20191220F Day -11: Human Coronaviruses and the Central Nervous System

20200520W Santa Cruz, CA: When I searched back 5 months to see what was going on related to the COVID-19 pandemic, I found a research paper published online on Dec. 20, 2019: Human Coronaviruses and Other Respiratory Viruses: Underestimated Opportunistic Pathogens of the Central Nervous System?

Since the effect of COVID-19 on the CNS has also been discussed lately, I thought it would be interesting to go through this paper and see what quotes leap out at me. So here goes.

First from the Abstract, some key points so you know what you’re getting into. This is the entire Abstract from the paper in bullet form so that I can easily refer back to it later, if needed.

  1. Respiratory viruses infect the human upper respiratory tract, mostly causing mild diseases. However, in vulnerable populations, such as newborns, infants, the elderly and immune-compromised individuals, these opportunistic pathogens can also affect the lower respiratory tract, causing a more severe disease (e.g., pneumonia).
  2. Respiratory viruses can also exacerbate asthma and lead to various types of respiratory distress syndromes.
  3. Furthermore, as they can adapt fast and cross the species barrier, some of these pathogens, like influenza A and SARS-CoV, have occasionally caused epidemics or pandemics, and were associated with more serious clinical diseases and even mortality.
  4. For a few decades now, data reported in the scientific literature has also demonstrated that several respiratory viruses have neuroinvasive capacities, since they can spread from the respiratory tract to the central nervous system (CNS). Viruses infecting human CNS cells could then cause different types of encephalopathy, including encephalitis, and long-term neurological diseases.
  5. Like other well-recognized neuroinvasive human viruses, respiratory viruses may damage the CNS as a result of misdirected host immune responses that could be associated with autoimmunity in susceptible individuals (virus-induced neuro-immunopathology) and/or viral replication, which directly causes damage to CNS cells (virus-induced neuropathology).
  6. The etiological agent of several neurological disorders remains unidentified. Opportunistic human respiratory pathogens could be associated with the triggering or the exacerbation of these disorders whose etiology remains poorly understood.
  7. Herein, we present a global portrait of some of the most prevalent or emerging human respiratory viruses that have been associated with possible pathogenic processes in CNS infection, with a special emphasis on human coronaviruses.

Here are some interesting facts quoted from the Introduction:

  1. Considering all types of viral infections, between 6000 and 20,000 cases of encephalitis that require hospitalization occur every year in the United States, representing about 6 cases per 100,000 infected persons every year.
  2. Viruses represent the most prevalent pathogens present in the respiratory tract. Indeed, it is estimated that about 200 different viruses (including influenza viruses, coronaviruses, rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, metapneumoviruses, such as human metapneumovirus A1, as well as orthopneumoviruses, such as the human respiratory syncytial virus) can infect the human airway.
  3. new respiratory viral agents emerge from time to time, causing viral epidemics or pandemics associated with more serious symptoms, such as neurologic disorders. These peculiar events usually take place when RNA viruses like influenza A, human coronaviruses, such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, or henipaviruses, present in an animal reservoir, cross the species barrier as an opportunistic strategy to adapt to new environments and/or new hosts.

In the rest of the paper, I found these quotes of interest:

Respiratory viruses such as RSV, henipaviruses, influenza A and B, and enterovirus D68 are also sometimes found in the blood and, being neuroinvasive, they may therefore use the hematogenous route to reach the CNS.


Influenza viruses are classified in four types: A, B, C and D. All are endemic viruses with types A and B being the most prevalent and causing the flu syndrome, characterized by chills, fever, headache, sore throat and muscle pain. They are responsible for seasonal epidemics that affect 3 to 5 million humans, among which 500,000 to 1 million cases are lethal each year. Associated with all major pandemics since the beginning of the 20th century, circulating influenza A presents the greatest threat to human health.


Last but not least, human coronaviruses (HCoV) are another group of respiratory viruses that can naturally reach the CNS in humans and could potentially be associated with neurological symptoms. These ubiquitous human pathogens are molecularly related in structure and mode of replication with neuroinvasive animal coronaviruses.

Taken together, all these data bring us to consider a plausible involvement of HCoV in neurological diseases.

As I read the following, I’m struct by how it could be written about the current SARS-2 (COVID-19) pandemic. Even the CFR of 10% is not that far off if there is only limited testing. I’m curious now to know if serological testing of SARS-1 has been done in SARS-1 outbreak areas to determine the true infection spread in those areas.

The 2002–2003 SARS pandemic was caused by a coronavirus that emerged from bats (first reservoir) to infect palm civets (intermediary reservoir) and then humans . A total of 8096 probable cases were reported and almost 10% (774 cases in more than 30 countries) of these resulted in death. The clinical portrait was described as an initial flu-like syndrome, followed by a respiratory syndrome associated with cough and dyspnea, complicated with the “real” severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in about 20% of the patients. In addition, multiple organ failure was observed in several SARS-CoV-infected patients .

And the following “inefficient human-to-human transmission” and “more efficient human-to-human transmission in S. Korea” mentioned below shows how both of these universes can exist.

Although possible, human-to-human MERS-CoV transmission appears inefficient as it requires extended close contact with an infected individual. Consequently, most transmission have occurred among patients’ families and healthcare workers (clusters of transmission). A more efficient human-to-human transmission was observed in South Korea, during the 2015 outbreak of MERS-CoV. Even though it has propagated to a few thousand people and possesses a high degree of virulence, MERS-CoV seems mostly restricted to the Arabic peninsula and is not currently considered an important pandemic threat. However, virus surveillance and better characterization are warranted, in order to be prompt to respond to any change in that matter.

As I read the following about SARS-1 and MERS, the same populations seem to be infected except that not much is reported about SARS-2/COVID-19 affecting infants.

As of October 8, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that MERS-CoV had spread to at least 27 different countries, where 2468 laboratory-confirmed human cases have been identified with 851 being fatal (https://www.who.int/emergencies/mers-cov/en/). As observed for the four circulating strains of HCoV, both SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV usually induce more severe illnesses, and strike stronger in vulnerable populations such as the elderly, infants, immune-compromised individuals or patients with comorbidities.

A comparison between the endemic coronavirus, HCoV-OC43, and both SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 seems like it would be helpful in better understanding these coronaviruses.

After an intranasal infection, both HCoV-OC43 and SARS-CoV were shown to infect the respiratory tract in mice and to be neuroinvasive. Over the years, we and others have gathered data showing that HCoV-OC43 is naturally neuroinvasive in both mice and humans.

Here’s a mention of the viral glycoprotein (S):

Immune cell infiltration and cytokine production were observed in the mouse CNS after infection by HCoV-OC43. This immune response was significantly increased after infection by viral variants, which harbor mutations in the viral glycoprotein (S).

Virus–cell interactions are always important in the regulation of cell response to infection. For HCoV-OC43, we clearly showed that the viral S and E proteins are important factors of neurovirulence, neuropropagation and neurodegeneration of infected cells.

And this on Hemagglutinin-esterase (HE protein) seems of interest:

We have also demonstrated that the HE protein is important for the production of infectious HCoV-OC43 and for efficient spreading between neuronal cells, suggesting an attenuation of the eventual spread into the CNS of viruses made deficient in fully active HE protein, potentially associated with a reduced neurovirulence.

This final paragraph sums up the risk of chronic human neurological diseases tied to coronavirus infections.

Like for several other respiratory viruses, accumulating evidence now indicate that HCoV are neuroinvasive in humans and we hypothesize that these recognized respiratory pathogens are potentially neurovirulent as well, as they could participate in short- and long-term neurological disorders either as a result of inadequate host immune responses and/or viral propagation in the CNS, which directly induces damage to resident cells. With that in mind, one can envisage that, under the right circumstances, HCoV may successfully reach and colonize the CNS, an issue largely deserted and possibly underestimated by the scientific community that has impacted or will impact the life of several unknowing individuals. In acute encephalitis, viral replication occurs in the brain tissue itself, possibly causing destructive lesions of the nervous tissue with different outcomes depending on the infected regions. As previously mentioned, HCoV may persist in the human CNS as it does in mice and potentially be associated with different types of long-term sequelae and chronic human neurological diseases.

The conclusions specifically calls out human coronaviruses. It also states the belief that Koch’s postulates should be modified to account for cases where diseases result rarely from a prior infection. It also refers to Multiple Schlerosis.

Several human respiratory viruses are neuroinvasive and neurotropic, with potential neuropathological consequences in vulnerable populations. Understanding the underpinning mechanisms of neuroinvasion and interaction of respiratory viruses (including HCoV) with the nervous system is essential to evaluate potentially pathological short- and long-term consequences. However, viral infections related to diseases that are rare manifestations of an infection (like long term chronic neurological diseases), represent situations where Koch’s postulates [] need to be modified. A series of new criteria, adapted from Sir Austin Bradford Hill, for causation [,] was elaborated by Giovannoni and collaborators concerning the plausible viral hypothesis in MS [].

The feeling I’m having now is to understand the fear that anti-vaccine folks have when presented with the idea of giving everyone in the world a “limited” viral infection in order to provide everyone with protective antibodies.


20200518M Day 139: Trump Takes Hydroxychloroquine+Zinc Prophylactically

20200518M Santa Cruz, CA: While I was writing 20200517u Day 138: Some US States have 6x Higher CFR – Hydroxychloroquine?, it was reported that Trump takes Hydroxychloroquine and Zinc prophylactically. So, I thought I’d make this post short and just add a couple updates on hydroxychloroquine.

  1. May 18, 2020: StatNews.com reporter Andrew Joseph writes a health article: Utah went all-in on an unproven Covid-19 treatment, then scrambled to course-correct, which discusses the history of Utah and hydroxychloroquine.
  2. May 18, 2020: From NPR report Despite FDA Caution, Trump Says He Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine As A Preventative “President Trump on Monday revealed to reporters that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and zinc to protect against the coronavirus” for about 10 days.

20200517u Day 138: Some US States have 6x Higher CFR – Hydroxychloroquine?

20200517u Santa Cruz, CA: I’m curious about the almost 5-9x difference in case fatality rate (CFR) between the US states with the lowest CFR and the US states with the highest CFR. As of today, the CFR for the United States is 5.96% (275 deathsPerM divided by 4615 casesPerM).

The four best states have a CFR near 1%:

  1. Wyoming: 1.07% (14 deathsPerM / 1303 casesPerM)
  2. Utah: 1.11% (25 deathsPerM / 2258 casesPerM)
  3. South Dakota: 1.11% (50 deathsPerM / 4507 casesPerM)
  4. Nebraska: 1.20% (64 deathsPerM / 5349 casesPerM)

The seven worst states have a CFR over 6%:

  1. Michigan: 9.57% (490 deathsPerM / 5121 casesPerM)
  2. Connecticut: 9.11% (956 deathsPerM / 10495 casesPerM)
  3. New York: 7.85% (1456 deathsPerM / 18498 casesPerM)
  4. Louisiana: 7.24% (536 deathsPerM / 7407 casesPerM)
  5. New Jersey: 6.99% (1167 deathsPerM / 16685 casesPerM)
  6. Pennsylvania: 6.85% (352 deathsPerM / 5141 casesPerM)
  7. Massachusetts: 6.74% (841 deathsPerM / 12479 casesPerM)

Timeline of Hydroxychloroquine related actions in the US States above. In reviewing these, I thought I might notice that some states were treating with hydroxychloroquine and others were not. If this is going on, I think doctors and pharmacists are keeping this information to themselves due to the politics surrounding hydroxychloroquine.

  1. March 4, 2020: From Nebraska UNMC, Clinical trial begins for COVID-19 medication, a video of Andre Kalil, MD, leading a COVID-19 Clinical Trial
  2. March 7, 2020: New York Executive Order restricts dispensing hydroxychloroquined
  3. March 17, 2020: Nebraska Medicine post recommendations for Hydroxychloroquine treatment: COVID-19 Antiviral and Pharmacotherapy Recommendations
  4. March 21, 2020: President Trump Tweet that ““HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”
  5. March 23, 2020: No. 202.10: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency, an executive order from Andrew Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, which included the following: “No pharmacist shall dispense hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine except when written as prescribed for an FDA-approved indication; or as part of a state approved clinical trial related to COVID-19 for a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19, with such test result documented as part of the prescription. No other experimental or prophylactic use shall be permitted, and any permitted prescription is limited to one fourteen day prescription with no refills.”
  6. March 25, 2020: Notice of Designation of Scarce Materials or Threatened Materials Subject to COVID-19 Hoarding Prevention Measures Under Executive Order 13910 and Section 102 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, which specifically identifies “Drug product with active ingredient chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine HCl”
  7. March 27, 2020: Utah Medical Association Email, which included the statement ”

    recommending that providers use a long-standing medication to treat COVID-19. This medication, Hydroxychloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine/zinc compound or Chloroquine/zinc is showing some promising data for affecting the course of COVID-19.” This was followed by an email the next day that said “The UDOH has withdrawn its guidance on hydroxychloroquine from March 27. They are instead endorsing the launching of the clinical studies and urging patients to participate in the trial to get access to the investigative drugs in a controlled environment with gathering of data.”

  8. March 28, 2020: FDA Emergency Authorization for use of Hydroxychloroquine
  9. March 29, 2020: Limitations on Prescribing and Dispensing of Medications for Treatment of COVID-19, New Jersey order for limiting hydroxychloroquine prescriptions
  10. April 6, 2020: Penn researchers assess hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19
  11. April 13, 2020: South Dakota launched the nation’s first statewide clinical research study to investigate hydroxychloroquine: Sanford Health to lead clinical trial for COVID-19 treatment
  12. April 13, 2020 (last updated):  COVID-19: Hydroxychloroquine, Chloroquine, and Azithromycin has different state policies on hydroxychloroquine
  13. April 16, 2020: Federal, state authorities step up efforts to prevent hoarding of chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine
  14. April 24, 2020: FDA Safety Warning on use of Hydroxychloroquine
  15. April 27, 2020: Boards of pharmacy and other actions relating to COVID-19 prescribing:

    “The A.M.A. is calling for a stop to any inappropriate prescribing and ordering of medications, including

    chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, and appealing to physicians and all health care professionals to follow the highest standards of professionalism and ethics,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD.

  16. May 12, 2020 (last updated): NIH Treatment Guidelines “There are insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19″


20191222u Day -9: Cough Trending Highest in 5 Years

Screen Shot 2020-05-17 at 4.15.35 PM
REF: Google Search Terms Cough Pneumonia Fever Infection Shortness of Breath over last 5 years
Screen Shot 2020-05-17 at 4.21.11 PM
Zoom into last 20 months
Screen Shot 2020-05-17 at 4.22.11 PM
Google search terms since first COVID-19 confirmed case on Nov 17, 2019

20200517u Santa Cruz, CA: Looking back to Dec. 22, 2019, I read a research paper today that said “shortness of breath” began increasing in WeChat searches beginning Dec. 22, 2019. So, I was curious how searches on Google have been. Of the Topics I searched, “Infection” seems to be the Google Topic that most represents the COVID-19 pandemic. I did notice that the Topic “Cough” hit a 5 year high on Dec. 22, 2019. The Topics “Pneumonia” and “Infection” jumped a month later on Jan. 20, 2020. While most of the Topics I looked into have now gone back down close to pre-pandemic levels, “Infection” is still a hot Topic.

In other events, on this Dec. 22, 2019, a rally was held in Hong Kong to show support for the Uighur minority in China. How related these masks are to the masks that are coming will only be understood in the future.

Protesters attend a rally in Hong Kong Dec. 22, 2019, to show support for the Uighur minority in China. (Photo: Dale de la Rey/AFP/Getty Images)


20200514h Day 135: Mask Requirements at The Food Bin – No Bandanas, Scarves, or Valves

Mask Requirements at The Food Bin, Santa Cruz, CA – May 14, 2020 (Credit: SurfingTheUniverse.com)

20200514h Santa Cruz, CA: Today, I went shopping at the local grocery story and found the sign at the entrance interesting. While some stores have been selling bandanas for use as wearing masks, and some people have been using scarves or wrapping their head with their shirt, The Food Bin in Santa Cruz, CA is not supporting these actions. Nor or they supporting masks with valves. Instead, you need to have a mask with two straps, ties, or ear loops. It must cover your face from nose to chin. If you arrive at the store without such a mask, you can purchase one at the Herb Store next door.

For me, this is another example of how universes merge together and how the energetic energy of probabilities ripple out to nearby universes. We have universes around us in which different types of masks are the norm, and universes around us in which no masks are the norm. I expect to see a variety of different normals as I continue to surf towards the exit of this pandemic wormhole. I still expect June 8th of this year to be an exit point. Although, in the current universe I feel other unexpected events are on the horizon and I’m curious what new universes I will see as I exit this pandemic wormhole.

20191225W Day -6: Merry Christmas Multiverse! Hong Kong protestors wear Masks

Santa traveling through the multiverse – Captured in Austin, Texas – Dec. 25, 2019 (photo credit: SurfingTheUniverse.com)

20200513W Santa Cruz, CA: I spent last Christmas at my brother’s place in Austin, Texas. In walking around the neighborhood, I saw this Santa decoration. Looking at the looped version of the photo, I notice the periodic nature of the propellers and the beat of distortion. The distortion beats stimulate my imagination about how it might look to see someone traveling through the multiverse. The propellers represent for me the power that repeated habits and continuous focus can have, and how this is the power of free will which enables me to travel inter-dimensionally from one reality to another. Or at least that is how it feels and makes sense to me.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, protestors were going to the shopping malls not to buy presents, but to protest for human rights.

Hong Kong protesters in Sha Tin shopping mall – Hong Kong – Dec. 25, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

I find it interesting to notice that this scene, which shows protestors wearing masks, looks normal in the post-pandemic world. At the time, mask wearing was illegal. Today, not wearing masks is illegal in some places. It’s easy to imagine a current day in which those in Hong Kong are still in the shopping mall wearing masks, and yet there is no pandemic. It is interesting to notice how some things remain constant in the timeline we experience, even if the meaning of that constant thing is different.

20200512T Day 133: Year of the RaTG13 – Origin of SARS-CoV-2 In the Multiverse

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 7.58.11 PM
From Ang Ku Kueh Girl and Friend’s Chinese New Year sticker pack

20200512T Santa Cruz, CA: In this post, I’ll be discussing the origins of the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 in the different sets of universes around us. Some of these universes will match the official view and some of these universes will align with conspiracy theories. Most of these universes will interfere with one another and have overlapping characteristics.

The first statement out of China was that SARS-CoV-2 was believed to have originated at a wet market in Wuhan, a large city in Hubei Province, China. Many of the early cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, were found in individuals who shopped at Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. The market was closed on Jan 1, 2020, and any evidence of origin was believed to have been destroyed. A few days ago, a WHO scientist Dr. Peter Ben Embarek stated that samples taken from the wet market show that the market likely played a role in the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, he stated:

The market played a role in the event, that’s clear. But what role we don’t know. Whether it was the source or amplifying setting or just a coincidence that some cases were detected in and around that market,” said Dr Peter Ben Embarek in a press briefing.

Notice how this statement does not limit us to universes in which SARS-CoV-2 originated in the wet market, but also includes universes where it amplified the spread of COVID-19 and also universes in which it played no role and was only coincidentally connected.

The main unofficial and so-called conspiracy theory is that SARS-CoV-2 originated in the Wuhan Biolab not far from the wet market. This theory is circumstantial based mainly on the fact that the biolab does perform research on bat coronaviruses. This theory has two sub-theories – one in which the virus is a bioweapon and one in which it is a natural virus. There are also two overlapping sub-theories – one in which the virus was intentionally released and one in which it was accidentally released. The accidentally released theory can be further divided into one in which a lab worker is accidentally infected and one in which samples are improperly discarded.

If we assume that there is a set of universes for each of these theories and sub-theories, then the reality we see will likely be an interference pattern of these different sets of universes until one set reveals itself.

Let’s make the hypothesis/assumption that sets of universes that are in conflict will repel each other and sets of universes that are congruent will attract one another. We can begin to see a set of universes that fit together with the following features:

  1. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a wet market, played a role in the outbreak.
  2. The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory, played a role in the outbreak.
  3. SARS-CoV-2 was a coronavirus being studied at WIV.
  4. SARS-CoV-2 found a way from WIV to individuals at the wet market, which was the first identified outbreak.

There are also universes where the WIV is not involved and SARS-CoV-2 is found to have come from livestock sold at the wet market. However, the future in which this is true does not appear to be sending any indications to the present that are detectible. It doesn’t fit in well with the other universes. If SARS-CoV-2 is found in live animals, it is most likely in bats not local to the Wuhan area and most likely bats from which virus samples had been collected by lab workers at WIV.

Since the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been sequenced, two other coronavirus sequences have been released. The first one released is labeled RaTG13, from a sample collected in 2013 in the Yunnan province. Comparison between RaTG13 (MN996532.1) and SARSCoV2-Wuhan-Hu1 (MN908947.3) show that they had a most recent common ancestor estimated at 50 years ago. The second one released is labeled RmYN02, which is shown to have a most recent common ancestor estimated at 35 years ago. Neither one of these is likely to be the natural ancestor of the virus, due to the number of mutations between each and SARS-CoV-2.

The Bat coronavirus RaTG13 complete genome sequence references the Nature paper: A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin.

Figure 1 showing RaTG13 phylogeny (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2012-7)

Key quotes from the paper:

Full-length genome sequences were obtained from five patients at an early stage of the outbreak. The sequences are almost identical and share 79.6% sequence identity to SARS-CoV. Furthermore, we show that 2019-nCoV is 96% identical at the whole-genome level to a bat coronavirus.

This second one I wish was explained more in how the “then found” occurred.

We then found that a short region of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) from a bat coronavirus (BatCoV RaTG13)—which was previously detected in Rhinolophus affinis from Yunnan province—showed high sequence identity to 2019-nCoV.

More thoughts to come…


20200511M Day 132: 22 8-day doublings equals 4194304 confirmed COVID-19 cases

Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 1.27.30 PM
Screenshot of two coronavirus trackers on May 11, 2020, 20:23 GMT that average out to 4,196,452 – which is close to the 2^22=4,194,304 which represents a doubling of official cases every 8 days since November 17, 2019

In 20200507h Day 128: About 8 day average confirmed COVID-19 case doubling time since first case Nov 17, 2019, I noted that assuming a first case of COVID-19 on November 17, 2019, if confirmed cases had doubled every 8 days, then today we would have 4,194,304 cases. Well, an hour ago I took a screenshot of the two coronavirus trackers and the average of the two is 4,196,452. Due to the social distancing measures now in place throughout the world, to the seasonal nature of coronavirus infections, and to the now ramped up testing, we are no longer increasing cases at an 8-day doubling rate.

If our confirmed cases had exactly doubled every 8 days, here is how the cases would have grown, with comparison to confirmed cases reported:

Date Cases 8-day Double Cases Confirmed
2019-11-17u 1 1
2019-11-25M 2 1
2019-12-03T 4 9+ (SCMP)
2019-12-11W 8 4 (paper)
2019-12-19h 16 11 (paper), 27-60 (SCMP)
2019-12-27F 32 34 (paper), 180+ (SCMP)
2020-01-04S 64 92 (paper), 381+ (SCMP)
2020-01-12u 128 332 (paper)
2020-01-20M 256 282 (WHO)
2020-01-28T 512 6058 (widespread testing)
2020-02-05W 1024 28266
2020-02-13h 2048 64438
2020-02-21F 4096 77673
2020-02-29S 8192 86604
2020-03-08u 16384 109991
2020-03-16M 32768 182440
2020-03-24T 65536 423114
2020-04-01W 131072 940523
2020-04-09h 262144 1600590
2020-04-17F 524288 2249004
2020-04-25S 1048576 2915365
2020-05-03u 2097152 3559748
2020-05-11M 4194304 4196452*

*NOTE: 4,196,452 is the average confirmed cases from https://coronavirus.jhu.edu and https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ at the time of writing this. Other confirmed case values starting January 28th are from worldometers.info. Before January 28th, confirmed cases were taken from Early Transmission Dynamics in Wuhan, China, of Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia and from First WHO Situation Report.

A reference for the first coronavirus case on Nov. 17, 2019 is from SCMP.com: Coronavirus: China’s first confirmed Covid-19 case traced back to November 17. In this article it is reported:

According to the government data seen by the Post, a 55 year-old from Hubei province could have been the first person to have contracted Covid-19 on November 17.

From that date onwards, one to five new cases were reported each day. By December 15, the total number of infections stood at 27 – the first double-digit daily rise was reported on December 17 – and by December 20, the total number of confirmed cases had reached 60.

On December 27, Zhang Jixian, a doctor from Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, told China’s health authorities that the disease was caused by a new coronavirus. By that date, more than 180 people had been infected, though doctors might not have been aware of all of them at the time.

By the final day of 2019, the number of confirmed cases had risen to 266, On the first day of 2020 it stood at 381.



20191228S Day -3: Shincheonji Church of Jesus graduates 100,000 in 2019


20200510u Santa Cruz, CA: Looking back to Dec 28, 2019, the first thing I notice is an article posted on californianewswire.com on this date:

Shincheonji church of Jesus Graduates 100,000 Students Worldwide, from San Francisco to South Korea

The graduates, 97% of whom were in South Korea, had completed an 8-month theology program that covers the Bible, with emphasis on the prophecies from the book of Revelation. The graduation ceremony was held on November 10, 2019.

From the article:

Of course it is incredible enough to see 100,000 students graduating from a single denomination; however, what is more shocking is that Shincheonji — which is teaching the fulfillment of Revelation and has been growing at an incredibly rapid pace since 1984 is labeled as a “cult” by the Christian world of the Republic of Korea especially through the CCK (Christian Council of Korea).

The growth of Shincheonji is expected to grow exponentially after the graduation. With the evangelism rate of the graduates being over 100%, currently there are 200,000 plus students that are enrolled in the theology program. If Shincheonji continues to grow at this pace, then within 3 years it will reach a million congregation members, and the status quo of the religious world will change.

On the day prior, there was another article on prnewswire.com:

Shincheonji Church of Jesus Issues Statement Against Pastor Jun Kwang-hoon for Words of Blasphemy

which has these interesting quotes:

Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ) is calling for the resignation of the President of the Christian Council of Korea (CCK) Pastor Jun Kwang-hoon as well for the CCK to be disbanded following controversial comments made by Pastor Jun.

A representative of Shincheonji Church of Jesus said, “President Jun Kwang-hoon claims that he has been anointed, and even asserting that the entire country of South Korea centers around him, and that he will kill God if things do not go his way.” He also explained, “Such assertions expose his heretic beliefs that use religion for power and oppose God. The CCK – a political organization masked under religion – must be shut down immediately.”

On Feb 26, 2020, an article in businessinsider.com had this interesting quote which mentions rumors about a virus began circulating in November:

“Rumours about a virus began to circulate in November but no one took them seriously,” an anonymous 28-year-old kindergarten teacher who belongs to Shincheonji told the Post. “I was in Wuhan in December when our church suspended all gatherings as soon as we learned about [the coronavirus].”

The kindergarten teacher wouldn’t comment on whether any Shincheonji members from Wuhan had traveled to South Korea recently but also insisted that they had nothing to do with the mass COVID-19 cases that have erupted there.

“I don’t think the virus came from us because none of our brothers and sisters in Wuhan have been infected,” she told the Post. “I don’t know about members in other places but at least we are clean. None of us have reported sick. There are so many Chinese traveling to South Korea, it’s quite unfair to pin [the disease] on us.”

20200509S Day 130: COVID-19 Treatment Study Hydroxychloroquine/Azithromycin Adding Zinc

Adding the common cold treatment of Zinc and Vitamin C with Schweppes tonic water is a so called “fake” treatment for COVID-19. Reference: Tweet by @RockNRoll761 on Apr 9

A paper published online, Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin plus zinc vs hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin alone: outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, shows that “zinc sulfate added to hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may improve outcomes among hospitalized patients”.

Hydroxychloroquine has been a controversial treatment for COVID-19, at least since President Trump mentioned it as a potential treatment, along with Zinc, at a daily briefing. Various attempts to show the efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine have shown mixed results. Those who believe Hydroxychloroquine is harmful point to studies showing apparent side effects with no benefits. Those who believe Hydroxychloroquine could be helpful, claim that in order to be effective, it must be administered early and with Zinc. This paper attempts to address the question of whether the addition of Zinc makes a difference. The results shown in the paper indicate that Zinc is helpful. From the Results section:

The addition of zinc sulfate did not impact the length of hospitalization, duration of ventilation, or ICU duration. In univariate analyses, zinc sulfate
increased the frequency of patients being discharged home, and decreased the need for ventilation, admission to the ICU, and mortality or transfer to hospice for patients who were never admitted to the ICU. After adjusting for the time at which zinc sulfate was added to our protocol, an increased frequency of being discharged home (OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.12-2.09) reduction in mortality or transfer to hospice remained significant (OR 0.449, 95% CI 0.271-0.744).

The conclusion of the paper:

This study provides the first in vivo evidence that zinc sulfate in combination with hydroxychloroquine may play a role in therapeutic management for COVID-19.

Here are some quotes that I found of interest from the paper, along with some of my thoughts:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 with or without azithromycin.

I’m curious where Zinc fit into the authorization – and if dosage levels were mentioned.

Chloroquine analogues are weak bases that concentrate within acidic endosomes and lysosomes. Once intracellular, chloroquine analogues become protonated and increase pH resulting in prevention of endosomal trafficking, dysfunctional cellular enzymes, and impaired protein synthesis [7].

This inhibits viral replication through interference with endosome-mediated viral entry or late transport of the enveloped virus. Further, this results in interference with the terminal glycosylation of ACE2 receptor expression which prevents SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding and spread of infection [8].

[7] is a 2003 paper written (in The Lancet Infectious Diseases) during the initial SARS epidemic by Savarino et. al. entitled Effects of chloroquine on viral infections: an old drug against today’s diseases. 

[8] is a 2005 paper written (in Virology Journal) just after the initial SARS epidemic by Vincent et al. entitled Chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread.

For COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine (a hydroxy-derivative of chloroquine) has been proposed to be used instead of chloroquine. Recently, it has been shown to have 3x higher cytotoxic potential in vitro against SARS-CoV-2 compared to chloroquine [9].

[9] is a 2020 paper (written in Clinical Infectious Diseases) by Yao et. al. entitled The Treatment of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

A 2010 paper (written in PLOS Pathogens) by the Velthuis et. al. entitled Zn2+Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity in Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture. The title pretty much says it all.

The idea behind combining Hydroxychloroquine with Zinc is based on the difficulty of achieving a high enough intracellular concentration of Zinc without a zinc ionophore, such as chloroquine. (Reference: Xue et. al. 2014 paper in PLoS one entitled Chloroquine is a zinc ionophore)

Regarding the main finding of this paper:

The main finding of this study is that after adjusting for the timing of zinc therapy, we found that the addition of zinc sulfate to hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was found to associate with a decrease in mortality or transition to hospice among patients who did not require ICU level of care, but this association was not significant in patients who were treated in the ICU.

Our findings suggest a potential therapeutic synergistic mechanism of zinc sulfate with hydroxychloroquine, if used early on in presentation with COVID-19.

The authors identified a number of limitations of their study and ended with:

In light of these limitations, this study should not be used to guide clinical practice. Rather, our observations support the initiation of future randomized clinical trials investigating zinc sulfate against COVID-19.