China calls on virus survivors to donate blood plasma in the hopes of creating a treatment.
A senior health official in Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak, has called on residents who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate blood plasma, believing their naturally produced antibodies could be used to treat patients who are still sick.
Dr. Zhang Dingyu, the director of the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, made his appeal on Friday. Chinese researchers said they believed such antibody treatments could help people recover from the virus.
The search for a drug capable of treating or curing the virus has frustrated researchers, as rates of infection and deaths continue to mount.
The government is currently prescribing a combination of anti-viral drugs and traditional Chinese medicine. But on Thursday, China National Biotec Group, a state-owned company under the Ministry of Health, said it found that administering a round of human antibodies from the survivors to more than 10 critically ill patients caused inflammation levels to drop significantly after 12 to 24 hours of treatment.
The company called the use of plasma “the most effective method, which can significantly reduce the mortality of critically ill patients.”
Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong, said the use of antibodies to treat the coronavirus is “a really good idea,” noting that it’s been used before in influenza pandemics. But he cautioned that it needed to be proven in a controlled trial.
“It’s basically transferring immunity from a patient who has recovered to a patient still fighting the infection, and then helping them to recover,” he said.
China records more than 5,000 new cases in 24 hours.
Numbers continued to climb after the government changed the criteria by which it tracks confirmed cases. China on Friday reported 5,090 new coronavirus cases and 121 new deaths in the previous 24 hours.
The authorities said a total of 63,851 people have been infected by the coronavirus and at least 1,380 people have been killed by the disease. Most of the cases occurred in Hubei, the center of the outbreak, which recorded 4,823 new cases and 116 deaths over the same period.
The tally in Hubei jumped most dramatically on Thursday after the authorities changed the diagnostic criteria for counting new cases. The government now takes into account cases diagnosed in clinical settings, including the use of CT scans, and not just those confirmed with specialized testing kits.
Japan Announces $96 million in emergency funds to help deal with the fallout.
Japan said Friday that it will allocate around $96 million in emergency funds to help deal with the fallout from the coronavirus, a decision that comes after the country confirmed its first death related to the illness.
The Japanese cabinet approved the modest funds to strengthen countermeasures against the disease and provide support for small and medium sized businesses that are struggling with low sales amid a drop in visitors from China, the main source of tourism in Japan.
Japan has the largest number of positive diagnoses of the coronavirus outside of China. And it has been struggling to deal with the management of 3,700 people who were exposed to the illness while aboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that is currently under quarantine in Yokohama.
Hundreds of people have tested positive for the illness and been taken off the ship and transported to hospitals, while many more remain in isolation on the ship, where they are expected to stay until the end of the quarantine period on Feb 19.
The cabinet’s decision to approve the emergency funds comes after the death of a woman in her 80s in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture and the announcement of several more cases that do not appear to be directly linked to the cruise ship or individuals who had recently traveled to China.
Friday morning, authorities said they had confirmed a new case: a man in his 70s in Wakayama Prefecture who had been treated by a doctor who himself had contracted the coronavirus.
Reporting and research was contributed by Sui-Lee Wee, Amber Wang, Zoe Mou, Albee Zhang, Yiwei Wang, Claire Fu, Miriam Jordan and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs.
Algeria announces first confirmed case of coronavirus
ALGIERS, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Algeria has reported its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus, an Italian man who arrived in the country on Feb. 17 and has been put into isolation.
The case was announced by the health minister, and President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said on Twitter that he had ordered medical authorities to take maximum precautions. He urged Algerians to be careful what information they shared online.
Northern Italy, home to many Algerians, has been the centre of an outbreak of the coronavirus with more than 280 cases and 11 deaths. Its Milan-based energy company, Eni, is also involved in projects in Algeria.
The disease reaches Algeria at a politically difficult moment, following a year of mass street protests that still occur twice a week.
Tebboune was elected in December in a vote opposed by the protesters, whose demonstrations helped bring down his predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika. (Reporting By Lamine Chikhi, writing by Angus McDowall Editing by Grant McCool)
Scientists Find the First-Ever Animal That Doesn’t Need Oxygen To Survive
Scientists from Tel Aviv University in Israel discovered that a salmon parasite called Henneguya salminicola doesn’t have a mitochondrial genome — the first multicellular organism known to have this absence. That means it doesn’t breathe; in fact, it lives its life completely free of oxygen dependency. ScienceAlert reports: It’s a cnidarian, belonging to the same phylum as corals, jellyfish and anemones. Although the cysts it creates in the fish’s flesh are unsightly, the parasites are not harmful, and will live with the salmon for its entire life cycle. Tucked away inside its host, the tiny cnidarian can survive quite hypoxic conditions. But exactly how it does so is difficult to know without looking at the creature’s DNA — so that’s what the researchers did.
They used deep sequencing and fluorescence microscopy to conduct a close study of H. salminicola, and found that it has lost its mitochondrial genome. In addition, it’s also lost the capacity for aerobic respiration, and almost all of the nuclear genes involved in transcribing and replicating mitochondria. Like the single-celled organisms, it had evolved mitochondria-related organelles, but these are unusual too — they have folds in the inner membrane not usually seen. The same sequencing and microscopic methods in a closely related cnidarian fish parasite, Myxobolus squamalis, was used as a control, and clearly showed a mitochondrial genome. These results show that here, at last, is a multicellular organism that doesn’t need oxygen to survive. Exactly how it survives is still something of a mystery. It could be leeching adenosine triphosphate from its host, but that’s yet to be determined. But the loss is pretty consistent with an overall trend in these creatures – one of genetic simplification. Over many, many years, they have basically devolved from a free-living jellyfish ancestor into the much more simple parasite we see today. The findings have been published in the journal PNAS.
Key Silicon Valley Reservoir To Be Completely Drained Due To Earthquake Risk
schwit1 shares a report from Bakersfield Californian: In a dramatic decision that could significantly impact Silicon Valley’s water supply, federal dam regulators have ordered Anderson Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Santa Clara County, to be completely drained starting Oct. 1. The 240-foot earthen dam, built in 1950 and located east of Highway 101 between Morgan Hill and San Jose, poses too great of a risk of collapse during a major earthquake, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates dams, has concluded. Anderson Reservoir is owned by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, a government agency based in San Jose. When full, it holds 89,278 acre feet of water — more than all other nine dams operated by the Santa Clara Valley Water District combined. “With these new requirements, we expect to see an impact to groundwater basins that are replenished with water released from Anderson Reservoir, including South County and southern San Jose,” Norma Camacho, the water district’s CEO, said. “Staff is already exploring other sources of water that will have to come from outside of the county. While residents have done an excellent job of conserving water since 2013, another drought during this time frame could require everyone to significantly decrease their water use.”
Covid-19 Will Mark the End of Affluence Politics
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump dismissed concerns about Covid-19. As he put it, the virus is “under control” in the US and the “whole situation will start working out.” But according to Politico, Trump is privately voicing worries that the impact of the virus will undermine his chances of reelection. His panicked actions of late—including preventing an American from being treated in Alabama, at the request of a fearful Senator Richard Shelby—confirm that this virus is a political event of the first magnitude. While few in Washington have internalized it, the coronavirus is the biggest story in the world and is soon going to smash into our electoral politics in unpredictable ways.
Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) is the author of Goliath: The Hundred Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy (2019) and a fellow at the Open Markets Institute.
As Jon Stokes notes, we will, in all likelihood, be locking down travel in some areas of the US for several weeks, as they did in China. People may be advised against gathering in large groups. It’s not clear what any of this will mean for campaigning or primary voting, whether most of us will vote by mail or have our votes delayed.
Moreover, the coronavirus is going to introduce economic conditions with which few people in modern America are familiar: the prospect of shortages. After 25 years of offshoring and consolidation, we now rely on overseas production for just about everything. Now in the wake of the coronavirus, China has shut down much of its production; South Korea and Italy will shut down as well. Once the final imports from these countries have worked their way through the supply chains and hit our shores, it could be a while before we get more. This coronavirus will reveal, in other words, a crisis of production—and one that’s coming just in time for a presidential election.
We’ve been through something like this once before. My book Goliath describes the 1932 campaign for president, one that was carried out at the depths of the Great Depression and during an era when our productive capacity was shut down. Though the crisis at that time was caused by a banking collapse, not a pandemic, the political backdrop was analogous. Eighty-eight years ago, “old order” politicians, as they were known, proved unwilling—even in the face of crisis—to have the government apply its power toward the broader public benefit. Their recalcitrance prefigured, in certain ways, the reflexively libertarian thinking of today.
A toxic ideology invited disaster in 1932, as policymakers did little in response to the collapse of thousands of banks and businesses. At the depth of that depression, cotton hit its lowest price in 200 years and steel production fell to 15 percent of capacity. The situation became so desperate that in just one city, Toledo, Ohio, 60,000 of the 300,000 residents stood in bread lines every day. Children were competing with rats for food. And thousands were dying of dysentery. The politics too turned desperate, with one labor leader telling Congress that “if the Congress of the United States and this administration do not do something to meet this situation adequately, next winter it will not be a cry to save the hungry, but it will be a cry to save the government.”
And yet, the old order had no answers. Congress held hearings, but businessmen, academics, and bankers proffered only belt-tightening. Within the Republican establishment, President Herbert Hoover worked 18-hour days, exhorting confidence while refusing to take even basic steps such as having the government guarantee bank deposits. Instead, his administration’s army attacked hungry protesters in Washington, DC, a move that prompted an angry Republican congressman, Fiorello La Guardia of New York, to remind the president: “Soup is cheaper than tear gas bombs.”
Meanwhile on the Democratic side, conservatives and progressives in the party were locked in a bitter battle for the nomination. Many Democrats agreed with Hoover. Maryland governor and presidential candidate Albert Ritchie, for instance, argued that we should rely “less on politics, less on laws, less on government.” Another candidate, Speaker of the House John Nance Garner, claimed the greatest threat was the “tendency toward socialism and communism” and pledged a massive cut in government spending, as well as a sales tax increase. Others turned to extreme racism and xenophobia. Only Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who went on to win a contested convention, campaigned on aggressive government involvement in the economy—or as he put it, a “workable program of reconstruction,” which later became the New Deal.
Juul Reportedly Plans To Pitch the FDA An Age-Locked E-Cigarette
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Juul is planning to pitch federal officials on a locked version of its e-cigarettes that would bar users younger than 21 from using them. From a report: Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Juul is preparing to present the Food and Drug Administration with a massive document laying out its commitment to curbing youth use as well as research about its products and marketing-related information. As part of these documents, Juul is reportedly planning to include a proposal for the new age-locked device. The company may submit the new device to the FDA in May, or file it as part of a submission later in 2020, the paper said.
The Journal, citing a Juul official, reported that the company will also seek approval to market its e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to cigarettes — an assertion previously made by the company that landed it in deep shit with the FDA, as Juul did not have the necessary approval to make such a claim. Juul’s presumably regretful Big Tobacco buddy Altria has reportedly been closely involved with Juul’s FDA application to keep its e-cigarettes on the market.
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