 10,000 people across the U.S., including 68 children, according to the CDC. In fact, the 2019-2020 flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst in years…
    https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/the-flu-has-killed-10000-americans-as-the-world-worries-over-coronavirus-221101770.html

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    Alfred

    Sorry chaps and chapettes. More bad news.

    While most of the patients who have contracted the coronavirus 2019-nCoV eventually make a full recovery, they don’t walk away from the encounter immunized against the disease, as one might expect after a viral infection. Rather, Business Insider reports, you can theoretically catch the coronavirus multiple times, creating an unusual challenge for health officials trying to contain the outbreak

    Scientists Warn: You Can Contract The Coronavirus More Than Once

    Alfred, that is not a reliable source. They can’t possibly know this for sure about this strain. Many antibodies develop later. Please can you raise the bar. Think “science forum”. There is no data yet on reinfection. – Jo

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    Bill In Oz

    Something weird is happening on the ABC
    They have been advertising that they will screen a panel discussion at 7.30 on Channel 24 this evening.
    I switched on only to discover it had been shifted to 10.03 pm
    And now I find it is due to be screened at 10.00 pm on ABC Channel 24.
    Are the ABC trying to play down this issue now ?

    00