Tulane Outbreak Daily | April 29, 2020

Featured Headlines

COVID-19 study shows that men have over double the death rate of women – Eureka Alert

In the largest COVID-19 dataset, over 70% of the patients who died were men, meaning that men had almost 2.5 times the death rate of women. And interestingly, being male was a significant risk-factor for worse disease severity, regardless of age. [Related Study]

Unexpected Cause of Death in Younger COVID-19 Patients is Related to Blood Clotting – Biospace

(In case you missed this yesterday…) Investigators from New York City’s Mount Sinai describe five COVID-19 patients all under the age of 50 who had large vessel strokes over a two-week period. Of the five, one died, one is still hospitalized, two are in rehabilitation and one was discharged and sent home. All five patients had mild or no symptoms of COVID-19. [Related Study] [Related Publication]

The Interplay between Diabetes and COVID-19 – FLARE

The FLARE team discuss patients with diabetes and risk for severe COVID-19.

COVID-19 Thickens Blood, Causes Strokes In Some Patients With Mild Symptoms – NPR [3-minute audio file at link]

COVID-19 can cause a person’s blood to thicken, doctors say. This manifestation of the infection may be causing strokes and other circulatory problems in patients whose symptoms are mild otherwise.

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Is Far Higher Than Reported, C.D.C. Data Suggests – New York Times

Total deaths in seven states that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic are nearly 50 percent higher than normal for the five weeks from March 8 through April 11, according to new death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is 9,000 more deaths than were reported as of April 11 in official counts of deaths from the coronavirus.[CDC Report]

How (Not) to Do an Antibody Survey for SARS-CoV-2 – The Scientist

Preprints from the first round of seroprevalence studies indicate that many more people have been infected with the virus than previously reported. Some of these studies also have serious design flaws. [Related pre-print study]

Hotline staffed by psychiatrists helps coronavirus doctors in distress – NBC

The calls to the Physician Support Line often begin with an apology from a desperate doctor. “All of a sudden, we are being called heroes and being put on a pedestal, and we are having this deep fear that we are not heroes,” Masood said. “Some doctors are feeling that vulnerability and have no place to express that.”

Coronavirus: More Is Different – Scientific American

A single virus particle is infinitesimal, but this tiny packet of information, a crystalline form of matter, has changed our world almost overnight.

Up Close and Personal With SARS-CoV-2’s Replication Machinery – Technology Networks

When a viral pathogen invades, it enters the host cells and must rapidly divide to survive. In order to divide, it is required to multiply its genetic material – long strands of RNA. The machinery responsible for performing this task is known as the viral polymerase. [Related pre-print study]

From ‘COVID Toes’ to Hives, These Are the Skin Conditions Dermatologists Think Could Be Signs of Coronavirus – Time

ermatologists around the world are gathering data on what may be largely overlooked symptoms of COVID-19: skin conditions ranging from rashes to “pseudo-frostbite.” [Related Paper] [American Academy of Dermatology COVID-19 Symptom Registry]

Study reveals SARS-CoV-2 RNA cap structure – Medical News.net

A new study published on the preprint server bioRxiv in April 2020 reports the discovery of the structure of the cap created by the novel coronavirus on virally encoded mRNAs. The finding could help create new antiviral strategies. [Related pre-print study]

Microbe Mappers Are Tracking Covid-19’s Invisible Traces – Wired

DURING THE SECOND week of March, as the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, a team of latex-gloved scientists from Cornell Weill Medical School fanned out across Penn Station armed with packs of sterile, long-armed swabs and a tripod-mounted instrument for capturing air samples. In New York City, the 100th person had just tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the deadly new respiratory disease, but the subways remained open and packed with daily commuters. The researchers were there, in one of the most crowded areas of the city, to see if the coronavirus was, too.

Why don’t some coronavirus patients sense their alarmingly low oxygen levels? – Science Magazine

Among the many surprises of the new coronavirus is one that seems to defy basic biology: infected patients with extraordinarily low blood-oxygen levels, or hypoxia, scrolling on their phones, chatting with doctors, and generally describing themselves as comfortable. Clinicians call them happy hypoxics.


Editor’s note: Regarding the case counts below, please consider due to limited testing capabilities in some locations, the real number of cases could be considerably higher.

Official Reporting for April 29, 2020

WHO SITREP #99 ECDC | Country Data Johns Hopkins
Confirmed Cases 2,954,222 2,982,688 3,157,459
Deaths 202,597 210,193 219,611


Total cases: 981,246
Total deaths: 55,258
(Numbers close out at 4 p.m. the day before reporting.)

Surveillance Headlines


New York: New COVID-19 Hospitalizations In N.Y. Drop Below 1,000 For First Day In A Month – Forbes


Spain: Plans return to ‘new normal’ by end of June – BBC


Singapore: Packed With Migrant Workers, Dormitories Fuel Coronavirus in Singapore – NYT

Science and Tech


Genetic Engineering Could Make a COVID-19 Vaccine in Months Rather Than Years – Scientific American

On January 10, when Chinese researchers published the genome of a mysterious, fast-spreading, virus, it confirmed Dan Barouch’s greatest worry. The genome was similar to that of the coronavirus that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak, yet it also had striking differences. “I realized immediately that no one would be immune to it,” says Barouch, director of virology and vaccine research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.


Gilead Says Trial Of Antiviral Remdesivir Shows ‘Positive Data’ In Coronavirus Patients – Forbes

Gilead Sciences, Inc. said Wednesday it was “aware of positive data” from a federal trial of the experimental drug remdesivir in treating COVID-19 patients, resulting in a trading halt for Gilead’s stock⁠—and further details are expected to be announced later in the day.


Virologists show that sample pooling can massively increase coronavirus testing capacity – Eureka Alert

The new procedure will help to meet the high demand for testing in the mass coronavirus screening programmes needed in the early identification and isolation of asymptomatic individuals. The pooling of samples before testing is a well-established and safe procedure in blood banking. The team from the Institute of Virology has adapted and tested this method for use in coronavirus diagnostics.[Related Lancet Study]

LAMP Lights Up COVID-19 Testing – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News

The COVID-19 tests in use today are laborious and complicated. They require a skilled professional to take samples, perform the reaction and analyze the results. Also, there is the need for dedicated machines, chemical reagents, sophisticated transport logistics, etc. But, what if COVID-19 testing didn’t have to be so cumbersome? [Related Paper in Nucleic Acids Research]

Published Research

Gender Differences in Patients With COVID-19: Focus on Severity and Mortality – Frontiers in Public Health

First confirmed detection of SARS-CoV-2 in untreated wastewater in Australia: A proof of concept for the wastewater surveillance of COVID-19 in the community – Science Direct

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

Supply Chain Impact

Meat Plants Are ‘Critical Infrastructure,’ President Signs Executive Order To Keep Them Open – Forbes

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that invoked the Defense Production Act to keep meat plants open as industry leaders sound the alarm about possible shortages—and critics say is executive overreach that compromises workers’ safety.

Economic Impact

Coronavirus Live Updates: Grim G.D.P. Data Does Not Fully Capture Pandemic’s Effects – NYT

The G.D.P. plummeted, but because widespread layoffs and shutdowns hit at the end of the quarter, economists say it will fall much further. Officially, more than 53,000 have died, according to The Times’s count, but death rates suggest the true toll is far greater.


Infection Prevention

7 Of The Best UV Sterilizers For Phones And Other Household Objects – Forbes

You know a sunburn is not actually a burn, right? Not a burn such as you would get from acute exposure to a hot stove or an open flame. Sunburns are actually radiation damage caused by ultraviolet light. In the short term, this UV exposure causes redness, pain and peeling; in the long term, too much unprotected exposure to sunlight can lead to skin cancer.

How to Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer – Wired

No Purell? No problem! When disinfecting gel sells out everywhere, you can just make some yourself with stuff you (maybe) already have at home.

Coping in Quarantine

Sometimes digging through the internet searching for interesting items for the Tulane Outbreak Daily I need a break. Occasionally I will jump onto Twitter or Reddit and see what’s up. Today did not disappoint! If you were curious how to depict COVID-19 in Princess Bride gifs, here you go

6 Board Games You Can Play Over Zoom – Wired

Welcome to day one million of the quarantine. We live here forever now. OK, maybe not, but sometimes it sure feels like it. The lack of social interaction is turning me into Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse. I’m screaming at birds, about birds, cursing like an old-timey sailor, and wandering around mumbling to myself.

Missing my son who is living in Europe through this pandemic. Wish you were here