Tulane Outbreak Daily – July 24, 2020

Featured Headlines

Virus Can Travel 26 Feet at Cold Meat Plants With Stale Air – Bloomberg

Cold and stale air conditions allowed coronavirus particles to travel more than 8 meters (26 feet) at a German slaughterhouse, a study showed, giving an insight into how meat plants turned into hotspots for infections across the world. Meat plants from the U.S. to the U.K. and South America have seen the rapid spread of the virus, infecting thousands of employees who often work in close proximity on processing lines. Dozens of workers have died, and labor advocates have said that a lack of social distancing could continue to put people at risk. Outbreaks also forced American meat plants to close earlier this year, sparking some protein shortages. [Related Study]

The Case Fatality Rate Metric is Unreliable – NPR

Four Minute Audio at the Link – As the number of coronavirus cases started spiking again this month, the White House keyed in on a different number — one that paints a more rosy picture of the pandemic: the case fatality rate.

Why has the pandemic spared the Buddhist parts of South-East Asia?

ne of the bigger riddles of the global pandemic lies in South-East Asia. Despite being close to the source of covid-19, in China, and to one of the current hotspots of the outbreak, India, the partly or largely Buddhist countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam have scarcely sneezed.

Inside the Global Quest to Trace the Origins of COVID-19—and Predict Where It Will Go Next – Time

It wasn’t greed, or curiosity, that made Li Rusheng grab his shotgun and enter Shitou Cave. It was about survival. During Mao-era collectivization of the early 1970s, food was so scarce in the emerald valleys of southwestern China’s Yunnan province that farmers like Li could expect to eat meat only once a year–if they were lucky. So, craving protein, Li and his friends would sneak into the cave to hunt the creatures they could hear squeaking and fluttering inside: bats.

Pfizer Gets $1.95 Billion to Produce Coronavirus Vaccine by Year’s End – NYT

Two pharmaceutical companies announced a nearly $2 billion contract for 600 million doses of a vaccine, with the first 100 million promised before the end of the year.

Herd Immunity Response To COVID-19 Pandemic Can Be Problematic – NPR

3 Minute Audio at the link – As the pandemic drags on, researchers are increasingly doubtful that so-called “herd immunity” can be reached without a vaccine. Many now believe COVID-19 may be around forever.

ER Doctor Saw COVID-19 Devastate New York. Now, He’s Doing It Again In California – NPR

4 min audio at the link – Dr. Louis Tran, an emergency physician, spend much of May in New York City ICUs treating patients with COVID-19. Now, he’s back at home in San Bernardino County in California, fighting the same virus on a different coast.

How Long Will Immunity To The Coronavirus Last? – NPR

So many people are counting on a vaccine to help end the coronavirus pandemic that any hint of bad news gets a lot of attention. That’s proving to be the case for a series of studies examining how long antibodies persist in people who have been infected with the coronavirus.

Clinical Considerations

Distinct clinical and immunological features of SARS-COV-2-induced multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children – JCI

Pediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection can be complicated by a dangerous hyperinflammatory condition termed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). The clinical and immunologic spectrum of MIS-C and its relationship to other inflammatory conditions of childhood have not been studied in detail.

SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody responses in New York City – NIH

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a strain of coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Total cases of SARS-CoV-2 worldwide exceed 10.2 million, with over 503,000 deaths recorded. Little is known about the body’s immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

What Scientists Know About How Children Spread COVID-19 – Smithsonian

As communities struggle with the decision over whether to open up schools, the research so far offers unsatisfying answers. Every year, children are a major driver of transmission for the viruses that cause the flu and the common cold. So this March, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, Tina Hartert of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine expected the same to be true for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. But months later, Hartert and other respiratory disease experts are still trying to pin down the elusive virus, which has surrendered only hints about its effects on children and their ability to spread the infection. [Related Study]

Just a few nations driving much of world’s COVID-19 surge – CIDRAP

The global surge in COVID-19 cases is mainly driven by intense transmission in a relatively few countries, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said today, with South Africa now among the five hardest-hit countries.

Official Reporting for July 24, 2020

World Health Organization


Confirmed Cases: 15,296,926

Deaths: 628,903


Confirmed Cases: 15,477,472

Deaths: 633,122

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 15,594,551

Deaths: 635,086

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 4,024,492
Total deaths: 143,868

Surveillance Headlines


Michigan: Nursing homes make up 15% of Michigan COVID-19 cases, 32% of deaths – WWMT

California: COVID-19 Deaths Set New Daily Record; Total Tops 8,000 – SF Bay CBS

Texas: More than 90 babies have tested positive for COVID-19 in Travis County, Austin Public Health reports – KXAN

Ohio: Ohio county fair tied to 22 coronavirus cases, with more fairs still to come – NBC


Sweden: Swedish Covid Policy Slammed by CEO on Front Line of Crisis – Bloomberg

Spain: Spain’s Reopening Stumbles as Virus Cases Rise Among Young People – NYT


Nicaragua: Nicaragua’s COVID-19 crisis demands a response – Science

Hong Kong: Fresh Virus Wave Worsens Hong Kong’s Already Disastrous Outlook – Bloomgerg


Vietnam: Vietnam took drastic early action to fight the coronavirus — and has reported zero deaths – NBC

Japan: As Japan Nears 1,000 Daily Coronavirus Infections, It Shies From Restrictions – NYT


Jordan: Prime Minister Says His Country Contained COVID-19 By ‘Helping The Weakest’ – NPR


Uganda: Reports its first death from Covid-19 – CNN

South Africa: South Africa to Close Schools Again as Covid Infections Surge – Bloomberg

Science and Tech

SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Has a “Camouflage” That Causes Cells Not to Recognize It – “Fundamental Advance in Our Understanding of the Virus” – SciTechDaily

The scientists resolved the structure of an enzyme called nsp16, which the virus produces and then uses to modify its messenger RNA cap, said Yogesh Gupta, PhD, the study lead author from the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. [Related Study]

Lung ultrasound shows duration, severity of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Science Daily

A new study found that lung ultrasound was highly sensitive for detecting abnormalities in patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), with B-lines, a thickened pleural line, and pulmonary consolidation the most commonly observed features. Additionally, the authors found that lung ultrasound features can be used to reflect both the infection duration and disease severity.

Trained dogs were able to sniff out Covid-19 infections with 94% accuracy: study – NBC

Dogs have smell receptors up to 10,000 times more powerful and accurate than humans. That allows certain trained dogs to sniff out diseases like cancer, malaria and viral infections. [Related Study]


Preliminary phase I/II results of ChAdOx1 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine – Virology Blog

On July 20, 2020, Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca reported preliminary results from phase I/II clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of a vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2. [Lancet Study on AstraZenica Vaccine]

COVID-19 vaccine innovation could dramatically speed up worldwide production – Science Daily

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to accelerated efforts to develop therapeutics and vaccines. A key target of these efforts is the spike (S) protein, which is metastable and difficult to produce recombinantly. Here, we characterized 100 structure-guided spike designs and identified 26 individual substitutions that increased protein yields and stability. Testing combinations of beneficial substitutions resulted in the identification of HexaPro, a variant with six beneficial proline substitutions exhibiting ~10-fold higher expression than its parental construct and the ability to withstand heat stress, storage at room temperature, and three freeze-thaw cycles. A 3.2 Å-resolution cryo-EM structure of HexaPro confirmed that it retains the prefusion spike conformation. High-yield production of a stabilized prefusion spike protein will accelerate the development of vaccines and serological diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2. [Related Study]

The Long Game of Coronavirus Research – The New Yorker

The Long Game of Coronavirus Research. Warp-speed vaccine trials grab our attention, but more deliberate work is just as urgent.


Discovery of SARS-CoV-2 antiviral drugs through large-scale compound repurposing – Nature

The emergence of the novel SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in 2019 has triggered an ongoing global pandemic of severe pneumonia-like disease designated as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)1. The development of a vaccine is likely to require at least 12-18 months, and the typical timeline for approval of a novel antiviral therapeutic can exceed 10 years.

Hydroxychloroquine with or without Azithromycin in Mild-to-Moderate Covid-19 – NEJM

Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin have been used to treat patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). However, evidence on the safety and efficacy of these therapies is limited.

Social and Psychological Impact

None Today

Published Research

Investigation of a superspreading event preceding the largest meat processing plant-related SARS-Coronavirus 2 outbreak in Germany – SSRN

Structural basis of RNA cap modification by SARS-CoV-2 – Nature

Scent dog identification of samples from COVID-19 patients – a pilot study – BMJ

Presence of Genetic Variants Among Young Men With Severe COVID-19 – JAMA

Structure-based design of prefusion-stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spikes – Science

What we know so far about Coronavirus Disease 2019 in children: A meta‐analysis of 551 laboratory‐confirmed cases – NIH


Pre-Pub (not yet peer reviewed, should not be regarded as conclusive)

None Today

Coping in Quarantine

Dog Influencers Take Over Instagram After Pandemic Puppy Boom – Bloomberg

WARNING – If you are on the fence about getting a new puppy, this will throw you over the fence and into a pile of puppies. [Do not click this link Jeff Miller]

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