Thursday, May 7, 2020

COVID-19 Updates: Most Antibody Tests Useless; Weeks of a Lingering Flu; Autopsy Results & Gain-of-Function Testing

With all of the news that the Coronavirus was widely spread in the United States long before we originally thought and the news that much higher percentages of the population may have already been infected with COVID-19, we are all eager to get an antibody test to see if we might be immune (at least for some period of time) to the dreaded disease.  Unfortunately, it is probably most prudent to wait a little longer before finding that antibody test.  I was on a conference call with a major medical group and insurer yesterday.  They flatly told me, there are no antibody tests they recommend yet.  They are just too unreliable.  And then there is this, from the Verge
Several labs ... are now doing independent validation of antibody tests. Already, there are some early results: a manuscript that hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed or published from a group of scientists led by the University of California San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley. Only three of the 14 tests the group evaluated were reliable. Four of the tests had false positive rates that ranged from 11 to 16 percent. “Those numbers are just unacceptable,” Scott Hensley, a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times. “If your kit has 14 percent false positive, it’s useless.”
I've had a family member suffering from COVID-19 for just about five weeks now, I wanted to share this as Bill Mitchell's experience is very similar to what we've seen in our family.

The conclusion to this story is a good one as Bill posted yesterday: 

It is important to know, this thing can absolutely linger on for weeks and weeks.  In some patients it appears to ebb and flow; weakening at times and then worsening.  Bloomberg reported on this here
It had been over a month since Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar was infected with the coronavirus, and the 35-year-old filmmaker thought she was on her way to recovery. Then the shortness of breath came back, followed by chest pains. 
A visit to the emergency room and a second test for Covid-19 gave another positive result. Just three days earlier, she’d been cleared by health authorities in Australia’s New South Wales state, and was allowed to end her home quarantine after going 72 hours without symptoms.  
And from NBC
Kate Porter has had a fever nearly every day for 50 days. She can't shake the extreme exhaustion that hit when she became infected with the coronavirus nearly two months ago. 
The longevity of her symptoms are unlike anything she's ever experienced. "I know it sounds crazy," Porter said, "but is this permanent?" 
Since her diagnosis, Porter, 35, has been in her Beverly, Massachusetts, home with her 12-year-old daughter, Adria, who also had symptoms of COVID-19. 
Neither has underlying health conditions that would suggest a complicated or drawn-out recovery from the virus, and neither has had to be hospitalized.
And from Fox 5 in New York
Since March 19th, Christian Bermea has been battling coronavirus COVID-19 from his Houston-area apartment. 
According to the 26-year-old, he tested positive for COVID-19 again on April 13th and May 1st. While he doesn’t feel as sick as he originally did more than 50 days ago, Bermea says he does still have some symptoms.
In yesterday's daily coronavirus update video, Dr. Chris Martenson covered recent autopsy results on COVID-19 from Switzerland.  These autopsies provide more evidence that COVID-19 is probably not a lung disease, but instead a blood clotting disorder.  Dr. Martenson covers it here beginning at the 8:12 timestamp:

Discussing Watson, reporting in Switzerland, "Coronavirus: Basel pathologist explains what the victims have in common":
They have gained important insights from the autopsy of the deceased. “The disease takes place in the smallest vessels in the lungs and in other organs. If these vessels can no longer function properly, clots form, »explains Tzankov. Because it is actually their job to keep the blood liquid. Due to the blockage of the bloodstream, the blood is now practically still. "If the patient is now ventilated, the oxygen gets into the blood, but is no longer distributed in the body," says Tzankov. This ultimately leads to death - as happened with the 21 patients who the pathologists from the region examined after their death. However, only a few would have shown signs of pneumonia.
The bulk of Dr. Martenson's video yesterday focused on whether COVID-19 was likely to have occured in nature or to have been edited and augmented in a lab.  He delves into a deep scientific discussion of that point beginning at the 23:14 timestamp in his video.  I wouldn't say it is easy for a non-scientist to follow, but it is certainly more accessible for we laymen than I remember of my college science courses.  I'll sum up that discussion by saying that there will undoubtedly be much more on this topic over the upcoming months and years as the media and the public become aware that the United States has been funding gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China.  Newsweek reported on this expertly here, saying: 
In 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million. 
Many scientists have criticized gain of function research, which involves manipulating viruses in the lab to explore their potential for infecting humans, because it creates a risk of starting a pandemic from accidental release.
SARS-CoV-2 , the virus now causing a global pandemic, is believed to have originated in bats. U.S. intelligence, after originally asserting that the coronavirus had occurred naturally, conceded last month that the pandemic may have originated in a leak from the Wuhan lab. (At this point most scientists say it's possible—but not likely—that the pandemic virus was engineered or manipulated.) ...
According to Richard Ebright, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers University, the project description refers to experiments that would enhance the ability of bat coronavirus to infect human cells and laboratory animals using techniques of genetic engineering. In the wake of the pandemic, that is a noteworthy detail. 
Ebright, along with many other scientists, has been a vocal opponent of gain-of-function research because of the risk it presents of creating a pandemic through accidental release from a lab.
What is "gain-of-function" research you might be asking yourself, this is from National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
Gain-of-function (GOF) research involves experimentation that aims or is expected to (and/or, perhaps, actually does) increase the transmissibility and/or virulence of pathogens. Such research, when conducted by responsible scientists, usually aims to improve understanding of disease causing agents, their interaction with human hosts, and/or their potential to cause pandemics. The ultimate objective of such research is to better inform public health and preparedness efforts and/or development of medical countermeasures. Despite these important potential benefits, GOF research (GOFR) can pose risks regarding biosecurity and biosafety.