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Sunday COVID-19 roundup

Sunday, Apr 12, 2020

* A study by a team of 18 German scientists working in two separate laboratories has a bit of good news about testing

SARS-CoV-2 starts replicating in the throat, not the lungs. For that reason, a simple throat swab is enough to test for the virus. There’s probably no need for an intrusive, unpleasant nasal swab.

If it turns out to be fact, that’ll help develop home testing kits.

* But there’s also some really bad news

The antibodies our bodies produce in response to COVID-19 infection don’t actually destroy this virus. In that way, it is a lot like HIV.

That has implications for the high-stakes global effort to develop vaccines and other treatments. […]

“This means that the antibodies are not effective at clearing the virus,” Ostrov told The Daily Beast. “This is relevant when thinking about viruses and vaccines. HIV also stimulates production of antibodies that fail to clear the virus, as do many other viruses, such as hepatitis virus C.” […]

“People have tried and failed to generate vaccines against such viruses, so we should not be overconfident that a vaccine strategy will work,” Ostrov added.

Viruses access our cells by interfacing with particular proteins. Once inside, they hijack our cells’ own mechanisms in order to make copies of themselves. When that happens, our bodies sometimes panic, mobilizing a powerful immune response that can go too far… and make us sick or even kill us.

The study is here.

Needless to say, if a virus which is spread by merely coughing on someone is behaving like another virus that is very tough to get (intimate contact, blood transfusions, etc.), we’re in really big trouble here.

* The New York Times published a story on the bodily virus reaction phenomenon last week

When the body first encounters a virus or a bacterium, the immune system ramps up and begins to fight the invader. The foot soldiers in this fight are molecules called cytokines that set off a cascade of signals to cells to marshal a response. Usually, the stronger this immune response, the stronger the chance of vanquishing the infection, which is partly why children and younger people are less vulnerable over all to coronavirus. And once the enemy is defeated, the immune system is hard-wired to shut itself off. […]

But in some cases — as much as 15 percent of people battling any serious infection, according to Dr. Cron’s team — the immune system keeps raging long after the virus is no longer a threat. It continues to release cytokines that keep the body on an exhausting full alert. In their misguided bid to keep the body safe, these cytokines attack multiple organs including the lungs and liver, and may eventually lead to death.

In these people, it’s their body’s response, rather than the virus, that ultimately causes harm.

Cytokine storms can overtake people of any age, but some scientists believe that they may explain why healthy young people died during the 1918 pandemic and more recently during the SARS, MERS and H1N1 epidemics. They are also a complication of various autoimmune diseases like lupus and Still’s disease, a form of arthritis. And they may offer clues as to why otherwise healthy young people with coronavirus infection are succumbing to acute respiratory distress syndrome, a common consequence of a cytokine storm.

And that’s causing some doctors to call for new ways of treatment and a rethink of ventilator usage. Click here for that. And click here for an article entitled “At least half of covid-19 patients on ventilators don’t make it.”

* Headlines from the Tribune’s live blog

Aurora homeless shelter residents to move into hotel to contain COVID-19 outbreak

2nd COVID-19 death reported in Porter County; Lake County adds 68 new cases to reach 744.

Illinois endures second-deadliest coronavirus day, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker encouraged by trend of COVID-19 cases

Priests at North Side Greek Orthodox church deal with 4 funerals, virtual ministering as 18 people linked to parish struck by COVID-19

14-year CTA veteran dies of COVID-19

Antibody tests now being given by Department of Public Health to determine who has had the coronavirus

* Sun-Times live blog headlines

Students wonder when they can return to school during Gov. Pritzker’s live-streamed town hall for youth

Expecting a stimulus check? You might want to shield it from payday lenders

Fears of ‘Wild West’ as COVID-19 blood tests hit the market

* Some SJ-R live blog headlines

‘Ringing in Springfield’ shows solidarity with health care workers, first responders

AG: Be on the lookout for scammers

Social Distancing grades: Illinois earned an overall grade of “D”.

UIS center reaches out

* Roundup…

* Illinois is bending the virus curve faster than other hot spots: The state, which has reported more than 19,180 confirmed cases, stretched the number of days over which cases double to 7.9 as of April 9 from 2.1 on March 22, data compiled by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago showed. … For comparison, 25 days after reporting the first 100 instances, confirmed cases doubled every 6.1 days in New York, every 6.6 days in Washington and every 5.1 days in California, according to Rush.

* Cruise ships safe, but post office can die: And the 600,000 postal workers? And the 328 million Americans who rely on the mail for a range of essential services, from prescription drugs to, yes, packages from online retailers, to those $1,200 government checks that are whistling all the way from the Treasury department? Expendable.

* As feds play ‘backup,’ states take unorthodox steps to compete in cutthroat global market for coronavirus supplies: Officials in one state are so worried about this possibility that they are considering dispatching local police or even the National Guard to greet two chartered FedEx planes scheduled to arrive in the next week with millions of masks from China, according to people familiar with the planning. These people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, asked that their state not be identified to avoid flagging federal officials to their shipment.

* How will coronavirus affect your property taxes?: Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi plans on decreasing the assessed value of every parcel in the county ahead of the August 2021 tax bills, using historical data from past economic crises and market trends before the nationwide coronavirus shutdown.

* Lightfoot talks racial disparity of COVID-19 deaths, easing city restrictions on ‘Face the Nation’: “We cannot open up the economy until we make sure that we’ve got all the healthcare controls in place,” Lightfoot said. “That means widespread testing, contact tracing, and we’ve got to see not just a flattening of the curve but a bending down.”

* Temporary raises. Masks. Sneeze guards. Workers are demanding more protections as COVID-19 spreads, a push that could continue even after the pandemic ends.

* Business leaders call for delay in minimum wage raise: The state’s minimum wage will increase by 75 cents in July. Delaying the increase would have to be done by the legislature, but lawmakers are not planning on coming back anytime soon. Even then, Pritzker would still need to sign off on the measure, and he didn’t like the idea when asked about it at his press conference.

* OSF HealthCare to partner with state in new coronavirus program

* San Francisco Has Flattened the Coronavirus Curve - Mayor’s early and aggressive moves to contain the outbreak have made San Francisco a national model in fighting the pandemic.

* America’s gaping coronavirus inequality

* JPMorgan now sees economy contracting by 40% in second quarter, and unemployment reaching 20%

- Posted by Rich Miller        

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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