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Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
I've just been watching this - a very interesting explanation of what's distinctive, and difficult, with coronaviruses,
and what's involved in producing a vaccine.

 

Silent_Water

Magistrate
I assembled the data from the Bing Coronavirus tracker this morning for several of the largest countries affected. What you rarely see is data scaled to population. I have done so

Salient facts: Italy Spain and Iran (Iran is widely believed to be underreporting) have the lion's share of the deaths per million and death rate. Even then, Italy, the worst only has (to date) a little over 6 deaths per 100,000. At rate less than seasonal flu (this, of course will change).
Death rates per confirmed case are lowest in NYS, Switzerland and Germany, with Germany being a far outlier. No single reason for this has been determined, though it is believed that in Germany and Switzerland it is partially related to higher testing rates. If testing rate are indeed the main drive, it would imply the true mortality is fairly low (<1 percent of cases)

Figures out of Italy and Spain (and Iran - though again, may not be reliable) are clearly outliers. Italy's high rate of cases is probably due to close trade ties with China and refusal early on to stop China flights.

UK has an unusually high death rate, but this may be due to small sample size so far.
Hm, maybe this is also interesting in this thread:

In one of the latest articles from a rather "boulevard-newspaper" from Cologne, EXPRESS (link down below), you can read some comparisons which may explain in parts, why Germany has astonishingly few cases of death up to now, but all these explanations are hard to be proved up to now.

The most quoted explanations are now:

1. The Coronavirus came later to Germany in younger persons, so the most endangered elderly persons are usually not really infected up to now and the old people's homes have just in time been closed to all visitors.

2. The Germans do usually not live so close together with their parents or grandparents in the same household, so the older generations are not infected yet (and many of them are said to be happy when they do not have to see their grandchildren daily - "these little devils"!)
;)

3. The German hospitals sometimes seem to be poor and small for average German standards but as a whole, they seem to be very well equipped compared to other European countries. The EXPRESS-article below compares "three essential factors" which are really good in Germany:
a) number of "Intensivbetten" (= beds with intensive care possibilities), b) sufficient protection-clothings, c) well trained medical personnel.

Ashampoo_Snap_2020.03.25_20h16m40s_002_.jpg a) is here compared more detailed in this article-part according to known statistics of 2019: Italy with a population of around 60 million had last year around 5.000 "Intensivbetten"; Great Britain with around 66 million had 4.100 "Intensivbetten"; Germany with around 80 million had 28.000 "Intensivbetten" and will probably be able to double them within 2 months!
Even I must say: Somehow shocking but also "Wow"! :eyepop:

 

windar

Teller of Tales
I've just been watching this - a very interesting explanation of what's distinctive, and difficult, with coronaviruses,
and what's involved in producing a vaccine.

Having worked on vaccines for many years before I became a writer of bad erotic fiction, I can say that many of the projections that we will have a vaccine in a year or 18 months are speculative. It's possible, sure, but it's also possible it could take much longer and even never happen. There is still no HIV vaccine 40 years in and still no broadly usable malaria vaccine.

The point the article makes that a vaccine could make infection worse is quite valid. Another thing to keep in mind is that those most at risk from the disease, the elderly, are at risk because their immune systems are depressed. So, when they receive a vaccine, they tend to make weak responses. This is well known in the flu field-it has been addressed by giving people over 65 a higher dose of vaccine, which has helped somewhat but is by no means perfect.
 

Silent_Water

Magistrate
I once read a speculation about the possibility that taking regular vaccines against influenza might make immune systems as a whole stronger and this might also help a little bit against other infections by viruses.
When I remember the German possibilities of taking vaccines for free or also buying vaccines before going on holiday even in tropical countries, the Germans, Swiss, Austrians and Scandinavians could also be the state-run-health-care-systems-nations (sorry for my typical German obsession of forming the longest words you will ever see ;)) with the most incredible combinations of the most unusual vaccines in their blood. (I remember about 15 vaccinations during the last 25 years for me against diseases I cannot remember how to be written! So, all of this did obviously not help against Alzheimer!)
No one knows for sure, but this might also help them a bit against the coronavirus.
 

Silent_Water

Magistrate
Almost correct, but I would indeed have to make word-splits if I take everything what I wanted to mention, although splitting the words makes me somehow unhappy as a German: "Nationen mit staatlich-verwalteten Gesundheits-, Sozialversicherungs- und Krankenkassensystemen"
:eek:
 
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fallenmystic

Executioner
Staatlichverwaltetesgesundheitssystemnationen?:confused:;)
Almost correct, but I would indeed have to make word-splits if I take everything what I wanted to mention, although splitting the words makes me somehow unhappy as a German: "Nationen mit staatlich-verwalteten Gesundheits-, Sozial- und Krankenkassensystemen"
:eek:
That conversation somehow reminds me of this :p

38bda3874885df2154ed319095928a25.jpg
 

malins

Stumbling Seeker
I've just been watching this - a very interesting explanation of what's distinctive, and difficult, with coronaviruses,
and what's involved in producing a vaccine.
The point the article makes that a vaccine could make infection worse is quite valid.
This is a very real consideration, as far as I recall this problem has shown up in some experimental vaccines against the original SARS ... it would elicit a good neutralizing antibody response in the animal models, but when they were later challenged with the virus, outcomes weren't good.

(an important note to make here is that arguing for being careful in the design and experimental testing of vaccines, has nothing to do with anti-vaxxerism)

many of the projections that we will have a vaccine in a year or 18 months are speculative. It's possible, sure, but it's also possible it could take much longer and even never happen.
For sure we must not put ourselves in a place where we have to hope for miracles. Technology has advanced amazingly and it took only a few weeks to find out as much about the novel coronavirus, as we learned about HIV in 25 years.

But regardless of how great the tech is (and it is great, things that were PhD projects in the early 1990s are fully automated today), the whole point of a vaccine is that it must be safe to give it to entire populations of people who are at present healthy, and might only potentially become ill. There is no way to be reasonably sure of that other than going through the tests and trials.

That is completely different, almost on an astronomical scale different, from trying experimental medication on severely suffering patients who have a double-digit percentage probability of dying, in that case we can take big risks (and the patients will be willing to take those risks).
 
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Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
I was also interested in the explanation that these coronaviruses have RNA that mutates very readily,
much more so than relatively stable DNA, so new mutants evolve all too easily, with adaptive advantages
like not showing any symptoms for several days while they're spreading around the population.
And even if a vaccine is developed for one strain, some other mutation will probably appear soon - if it hasn't already.

And there's mention of a suspected origin in a particular population of bats,
though the viruses aren't transmitted directly from bats to humans,
some other animal would be the vector
(he says possibly a pangolin - are they eaten? A quick Google search tells me yes,
they're exported from Africa to China where they're regarded as a delicacy)
 

Silent_Water

Magistrate
Maybe, this sounds a bit silly but honestly, today, I would really like to know who are really these (in)human beings who supposedly eat all these animals or parts of them and make some species die out.
For decades - since about 1975 - I hear now even in Germany that someone in Asia is eating e.g. "shark fin soups", "rhinoceros horns" etc. as aphrodisiacs, bat wings and now pangolins imported from Africa to China.
Who are these crazy humans with superstitious beliefs and why does it seem possible for them to pay so much money for decades?
They cannot have been simple Chinese people when you remember the poverty of communist China only 30 years ago.
The UN should really have tried to find out at least 40 years ago who has so much money to pay poachers and traders in Africa already 50 years ago.
 

malins

Stumbling Seeker
And even if a vaccine is developed for one strain, some other mutation will probably appear soon - if it hasn't already.
Well there are grounds for optimism here, however a virus mutates, the working parts have to remain functional and they are under tight constraints.

The virus needs to do specific things like bind to a receptor, run an rna-dependent rna polymerase to replicate its genome, form a protease to process the initial polypeptide produced from the RNA etc --- and all these proteins have active sites that need to have a certain shape. Any mutation that deforms them deactivates the virus.

A consequence of this is that anything that attacks the active sites necessary for the replication process in principle will also work with "SARS-Cov-2" aka the novel coronavirus. That's why antivirals made against other RNA viruses (say, HIV) have some cross-functionality. And one monoclonal antibody line made against the original SARS has been reported to be cross-reactive to the new one.

This is a race we can win, sequencing of viral strains is almost instant, and as far as I'm up to date the coronavirus family is less variable than influenza.
And there's mention of a suspected origin in a particular population of bats,
There's an interesting video from the Wuhan Municipal Center for Disease Control & Prevention, an official Chinese govt. video targeted at the general public especially young viewers, with English subtitles; this is from December 2019 ... at the time it was posted the outbreak had already started but was not yet recognized ... it shows their research into bats as as virus reservoirs and it is someting they were very aware of,


there are also a lot of papers out there from years ago, warning of the emergence of cornaviruses similar to SARS from bat populations ... just one example
 

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fallenmystic

Executioner
Maybe, this sounds a bit silly but honestly, today, I would really like to know who are really these (in)human beings who supposedly eat all these animals or parts of them and make some species die out.
For decades - since about 1975 - I hear now even in Germany that someone in Asia is eating e.g. "shark fin soups", "rhinoceros horns" etc. as aphrodisiacs, bat wings and now pangolins imported from Africa to China.
Who are these crazy humans with superstitious beliefs and why does it seem possible for them to pay so much money for decades?
They cannot have been simple Chinese people when you remember the poverty of communist China only 30 years ago.
The UN should really have tried to find out at least 40 years ago who has so much money to pay poachers and traders in Africa already 50 years ago.
I think this could be a tricky subject to discuss because there are multiple aspects to consider.

First off, if the question is about inconsiderate consumption of animal products from rare species to drive them go extinct, I think there's no excuse to avoid our condemnation.

However, it's not really a problem specific to China or any Asian countries, because there have been countless animals and even human species that faced extinction because of the Europeans in the past.

But I agree that some of those countries which either have only recently attained the developed status, or still in the developing stage may show less awareness of such a problem. However, if we consider the fact that the very reason why they happen to lag behind the civilization is almost invariably related to the exploitation and political turmoils they had suffered because of the Europeans, I don't think it'd be fair to blame it squarely on their being Asians.

But if the question is about eating 'gross' or 'odd' things like bat wings, or rhinoceros horns, I'd argue that it's just the difference in culture. I believe many countries, European or Asian, have some of such cusinary oddities, from raw livers to snails. And if China is specifically notorious for such things, we should remind that it's also a country with one of the most ancient and diverse culinary traditions in the world. It certainly survived despite all the hardships the country have undergone since the collapse of their ancient empire.

Of course, I won't deny that there's a peculiar aspect in certain East Asian culture that you mentioned as 'superstitous' and I do agree with you largely on that matter. As a person who was born and raised in one of such culture, I've seen many who still believe drinking deer's blood or eating a seal's penis would make you either younger or more energetic in bed. Diversity in culinary tradition is one thing, but holding such unscientific beliefs is a different matter.

But again, I mainly see such a problem as the result from their society having been lagging behind the civilization. For instance, such practices in my country have been rapidly disappearing, and almost entirely eliminated now, although I remember it was much more common when I was young. So, it's not really about being a Chinese or an Asian that is the problem, but that the culture in which they were born and raised need a bit more time to catch up with where the rest of the world is now.

All in all, I think the more important problem is not in what we eat (as long as it's not an engendered species), but how we eat them.

I don't think there's any problem in eating either shark's fins or goose liver, per se. Rather, I think it's such shamelessly inhumane methods that they use to harvest those animal parts that is the real problem. And again, the matter of animal cruelty is essentially the 'first world problem', and it hasn't been long since the Europeans began to put serious efforts to acknowledge and mitigate the problem, and even nowadays, they aren't entirely free of such practices as you can see in the case of Foie Gras.

So, while we should do our best to encourage those from the developing world or from those countries only recently joined the developed group to acknowledge such problems like protection of engendered species or animal cruelty, I think we should be more cautious not to regard such things as a 'Chinese problem' or 'Asian problem' as if it has something to do with their peculiar ethnicity, rather than their unfortunate historical hardships which have deterred them from making social progress as fast as the Europeans have in recent centuries.

Of course, I'm not calling you a 'racist' or anything for what you wrote. But since you have exclusively mentioned of Asian or Chinese people as responsible for such practices, I wanted to provide the reason why we shouldn't see such a problem as pertaining to any specific ethnicity or nationality.
 
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Silent_Water

Magistrate
Thank you very much for your interesting thoughts about my posting and maybe, I should have mentioned more clearly that I myself doubt if "China" was ever responsible about the saying that they use rhinoceros horns or something because it would really have seem very, very difficult for me to understand the long and costly way from killing a rhinoceros in Africa and bringing its remains to someone 15.000 miles away, only for one's erotic pleasure. And this "simply-not-understanding" of this saying is my only reason to ask this question, who in the whole world would do something like that? No matter, if this person is from African or Asian origin.

Concerning "racism", it may also sometimes be a matter of perspective and who is saying something at which place.
For example, a French comedian in Germany once said, no one in the world should ever underestimate the bravery of his French nation because few Europeans would have thought before that an European could eat as a delicacy food like moulded cheese, escargot, or frog legs.
If a German would have said this in France, even I would probably have said, this German probably is using a kind of racist satire.

And concerning the "aggressiveness" of the German language, I really find it much "funnier" (or "more funny"?) if a German is saying something about this than someone who is obviously exaggerating the pronouncing and who is obviously not a native speaker of German.
For example, the man in the Bavarian costume in one of the videos above is emphasizing the wrong consonants by trying to make the language sounding more aggressive.
Maybe, he speaks German well but I could bet, he is not a native speaker of German.
His version of "Entschuldigung!" sounds for me like "Entttschulttikhunkh!" and I have never heard a German speak this and other words of him like that.
Moreover, this sounds for me almost like the attempt of raping my language ... hm ;) ... ok, maybe this is not the really wrong forum for raping something ... :eek:
... but I do not really like it anyway. I feel uncomfortable with this kind of speaking and for this feeling, I can only say "Entschuldigung!"
:)
 
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