Archive for the ‘Biotech’ Category

What the huge COVID-19 testing undercount in the US means


What the huge COVID-19 testing undercount in the US means

Health care workers use a nasal swab to test a person for COVID-19 in Pembroke Park, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images News

Courtesy of Melissa Hawkins, American University

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions recently published a study which estimated that the true number of people infected by COVID-19 could be six to 24 times higher than the number of confirmed cases. Melissa Hawkins, professor of public health at American University, explains what this large undercount means and why insufficient data is hampering the U.S.‘s ability to control the pandemic.

Melissa Hawkins explains the implications of the COVID-19 testing undercount.

What are some reasons for the large disparity between the true number of infected cases and the confirmed case count in the U.S.?

We just passed 4 million total confirmed cases and over 150,000 deaths. But those confirmed cases really only tell part of the story since we know the cases and deaths are undercounted due to lack of testing. Particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, only those with significant illness were tested and there were shortages and problems with the test.

We also know that there is a significant amount of asymptomatic spread that isn’t captured in those testing numbers, particularly in places that still lack access to widespread testing. Many researchers are attempting to model and estimate the true number of total cases and deaths. The CDC study that you’re citing – those estimates of a true infection rate range from eight to 10 times higher than the number of cases that are confirmed.

Were you surprised by the results of the study?

Testing is the foundation of a modern public health approach to controlling this virus. We have lots of tools in our tool kit, but at the very foundation is widespread testing. So is this surprise? No, because the U.S. has had problems with our testing from the very, very beginning and now we’re playing catch up.

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There aren’t enough batteries to electrify all cars – focus on trucks and buses instead


There aren't enough batteries to electrify all cars — focus on trucks and buses instead

Garbage trucks, buses and the van that delivers your Amazon purchases are all prime candidates for electrification. (Shutterstock)

Courtesy of Cameron Roberts, Carleton University

We need to change our transportation system, and we need to do it quickly.

Road transportation is a major consumer of fossil fuels, contributing 16 per cent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, which warm up the Earth’s atmosphere and cause changes to the climate. It also pollutes the air, threatening health and costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually.

At the same time, electric vehicles are getting cheaper, and vehicle range and the availability of charging stations are improving. This is exciting for many because it seems to suggest an easy and convenient answer to the problem of transportation emissions: if everyone swapped their fossil-fuelled vehicle for an electric equivalent, we could all keep driving, safe in the knowledge that we are no longer killing the planet by doing so — and all while enjoying a new car that is quiet, cheap to power and fun to drive.

Everybody wins, right? Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be that simple.

The battery supply crunch

Electric vehicles still produce air pollution and greenhouse gases from their brakes, tires, the electricity that powers them and the factories that build them. Even if we can address (or ignore) these problems, there is a much larger stumbling block facing personal electric vehicles as a solution for climate change.

In 2019, the world produced about 160 gigawatt hours (GWh) of lithium-ion batteries. That’s enough for a little more than three million standard-range Tesla Model 3s — and only if we use those batteries for cars, and don’t build any smart-phones, laptops or grid storage facilities.

The battery production capacity currently under construction will allow the production of the equivalent of 40 million electric vehicles annually by 2028, according to one estimate.

An electric car being charged in a parking lot.

Battery production could increase to cover 40 million electric vehicles annually by

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Video: Who controls pandemic data?


Video: Who controls pandemic data?

Public data is vital to the functioning of a democracy. Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty Images

Courtesy of Julia Lane, New York University

Editor’s note: When the Trump administration ordered hospitals to report COVID-19 data to the Department of Health and Human Services rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they had been doing, it provoked worries and criticism from public health experts. The White House said that the HHS system will provide more accurate data faster, but the switch did raise concerns that political considerations would influence what data is reported. Professor of public policy Julia Lane, who recently published the book “Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto,” explains why public data is vital to public health and democracy in general.

What was the main concern over the data?

The whole point of having a career civil service running public data systems is that, because they can’t be fired, they have the integrity to produce the statistics the best way possible. And that’s what makes the federal government and state and local governments such high-quality data engines.

Now, the concern that came up is the appearance of political interference. Who knows what actually happened. But the point is, if there is political pressure on the measurement, then that can substantially affect the aggregates. The language that has come out of the administration has not helped the cause of the career civil servants appropriately.

Why is it important to have accurate and transparent public data?

When you’re making decisions that are important for all the citizens of the country, or the population of the country as a whole, then you need good data to be able to allocate those resources. Now, if those data are biased in some way, people are not going to get counted. And if they’re not counted, they’re not going to get resources.

People matter. A democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. If you don’t know who the people are, you don’t have…
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Obese People Are Twice As Likely To Die From Covid

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

Just in case Americans – the most obese nation in the world – needed another reason to lose some weight, here it is.

In what is emerging as a perfidious Catch 22, at a time when the US population is rapidly gaining weight due to mandatory work from home regulation (hence the Covid 19 pounds) as described here and here, while a surge in domestic alcohol consumption is only making the matters worse…

… Public Health England has published a paper titled "Excess Weight and COVID-19  Insights from new evidence", indicating that the risks of hospitalization, intensive care treatment and death increase progressively with increasing body mass index (BMI) above the healthy weight range even after adjustment for potential confounding factors, including demographic and socioeconomic factors. In other words, the fatter one is, the higher the risk that person may die from covid.

Some more details: according to the Public Health England paper, the hazard ratios of ICU admission patients who are overweight (BMI ≥25-29.9), obese (BMI ≥30-34.9) or severely obese (BMI ≥35) are 1.64, 2.59 and 4.35, respectively  see figure below) relative to patients with a BMI of ≥20-24.9.

The study also showed an increasing risk of death with increasing BMI with hazard ratios of 1.05, 1.40 and 1.92 for people with a BMI of 30-34, 35-39.9 and ≥40, respectively, relative to BMI

Which, in a world where facts could be discussed instead of dismissed and slammed as "racist", would mean that certain races and genders are especially at risk. However, because charts like the one below are racist, it's best to wallow in ignorance and accuse white people for what is taking place.

Source: Public Health England

And while being overweight does not seem to increase people’s chances of contracting COVID-19 according to the study, it can affect the respiratory system, and potentially immune function as well.

And since no crisis will ever be put to waste by a nanny state which after the covid pandemic will control virtually every aspect of our lives, the British government plans to initiate an anti-obesity campaign including strict rules on how junk food is advertised and sold in the UK.

Does coronavirus linger in the body? What we know about how viruses in general hang on in the brain and testicles


Does coronavirus linger in the body? What we know about how viruses in general hang on in the brain and testicles

Are there places in the body where SARS-CoV-2 can hide from the immune system? fotograzia / Getty Images

Courtesy of William Petri, University of Virginia

As millions of people are recovering from COVID-19, an unanswered question is the extent to which the virus can “hide out” in seemingly recovered individuals. If it does, could this explain some of the lingering symptoms of COVID-19 or pose a risk for transmission of infection to others even after recovery?

I am a physician-scientist of infectious diseases at the University of Virginia, where I care for patients with infections and conduct research on COVID-19. Here I will briefly review what is known today about chronic or persistent COVID-19.

What is a chronic or persistent viral infection?

A chronic or persistent infection continues for months or even years, during which time virus is being continually produced, albeit in many cases at low levels. Frequently these infections occur in a so-called immune privileged site.

What is an immune privileged site?

There are a few places in the body that are less accessible to the immune system and where it is difficult to eradicate all viral infections. These include the central nervous system, the testes and the eye. It is thought that the evolutionary advantage to having an immune privileged region is that it protects a site like the brain, for example, from being damaged by the inflammation that results when the immune system battles an infection.

An immune privileged site not only is difficult for the immune system to enter, it also limits proteins that increase inflammation. The reason is that while inflammation helps kill a pathogen, it can also damage an organ such as the eye, brain or testes. The result is an uneasy truce where inflammation is limited but infection continues to fester.

A latent infection versus a persistent viral infection

But there is another way that a virus can hide in the body and reemerge later.

A latent viral infection…
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Test positivity rate: How this one figure explains that the US isn’t doing enough testing yet


Test positivity rate: How this one figure explains that the US isn't doing enough testing yet

As cases surge, testing needs to increase as well. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Courtesy of Ronald D. Fricker, Jr., Virginia Tech

The U.S. has performed more coronavirus tests than any other country in the world. Yet, at the same time, the U.S. is notably underperforming in terms of suppressing COVID-19. Confirmed cases – as well as deaths – are surging in many parts of the country. Some people have argued that the increase in cases is solely due to increased testing.

I am a statistician who studies how mathematics and statistics can be used to track diseases. The claim that the increase in cases is only caused by increases in testing is just not true. But how do public health officials know this?

Testing, confirmed cases and total cases

COVID-19 testing has two purposes. The first is to confirm a diagnosis so that medical treatment can be appropriately rendered. The second is to do surveillance for tracking and disease suppression – including finding those who may be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms – so that individuals and public health officials can take actions to slow the spread of the virus.

At a White House briefing on July 13, the president said, “When you test, you create cases.”

The problem with this statement is that anyone who is infected with the coronavirus is, by definition, a case. Since taking a COVID-19 test does not cause a person to get coronavirus, just like taking a pregnancy test does not cause one to become pregnant, the president’s claim is false. Testing does not create cases.

However, because many COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, many people are infected and don’t know it. What COVID-19 testing does do is identify unknown cases. And thus it does increase the number of cases that are known, or otherwise called the confirmed case count.

Finding unknown cases is good, not bad, because identifying those who are COVID-19-positive allows individuals and public health officials to take actions that slow the spread of the disease. When public health officials…
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Next COVID casualty: Cities hit hard by the pandemic face bankruptcy


Next COVID casualty: Cities hit hard by the pandemic face bankruptcy

The pandemic’s longterm effects could include city bankruptcies across the U.S. Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images

Courtesy of Mark Davidson, Clark University and Kevin Ward, University of Manchester

U.S. cities are fast running out of cash.

The pandemic will reduce local government revenues by an estimated US$11.6 billion in 2020. With COVID-19 requiring residents to stay home and stores to shutter, the bulk of this reduction comes from a slump in local sales taxes. Declines will continue into 2021.

State revenues are heading in the same direction, so many U.S. cities will need to rely on help from the federal government. Aid to cities may be part of the next pandemic aid package now being discussed by members of the House and Senate. But so far, the Republicans’ bill leaves out any new funding for state and local governments, while the Democrats’ bill includes $1 trillion for it.

And if federal assistance arrives, it will not fix every city’s budget.

The pandemic has hit budgets so hard that even cities in relatively good financial health – including those with rainy day funds to help them through an emergency – will face significant changes to staffing and services.

For cities in the poorest shape, the pandemic could mean bankruptcy.

Downtown in Vallejo, California

The Northern California city of Vallejo declared bankruptcy in 2008. Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Size matters

Bankruptcy is a legal process where people, companies and governments who cannot pay their debts seek to reduce them.

Which debts get paid during a bankruptcy are important decisions. They involve how comfortable a city employee’s retirement might be, the level of health insurance for pensioners and workers, the extent of labor protections for employees and the future cost of borrowing for a city.

City bankruptcy was created by Congress after the Great Depression, in response to 4,770 different units of city government going belly up. Twenty-seven states now…
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Landlord-leaning eviction courts are about to make the coronavirus housing crisis a lot worse


Landlord-leaning eviction courts are about to make the coronavirus housing crisis a lot worse

Eviction moratoriums have already begun to expire. Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Courtesy of Katy Ramsey Mason, University of Memphis

The United States is on the verge of a potentially devastating eviction crisis right in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

Federal, state and local eviction moratoriums had put most of the pending cases on hold. But as the moratoriums expire and eviction hearings resume, millions of people are at risk of losing their homes.

That’s because the court process is heavily skewed towards the needs of landlords and offers few protections for tenants – a problem that has been going on for decades, as my ongoing research on the process of evictions shows.

The eviction crisis

Early in the pandemic, as states shut down their economies, tens of millions of people lost all or part of their incomes, with poorer Americans suffering the greatest losses.

Worried about a wave of evictions, the federal government and many cities and states imposed moratoriums in an effort to prevent a crisis. Some states went further and provided financial assistance directly to renters, while Congress provided aid in the form of economic impact checks and enhanced unemployment benefits.

Financial assistance to tenants is important because landlords have also been hurt by the economic effects of the pandemic. Part of preventing an eviction crisis and maintaining affordable housing means helping tenants pay their rent in order to ensure that landlords can pay their mortgages and other costs.

All this aid has helped ensure greater financial and housing stability for people affected by COVID-19. But the federal benefits have now expired, and many eviction moratoriums have lapsed or will do so soon. As a result, as many as 26 million people are believed to be at risk of losing their homes in the coming months.

This comes on top of the many other economic and health effects of the pandemic that have hit low-income Americans – especially women of color who
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Yes, kids can get COVID-19 – 3 pediatricians explain what’s known about coronavirus and children


Yes, kids can get COVID-19 – 3 pediatricians explain what's known about coronavirus and children

Children are at risk of getting sick from coronavirus and need to practice social distancing and mask wearing too. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

Courtesy of Kathryn Moffett-Bradford, West Virginia University; Martin Weisse, West Virginia University, and Shipra Gupta, West Virginia University

We are three pediatric infectious disease specialists who live and work in West Virginia. The West Virginia University health system serves 400,000 children and according to our internal data, to date, 2,520 children up to 17 years of age have been tested for the coronavirus. Sixty-seven of them tested positive and one became sick enough to be admitted to the hospital.

We are asked almost daily about children and COVID-19: Do they get COVID-19? Should they attend day care or school, play sports, see friends and attend summer camps? What are the risks to themselves and to others?

Based on current research and our own experiences, it would seem that kids 17 years old and younger face little risk from the coronavirus. Nearly all children have asymptomatic, very mild or mild disease, but a small percentage of children do get very sick. Additionally, there is evidence that children can spread the virus to others, and with huge outbreaks occurring all across the U.S, these realities raise serious concerns about school reopenings and how children should navigate the pandemic world.

A doctor in personal protective gear treating a young child inside of an ambulance.

Though somewhat rare, children can get severely ill from the coronavirus and a few have died. John Moore/Getty Images News via Getty Images

Children at risk

When considering the role of children in this pandemic, the first question to ask is whether they can get infected, and if so, how often.

Of the 149,082 reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of late April, only 2,572 – 1.7% – were children, despite children making up 22% of the U.S population.

But current research shows that children are physiologically just as likely to become infected
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The coronavirus pandemic requires us to understand food’s murky supply chains


The coronavirus pandemic requires us to understand food's murky supply chains

Do you know where your coffee comes from? The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of knowing about our supply chains. Here, a woman carries harvested coffee beans in a coffee plantation in Mount Gorongosa, Mozambique, in August 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Courtesy of Cory Searcy, Ryerson University and Pavel Castka, University of Canterbury

Six months ago, you may not have thought much about where your groceries were produced. But chances are you’re thinking about it now.

The COVID-19 crisis has put food supply chains under incredible stress, and stories on shortages of everything from meat to baking ingredients have been plentiful.

But even with the increased recent attention, most supply chains remain murky. Consumers can play a key role in lifting that cloud.

Supply chain transparency has sporadically received widespread attention before. In the 1990s, Nike was famously the target of global consumer boycotts due to concerns about working conditions in its manufacturing plants.

This consumer activism forced the company to make major changes, such as establishing minimum working ages, conducting regular factory audits and publishing where Nike products are made.

Despite progress, calls for consumer action on dangerous working conditions in supply chains for a range of products continue.

An array of claims to decipher

The COVID-19 crisis highlights the prospect of greater consumer engagement in the food supply chain. Browsing the shelves at your grocery store, you may come across a bewildering array of claims related to a product’s characteristics or origins.

There are, for example, nearly 150 different eco-labels on food that certify claims about a product’s environmental and social characteristics. Seafood, beef, coffee and bananas are just some of the many products covered by eco-labels.

Many claims of where products come from or other characteristics, however, rest on weak foundations. But consumers can push companies for continued innovation to illuminate the invisible parts of the supply chain and strengthen the credibility, transparency and veracity of their claims.

In many cases, this can be done with…
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Phil's Favorites

The Great Distancing


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Courtesy of Scott Galloway at No Mercy/No Malice@profgalloway 

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IRS to correct missing/wrong coronavirus stimulus checks errors

By Aman Jain. Originally published at ValueWalk.

There were several issues with the first round of stimulus checks. Many, who were eligible didn’t get the stimulus checks, while some got less than what they were eligible for. The IRS, previously, said it wouldn’t adjust such coronavirus stimulus checks errors until next year. Now we know that the agency could address some missing and wrong coronavirus stimulus checks this year.

Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

IRS to adjust missing/wrong coronavirus stimulus checks

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Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

World stocks ended a four day rally overnight that pushed the MSCI World index to green for the year, after U.S. President Trump cranked up simmering tensions with China after late on Thursday has signed orders to ban Americans from transactions involving China’s ByteDance (TikTok’s parent) and WeChat (owned by Tencent), taking effect in 45 days. Furthermore, Trump’s Working Group on Financial Markets recommended that Chinese companies currently listed on US exchanges should be delisted if they do not become compliant w...

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Listen to Chris talk with Jim about Silver on Silver Radio. Chris and Jim explore the effect on Silver prices if a Black Swan event occurs, potential bullion shortage. They also talk about silver shorts and the ‘natural’ price of silver but-for market manipulation. We still think Silver will be the Super Hero of metals! Listen up as all of your questions about silver are answered here.


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Silver Headed Back To $50, Top Of The Cup & Handle Pattern?

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Could Silver be creating a multi-decade bullish “Cup & Handle” pattern? Possible!

Did a retest of a handle breakout take place in March at (1), where Silver created one of the largest bullish reversals in decades? Possible!

Could Silver be creating a 40-year bullish pattern? Anything is possible! I humbly have to say share this; I’ve been in the business for 40-years and I haven’t seen anything like this.

Silver looks to have double topped back in 2011 at $50, which was the 1980 highs. After double topping, Silver ...

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What the huge COVID-19 testing undercount in the US means


What the huge COVID-19 testing undercount in the US means

Health care workers use a nasal swab to test a person for COVID-19 in Pembroke Park, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images News

Courtesy of Melissa Hawkins, American University

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions recently published a study which estimated that the true number of people infected by COVID-19 could be six to 24 times high...

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RTT browsing latest..

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Please review a collection of WWW browsing results. The information here is delayed by a few months, members get the most recent content.

Date Found: Sunday, 29 March 2020, 07:00:37 PM

Click for popup. Clear your browser cache if image is not showing.

Comment: Silver Shorts Are In a Bind | Ted Butler

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Twitter Says "Human Error" And "Spear-Phishing Attack" Responsible For Massive Bitcoin Hack

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

Twitter suffered from a major hack about two weeks ago and has now said that its staff was tricked by "spear-phishing", which is a targeted attack to trick people into simply handing out their passwords. 

Twitter staff were targeted through their phones, according to a new report from the BBC. The attacks then allowed hackers the ability to Tweet from celebrity Twitter accounts. Twitter has said it was "taking a hard look" at how it could improve its permissions and processes.

"The attack on July 15, 2020, targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack. This attack relied on ...

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Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia - The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House


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The numbers of new cases in some of the hardest hit COVID19 states have started to plateau, or even decline, over the past few days. A few pundits have noted it and concluded that it was a hopeful sign. 

Is it real or is something else going on? Like a restriction in the numbers of tests, or simply the inability to test enough, or are some people simply giving up on getting tested? Because as we all know from our dear leader, the less testing, the less...

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Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking


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No matter the details of the plot, conspiracy theories follow common patterns of thought. Ranta Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus

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Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

TODAY's LIVE webinar on stocks, options and trading strategy is open to all!

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  


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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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