Coronavirus: fiasco, hoax, or the real thing?

It would be a fiasco if preventative measures are far in excess of what is warranted; a hoax if a deliberate agenda lies behind the fiasco; the real thing if our worst projections are born out by facts we do not yet have.

John Ioannidis makes a strong argument that we should wonder if the global response to the virus is a fiasco:

…The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable. Given the limited testing to date, some deaths and probably the vast majority of infections due to SARS-CoV-2 are being missed. We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300. Three months after the outbreak emerged, most countries, including the U.S., lack the ability to test a large number of people and no countries have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative random sample of the general population. (A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data)

That the US response is a hoax or possibly a hoax is explained by sundance, a well-regarded conservative blogger:

…There’s been a debate about possible political motives surrounding the panic he has created; the massive economic damage he has inflicted; and the conflicting assertions of National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.

CTH identifies the motives as sketchy.  He appears to use his position to advance theories and yet position himself to avoid scrutiny.

Sometimes within a 24 hour period Fauci will make a statement, then contradict the initial assertion, then attempt to cloud his own conflict with obtuse and wordy explanations. (Political Health – The Motives of a Very, Very, Political Dr. Fauci…)

If it’s the real thing, a real pandemic with unusually high mortality rates, then we still have many unknowns to consider. Chief among them is the question of whether the virus is a bioweapon or not. If it were a man-made bioweapon, its chemical and RNA structure should reveal that. If the virus evolved naturally, it still could have been used as a weapon.

If it was a weapon, was it released due to negligence or design? If by design, who did it? Since the virus first appeared in Wuhan, which is also the site of a virus research lab, the most likely explanation is it escaped into the general population due to negligence.

Other explanations are, the CCP did it deliberately as payback for losing its parasitic privileges in world trade; the US did it to finish the CCP off; someone else did it, possibly Russia or Israel (because Iran has also suffered badly).

Of course, there are many other possibilities worth considering. Variations on the coivd19 story read like prompts for playwrights.

From a Buddhist point of view, there is much to be gained from this catastrophe, no matter how it eventually comes to be seen. Life, death, impermanence, emptiness, the value of mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion are all stimulated producing heightened awareness and sensitivity to the miracle of existing at all.

Large meta-study shows alcohol does far more harm than good

Key takeaways:

  • Alcohol is worse for you than many previously thought thought
  • It is linked to health outcomes such as heart disease, diabetes, tuberculosis, breast cancer (in women), and lip and oral cavity cancer (in men)
  • Despite some previous studies suggesting that moderate alcohol consumption has health benefits, the study found that the risks outweighed any benefits
  • The optimal amount of alcohol consumption is zero; that is, to minimize your health risk, the optimum amount of drinking is none (Alcohol’s Heavy Toll: The Largest Analysis Ever of How Alcohol Impacts Health)

The study is here: Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016

Bioweapons and US research on them

Dr Francis Boyle used to be a frequent bioweapons commentator on MSM. Until he said that the anthrax used in the post-9/11 attacks came from Ft Detrick. Then he disappeared from TV.

Boyle is still worth listening to. He claims, I think credibly, that the coronavirus was developed at a lab in North Carolina and was either shared with or stolen by China. China, according to Boyle, further weaponized the virus in Wuhan where it was negligently allowed to escape.

(I believe it is also worth considering that the CCP purposely released the virus to destabilize the Western capitalist system. Payback for losing the trade war.)

I do not agree with Boyle that the USA must stop bioweapons research. Since there is nothing the USA can do to stop bioweapon research in other countries, we would be foolish to stop it ourselves. If we stop it here (which we have not), other countries will quickly get ahead of us. Research in this field also includes finding vaccines and cures. Indeed, sharing research with other countries, as may have been done with China, is one reasonable way to stave off malicious use of these weapons.

Bioweapons are similar to nukes or the NSA database. Nothing will stop other countries from developing these weapons/tools, so we have to do it too.

I believe it would probably be a good idea for Trump to just come out and say basically what has been said above. This is a level of reality we all can understand. Once this level is admitted, we might also hope for more transparency and decency in how these tools are used (data-mining in particular) or dealt with (bioweapons in particular).

Here is a link to a recent Boyle interview:

https://banned.video/watch?id=5e61749ff40ae500aa048732

Bad news on coronavirus

Here’s an article about it:

LONDON — Immediately after Boris Johnson completed his Monday evening news conference, which saw a somber prime minister encourage his fellow citizens to avoid “all nonessential contact with others,” his aides hustled reporters into a second, off-camera briefing.

That session presented jaw-dropping numbers from some of Britain’s top modelers of infectious disease, who predicted the deadly course of the coronavirus could quickly kill hundreds of thousands in both the United Kingdom and the United States, as surges of sick and dying patients overwhelmed hospitals and critical care units.

The new forecasts, by Neil Ferguson and his colleagues at the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, were quickly endorsed by Johnson’s government to design new and more extreme measures to suppress the spread of the virus.

The report is also influencing planning by the Trump administration. Deborah Birx, who serves as the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, cited the British analysis at a news conference Monday, saying her response team was especially focused on the report’s conclusion that an entire household should self-quarantine for 14 days if one of its members is stricken by the virus. (A chilling scientific paper helped upend U.S. and U.K. coronavirus strategies)

And here is the paper that article is based on:

…Perhaps our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over. In the most effective mitigation strategy examined, which leads to a single, relatively short epidemic (case isolation, household quarantine and social distancing of the elderly), the surge limits for both general ward and ICU beds would be exceeded by at least 8-fold under the more optimistic scenario for critical care requirements that we examined. In addition, even if all patients were able to be treated, we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in GB, and 1.1-1.2 million in the US.

In the UK, this conclusion has only been reached in the last few days, with the refinement of estimates of likely ICU demand due to COVID-19 based on experience in Italy and the UK (previous planning estimates assumed half the demand now estimated) and with the NHS providing increasing certainty around the limits of hospital surge capacity.

We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time. The social and economic effects of the measures which are needed to achieve this policy goal will be profound. Many countries have adopted such measures already, but even those countries at an earlier stage of their epidemic (such as the UK) will need to do so imminently.

Our analysis informs the evaluation of both the nature of the measures required to suppress COVID19 and the likely duration that these measures will need to be in place. Results in this paper have informed policymaking in the UK and other countries in the last weeks. However, we emphasise that is not at all certain that suppression will succeed long term; no public health intervention with such disruptive effects on society has been previously attempted for such a long duration of time. How populations and societies will respond remains unclear. (Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand)

Here is a rebuttal of the above: REVIEW OF FERGUSON ET AL “IMPACT OF NON-PHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTIONS…”

If the coronavirus is a bioweapon, we are on the brink of war

Whether USA did it to China or China did it to the world, if the coronavirus is a bioweapon at this point it no longer matters. We are on the brink of WW3.

The public will never know what happened and neither government can possibly know what the other will do next. If it’s a bioweapon, whether it was released accidentally or deliberately, we are on the brink of war because suspicion and threat assessments will be at their highest levels.

A bioweapon need not be lethal to be effective. Witness the effects of coronavirus right now. When people are harmed in great numbers, but not killed, they require expensive care and paralyze whole societies.

Signs coronavirus is a bioweapon are its “gain of function.” Gain of function is jargon that means weaponizing a natural pathogen through genetic or chemical manipulation to produce a more lethal, contagious, or otherwise effective organism.

The coronavirus shows several signs of “gain of function.” It is highly contagious, has a long period of symptomless transmission, and is lethal enough to cause panic and social confusion.

If it is a bioweapon, the two most likely perpetrators of its release are USA or China. The release may have been deliberate or it may have been accidental. It is quite possible a third party is responsible; Russia, some rogue NGO, or some other entity.

A significant sign that coronavirus is a bioweapon is to date no government has officially released a chemical or genetic analysis of its structure. If it were a naturally occurring virus, such an analysis would be an important part of the news.

Unofficially, there are more than a few indications that coronavirus (COVID19) is a chimera containing parts of the HIV and SARS viruses spliced onto a naturally occurring coronavirus.

If coronavirus was accidentally released, whoever did it will have to work very hard to prove it was an accident. There are some signs the virus was accidentally released in the USA last summer. Other signs that it was released in China in early November.

At this point, all we the public have is probabilistic thinking and guesswork. I posted these thoughts not to be alarmist but to be realistic. I can understand governments not divulging all the facts. They do not want to further panic their populations. But many of us are smart enough to handle the details. For us the opacity is what is most unsettling.

Why soap is the best way to remove coronavirus from skin and other surfaces

This is a short and informative read on why soap works so well in preventing viral transmission. Soap is better than alcohol and disinfectant wipes.

Evolution can favor mild viral infections, thus possibly making East Asians more susceptible to Covid19

I [have] argued that coronaviruses have coevolved with the Chinese population, to the point of developing a commensal relationship. A few points:

–  Such viruses include the common cold and are normally mild in their effects.

– Repeated coronaviral infections of lung tissue may actually help increase resistance to more serious pulmonary infections, like tuberculosis, pneumonia, and the Spanish flu of 1918—which curiously spared China. 

– Chinese lung tissue would thus facilitate coronaviral infections as a sort of routine vaccination. 

– If this is true, modern medicine has inadvertently made the Chinese population particularly vulnerable to deadly diseases like the Wuhan coronavirus by reducing the prevalence of milder pulmonary infections. (Coevolution with the plague)

This is the best essay I have seen on the topic of are or why are East Asians more susceptible to Covid19.

Nowadays, the topic of racial differences is avoided like the plague. If Covid19 is more harmful to East Asians (Mongoloids) due to ACE2 receptor differences in the lungs, no one benefits from hiding that information.

Humidity is a major protectant from COVID-19. Both by reducing infection and reducing severity of symptoms.

[I found the below text among comments on this page. There is no direct link to the comment itself. There are many supporting sources and the information sounds right. Additionally, no harm will come from upping indoor humidity. ABN]

Extremely important right now: Humidity is a major protectant from COVID-19. Both by reducing infection and reducing severity of symptoms.

I am a researcher who just wrote a paper on the subject. Please help me get the word out. This is not hype. Read all the papers on the subject.

If there is a pandemic in America, it could be Trump’s Waterloo.

Sincerely,
Daniel Hess

See below:

——————–

Defending Against COVID-19 Through Indoor Humidification
Daniel A. Hess
Virology Researcher, Rockville, MD
February 26, 2020

Overview
There is ample research showing that viral outbreaks similar to COVID-19 are strongly correlated with humidity levels. Cold and flu generally peak during the winter months in temperate zones, when indoor humidity is low. Notably, influenza and cold viruses tend to survive far longer in the air when the ambient humidity is low than when the ambient humidity is high. Further, there is strong evidence that the severity of respiratory infection is similarly humidity dependent, as lower humidity leads to more severe flu illness and greater likelihood of death. Influenza and COVID-19 are very similar in that death typically results from pneumonia that leads to acute respiratory failure.
Thus, indoor humidification, particularly to 50% relative humidity or higher, is seen as a strong partial defense against COVID-19, by two different mechanisms. First, by reducing the amount of time that virus particles remain infectious in the air, humidification is expected to substantially reduce R0, the reproductive number that represents outbreak contagiousness. Second, by reducing severity of respiratory infection, mortality rates from COVID-19, currently estimated at 2.3%, may be substantially reduced.
Indoor humidification is readily available almost everywhere and can be achieved by common humidifiers and even by boiling water in impoverished areas where humidifiers are not available. Available research strongly suggests that humidification in homes, hospitals, schools and other public areas will dramatically reduce both COVID-19 transmission and COVID-19 mortality among those who become infected. Even in areas where medical infrastructure becomes overwhelmed during pandemic conditions, indoor humidification will remain widely available as a defense against COVID-19 infection and severity.
Evidence so far is strong that COVID-19 exhibits climate and seasonal characteristics similar to influenzas and the common cold. By mimicking the environmental conditions of the summer months through indoor humidification, it is believed that COVID-19 incidence and severity will be sharply reduced.
Indoor humidification, especially to 50% relative humidity or higher, is likely to emerge as a robust tool that will be widely adopted as a defense against COVID-19.

I. Virus particles remain active longer in dry air than in humid air: citations

1. Noti et al. (2013) High Humidity Leads to Loss of Infectious Influenza Virus from Simulated Coughs. PLoS One. 2013; 8(2): e57485.

2. Tamerius JD, et al. (2013) Environmental predictors of seasonal influenza epidemics across temperate and tropical climates. PLoS Pathog 9:e1003194, and erratum 2013 Nov;9(11).

3. Shaman J, Pitzer VE, Viboud C, Grenfell BT, Lipsitch M (2010) Absolute humidity and the seasonal onset of influenza in the continental United States. PLoS Biol 8(2): e1000316.

4. Shaman J, Goldstein E, Lipsitch M (2011) Absolute humidity and pandemic versus epidemic influenza. Am J Epidemiol 173: 127–135

5. Lowen AC, Mubareka S, Steel J, Palese P (2007) Influenza virus transmission is dependent on relative humidity and temperature. PLoS Pathog 3(10): 1470–1476.

6. Schaffer FL, Soergel ME, Straube DC (1976) Survival of airborne influenza virus: effects of propagating host, relative humidity, and composition of spray fluids, Arch Virol. 51: 263–273.

7. Hanley BP, Borup B (2010) Aerosol influenza transmission risk contours: A study of humid tropics versus winter temperate zone. Virol J 7: 98.

8. Yang W, Marr LC (2011) Dynamics of airborne influenza A viruses indoors and dependence on humidity. PloS One 6(6): e21481.

9. Shaman and Kohn (2009) Absolute humidity modulates influenza survival, transmission, and seasonality. PNAS March 3, 2009 106 (9) 3243-3248

II. Susceptibility to respiratory infection is greater when ambient humidity is low than when ambient humidity is high: citations

1. Kudo et al. Low ambient humidity impairs barrier function and innate resistance against influenza infection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019.

2. Makinen et al. Cold temperature and low humidity are associated with increased occurrence of respiratory tract infections. Respiratory Medicine, Volume 103, Issue 3, March 2009, Pages 456-462

3. Eccles R (2002) An explanation for the seasonality of acute upper respiratory tract viral infections. Acta Otolaryngol 122:183–191.

4. Iwasaki A, Pillai PS (2014) Innate immunity to influenza virus infection. Nat Rev Immunol 14:315–328.

5. Chen X, et al. (2018) Host immune response to influenza a virus infection. Front Immunol 9:320.

6. Taubenberger JK, Morens DM (2008) The pathology of influenza virus infections. Annu Rev Pathol 3:499–522.

7. Bustamante-Marin XM, Ostrowski LE (2017) Cilia and mucociliary clearance. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 9:a028241.

8. Oozawa H, et al. (2012) Effect of prehydration on nasal mucociliary clearance in low relative humidity. Auris Nasus Larynx 39:48–52.

9. Kudo E, et al. (2019) Low ambient humidity impairs barrier function, innate resistance against influenza infection. NCBI BioProject. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ bioproject/PRJNA528197. Deposited March 20, 2019.

III. Applicability to COVID-19

The emergence of COVID-19 during winter in temperate zones strongly suggests that COVID-19 is similar to flu and cold viruses in its correlation with ambient humidity levels.
COVID-19 outbreaks to date have overwhelmingly been in temperate zones where indoor humidity in winter is low. To date, major outbreaks have occurred in China, Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran. Each of these outbreaks occurred in a temperate country in the midst of winter, where indoor humidity would be expected to be quite low. There are few cases and no known major outbreaks of COVID-19 in tropical and subtropical regions. Notably South America, Africa, and the Indian subcontinent have few reported cases and (as far as the author is aware) no known cases of local transmission, suggesting that the warm and humid conditions in those regions hinders COVID-19.
Singapore, notably, had what appeared to be the beginning of a major outbreak of COVID-19 around February 14, 2020. Instead the incidence of new COVID-19 infection in Singapore has since diminished dramatically and there have been no COVID-19 fatalities in that country. Most patients in Singapore who tested positive for COVID-19 have already recovered, as of this writing. This favorable outcome strongly suggests to the author that the warm and humid climate of Singapore has been protective against COVID-19 transmission and severity.
The environmental conditions of Singapore could be substantially replicated through indoor humidification, especially to 50% relative humidity or higher, and in this way major reductions in COVID-19 transmission and severity can be achieved in other countries.

IV. Preparing for Seasonal Re-Emergence
As noted, evidence available so far strongly suggests that COVID-19 contagiousness and severity are strongly dependent on ambient humidity levels, and thus COVID-19 occurrence is expected to diminish during the summer months.
However, re-emergence of COVID-19 during the winter of 2020-2021 is likely as indoor humidity levels in the Northern Hemisphere again drop. The author hopes that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available and in wide distribution by that time. This may require a reduction in the regulatory hurdles that slow the development of vaccines in the United States and elsewhere.

What we know about COVID-19 and some speculation

First, what we know:

Speculation based on what I have read, COVID-19:

  • is likely a bio-weapon that escaped from a BSL-4 (Biosafety level 4) laboratory in Wuhan, China
  • it could also be a dangerous naturally-occurring virus being studied at that lab
  • statistics on numbers of infected and deaths in China are grossly underreported
  • clusters appearing in other parts of the world and within institutions indicate significant likelihood that a worldwide pandemic may be unavoidable
  • the virus attacks through ACE 2 receptors in the lungs
  • at this point in time, this seems to indicate that Mongoloid-type individuals (who have more ACE 2 receptors than others) are more susceptible to the virus, though this has not been confirmed. Counterevidence includes: a) China is the epicenter and b) disease clusters are also appearing in Italy and Iran
  • the WHO has been very ineffective against COVD-19 and may have hindered early containment (due to political connections with China’s CCP)
  • the virus is highly contagious and can be spread by carriers who are entirely symptomless
  • thus, it is only reasonable to take extra precautions against transmission: clean hands, don’t touch your face, shower more often, avoid crowds, and keep your distance from others

As for whether COVID-19 is a bio-weapon, RNA analyses seem to show that it is an unusually contagious chimera that could not have occurred naturally. WHO and all governments have been downplaying the danger of the virus to avoid panic and/or angering China.

If the virus is eventually shown to be a bio-weapon, worldwide turmoil will ensue. The above is what I have gathered from reading about the virus. On a small site like this, we can be honest without worrying about contributing to worldwide panic.

My listing of probabilities and uncertain evidence above is a sort of Bayesian reasoning tree. If any of the parts change, the whole tree could also change. A few other pieces of evidence in this line of reasoning are: a) a bio-weapon pandemic has been predicted for decades, largely because bio-weapons exist and several have already escaped (Lyme, SARS, MERS, etc); and b) a simulation of just such a pandemic was conducted in October 2019.

EDIT: Twitter feed with frequent updates: #Covid19

Making Sense of the Mental Universe

Try reading the following paper while keeping the Mind Only Buddhist interpretation of our world in mind.

In 2005, an essay was published in Nature asserting that the universe is mental and that we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things. Since then, experiments have confi rmed that — as predicted by quantum mechanics — reality is contextual, which contradicts at least intuitive formulations of realism and corroborates the hypothesis of a mental universe. Yet, to give this hypothesis a coherent rendering, one must explain how a mental universe can — at least in principle — accommodate (a) our experience of ourselves as distinct individual minds sharing a world beyond the control of our volition; and (b) the empirical fact that this world is contextual despite being seemingly shared. By combining a modern formulation of the ontology of idealism with the relational interpretation of quantum mechanics, the present paper attempts to provide a viable explanatory framework for both points. In the process of doing so, the paper also addresses key philosophical qualms of the relational interpretation. (Making Sense of the Mental Universe)

Edit: The explanation offered in the linked paper, without saying as much, provides a very reasonable way to see Buddhist rebirth occurring without there being any soul or pudgala being reborn. Nothing need fly out of the body or transmigrate anywhere.

Instead, the classic Buddhist description of karma alone giving rise to a new life works perfectly. Rather than conceive of ourselves as fundamentally material beings, we can conceive of our personal individuality as being (a part of a “mental universe”) enclosed within a Markov blanket.

If there is still karma, a new Markov blanket or bodily form will be “reborn” or rearise after the extinction of its prior existence. In Kastrup’s way of putting it, our physical bodies are themselves Markov blankets causing or allowing us to arise as forms separate from the wholeness of the mental universe.

I suppose we might venture to say that enlightenment occurs when the karma, or reason for our separation in a Markov blanket, is gone and “we” remain the whole (of the mental universe) without being reborn (in a body).

Is the thought “I should have seen that” where we draw the line between higher and lower awareness?

As humans, we cannot but think sometimes: “I should have seen that. I had all the information but had not put it together.”

I am pointing this out because this ineluctable thought is an aspect of our consciousness itself and not of our culture or language, whatever those may be.

Do conscious beings who have no language think thoughts like this non-verbally? Do they have a sensation like we do that accompanies a similar realization in them?

Maybe they do and maybe they don’t. Non-verbal beings on earth obviously correct their behaviors, but how far does that travel in their awareness? Do dogs laugh at themselves? Do they have a feeling of self-recrimination as we sometimes do when we realize I should have seen that?

Is at least some of the feeling of shame grounded in this thought? Dogs clearly manifest shame.

Would a computer that can pass many tests of consciousness have the thought I should have seen that?

It seems to me that beings higher than us—angels, Bodhisattvas, Dharma protectors, prophets, and more—would very probably have this thought sometimes.

The full enlightenment of a Buddha as understood in the Mahayana tradition seems to indicate a state of awareness where the thought I should have seen that no longer arises.

In his life as we know of it, the Buddha did make new rules for monastics as conditions dictated. At such times, did he have this thought or not?

In your view, is the highest consciousness possible unbounded? Such that it must also think this thought?

Would you be happier if you never had the thought I should have seen that or not?

Is consciousness inert, like water, yet permeates everything? Inert but does not permeate everything?

I should have seen that is interesting because this thought seems to inhere in consciousness itself and not arise from language, culture, training, or other conditions. It seems to be accompanied by a sensation, at least in us.

Is it subject to Buddhist “dependent origination” and thus a feature of ordinary consciousness but not of ultimate consciousness?

Are the conditions it depends on its own conditions? Or other conditions? This might be a very big question.

A materialist would say consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter dependent on matter. A true physicalist would not speak so fast because conscious may very well be a primary aspect of all things, even the driver of physical laws.

Is the thought I should have seen that where we draw the line between higher and lower awareness? Do single cells, which can change their minds, have a sensation that expresses this thought? Does God never have this thought? Do Buddhas?

Notice that a great deal of humor depends on bringing to our awareness something maybe not that we should have seen but that we could have seen. Humor like that gives us no new information outside of our ourselves, though it does fit together information we already have in a new way,

So, I should have seen that can be occasion for delight and laughter. Fundamental to feelings of relief or peace of mind; it’s a feature of consciousness that arises in consciousness and that we react to consciously, almost always with some sort of sensation.

Always counterclockwise: Puzzle of early Neolithic house orientations finally solved

Human behaviour is influenced by many things, most of which remain unconscious to us. One of these is a phenomenon known among perception psychologists as “pseudo-neglect.” This refers to the observation that healthy people prefer their left visual field to their right, and therefore divide a line regularly left of centre. (Always counterclockwise: Puzzle of early Neolithic house orientations finally solved)