Treatment Updates, Stock Markets, Germany & San Francisco, Pandemic (Lecture 26)
Welcome to another SARS-cov-2, covid-19 updates. We got numbers. We got Germany, San Francisco, stocks, Delta, coronavirus vaccine, treatment in the US, and pandemic (and that is with a question mark).
So let’s get right to the numbers. If we go to the WorldOmeter website, we look at the number of active cases. You can see that 82% of those are mild condition whereas 18% are serious or critical. Remember these are patients that got tested because they had symptoms, and I imagine that there are far more people out there than we know that had coronavirus were asymptomatic and didn’t even know.
If we look at the close cases, this is something that we’re following people who have gone through the coronavirus and come out the other side, or have not come out the other side. We’re seeing that about 92% of them have recovered and are discharged in our home, and 8% have died.
If we look at the graph of that, we can see here that this has not yet reached the asymptotes according to these numbers. If you believe the death rate is 8.42% and dropping, for those of you who don’t trust the numbers coming out of xx, this is an interesting graph here where we look at the total cases outside of China, and you can see that those are going up, and we’re sort of in the epidemic phase especially in South Korea and in Italy.
If we look at daily cases excluding mainland China, we’ve got here on the 25th of February the highest number to date. But please remember that those cases that are outside of China are just a sliver of the total cases that are reported by mainland China. Of course, if those numbers in China are far greater than what the reporting, then this sliver is even smaller than it is represented here.
Again, back on the main page at the bottom below, all of the country-specific data. We have the latest updates throwing one new death in Japan, three new cases in Thailand, and they say that we are entering a full war with covid-19, and one new death in South Korea, a 73-year-old male.
If we go back to February 25th, there are 406 new cases and 52 new deaths occurring in China on February 25th as reported by the National Health Commission of China. Also, one new death in South Korea, a female patient who died of acute respiratory failure after being admitted to just two days being in the hospital. 1 new death on the Diamond Princess. This is a person in their 80s; 2 new cases in Italy, 60 new cases in South Korea, which is a sharp decline in new cases compared to yesterday’s 161 new cases. So we’ll have to see how that pans out.
On CNBC, they are reporting, as part of their update, that there are new coronavirus cases in Germany. This is a 25-year-old man living in southern German state of baden-württemberg, and he had a return visit from Italy. He had flu-like symptoms, and he’s going to be treated in isolation, and people who have been in contact with them are going to be put in isolation. Also, see here that San Francisco has declared a local emergency, and they have a total caseload of zero, but they are trying to take a proactive action, kind of an interesting thing.
Of course, the big news of the day is somebody at the CDC, which we’ll talk about, said that it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when covid-19 comes to the United States in full force, and of course that caused the markets to lose up to 800 points. Also, we see here that Delta scraps cancellation fees for Italian flights because of that outbreak.
Big news here is that US Health officials say that human trials on coronavirus vaccine is going to start in six weeks. We talked about this on the last update, and how it is so different than the previous examples of vaccines that we’ve had, and that’s because instead of injecting you with a protein that your immune system makes antibodies against, what they’re going to be doing is injecting you with the instructions, that is the RNA, into your cell so that the antigen-presenting cells that normally present these antigens to your immune system will make the protein on its surface and then present it to your immune system to make the antibodies against it.
This allows you to make manipulations as the virus apparently mutates. It also cuts down on production time and allows you to get a vaccine out during an epidemic as opposed to after the epidemic has passed, and a lot of people have suffered from this. And it also allows you to scale and reach millions and millions of people with this type of vaccine. We talked about that yesterday, and we got more information about that today.
Here’s a really interesting article. This is from Harvard University, and believe it or not, this was published in May of 2015. That’s five years ago that they were looking at this type of technology, and I will leave a link to this website in the description below. It goes through a lot of interesting things, for instance, a lot of questions yesterday regarding how do you get this RNA into the cells? Well, it’s about what RNA does, and I would recommend you watch our molecular biology primer, which will put the link to bone-up if you will on exactly how does the cellular structure work, because that’s going to become really important for you to understand if you want to understand how these vaccines work.
So the talks about that here. It says in the living cell of the organism, DNA is the molecule that contains the genetic information of that organism. It’s composed of a series of four building blocks, which we talked about. That gets copied into a structure called RNA, which carries that information into the rest of the cell. That’s the cytosol or the cytoplasm, and it’s there that this RNA genetic information is translated into proteins. So you can see here. What happens is you get injected. This is the RNA that they have figured out. It goes into your special type of cells called antigen-presenting cells. These are typically the cells that go around looking for things that shouldn’t be there, eating them up and presenting the antigens, usually proteins, to your immune cells. That’s how a normal vaccine works.
Well, here these little code instructions will go into the antigen-presenting cell, and the cell itself will make a portion of the viral protein, the portion that they feel is the best to make antibodies against. They will make that protein inside of their own cells and present it, which will stimulate the immune response.
An RNA is injected into the body. This RNA encodes the information to produce the antigen, which is a protein from a pathogen that will stimulate the immune system inside the cells. The RNA is used to synthesize the antigen which is exposed to the cell surface. This is the new part here. Then a subset of immune system cells recognize the antigen and trigger an immune response. So it’s quite interesting.
You can see here that once you have the real pathogen that comes in, you already have the immune system built up, and you can get a rapid response or a strong response. And I will put a couple of other links of some videos below that describe this kind of technology. If you want more information on that, we’re going to talk about that in subsequent lectures.
The next thing I want to talk to you about is this Fortune article about the first U.S. trial for a coronavirus treatment that has started. And this is an interesting situation because, of course, the question is if we’re going to do this in the United States, where we got to do it with? And this is not a vaccine. This is the treatment, and it’s using this medication that we’ve talked about before called remdesivir, now remdesivir is an antiviral, but the way it works is it is a nucleotide analog that basically prevents and truncates or stops the ability of RNA to reproduce and make these long RNA strings. And we have talked a little bit more about that mechanism in our course on What is a Coronavirus and How Does it Infect the Cell, and we’re still working on that, but we should be able to have that out shortly.
The NIH confirmed on Tuesday that the first US clinical trial for coronavirus treatment has launched at the University of Nebraska. So this is a gold-standard study where they are going to give patients Placebo or the real thing. And the reason why they’re doing this is because they don’t know if this medication works, but they’re certainly going to try to find out, and they are going to use patients that have already been infected with covid-19 that have come back from the Diamond Princess, or have been quarantined and found to have the coronavirus if they develop symptoms.
So again, who are these patients? The first U.S. patient to enroll in the trial is, according to the NIH, an American who volunteered for the study. The individual was one of the thousands of people quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan before being repatriated to the United States.
Which all brings us back to the last item, and that’s this idea about pandemic. Pan, of course, meaning everywhere; endemic meaning a situation or infection. So the common cold is a pandemic. The flu virus is a pandemic. A pandemic simply describes how broad and far-reaching is this infection.
What are the US Health officials say based on this news report? We have Ann Shucht, the principal deputy director of The Center for Disease Control Prevention told reporters at a news briefing, “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more question of when this will happen, and how many people in this country will become infected, and how many of those will develop a severe or more complicated disease.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar added, “we can’t hermetically seal off the United States. And so a lot of these people that are being repatriated have these viruses; they’re keeping them in quarantine and we will see how this goes.
There is a hope of course that we can stave this off, and that somehow if there is increasing temperatures in spring and summer, that perhaps this might depress the growth of the coronavirus. There are some examples where this could be true. We have some data to show that this might be true. We also have data that this might not be true. Right? Because we have places like Singapore and warmer countries where there is still a growth of the coronavirus.
So getting back to our agenda, the big story currently is what they’re doing here with the vaccine, with the RNA. And what they’re doing with the treatment with the randomized controlled trial, that’s big news. And then, of course, this pandemic is not going to change what we do in terms of the virus. It’s simply going to change the perception. The perception of the virus can sometimes be more dangerous than the virus itself. It is best to do what you can do on a rational basis to improve your chances of not getting the coronavirus, but if you do, surviving it.