Vaccine Developments, Italy’s Response, and Mortality Rate Trend (Lecture 25)
Welcome to another MedCram lecture on the SARS-COV-2 virus, causing the covid-19 disease. This update is for the 25th of February 2020, and we’re going to talk about Italy and China, and then vaccines. This is going to be kind of interesting when we get into that.
And again, here are the numbers that they are reporting. So I’m simply reporting what they are reporting, and we’ve hit 80,000 proper. Total deaths at almost 2700; total recovered 27,000; and so we’re up to a differential there of 10 times. I remember when that was almost on par. In fact when it was even less than the number of total deaths. So whereas total deaths have leveled off, we still have an increasing amount of total recovered, which is always a good thing.
Let’s look at the Nucleus Wealth site, which I’ve found to have some interesting graphs that are unique to it. I’m going to scroll all the way down here to the bottom, where they talk about the mortality rate, or the case fatality rate. And as we’ve talked about, there is a bit of a delay in measuring what the total cases are right now compared to what the total deaths are right now. There’s been a question about whether or not you should delay the mortality accounts and look back 4 days, 8 days, or 12 days, depending on how long it takes somebody in average to die from the onset.
In looking at those, it’s interesting that if you look at all of the cases outside of Wuhan in the rest of China, you can see here that if you look at a full 12 days out, that the mortality rate, or case fatality rate, reaches around the same asymptotes as if you look at eight days versus if you look at four days, and that’s just under 1%.
If you look at Hubei province, which is where Wuhan is, and you do the same sort of analysis, it all settles out again, but not at just below 1%, but just below 5%. This kind of makes sense if you think about the fact that inside Hubei, where most of the cases were, their healthcare industry is going to be more overwhelmed, and therefore perhaps having a higher case fatality rate. So you can take a look at this site, we will put the link to it in the description below.
If we go over to the WorldOmeter, as we have done in the past, you can see similar numbers here, where I like to look at the active cases and the close cases. Of the closed cases that we have, 91% of recovered and been discharged and 9% death.
If we look further down, we come to the latest updates for February 25th. We can see here that there’s one new death in South Korea, another death on the Diamond Princess, two new cases in Italy, and 60 new cases in South Korea.
Possibly, some good news here in South Korea is that the 60 new cases that were seen today in South Korea is a sharp decline in new cases compared to 161. And so this may be that there might be a cluster. In fact, that’s what they’re saying that there are two clusters, and that has to do with this church where they had met, and this may be the reason for the spreading, and this accounts for over 50% of the cases within South Korea.
Let’s go over to another site. This is by Reuters, title Battle Against Coronavirus Turns to Italy; Wall Street Falls on Pandemic Fears, Over 1,000 point loss on the Dow Jones on the 24th. A couple of interesting things here. It kind of contrasts what they did in China and what’s going on in Italy. Of course in China, things seem to be not rising as fast, and in Italy, things seem to be climbing pretty rapidly.
And so they talked here about China putting cities in lockdown. Italian authorities are also doing similar things, sealing off the worst-affected towns, closing schools, halting the carnival in Venice. What they say here, interestingly, this is from Reuters, “China’s actions, especially in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, probably prevented hundreds of thousands of cases,” said the head of the WHO delegation in China Bruce Aylward, “the rest of the world to learn from the lesson of acting fast.”
They’re at a point now, where the number of cure people coming out of the hospital each day is more than the sick going in. He said, “the surge of cases outside of mainland China triggered sharp falls in global markets, specifically in Italy, as investors fled to safe havens.” And they talk about the European equities markets.
He goes on to talk about the epidemic in China, Peking between January 23rd and February 2nd, and they say, has been declining since Dr. Mike Ryan, the head of the WHO Emergencies Program told reporters. It is still possible to contain the virus, and that it might appear each year like the flu, quote “the virus may settle down into an endemic pattern of transmission into a seasonal pattern of transmission, or it could accelerate into a full-blown global pandemic, “he said, in Geneva on Monday. And at this point, it’s not possible to say which of these realities is going to happen. Goes on to talk about how the Trump Administration is requesting a billion dollars to deal with the coronavirus.
Now, specifically, what it is that’s going on in China. We’ve got China’s National Health Commission said that while the rapid rise has been halted, the situation was still grim. He said over 3,000 medical staff have become infected, most in Hubei Province, surrounding Wuhan, probably due to the lack of protective gear and fatigue.
And we talked about the fact that the case fatality rate in Wuhan was higher than it is in the rest of China. We also talked previously about the fact that there was no protective gear, but we also talked about the need for sleep and the ability to sleep and get rest. And of course, if there are a number of professional colleagues of yours who are infected and quarantined, that’s going to increase the load on you, that’s going to make you more fatigued, and hence we see videos of health care providers in China collapsing, and we hear a number of these physicians are actually succumbing to the virus.
So at this point excluding Wubei, mainland China reported 11 new cases, that’s the lowest since they started actually taking figures on January 20th. Overall, China reported 409 new cases on the mainland, down from 648 a day earlier. There was a measure of relief, it says, for the world’s second-largest economy. More than 20 province-level jurisdictions, including Beijing and Shanghai, here we go, reported zero new infections.
Whereas what’s going on outside of China? Well, things are taking off. We’ve got 29 countries and territories with a death toll of about two dozen, according to the Reuters tally. South Korea, 231 new cases, making its total to 833. We see a couple of new countries that have come to the table here: Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Afghanistan. They are believed to be cases that have been to Iran in the past.
So a lot of things going on. It’s almost like A Tale of Two Cities. It seems as though China has had a huge hit, but things may be on the verge of something different, potentially. We’ll have to see, and then we have Italy and South Korea, which are taking off.
I want to talk briefly about another interesting article. This is in the Wall Street Journal. We will put a copy of this link as well on the description below. This fascinating article, which you would probably need to have a login to read. It talks about this drug maker Moderna Incorporated, which has shipped its first batch of its rapidly developed coronavirus vaccine to US government researchers, who will launch the first human tests of whether the experimental shot could help suppress the epidemic originating in China.
Now, why is this experimental? Well, I encourage you to actually watch the video that is on this site, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. But very briefly let me explain to you what it is that’s going on there.
Okay, so normally what happens is a virus. Here’s the virus goes in and infects a cell, and what happens is these proteins go on the surface of the cell when this virus infects the cell. These proteins here are very important because they tell the body that this is an infected cell, or that this, for instance, is a virus, and what they normally do is they will normally take the virus, and they will inactivate it or kill it, and they will inject it in, and what will happen here is that these proteins will induce an antibody response in the body that allows the body to have many of these antibodies already ready to fight.
So this is the normal situation up here. And the problem is it takes many months to create this type of model where you can inject these proteins into the body so that you can have these antibodies form against these proteins. What they’re planning on doing, from what I’m getting from this article, is something completely different in terms of a vaccine. What they’re really doing here is they’re having a cell, and because they have the genome of this virus, they’re able to inject in this case the RNA somehow into the body, and this RNA will then go into the cells, which will tell the cells to produce the antigens, which will then cause the antibodies to form against it.
So in other words, instead of having the virus, or the lab produce these antigens to inject into the human so that the human can make antibodies, what they’re instead doing is isolating the genomic sequences themselves, having them tell your own cells to produce these antigens, and then these antigens are going to cause antibodies to be formed, and that is how they can do this much faster, because they don’t have to go through all the sequences of having this be done. In other words, making this, they can have your cells make the vaccine for you, and then have you self immunize against the virus.
And it seems as though this really hasn’t been done before, and so according to that Wall Street Journal article, it looks as though they’re going to be starting clinical trials in April. And so that would be 3 months from the time that they learned about the genome to the point where they can actually get a vaccine for human clinical trials. Now, this is a new technology, and for some people, this may sound really cool; for others, it maybe, well, what are the side effects of this?
What’s going to happen when you’re starting to put DNA or RNA instructions, messenger RNA in most cases, in this case, into your cells and tell them to make proteins that are foreign to your body to cause an immune response. Almost sounds like an autoimmune condition. So it’s going to be interesting to see what happens and what are the side effects of this.
To get a better understanding of this, you’re going to need to know about molecular biology, and as it just so happens, we have a video that’s a primer on molecular biology, because what we’re about to do is get into the details of the coronavirus life cycle, and what it actually does in the cell, and how it’s different from other viruses. Thanks for joining us!