JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Perhaps solve the other pandemic: Vitamin D deficiency — to help beat Coronavirus?

Missing out on the Sunshine Vitamin?

We’re throwing billions at Coronavirus but missing cheap wins.

After masks and soap, the next bargain to reduce the impact of coronavirus is Vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D deficiency is so common it’s an epidemic affecting a billion people around the world. Ponder that half the population of many western nations are clinically deficient by the end of winter. Add that to a novel virus and consider that higher Vitamin D levels reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections like influenza by as much as 40%.

As Grant et al say:

“Low vitamin D status in winter permits viral epidemics.”

Vitamin D levels also correlate with lower rates of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, dental caries, preeclampsia, autoimmune disease, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Vitamin D influences over 200 genes. It’s so crucial, it was likely the reason northern Europeans evolved whiter skin. The lack of sunlight and the introduction of grains in diets (as opposed to eating liver and whales) meant that Europeans weren’t getting enough D from either food or sun. The selective pressure was so strong that lighter skin rapidly took over all the northern [...]

George Pell, George Pell, Catholic, Climate Skeptic, Old White Man, vilified, demonized, finally walks free

Cardinal George Pell

George Pell was on the wrong side of every fashionable cause: An old white man, a christian, and a climate skeptic. He threatened the religion of political correctness in every way, and a witch hunt made him target number one. Despite his position of power and influence, the best evidence the pogrom could find was the word of one boy, decades later, with no corroborating evidence. The irrational groupthink fashion swept through juries, judges and even the Victorian Court of Appeal. But today in Australia the High Court, the final last chance for justice, freed George Pell from jail 7-0.

Great news, Australia still has a justice system.

He was convicted and imprisoned over the most heinous of all crimes on the word of one anonymous complainant, whose testimony was unsupported by any other witnesses, or any forensic evidence. The same fate could befall any Victorian.

The media lynch mob and the entire Victorian legal system stand condemned. The unanimous decision of the High Court is a conclusive repudiation of everyone involved in the false imprisonment of Cardinal George Pell, every politician, every cop, every lawyer, every journalist, every coward…

Those Who Control The Medicines Control The World

The US can no longer even make vitamin C or aspirin any more, or 80% of their antibiotics. Something like 90% of the starting chemicals for essential US medicines are made in Chinese factories. And there aren’t many alternatives — fully 70% of competing products from India start with chemicals from China too. And now Chinese companies are shifting up into generic drugs as well.

The West, asleep, let the takeover happen. Western companies were driven out of business trying to compete with Chinese companies which were are subsidized by the CCP. But we were happy to take the cheaper drugs. That was, until we discovered what huge leverage we have given China. It’s a

As Gibson points out — personnel of the US Navy in the South China Sea are thus “dependent on their adversary for their medicine.”

Azithromycin (the antibiotic in the favourite Coronavirus treatment trio) is made in China. So is propofol which is used with ventilators.

December last year:

U.S. policymakers worry about China ‘weaponizing’ drug exports

Doug Palmer and Finbarr Bermingham, South China Morning Post

A watchdog report last month by the U.S.-China Economic [...]

Another possible cure for coronavirus, found in sheep dip: Ivermectin

“A single treatment able to effect ∼5000-fold reduction in virus at 48h in cell culture.”

–Caly et al 2020

It’s another day in freaky chemistry — researchers at Monash University found that one of the main components of sheep drench is also very good at reducing Coronavirus, at least in test tubes. Ivermectin’s an unsung hero of the world of biochemistry, called a “Wonder Drug” and a “Blockbuster” because it works against  roundworms, lungworms, mites, lice, scabies and hornflies, as well as cattle-ticks. Most importantly, it kills the worm that causes River Blindness, saving the vision of thousands in sub-saharan Africa, and places like Ecuador.

That’s doesn’t mean it will work in vivo — and it may be a month before human trials begin so we can find out.

Possibly, in a few months you might be able to kill off Coronavirus and deworm yourself at the same time.

Though the human experiment is already probably happening in countries where it is being used already and coronavirus is circulating. Surely we can track those cases?

And at least in Australia, unlike Chloroquine — which we don’t have much of — with 70 million sheep I can’t [...]

Make Your Own Mask: DIY No-sew 2 minute and high quality sewn HEPA options

Ignore the mixed, junk messaging, if the WHO tells you not to wear a mask, that’s President Xi speaking. It’s a reason to wear one. We should all be wearing masks in public. It may be the cheapest way to reduce the R0, and get us out of coronavirus-jail fast.

Countries which wear masks have lower transmission. Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea. UPDATE: Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer says Australians shouldn’t use masks because they are not clever enough to use them properly or something like that. Seriously.  Don’t wait for bureaucrats to get the message right. It protects other people from those who don’t even have symptoms who are shedding virus. It protects you: It reduces your chance of breathing in droplets of virus that float in the air. Viruses are tiny, but studies show that masks work, even a thin surgical mask prevented nearly 3 out 4 parents from catching influenza from their infected children. The N95 style are better but any mask is better than nothing. There are no guarantees — the virus can sneak in the side, and still enter through your eyes (wear glasses to reduce at least to stop you touching your eyes). [...]

Wear masks, flush the air, microdroplets suspend for hours

Closed rooms with many people talking are hot-beds of infection. Invisible clouds of virus hang suspended in the air. Open the windows. Turn up the airflow. Wear masks. (Wear goggles too, if you are high risk, the virus can get in through the wet surface of your eyes).

Blow that virus outdoors where the sun will fry it. We need to change the way we handle air in planes and on cruise ships, and public transport — even when there is no pandemic.

This is why I am not shopping without PPE. Make a mask.  Mail order and delivery is so much safer. Do carpark pick ups.  It’s also why eating uncooked fruit and vege that people may have breathed on is still a risk. The virus will likely survive 28 days in the fridge at 4 degrees C and even longer in the freezer.  At 40 degrees it will last about 6 hours. Time will not protect you unless things are warm. 

When I did research in a lab, if we wanted to save viruses we’d put them in a freezer (minus 70C).

A virus is more like a chemical than a living thing.

Thanks to MichaelSmithNews.

Heat [...]

No doubt about it: 12 days after lockdowns, quarantines and isolation, Coronavirus slows

Ancient technology wins: Not only are quarantine and isolation measures useful, they’re the best tools we have.

Some people don’t seem to realize that the only reason the daily growth of infections is slowing anywhere, is thanks to drastic quarantine measures or changes in human behaviour. We can see this in graphs from Italy, Spain, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Germany, and China, but not in Sweden or Brazil where there’s not much quarantine and not much slowing of growth curves either. In all of the former, the big meaningful actions were followed around 12 days later by an obvious slow down.

Willis Eschenbach, for example, wondered If Lockdowns Worked, but counted subdivisions of any quarantine type action as a measure of the severity when it’s more a measure of the wordsmithiness or indecision of leaders.

To see if major action matters, it’s better to look at the dates that borders, schools and shops were closed. The graphs of daily new cases below show that around 12 days later in so many countries, the growth in cases slows too. The delay is due to both the incubation period of Covid-19 and testing. By the time a lockdown is declared (or [...]

Coronavirus treatment — antibodies that work in 20 minutes could give protection for 8 weeks

NEWS: A group say they have developed five antibodies from the old SARS antibody stocks that with tweaking can now bind well to the SARS-2 novel coronavirus.

An antibody is a long string of molecules that binds only to the exact target (we hope). Wikimedia Bioconjugator

If they get through all the testing phases and ramp up production, in theory, these could be ready for mass use in September (but everything would need to go right). They could be injected into patients and within 20 minutes these antibodies would bind to the virus and stop it entering cells. The protection might last 8 – 10 weeks before someone would need another dose.

This could be a gamechanger, but beware before anyone gets too excited, this is very early days — “protoplasm” days. There are a lot of steps to rush through.This group have searched and evolved the protein with their supercomputer which has a huge library of antibodies. They claim to be certain it binds to the virus — and to  exactly the right part of the virus, but they haven’t actually done that yet — they’ll send the antibody to a military secure lab to do that. Then [...]

Sweden — going for herd immunity and using the 1918 Flu plan

It’s a big natural experiment

Swedish people are still going to schools, restaurants and gyms. Even the cinemas are running.  Apparently Sweden is taking the punt that there are many asymptomatic infections out there, despite having no data, and not doing any structured screening to get some either.  They are also betting that immunity to this form of coronavirus will last a lot longer than the coronavirus colds where herd immunity is irrelevant one year later.

All recommendations are made by the Public Health Agency.  Apparently they are learning from the 1918 influenza spread, and thus successfully “fighting the last war”. Swedish doctors are reportedly not happy about it. Probably because their idea of being doctors is not where you choose which 60 year old mother lives and which one dies, or where the doctors work round the clock and many of them get sick themselves, and some die. Gruelling is not the word.

Gatherings of 50+ people are banned, and the 70+ age group have been told to avoid social contact.

I predict that as the ICU units overflow, or even before, they will move to serious measures like the rest of the world as the inhumanity of the inadequate [...]

How about 27 feet of social distancing

How big should that gap be?

The WHO recommends “3 feet”, the CDC recommends 6 feet, but new research shows they got the model wrong and we might need to be 30 feet apart. Not to mention that the cloud of aerosols can wander suspended for hours. So we may need to be 30 feet and three hours apart.

No wonder churches and places where people sing are such high risk events, and why an astonishing 12,000 health workers are infected  with coronavirus in Spain.

They aren’t sure if their new findings  have clinical implications, which says a lot about how much we don’t know. The 27 ft distance applies to sneezes, so if the other party isn’t sneezing you might not have to be so far. Lucky sneezing isn’t that common, though the dry cough is. Personal trainers at 27 feet is going to be tricky.

UPDATE: Some readers ask whether one new study is even worth reporting, accusing me of “scare tactics”. I’ve been reading medical papers now for over 20 years, so forgive me if I found the results here so banal that I didn’t mention that this result is barely new, and very well [...]

Australia’s very low death rate is due to younger patients, plenty of tests

Right now Australia has one of the lowest death rates from coronavirus in the world. With 4,561 cases but only 19 deaths, the clumsy Case Fatality Rate is only 0.4%  –  lower even than Germany. While some commentators think that’s a reason to ease up it may be partly due to temporary good geographical luck. Plus winter is coming…

1. Australians with Coronavirus are younger (for the moment).

Most infections in Australia came from overseas travel — something the 20 to 70 year olds do a lot of, but apparently the 80+ age group aren’t flying on 20 hour long haul trips across the Pacific. (Last week the most common source of Australia’s cases was the USA, especially Aspen). This week the main source is Europe, and the nation called “cruise ships”.  If and when the virus starts to spread among the older cohorts the death rates will rise. (Unless we figure out that treatment first).

 

Source: Australian government

Compare the ages groups of patients in Korea and Italy. Fully 40% of Italian (known) cases are 70+.

Statista — demographics of Italian and South Korean cases

 

Italy and South Korean demographics

Fortune

Coronavirus: Signs of peaks in the West

Good. Real signs of the flattening of new daily cases of Coronavirus or #CCPVirus in Italy, and possibly in Spain. Instead, ponder that if Italy didn’t slow the spread the 6,500 new cases on March 21 could have become 17,000 new cases every day by now.

Italy appears to have peaked — starting on March 21st — but may need to stop keeping sick people at home

On March 9th when Italy had about 9,000 cases in total, and 500 deaths, the government declared a quarantine across the whole nation. By March 11 everything that could be shut down, was. These changes appear, finally, to have stopped the exponential growth in new cases about 10 days later. But even after three weeks of lockdown there are still 5000 new people getting infected every day. One professor, Andrew Chrisanti, thinks it is because they are telling infected people to stay home instead of isolating them from their families. Presumably if Italians live in larger extended families, they must get the infected out of homes.

“In our opinion, the infections are happening at home.” Crisanti helped coordinate the coronavirus response in Italy’s affluent northeastern region of Veneto, where blanket testing [...]

Korean professor surprised Western people don’t wear masks which are “very effective”

Professor Kim Woo-Ju, Professor Infectious Diseases, Korea, says that masks are “definitely effective”. “I find it quite odd” that the west people don’t wear masks.” “People wearing a mask have a significantly lower chance of getting infected than those who don’t.” WHO says not to wear masks, he says “I disagree.”

Around the middle of the interview he says that one of the reasons Korea has  low rate of infection is because they wear masks — as good as N95 (P2) — this is the same type as what the doctors wear.

He says Korea, and all the South East Asian countries are also experienced because they went through the SARS and MERS outbreaks. They knew what to do, they knew they needed tests fast.

He speaks well. h/t MichaelSmithNews. (via Annie ) and Chiefio somewhere (via Bill in Oz)

“In 30 years of pandemics, Ebola, MERS, Swine Flu … the Covid-19 epidemic is the most challenging”.

In the 80+ age group the death rate is 11% With the largest number of tests anywhere, they find 20% have no symptoms. But it is still not random testing. And the number may be different in other countries due [...]

We Can Hammer Coronavirus in weeks instead we Rush to War Unarmoured

If you only read one serious page about how to deal with this crisis read Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance. The countries that “get this” approach will be the first to recover.

It’s all the things I’ve been suggesting but done on big scale with an expert team.

What I call the Slow Bleed is officially known as Mitigation. It’s the 6 month Flu strategy that kills people and the economy.

When I said Crush the Curve, they call it The Hammer, the hardest form of suppression. The Dance is the delicate recovery process until we get a vaccine, a treatment or a nicer mutant version of the virus.

1. Hammer and Dance — there is a better plan   (click to enlarge)

 

Eventually we’ll all get to the Hammer Crush approach because the alternative is so horrible.

Even Imperial College concludes that slow “Mitigation” is just not viable: in the UK the demand for ICU beds would exceed capacity 8-fold, and there would be something like a quarter of a million UK deaths, and over a million in the US. They conclude that epidemic suppression is the only strategy, yet their predictions on that are [...]

Bill Gates pandemic warning in 2015

Apparently no one listened to him.

The thing we were always afraid of was a virus that people could shed even if they felt well enough to get on a plane…

He’s right about “the blood of survivors” –  blood contains antibodies to the virus after they recover. So plasma from survivors might help current victims. And that trial will happen in New York.

But we don’t need a “global heath system”. We have that already and it’s worse than useless. Back in January the WHO was telling everyone not to stop flights from China. Absurd WHO declarations became the convenient excuse for weak Chief Medical Officers to recommend exactly the wrong thing. WHO advice worked out well for China, but is currently killing citizens everywhere else.

How cheap and easy closing those borders looks now eh?

China bought the WHO a long time ago. WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom, was recently the Foreign Minister for Ethiopia, which is now securely Debt Trapped on China’s Belt and Road. Even as the CCP suppressed doctors, hid the true statistics, and welded their own citizens in their apartments, Tedros fawned over President Xi.

The petition calling to sack the WHO [...]