Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Covid-19 Treatment Protocols FAR From Established Or "Agreed Upon"

wattsupwiththat |  I reviewed the scientific literature on hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), azithromycin (AZ), and their use for COVID-19. My conclusions:
  • HCQ-based treatments are effective in treating COVID-19, unless started too late.
  • Studies, cited in opposition, have been misinterpreted, invalid, or worse.
  • HCQ and AZ are some of the most tested and safest prescription drugs.
  • Severe COVID-19 frequently causes cardiac effects, including heart arrhythmia. QTc prolonging drugs might amplify this tendency. Millions of people regularly take drugs having strong QTc prolongation effect, and neither FDA nor CDC bother to warn them. HCQ+AZ combination, probably has a mild QTc prolongation effect. Concerns over its negative effects, however minor, can be addressed by respecting contra-indications.
  • Effectiveness of HCQ-based treatment for COVID-19 is hampered by conditions that are presented as precautions, delaying the onset of treatment. For examples, some states require that COVID-19 patients be treated with HCQ exclusively in hospital settings.
  • The COVID-19 Treatment Panel of NIH evaded disclosure of the massive financial links of its members to Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of a competing drug remdesivir. Among those who failed to disclose such links are 2 out of 3 of its co-chairs.
  • Despite all the attempts by certain authorities to prevent COVID-19 treatment with HCQ and HCQ+AZ, both components are approved by FDA, and doctors can prescribe them for COVID-19.
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was accepted as a COVID-19 treatment by the medical community in the US and worldwide by early April. 67% of the US physicians said they would prescribe HCQ or chloroquine CQ for COVID-19 to a family member (Town Hall, 2020-04-08). An international poll of doctors rated HCQ the most effective coronavirus treatment (NY Post, 2020-04-02). On April 6, Peter Navarro told CNN that “Virtually Every COVID-19 Patient In New York Is Given Hydroxychloroquine.” This might explain decrease in COVID-19 deaths in the New York state after April 15. The time lag is because COVID-19 deaths happen on average 14 days after showing symptoms.

But on April 21, several perfectly coordinated events took place, attacking HCQ’s use for COVID-19 patients.
  1. The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel of the National Institute of Health issued recommendations with negative-ambivalent stance regarding the use of HCQ as a COVID-19 treatment.  This surprising stance was taken contrary to the ample evidence of the efficacy and safety of HCQ and despite absence evidence of its harm. The panel also strongly recommended against the use of hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin (AZ), the combination of choice among practitioners.
  2. On the same day, a paper (Magagnoli, 2020) was posted on a pre-print server medRxiv, insinuating that HCQ is not only ineffective, but even harmful. This not-yet peer reviewed paper, by unqualified authors with conflicts of interest, received wall-to-wall media coverage, as it if were a cancer cure. It used data from Veterans Administration hospitals, spicing its effects. The paper has shown to be somewhere between junk science and fraud.
  3. Rick Bright, a government official who was probably more responsible for the low level of preparedness to the epidemic than most others, and had been re-assigned to a lower position earlier, emerged as a “whistleblower.” He claimed he had been demoted for opposing hydroxychloroquine, the claim to be soon debunked by documents bearing his signature. The media also gave him a wall-to-wall coverage.
On April 24, the FDA struck its own blow, issuing a stern warning against use of HCQ for COVID-19 treatment.

Lil'Fauci Has Known That Chloroquine Is An Effective Inhibitor Of Coronaviruses Since 2005

onenewsnow |  How did he know this? Because of research done by the National Institutes of Health, of which he is the director. In connection with the SARS outbreak - caused by a coronavirus dubbed SARS- CoV - the NIH researched chloroquine and concluded that it was effective at stopping the SARS coronavirus in its tracks. The COVID-19 bug is likewise a coronavirus, labeled SARS-CoV-2. While not exactly the same virus as SARS-CoV-1, it is genetically related to it, and shares 79% of its genome, as the name SARS-CoV-2 implies. They both use the same host cell receptor, which is what viruses use to gain entry to the cell and infect the victim.

The Virology Journal - the official publication of Dr. Fauci’s National Institutes of Health - published what is now a blockbuster article on August 22, 2005, under the heading - get ready for this - “Chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread.” (Emphasis mine throughout.) Write the researchers, “We report...that chloroquine has strong antiviral effects on SARS-CoV infection of primate cells. These inhibitory effects are observed when the cells are treated with the drug either before or after exposure to the virus, suggesting both prophylactic and therapeutic advantage.”

This means, of course, that Dr. Fauci (pictured at right) has known for 15 years that chloroquine and it’s even milder derivative hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) will not only treat a current case of coronavirus (“therapeutic”) but prevent future cases (“prophylactic”). So HCQ functions as both a cure and a vaccine. In other words, it’s a wonder drug for coronavirus. Said Dr. Fauci’s NIH in 2005, “concentrations of 10 μM completely abolished SARS-CoV infection.” Fauci’s researchers add, “chloroquine can effectively reduce the establishment of infection and spread of SARS-CoV.”

Dr. Didier Raoult, the Anthony Fauci of France, had such spectacular success using HCQ to treat victims of SARS-CoV-2 that he said way back on February 25 that “it’s game over” for coronavirus.

He and a team of researchers reported that the use of HCQ administered with both azithromycin and zinc cured 79 of 80 patients with only “rare and minor” adverse events. “In conclusion,” these researchers write, “we confirm the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine associated with azithromycin in the treatment of COVID-19 and its potential effectiveness in the early impairment of contagiousness.”

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Illinois And These Pritzkers Though....,

dollarcollapse |  The people running states like New Jersey and cities like Chicago know they’re broke. Ridiculously generous public employee pensions – concocted by elected officials and union leaders who had to have understood that they were writing checks their taxpayers couldn’t cover – are bleeding them dry, with no political solution in sight.

They also know that they have only two possible outs: bankruptcy, or some form of federal bailout. Since the former means a disgraceful end to local political careers while the latter requires some kind of massive crisis to push Washington into a place where a multi-trillion dollar state/city bailout is the least bad option, it’s safe to assume that mayors and governors – along with public sector union leaders – have been hoping for such a crisis to save their bacon.

Illinois, which has the most underfunded pensions but, interestingly, a relatively healthy labor market, apparently had its natural disaster bailout plan prepped and printed before COVID-19 was invented and released. Because governor Gov. J.B. Pritzker almost instantly had his hand out for – get this – $41 billion, a sum equal to three times the state’s estimated pandemic-related revenue loss in the coming year. Overall, governors have asked for about $500 billion in aid.

And wait till California starts begging. See California Governor: Expect Budget Gap in ‘Tens of Billions’.

For President Trump, bailing out “badly run Democrat states”  seems politically pointless, since those states will never, ever vote Republican. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, trolled his Dem counterparts by suggesting that states just declare bankruptcy (thus freeing them to cut pension benefits).

But of course this is just partisan fantasy. Letting Illinois go bankrupt would send the muni bond market into a “who’s next?” seizure, which would quickly spread to corporate bonds, equities, and real estate, cratering the US and then the global economy. At least that’s the worst-case scenario economists will present to policymakers.

With no stomach for presiding over the end of the world during an election year, Washington will cave, agreeing to whatever governors demand. And so the grossest mismanagement in the history of US state and city government will be swept under the rug – or more accurately will be swept onto taxpayer balance sheets along with that of all the other sectors that are – surprise! – too big to fail.

Why No National Lockdown To "Slow The Spread" Of The Two Piece And A Biscuit Pandemic?

thedailybeast  |  Amid social distancing, authorities nationwide are reporting a surge in fatal opioid overdoses. Addiction and recovery advocates say the U.S. is now battling two epidemics at once. From 1999 to 2018, opioid overdoses involving prescription and illicit drugs have killed nearly 450,000 Americans. (One recent study found an additional 99,160 opioid deaths, previously unreported because of incomplete medical records.)

In Franklin County, Ohio, where Lynn lives, the coroner is warning residents of a continued spike in drug deaths, including six on April 24. One week before, the coroner announced that five people died in a span of 12 hours. In February, overdoses were so prevalent the coroner said she might need a temporary morgue to handle the deluge.

“Folks for the fourth Friday in a row we have had a surge of overdose deaths: 6 yesterday,” Dr. Anahi Ortiz posted on Facebook on April 25. “Please keep that narcan on hand, use fentanyl test strips and call 911 for an overdose. Families and friends check on your loved ones who use frequently, consider Thursday, Friday and Saturday to check in and talk.”

Montgomery County, Ohio—which is home to Dayton and was considered the country’s overdose capital in 2017—is reporting a 50 percent jump in overdoses over last year. Coroner Kent Harshbarger suggested to one local news outlet this increase could be closer to 100 percent: “March had around 42 which, our normal baseline is somewhere in the 20s usually. So 42 is a significant increase.”

Indeed, authorities in counties across Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York are also reporting rises in overdoses during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The people I’m giving it to don’t want to go to the health department,” he said.

Lynn said isolation and boredom can be a trigger. “The opposite of addiction is human connection, not sobriety,” she said. “Just being totally isolated—especially now that stimulus money came through for a bunch of people—it’s a huge temptation. I didn’t get my money yet, and I’m glad I didn’t.”

Traci Green, director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, told The Daily Beast that community programs should push to secure as much naloxone as possible and provide easy access to treatment in light of stimulus checks.

“Because people will have money and the market pays attention to these things,” Green said. “All markets pay attention to these things. The illicit market is no different.”

While some Americans struggle to find toilet paper and cleaning supplies during the pandemic, the country’s drug users are also facing a dwindling supply.

Pritzker: Cain't B'Lee You Stankazz Peasants Kwestined ME!!! Some Ass-Whoopings Are In Order...,

patch |  Melania Trump recently "found her voice" in stay-at-home America, the Washington Post's style-section declared, citing the first lady's recent tweets praising grocery workers and public service announcements promoting the CDC's public health guidance.

Former first lady Michelle Obama teamed up with Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to spread the word about free public coronavirus testing sites around the district, where she's self-quarantining with former President Barack Obama and their daughters. 

 But in Illinois, we haven't heard much from first lady M.K. Pritzker, except early this month when she signed on to help raise money for Art for Illinois relief program.

In Crain's Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz's day-in-the life tale of Illinois' rookie governor amid the pandemic, we learned Pritzker watched "Tiger King" on Netflix, a how he usually ends his day — "a little dinner, then he chats with his son and makes more calls" — but nothing of the first lady or his daughter.

The governor didn't mention his wife when reporters asked the billionaire about how he's doing physically and emotionally under his own stay-at-home order.

"I'll just say I'm managing through this time reasonably well," Pritzker said on April 17. "I think there is an emotional component to this that I'll just not spend a lot of time on."

As things turn out, as the governor makes regular public pleas for Illinoisans to be "All In" during the extended stay-at-home fight to slow the spread of COVID-19, Mrs. Pritzker has been out of state, sources told Patch. 

Specifically, the first lady has been spending time at their $12-million equestrian estate in Wellington, just down the horse trail from Bruce Springsteen, Bill Gates and Billy Joel, the family purchased shortly after J.B. was elected governor last year.

Not that I think there's anything wrong with that. "First lady" isn't an official title. Mrs. Pritzker can raise cash for Illinois artists from anywhere. She has no obligation to sequester herself in their Astor Street mansion in the Gold Coast when her family can hop on a private plane to stay-at-home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the family estate in the Bahamas (close to the governor's off-shore bank accounts) and, of course, their place in the "winter equestrian capital of the world" in Florida.

The Shutdown Has Never Been About Saving Even One Life: Slowing The Spread...,

wirepoints |  A Star Wars sequel gave us a modern adage for the role of public opinion: Liberty dies with thunderous applause.

For those reasons, it’s particularly alarming to see the public’s opinion about the clear illegality of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s emergency stay-at-home orders, which is indifference.

That indifference is almost universal in Illinois’ press. Editorial condemnation of the order’s illegality has been almost nonexistent. A particularly sad example was an April 23 Chicago Tribune editorial. Flattening the curve is good, it said, so hurrah for extending the order. No mention of its illegality.

Same with the general public. Polling says 93% of Illinoisans approve Pritzker’s orders, including 75% who said they strongly approved. Illegality apparently is of no consequence.

Maybe the public thinks this is about some petty “technicality.” Maybe they think it doesn’t matter because the order is sensible.

But Pritzker’s orders are illegal, flagrantly so, and it matters.

State authorization for the nearly unlimited power asserted under the orders limits them to 30 days. But Pritzker claims he can extend that to eternity simply by issuing successive 30-day orders forever, an arrogant, autocratic and untenable interpretation of the statute.

More importantly, the orders violate a range of of constitutional rights. No effort was made to confine the orders to legitimate public safety goals and tailor them to respect those rights. They reflect no rational basis for the lines between what is permissible and impermissible and, as they apply to many Illinoisans, the orders would not survive the strict scrutiny courts say the constitution demands insofar as they impair certain constitutional rights.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Welp..., Didn't Take Long For "Flatten The Curve" To Morph Into "Flatten the Negroe"!

NYTimes |  A New York City police officer who was caught on video Saturday pointing a stun gun at a man and violently taking him to the ground over an alleged social distancing violation has been stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty pending an internal investigation.

Bystander video showed the plainclothes officer, who was not wearing a protective face mask, slapping 33-year-old Donni Wright in the face, punching him in the shoulder and dragging him to a sidewalk after leveling him in a crosswalk in Manhattan’s East Village.

“The behavior I saw in that video is simply not acceptable,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Sunday. He said earlier in the day that there will be a careful look into what happened.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Frances O’Donnell said Wright “took a fighting stance against the officer” when he was ordered to disperse and was arrested on charges including assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.

The charges have been deferred pending further investigation, a Manhattan District Attorney's Office spokesperson said.

A message seeking comment was left with the police officers union. 

Wright’s arrest and that of two other people minutes earlier on the same block across from a public housing complex raised new questions about the police department’s use of force, the role of officers in enforcing social distancing measures and inconsistency in how they're applied.

The manner of Wright’s arrest appeared to echo that of 20-year-old Fitzroy Gayle, who was seen on bystander video pleading for help as several officers wrestled him into submission on a Brooklyn sidewalk in early March.

Jennvine Wong, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society’s Cop Accountability Project, said footage of the arrests Saturday stood in sharp contrast to photos and video — including some tweeted out by the police department — showing officers in crowded city parks handing out face masks and gently reminding people to stay 6 feet apart.

"This certainly isn’t the first time and this isn’t even the first time in this pandemic that we’ve seen evidence of discriminatory policing by the NYPD,” Wong said.

America Has NO Mechanism For Coping With Its Unemployment Crisis

NYTimes | Covid-19 has killed more Americans than died in the Vietnam War and led to unemployment numbers that are likely worse than those during the Great Depression. Implicit in Joe Biden’s campaign was a promise of a return to normalcy. That may have always been illusory, but now it’s been revealed as an impossibility.

As we approach this year’s election, we’re looking at an abyss. The question is what will fill it. Societal disaster can have horrific political consequences: Around the world, despots are using the pandemic as an excuse to grab ever more power. But the need to rebuild the country comes with opportunities.

At this point, even many Republicans acknowledge that the era of small government is over. (“Big-Government Conservatives Mount Takeover of G.O.P.,” said a recent Politico headline.) In such an environment, ambitious progressive ideas that once seemed implausible, at least in the short term, start to become more imaginable.

“I do think there’s an F.D.R. moment,” said Senator Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and co-author of the Green New Deal resolution, which calls for a huge new public works program to build environmentally sustainable infrastructure. “Like 1933 — which would be 2021 — we can see that it is now time to discuss universal child care, universal sick leave and a guaranteed income for everyone in our society.”

Unsurprisingly, mass unemployment — a particular catastrophe in a system in which most people’s health insurance is tied to their jobs — seems to have made Americans more supportive of New Deal-like policies. Figures from the left-leaning polling firm Data for Progress show that support for a Green New Deal has risen from 48 percent last May to 59 percent this spring. Backing for “Medicare for all” went from 47 percent in November to 53 percent in March, when coronavirus layoffs were just starting.

“I’ve had people in my district, Silicon Valley, tech professionals who’ve lost their jobs,” Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, told me. “People who were doing well at small businesses who have either lost their jobs or faced extraordinary hardship, and suddenly they are now having to confront the difficulties of being uninsured. They’re having to confront the challenges of the private health system.” Khanna sees a much broader awareness “of how uncertain economic life can be,” he said, which creates a bigger coalition for progressive ideas to improve the social safety net.

America Hasn't Yet Reckoned With The Consequences Of Mass Unemployment

brucewilds |  People tend to forget or push aside the matter of just how much unemployment cost society. This cost takes many forms. There are economic and social costs in this situation. They include a slew of things from, lower on-the-job training to things such as alienation and lost GDP. This can result in homelessness, depression, and even increase drug or alcohol addiction.

Lurking behind all this is the fact that State governments get the money to pay claims by debiting the employer’s Unemployment Insurance account or by raising the employer’s UI taxes. A deduction in the account balance may also cause a rate increase, this means each claim assessed to an employer’s account can result in a tax rate increase in future years. The cost of an individual claim can be significant but the higher tax rate for a business often has a much greater long-term impact. Many states use a three-year moving period to assign a tax rate and an awarded unemployment claim can affect three years of UI tax rates. This means the average claim can increase an employer’s state tax premium from $4,000 to $7,000 over the course of three years.

These increased UI tax rates will have a huge impact on an employer’s bottom line in the near future and this is something that is not being addressed. Instead, the focus is on unemployment. The situation is considered so significant that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has expanded unemployment benefits to self-employed and part-time workers through Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance, which provides up to 39 weeks of benefits beginning on or after Jan. 27, 2020, and ending on or before Dec. 31, 2020.

To the right is a chart of what was paid out in recently in benefits. In March 2020, 3.89 billion U.S. dollars were paid out in unemployment benefits in the United States. This is an increase from February 2020, when 2.75 billion U.S. dollars were paid in unemployment benefits. This pales next to the more than 50 to 100 billion dollars we should expect to be paid out each month until this abates.

The ramifications resulting from this surge in unemployment have not yet been fully internalized, this is a huge deal. In the blink of an eye, the U.S. economy has wiped out all the job gains since the Great Recession and more. There were already 7.1 million unemployed Americans as of March 13, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. When this figure is combined with the newest job losses, we are looking at more than 33 million unemployed, or a real unemployment rate of 20.6%. This would be the highest level since 1934.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Controlavirus: Guaranteed You Will See What Collective Rage Looks Like

NYTimes  | Despite the stock market’s swoon for it, remdesivir probably isn’t our ticket out, she told me. “It’s not curative,” she said, pointing out that the strongest claims so far are that it merely shortens the recovery of Covid-19 patients. “We need either a cure or a vaccine.”

But she can’t envision that vaccine anytime in the next year, while Covid-19 will remain a crisis much longer than that.

“I’ve been telling everybody that my event horizon is about 36 months, and that’s my best-case scenario,” she said.

“I’m quite certain that this is going to go in waves,” she added. “It won’t be a tsunami that comes across America all at once and then retreats all at once. It will be micro-waves that shoot up in Des Moines and then in New Orleans and then in Houston and so on, and it’s going to affect how people think about all kinds of things.”

They’ll re-evaluate the importance of travel. They’ll reassess their use of mass transit. They’ll revisit the need for face-to-face business meetings. They’ll reappraise having their kids go to college out of state.

So, I asked, is “back to normal,” a phrase that so many people cling to, a fantasy?

“This is history right in front of us,” Garrett said. “Did we go ‘back to normal’ after 9/11? No. We created a whole new normal. We securitized the United States. We turned into an antiterror state. And it affected everything. We couldn’t go into a building without showing ID and walking through a metal detector, and couldn’t get on airplanes the same way ever again. That’s what’s going to happen with this.”

Not the metal detectors, but a seismic shift in what we expect, in what we endure, in how we adapt.
Maybe in political engagement, too, Garrett said.

If America enters the next wave of coronavirus infections “with the wealthy having gotten somehow wealthier off this pandemic by hedging, by shorting, by doing all the nasty things that they do, and we come out of our rabbit holes and realize, ‘Oh, my God, it’s not just that everyone I love is unemployed or underemployed and can’t make their maintenance or their mortgage payments or their rent payments, but now all of a sudden those jerks that were flying around in private helicopters are now flying on private personal jets and they own an island that they go to and they don’t care whether or not our streets are safe,’ then I think we could have massive political disruption.”

“Just as we come out of our holes and see what 25 percent unemployment looks like,” she said, “we may also see what collective rage looks like.”

Elevated Levels Of Angiotensin II Correlate With Broken Immune Response And Covid-19 Severity

medrxiv  |  Background: 2019 Novel coronavirus disease (COVID−19) is turning into a pandemic globally lately. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is identified as an important functional receptor for SARS−Cov−2. ACE2 and ACE are homologues with inverse functions in the renin−angiotensin system. ACE converts angiotensin I into a vital vasoactive peptide called angiotensin II(AngII), whereas ACE2 hydrolyzes AngII into a series of vasodilators. There were few reports illustrated the expression of AngII in COVID−19. This study aimed to demonstrate the expression of angiotensin II in COVID−19 and how it correlated to the disease. 

Methods: We enrolled 55 patients with COVID−19 admitted to renmin Hospital of Wuhan University from January 21st to February 21st, 2020. Demographic data were collected upon admission. COVID−19 nuclear acid, plasma AngII, Renin and aldosterone in the lying position without sodium restriction, and other laboratory indicators were together measured by the laboratory department of our hospital. 

Findings: Of the 55 patients with COVID−19, 34(61.8%) had an increased level of AngII. The severity of COVID−19 and male is positively related with the level of AngII. The level of blood lymphocyte, PCT, ALT, and AST were remarkably severe with those of normal level of AngII (P < 0.05). CD4/CD8 cells ratio was significantly higher whereas CD3+CD8+ cells amount, CD3+CD8+ cells proportion, CD56+CD16+CD3- cells amount and CD19+CD3- cells amount were considerably lower than those of normal level of AngII (P < 0.05). Abnormal rates of blood lymphocyte and PCT were significantly higher in Patients with elevated AngII level. The results of binary logistic regression analysis showed that the severity of COVID−19 (OR=4.123) and CD4/CD8 ratio(OR=4.050) were the co-directional impact factor while female(OR=0.146) was inverse impact factor of elevated AngII level. 

Interpretation: High rate of increased level of AngII was detected in COVID−19 patients. Patients with elevated AngII level were more likely to be critically ill with COVID−19. Considering the gender differences in ACE2 expression and no gender differences in angiotensin expression, the gender differences in AngII level might indicate less loss of ACE2 in female patients. Elevated AngII level was correlated with CD4/CD8 ratio, suggesting it might involve in immune disorder. Keywords: 2019 Novel coronavirus disease(COVID−19), Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), Angiotensin II(AngII), gender differences


Time To Pick Up A Pack Of Nicorette

sciencedirect |   Nicotine could act as a competitive agonist for the nAChRs that could restore the compromised function of the nicotinic cholinergic system. This may be feasible through repurposing already approved (for other indications) pharmaceutical nicotine products such as nicotine patches for use by non-smokers, or even by using these products as already indicated (i.e. as smoking substitutes) among current smokers. These products are available over-the-counter in most countries. They have been administered therapeutically in non-smokers for neurological conditions and inflammatory bowel disease for larger periods than would be needed for COVID-19 [[81], [82], [83]]. No abuse liability was observed in non-smokers despite being administerd for several weeks [82,83]. Besides gums and patches, nicotine can be administered though inhalation, with the use of a nebulizer or other aerosol systems, if necessary. Nicotine administration could be added on top of antiviral or other therapeutic options for COVID-19. By restoring and re-activating the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, a more universal suppression of the cytokine storm could probably be achieved compared to administering inhibitors of a single cytokine. The potential need to provide pharmaceutical nicotine products to smokers and users of other nicotine products who experience abrupt withdrawal symptoms of nicotine when hospitalized for COVID-19 or aim to follow medical advice to quit smoking, should also be examined. Additionally, if the hypothesis about the beneficial effects of nicotine is valid, smokers who quit nicotine use when hospitalized will be deprived from these benefits. In France, the Addiction Prevention Network (RESPADD) officially recommends the use of nicotine replacement therapies for smokers when hospitalized for any illness [84]. Clinical trials will dictate future approaches and the role of nicotine in COVID-19, while further experimental studies should examine the affinity of the virus to nAChRs.

In conclusion, we noticed that most of the clinical characteristics of severe COVID-19 could be explained by dysregulation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory system. The observation that patients eventually develop cytokine storm which results in rapid clinical deterioration, led to the development of a hypothesis about the series of events associated with adverse outcomes in COVID-19 (Fig. 2).

Once someone is infected with SARS-CoV-2, the immune system is mobilized. As the virus replicates, cell and viral debris or virions may interact with the nAChRs blocking the action of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. If the initial immune response is not enough to combat the viral invasion at an early stage, the extensive and prolonged replication of the virus will eventually block a large part the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway seriously compromising its ability to control and regulate the immune response. The uncontrolled action of pro-inflammatory cytokines will result in the development of cytokine storm, with acute lung injury leading to ARDS, coagulation disturbances and multiorgan failure. Based on this hypothesis, COVID-19 appears to eventually become a disease of the nicotinic cholinergic system. Nicotine could maintain or restore the function of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory system and thus control the release and activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This could prevent or suppress the cytokine storm. This hypothesis needs to be examined in the laboratory and the clinical setting.

Surprise, Surprise..., U.S. Bioweapons Research Yields Early Coronavirus Detection

Guardian |  Scientists working for the US military have designed a new Covid-19 test that could potentially identify carriers before they become infectious and spread the disease, the Guardian has learned.

In what could be a significant breakthrough, project coordinators hope the blood-based test will be able to detect the virus’s presence as early as 24 hours after infection – before people show symptoms and several days before a carrier is considered capable of spreading it to other people. That is also around four days before current tests can detect the virus.

The test has emerged from a project set up by the US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) aimed at rapid diagnosis of germ or chemical warfare poisoning. It was hurriedly repurposed when the pandemic broke out and the new test is expected to be put forward for emergency use approval (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within a week.

“The concept fills a diagnostic gap worldwide,” the head of Darpa’s biological technologies office, Dr Brad Ringeisen, told the Guardian, since it should also fill in testing gaps at later stages of the infection. If given FDA approval, he said, it had the potential to be “absolutely a gamechanger”.

While pre-infectious detection would improve the efficiency of test-and-trace programmes as governments worldwide relax lockdowns, Darpa cautioned that it must wait until after FDA approval is given and the test can be put into practise for evidence of exactly how early it can pick up the virus.

“The goal of research is to develop and validate an early host blood response diagnostic test for Covid,” Prof Stuart Sealfon, who leads the research team at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, said in an email.

He said the testing approach, which looks at the body’s response as it fights Covid-19, should produce earlier results than current nose-swab tests that hunt for the virus itself. “Because the immune response to infection develops immediately after infection, a Covid signature is expected to provide more sensitive Covid infection diagnosis earlier,” he told the Guardian.

The research behind the development of the tests will eventually be made public, with the collaborating teams from medical schools at Mount Sinai, Duke University and Princeton expected to publish online, allowing scientists around the world to trial similar methods.

If EUA is granted, the test should start being rolled out in the US in the second half of May. Approval is not guaranteed, but Darpa scientists are enthusiastic about the potential impact as governments loosen lockdowns amid worries about controlling potential second-wave outbreaks.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Knowing He Couldn't Dance A Lick, Joe Biden STILL Thought He Was Daddy Long Legs...,

caitlinjohnstone |  I’ve been avoiding writing much about Tara Reade, for a lot of reasons. Firstly I’m a survivor of multiple rapes and it brings up a lot of ouch for me, especially since whenever I write about rape as a problem I always get a deluge of highly triggered men (and sometimes one or two highly traumatized women) calling me a man-hater and saying all kinds of nasty things to me. Secondly I’ve been trying not to spend too much time on the details of an election we all know is fake anyway between two establishment candidates we already know are deeply depraved.

But mostly I avoid the subject because it’s just so goddamn gross. It’s gross to watch liberals going around pretending they believe that Handsy Uncle Hair Sniffer would never dream of shoving his fingers into a woman without her consent. It’s gross watching the language of leftism being borrowed to defend pure, relentless victim smearing. It’s gross watching people who’ve built their political identities around pretending to care about women try to spin these allegations as Reade being dishonest for partisan reasons, when in reality that’s exactly what they themselves are doing.

Due to my experiences with and sensitivity to the subject matter, going through this stuff feels kind of like getting punched in the privates over and over again. There are smears everywhere, from the establishment narrative managers to their brainwashed rank-and-file herd. Yesterday some “KHive” asshole told me that Reade is mentally ill and talking about her experience will probably drive her to suicide, citing a baseless smear by McResistance pundit Sally Albright as his evidence. There’s a Twitter thread with thousands of shares going around right now where some liberal combed through all Reade’s old tweets highlighting typos she made and claiming they show Reade tweeting “in a Russian accent”.

It sucks because if we’re to build a healthy world we’re going to have to get rid of all the people who shouldn’t be in power, and the very first lot we should eliminate are the ones who abuse their power to assault the sexuality of other human beings. If you use your power to rape people, you will with absolute certainty use it to do other unconscionable things as well, so eliminating those who do so is the first step toward health. That’s step one, and we can’t even get there, because blind partisan hackery turns pussyhat-wearing liberals into a bunch of snarling male supremacists.

Face It American Woman - Life Worth Two Piece And A Biscuit Doesn't Matter

theweek |  Now, one could make an argument that Reade is likely telling the truth, but Biden is still worth nominating. One could say, for instance, that his platform is so good that Democrats will simply have to look the other way this time. But to quote George Orwell, that kind of argument is "too brutal for most people to face" — and it would make Democrats look like staggering hypocrites, given how they have wrapped themselves in the mantle of #MeToo.

Instead, Democratic partisans have thus far tried to relieve their cognitive dissonance by casting doubt on the story or attacking Reade. In The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg argued that, while the accusation can't be dismissed out of hand, Reade's praise of Vladimir Putin and changing story also cast doubt on her story. Joan Walsh came to the same conclusion in The Nation: "Her allegation against Biden doesn't stand up to close scrutiny." Ben Cohen of The Daily Banter went further along the same lines, saying the allegation was "falling apart" and she was almost certainly lying. (To be fair, all these articles were written before the latest corroborating stories came out, and at time of writing Goldberg at least has expressed dismay over the news.)

The posture is quite similar to the one Republicans assumed in response to the accusations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh back in 2018. They attacked the integrity of accuser Christine Blasey Ford, nitpicked the story, and denied it had happened. It was a shameful episode. However, it's worth noting that what Biden is accused of is, if anything, even worse than the Kavanaugh story. Kavanaugh was 17 years old when he allegedly drunkenly pinned down Ford and tried to take her clothes off. While awful, minors are generally not liable for normal prosecution because they are not fully responsible adults. Biden, by contrast, was a sober, extremely powerful, 50-year-old United States senator when he allegedly committed his crime — and unlike Kavanaugh, he is accused of actually raping Reade.

The effective strategy of #MeToo is to create a new social norm around sexual misconduct. Since the criminal justice system has so obviously failed to stem the abuse, social sanction can take up the slack. Exposing and punishing powerful people who exploit their position to harass and assault others might make other elites think twice.

This progress will be grossly undermined if Democrats choose to look past Biden's allegations for political reasons. Republicans already basically dismiss sexual assault allegations against their co-partisans out of hand; if Democrats do the same for the leader of their party it will do a great deal to move us back to the pre-#MeToo past, when far too many people looked the other way at abuses committed by powerful politicians. One cannot create a broad political norm against sexual misconduct if the issue becomes a partisan football for both parties.

What's more, this story gives Donald Trump a huge weapon in the general election — either to dismiss the even more numerous accusations against himself, or to attack Biden as the real predator, or both. It was criminally irresponsible of Biden's primary opponents not to attack him vigorously on this issue.

However, it is not too late. Though all his opponents have dropped out, Biden has still not been officially nominated. He could still drop out for the good of the party, and arrange for someone else to take up his delegates. Or the Democratic establishment could bull ahead with a damaged, unfit nominee, whose opponent will gleefully exploit their shameless hypocrisy, and dramatically set back the feminist causes they claim to believe in. It's up to them.

Scrutinizing and Interrogating Apex DNC Hypocrisy: PRICELESS!!!

downwithtyranny |  Is the Tara Reade story reaching critical mass, approaching a tipping point? It seems so.

The initial response to this story was silence from anyone with political or media power. The media in particular completely ignored it. Comparisons of CNN coverage of the Reade story with their coverage of the Blasey Ford story show a marked discrepancy. Reade told her full story first in a March 25 interview with Katie Halper. Yet CNN published no Tara Reade stories until April 25, and then, it seems, they published only in embarrassed response to The Intercept's revelation that Reade's mother had called in to CNN's own show, Larry King Live, on August 11, 1993 to discuss in unspecific terms her daughter's problem.

CNN finally broke silence on the Reade story less than a day after Ryan Grim and the Intercept published the Larry King show transcript and the Media Research Center located and tweeted a clip of it. Blasey Ford's story, in contrast, went viral on all national media. including on CNN, as soon as it was available. Deservedly so, in her case. Not so much, in Reade's.

To conclude that the media buried the story to help Biden remain the presumptive nominee is inescapable. The plan, apparently, was to starve the public of Reade news and wait out the indie-press storm until newer news drew their attention.

Once the wall of silence was breached, the indie press started asking why Democratic Party leaders and opinion makers, especially prominent #MeToo women, were either absent from the discussion or suddenly coming out in support of Biden. Kirstin Gillibrand and Hillary Clinton are the latest to announce support as of this writing, but the silence of many — Elizabeth Warren prominently among them — is still deafening. Note that "I support Joe Biden" and "I believe Joe Biden" are different statements.

Only Nancy Pelosi, speaking with Ari Melber on MSNBC, has been asked directly about Reade's accusation and replied, "I'm satisfied with his answer." (It's very much to the point of this piece that the only sources I could find to link to for this quote are right-wing sources like Breitbart. Yet Melber's show is on MSNBC.)

Now the story itself, or the story about the story, is coming to mainstream pages and screens, thanks partly to the shaming of the indie press and partly to the recent report by Rich McHugh in Business Insider.

Hardly A Whisper Yet About The MASSIVE Restructuring Occurring In The Global Energy Market...,

bloomberg |  The world is on the cusp of a geopolitical reset. The global pandemic could well undermine international institutions, reinforce nationalism and spur de-globalization. But far-sighted leadership could also rekindle cooperation, glimmers of which appeared in the G-20’s offer of debt relief for some of the world’s poorest countries, a joint plea from more than 200 former national leaders for a more coordinated pandemic response and an unprecedented multinational pact to arrest the crash in oil markets.  

The remarkable effort to address the turmoil in the oil markets will be critical to oil’s eventual balance — although the past two weeks have shown that its promised production cuts were too slow and insufficient in the face of oil demand’s plunge. The challenges and opportunities that the collapse in the oil market is pushing to the fore are perhaps just the first taste of Covid-19 induced geopolitical crises that world leaders and policy makers will need to grapple with in the coming months and years.
As history has shown, a big change in energy markets often precipitates a big change in geopolitics. For instance, the shift from coal to oil catapulted Middle Eastern countries to strategic significance. And the recent technology-driven boom in shale oil elevated the United States to net oil exporter status, changing its outlook on the importance of oil in global affairs. We now face a disruption of such proportions that it, too, will reorder some power relationships. 

Right now, the focus in Washington is on how to save the U.S. oil industry, much of which is under enormous pressure given the drop in prices. While this is understandable and necessary, Washington needs to make room on its list of priorities for a number of strategic shifts that the crisis has created. For starters, policy makers should consider four challenges and opportunities that are already manifest.  

Prepare for more fragile, or even failed, states and the risks that can accompany them.
For dozens of oil producers, the plunge in oil prices is devastating. No major oil producer can balance its budget at prices below $40; according to the International Monetary Fund, with the exception of Qatar, every country in the Middle East requires at least $60, with Algeria at $157 and Iran at a whopping $390. The average Brent price of oil over the past month has been a hair above $20

Of course, fiscal break-even prices are only one factor when gauging which oil producers are the most vulnerable to deep economic dislocation and its accompanying social and political turmoil. Those with (comparatively) more diversified economies — such as the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Russia — are obviously better off. Countries with fixed exchange rates — like Nigeria and Saudi Arabia — are at a particular disadvantage, as they need to use their precious foreign exchange reserves to prop up their currencies. Some countries have the capacity to cut expenditures, and others to borrow. And some have legitimate political institutions to manage the inevitable hardships as subsidies are slashed, jobs are lost and capital spending is curtailed. 

Friday, May 01, 2020

Why Lil'Fauci An'em Ain't Fund MIT Broad Based Anti-Viral DRACO?

thinkpol  |   “New drug could cure nearly any viral infection,” read the headline on MIT News nine years ago that heralded the arrival of DRACO, a new antiviral approach that vanquished every single virus that it came up against.

Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizer(DRACO) was promised to do to viruses what antibiotics had done to bacteria — turn life threatening viral infections into easily treatable conditions[1].

DRACO acts as an antiviral “kill switch” by identifying infected cells and killing those cells to terminate the infection.

The drug’s remarkable success is attributed to its ability to target a type of RNA produced only in cells that have been infected by viruses.

Bioengineer Todd Rider and his team at MIT’s Lincoln Lab tested their drug against 15 viruses, and found it was effective against all of them — including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever[2].

And some researchers believe that DRACO could take on the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that’s causing the current global COVID-19 pandemic[3].

You’d think that national health agencies and pharmaceutical companies would be rushing to mass manufacture a DRACO as a weapon against COVID-19. But you’d be wrong.

In fact, the development of DRACO had ground to a halt after falling into the well-known “Valley of Death”, in which many promising new drugs struggle to find funding to bridge the gap between proof-of-concept experiments and later large-scale development and trials.

Lil'Fauci Out'Chere Hustling Hard On Behalf Of Gilead (Remdesivir)

nakedcapitalism |  The Wall Street produced an intriguing piece the other day, “The Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires Pushing a Manhattan Project for Covid-19,” which while picked up and signal-boosted by other venues — Business Insider, Daily Mail, Newsweek, Beckers Hospital Review (the best) — doesn’t seem to have generated any additional reporting. The scientists, billing themselves as “Scientists to Stop COVID-19,” have produced an oddly untitled deliverable[1] (PDF, seventeen pages) dated March and April 2020. It’s worth a read. (Two hours ago, news came that the administration has initiated “Project Warp Speed,” which seems inspired by this project, but there’s no reporting on personnel, and it’s not clear thei y adopted the recommendations of the scientists. I’m guessing that the issues I am about to raise for the deliverable of the “Secret Group” will also apply to Project Warp Speed[2].)

Given that “personnel is policy,” I’ll first reduce people mentioned in the Wall Street Journal story, and the scientists who signed the March-April deliverable to tabular form. After that, I will take a quick look at the scientists’ deliverable, focusing especially on issues of governance and restoring our economy.

As a sidebar, I must protest at the PR-driven use of “Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project cost $23 billion in US dollars and employed 130,000 people. I don’t think anything of that scale is being proposed, unfortunately. End sidebar.

Now let’s look at the billionaire and multimillionaire backers of… well, whatever the project is really called; I’ll call it, following the Wall Street Journal, the Secret Group. In addition to backers, there are also fixers, who connect the backers and the scientists to the administration, agencies, and other firms, primarily in Big Pharma. I have ordered the backers and fixers not alphabetically but by net worth.

Having looked at personnel, I’m going to look at two policy recommendations. (I’m skipping over the Committee prioritizing remdesivir[2]; my layperson’s sense is that there are a lot of potentia treatments out there, and it makes more sense to accelerate many rather than one. I also note that the stock market just had a massive pop based on a preliminary remdesivir result from Gilead, and I certainly hope that none of the backers were front-running it.)

Controlavirus And America's Socio-Politico-Economic Fracture Lines...,

charleshughsmith |  Meanwhile, the splintering of America's failing elites has been amplified by the pandemic. The moral decay of the elites is as visible as their insatiable greed. The two are of course intimately connected: once the morals of the ruling Elites degrade, what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine, too.
I've previously covered two other key characteristics of an empire in terminal decline: complacency and intellectual sclerosis, what I have termed a failure of imagination. We can see both complacency and intellectual sclerosis in the elites' response to the pandemic.
Michael Grant described these causes of decline in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire, a short book I have been recommending since 2009:
There was no room at all, in these ways of thinking, for the novel, apocalyptic situation which had now arisen, a situation which needed solutions as radical as itself. (The Status Quo) attitude is a complacent acceptance of things as they are, without a single new idea.
This acceptance was accompanied by greatly excessive optimism about the present and future. Even when the end was only sixty years away, and the Empire was already crumbling fast, Rutilius continued to address the spirit of Rome with the same supreme assurance.
This blind adherence to the ideas of the past ranks high among the principal causes of the downfall of Rome. If you were sufficiently lulled by these traditional fictions, there was no call to take any practical first-aid measures at all.
And so we've reached the precarious state of disunion in which the only thing the warring elites can agree upon is that the Federal Reserve should rescue their private wealth, regardless of cost or consequences. America is doomed, not because its citizenry is incapable of adaptation, but because its ruling, warring elites are incapable of surrendering any of their wealth, power or control, or allowing anything to threaten their precious cartels and monopolies, starting of course with the key controlling monopoly, the Federal Reserve.

Waaaay Too Long, Well Worth Reading Detailed Technical Account From The Trenches

medium | What to Wear, What to Wear … 

“Do you want PAPRs?” asked the resource nurse.
These are Powered Air-Purifying Respirators: In our case, a white plastic hood with a clear face shield, attached by hose to a motorized fan/filter worn on a belt around the waist. We don these spaceman hoods now for high-risk situations like intubations, the prologue to putting a patient on a vent.
If a patient is failing despite oxygen, then he might need sedated, intubated (i.e., have a plastic breathing tube slipped into his trachea), and put on a ventilator. We do this routinely in emergency medicine. But it involves getting up close with a coughing, struggling airway — perhaps between periods of vigorous bag-mask ventilation — and it turns out this is all high-risk for aerosolizing a coronavirus, so that it floats in the air all around us.
This happens in a negative-pressure room — resource was already tracking the patient in the computer to our main resuscitation bay, which has a sliding glass door and a fan that continuously sucks air in from the hall — so no viral particles can wander the ER. The fans draw the air through filters and outside of the building — hopefully someplace up high and remote, where any few scattered viral or bacterial particles that make it so far will be killed off by sunlight. None of this, however, protects those of us inside the room, hence the question: Should we dress like astronauts to meet the new COVID-19 patient? Or go with standard gear?
Standard included an N 95 mask, which each of us had been wearing all shift, for weeks now. They feel like hard cardboard, with moldable edges. When sealed to the face, supposedly they keep out “95%” of whatever’s floating in the air — as long as that whatever is bigger than 0.3 micrometers (300 nanometers). (This is regulated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; the N stands for “not resistant to oil,” which means it’s fine for healthcare work but not for some industrial processes.)
If you’re wondering: “Is filtering out 95% enough?” — join the club. Sucking in 5% of the coronavirus that comes my way sounds like a bad deal.
Worse, the coronavirus itself is only 0.125 micrometers (125 nanometers). So … small enough to make it thru the mask?
Nevertheless, we have some clinical evidence that N 95s prevent viral or bacterial infections. And we hypothesize that if say a coronavirus is floating in the air, it’s doing so in a large water droplet. Suddenly, the exact size in micrometers of said droplet is of interest, so there’s a brisk trade in math-heavy papers like this one from the Journal of Fluid Mechanics — with its 1,000-frames-per-second images of sneeze- and cough-expelled saliva sprays. This and other literature suggests virus-filled saliva droplets range from 5 to 15 micrometers (5,000 to 15,000 nanometers)— far too big to make it past the N 95.
Maybe so, but the N 95s are miserable things.
Before COVID-19 they were considered “single-use,” worn to see a patient and then discarded upon leaving the room.
Now, in the setting of an international shortage, at every hospital I work at or know of, they are being used in a completely new way: Worn constantly, sometimes with a surgical mask over top to “keep the N 95 clean,” and then turned in for some sort of deep cleaning. The CDC has offered only the most grudging of guidance blessing this sort of reuse, but what can we do? At least we are past the early days, when we doctors were literally studying the specs on vacuum cleaner bags and air conditioner filters, wondering if we could cut them up and sew them into face masks.
To be clear: At none of the hospitals where I work did we ever run out of protective gear. But at all of them we had reason to worry about it, and if we haven’t run out, it’s in large part because of the ingenuity of the physicians and nurses in suggesting workarounds.

Hasidic Jews Are Disproportionately Dying From Coronavirus

NYTimes |  The coronavirus has hit the Hasidic Jewish community in the New York area with devastating force, killing influential religious leaders and tearing through large, tight-knit families at a rate that community leaders and some public health data suggest may exceed that of other ethnic or religious groups.

The city does not track deaths by religion, but Hasidic news media report that roughly 700 members of the community in the New York area have died from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Borough Park is a leafy neighborhood of low-rise buildings and small businesses like the kosher bakeries and Judaica shops on Raoul Wallenberg Way that cater to the local Hasidic population. More than 6,000 people there have tested positive for the virus, with one of the neighborhood’s ZIP codes being the city’s fifth most heavily affected, according to data released by the city.

Other neighborhoods with large Hasidic populations, like South Williamsburg and Crown Heights, have some of the city’s highest levels of positive Covid-19 test results, the data show.

Hasidic groups say they prepared for the pandemic — for example, making decisions on the closure of schools and events — by taking their cues from the state and federal authorities, whose response to the crisis has been at times halting and inconsistent.

But community leaders say Hasidic enclaves in New York were also left vulnerable to the coronavirus by a range of social factors, including high levels of poverty, a reliance on religious leaders who were in some cases slow to act and the insular nature of Hasidic society, which harbors a distrust of secular authorities that is born of a troubled history.

That distrust has manifested itself in ways that have risked spreading the virus and have drawn the attention of law enforcement, which in recent weeks has been called to disperse crowds at events like weddings and funerals in Hasidic areas of Brooklyn, upstate New York and New Jersey. 

That, in turn, has led to concerns over anti-Semitism in places like Rockland County, which has one of the highest per capita infection rates in the nation and was also the site of an anti-Semitic attack in December that killed one Hasidic Jew and injured four others.