Tulane Outbreak Daily – September 29, 2020

Virtual Events

COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and the Pandemic Series – MIT

Tuesday, October 06, 2020 at 11:30am to 12:30pm

In Fall 2020, all MIT students and the general public are welcome to join Professors Richard Young and Facundo Batista as they discuss the science of the pandemic during this new class. Special guest speakers include: Anthony Fauci, David Baltimore, Britt Glaunsinger, Bruce Walker, Eric Lander, Michel Nussenzweig, Akiko Iwasaki, Arlene Sharpe, Kizzmekia Corbett, and others. The class will run from September 1, 2020 through December 8, 2020 and begin each Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. ET. Please note that MIT classes generally begin five minutes after the scheduled start time.

Series two of the COVID-19 Open Online Briefings is in motion.
Each week Dr David Nabarro shares the latest about the state of the pandemic and response priorities. He offers a 30-minute update on what he sees happening around the world from an interdisciplinary and people-focused perspective followed by 30-minutes of interactive discussion with participants. His updates are based on the analyses and guidance provided by the World Health Organization.

Featured Headlines

Global coronavirus deaths rise above ‘mind-numbing’ million – Reuters

The global coronavirus death toll surpassed a million on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, a bleak statistic in a pandemic that has devastated the global economy, overloaded health systems and turned daily life upside down.

CDC Director Robert Redfield voices alarm over influence of new coronavirus task force adviser – NBC News

Dr. Robert Redfield, who leads the CDC, suggested in a conversation with a colleague Friday that Dr. Scott Atlas is arming Trump with misleading data about a range of issues, including questioning the efficacy of masks, whether young people are susceptible to the virus and the potential benefits of herd immunity. [Related article “who is Scott Atlas” NBC New York]

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci: “outlier” on the task force often gives out of context or actually incorrect information – Reuters

Two senior U.S. public health experts have raised concerns that White House adviser Scott Atlas is providing misleading or incorrect information on the coronavirus pandemic to President Donald Trump, according to media reports on Monday. [Related article from a few weeks ago ABC News]

When Young People Get COVID-19, Infections Soon Rise Among Older Adults – NPR

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults were more likely to get infected, but when researchers analyzed cases from June to August, they found that people in their 20s accounted for the largest share of confirmed cases compared to other age groups. And public health experts say this is a worrying trend.

Warning Signs Flash Ahead of Covid’s Second U.S. Winter – Bloomberg

Data collected by the Covid Tracking Project shows that the number of people hospitalized has plateaued at about 30,000 in the past week, after a decline from nearly 60,000 that began in late July. Deaths, meanwhile, averaged about 750 over the seven days through Sunday, higher than the roughly 600 deaths a day in the first week of July.

Social distancing is more effective than travel bans, study finds – Science Daily

Forecasting the spreading of a pandemic is paramount in helping governments to enforce a number of social and economic measures, apt at curbing the pandemic and dealing with its aftermath. [Related Study]

The lockdown tweet that launched a COVID-19 ‘supertracker’ – Nature

Lukas Lehner wanted to capture how different economies are addressing COVID-19 challenges. His Twitter call-out helped to create a global directory of policy resources based on swarm intelligence, and led to a research project.

Up Close and Personal with Dr. Anthony Fauci – HCP Live Podcast

The US has reached another inflection point in the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In this last week, the nation reached 200,000 deaths from the virus—far and away the most among any country—as recoil 2 weeks following Labor Day Weekend began a steady trend upward in daily new cases.

Clinical Considerations

Nine in ten recovered COVID-19 patients experience side-effects – Reuters

Nine in ten coronavirus patients reported experiencing side-effects such as fatigue, psychological after-effects and loss of smell and taste after they recovered from the disease, according to a preliminary study by South Korea.

One number could help reveal how infectious a COVID-19 patient is. Should test results include it? – Science Magazine

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, battles have raged over testing: Which tests should be given, to whom, and how often? Now, epidemiologists and public health experts are opening a new debate. They say testing centers should report not just whether a person is positive, but also a number known as the cycle threshold (CT) value, which indicates how much virus an infected person harbors.

Study finds 100% death rate in COVID-19 patients after CPR – CIDRAP

All 54 COVID-19 patients who underwent cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in a Michigan hospital died, leading to questions about the risks and benefits of performing a procedure that exposes healthcare personnel to the coronavirus amid limited supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). [Related Study]

Studies Begin to Untangle Obesity’s Role in Covid-19 – New York Times

People with extra weight may struggle to mount a robust immune response to the coronavirus — and may respond poorly to a vaccine.

Official Reporting for September 29, 2020

World Health Organization

Weekly Epi Update SEP 28, 2020

Cumulative Cases: 33,249,563
Cumulative Deaths: 1,000,040


Confirmed Cases: 33,423,469
Deaths: 1,004,278

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 33,489,205
Deaths: 999,853

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 7,129,313
Total deaths: 204,598

Surveillance Headlines


New York: Cuomo takes steps to control COVID-19 clusters – WXXI News

Wisconsin: Coronavirus Cases Soaring in Wisconsin – NBC


UK: Students locked down in university dorms as coronavirus cases rise – CNN

Germany: Eyes Limiting Parties to Fight Coronavirus Spread


India: India’s Hospitals Are Struggling for Oxygen Supply as Pandemic Surges – Bloomberg

Science and Tech

Specific T Cells Activated in Severe COVID-19 Cases – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News

In order to develop new treatments for COVID-19, it is important to understand how the human immune system responds to a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Now, a team from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has found that a type of unconventional T cell, mucosa-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, are recruited to the airways and strongly activated in some patients with severe COVID-19, suggesting the cells’ possible involvement in the development of disease. These findings corroborate other recent studies that highlight potential associations between strong MAIT cell activation and severe COVID-19 outcomes.


BARDA Balks at “Warp Speed” Funding for Oragenics COVID-19 Vaccine – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News

“While BARDA noted the company’s submission aligned with its mission, a combination of factors, including availability of funds, precluded the agency from entering into negotiations at this time,” Oragenics said in a statement.

COVID-19 vaccine development — where we are now – Nature

Virologist and vaccinologist Florian Krammer offers a comprehensive review of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine landscape, including the status of the front-running candidates and their approaches. He also notes the enormous practical challenges and many unanswered questions, such as how long vaccine immunity will persist. The outlook is “cautiously positive”, writes Krammer. “It is certainly possible that vaccines with safety and efficacy proven in phase III trials might already enter the market in 2020.”

What We Can’t Know About a Vaccine – Bloomberg Prognosis Podcast
Four companies are in final-stage trials. But we won’t know exactly how these four vaccines work for months. Robert Langreth explains what we can, and, more importantly, can’t know about a shot developed at breakneck speed. Get the episode here.

Sociological Impact

How stigmatizing disease—from COVID-19 to HIV—creates a vicious cycle of sickness – Science Magazine

As India is becoming the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety about the disease has at times descended into violence against the sick, and even health care workers. The problem isn’t limited to India—people in countries from Nepal to Mexico to Italy have stigmatized individuals connected to COVID-19, making it harder for them to go about their daily lives and get much-needed care. And such ostracism isn’t new: Societies have spurned people with leprosy for ages, as far back as ancient Hindu texts, which proscribed marriage into families that had a member with the disease. In a new story in Science, journalist Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar discusses the history of disease stigma—from leprosy, to plague, to HIV/AIDS—and how its vitriol and isolation can create a vicious cycle of disease.

Published Research

Clinical Outcomes of In-Hospital Cardiac Arrest in COVID-19 – JAMA

Safety and Immunogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 Vaccine in Older Adults – NEJM

Mis/Disinformation Headlines

This is a new category for the Tulane Outbreak Daily – and I’m sure I could fill this one category up easily each day. I’ll focus on the best (worst?) one that I come across daily. Please feel free to comment on blog as to why these headlines are mis/disinformation, and in some cases dangerous if they gained traction in public or social media. Please feel free to email any information that you would like to share with our (almost) 4,000 readers around the world.

A refresher of terminology:

Misinformation: False or inaccurate information that may or may not have the intention to deceive. In some cases misinformation is the result of sloppy research, or misunderstanding.

Disinformation: False information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth.

  1. Drinking Breast Milk May Prevent COVID-19 Due to Antibodies, Scientists Hope – Newsweek

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