"A few bright spots do indeed shine amid the doom and gloom ... "
March 19, 2020 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Snopes: "The claims on the popular [COVID19] 'good news' list are generally accurate and supported by credible news reports."
posted by WCityMike (26 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thank you. ❤️
posted by kimberussell at 6:46 PM on March 19


Much thanks!
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:00 PM on March 19


I'm not impressed by the list. doctors in India treating Covid19 with lopinavir, ritonavir (when correctly spelled) plus oseltamavir, and chlorpheniramine (a common antihistamine)? Oseltamivir is a weak ass antiflu medicine. Lopinavir and ritonavir are anti HIV protease inhibitors. Drugs don't readily jump between viruses in efficacy. Four drug combinations take years to develop and prove. They are not a random chance.

Finding antibodies against something isn't difficult. Finding something that consistently induced the antibodies (an effective vaccine) is difficult.
There are a lot of one off reports of good news appearing in a pandemic. There were at the early days of AIDS. It took 15 years to find a good treatment.

On the bright side, I imagine social distancing will help with the flu season.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:06 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]


There has been so much bad news about coronavirus that it's gotten to the point where just ONE piece of valid good news can help erase the despair I feel after reading an entire day's worth of bad headlines.

So thank you so, so much for the link. I have to cling to these good stories or I'm never going to make it through this.
posted by phatkitten at 7:25 PM on March 19 [10 favorites]




This should be posted in the paper products aisle of every grocery store in America.
posted by Beholder at 7:27 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


So this study is what the article is referring to when it talks about the treatment in India. Note that the last medicine is not chlorpheniramine but chloroquine, a synthetic analogue of the old anti-malaria medicinal Quinine.

There haven't been proper tests of chloroquine and its relative hydroxychloroquine, but considerable anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness in treating COVID-19 has been piling up, and many doctors and hospitals around the world are prescribing it "off-label" (unofficially) to patients unable to fight off the disease.

Donald Trump now claims to have personally told the FDA to approve hydroxychloroquine in the USA. (The FDA says he never did anything of the sort.)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:49 PM on March 19 [13 favorites]


Unfortunately, at least one of their fact checks is a little off, I'll just paste what I sent them on their contact form:

re: "Good news coronavirus" fact check

The Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth are two entirely different hospital systems and health organizations.

https://my.clevelandclinic.org

https://www.metrohealth.org

Also, neither the Clinic nor MetroHealth (nor the 3rd major hospital system, University Hospitals) have a NEW METHOD of testing for COVID-19 - the good news is that in a very short time all 3 have been able to fire up in-house testing labs rather than relying on outside labs, shortening the time to get results from days to (potentially) hours.

Sources: https://www.cleveland.com/coronavirus/2020/03/cleveland-clinic-has-ability-to-test-for-coronavirus-in-house-now.html

https://www.cleveland.com/metro/2020/03/metrohealth-now-testing-for-coronavirus.html
posted by soundguy99 at 8:22 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


This should be posted in the paper products aisle of every grocery store in America.

Where we can gather together and read it?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:39 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Here's some good news: in my condo building, a mutual assistance committee has been set up so volunteers can assist high risk people with grocery shopping and dog walking and whatnot (and we skew elderly). So far we have a 10:1 ratio of volunteers to people we've found who might require assistance.

We've also had some polite declines from 80 year olds who thought we were asking them to fetch groceries for others :)
posted by fatbird at 8:43 PM on March 19 [26 favorites]


a synthetic analogue of the old anti-malaria medicinal Quinine

brb, off to get some gin and tonic
posted by meowzilla at 9:27 PM on March 19 [17 favorites]


Some actual good news:
Reinfection could not occur in SARS-CoV-2 infected rhesus macaques - implies that usual humoral immunity rules apply (once you've been infected, you are relatively resistant to reinfection)

Most of the rest of this "good news" is the same level of bullshit put out by university PR departments everywhere. Cancer and diabetes have been cured fifty times over by these standards. Finding antibodies and medicines that "kind of work" is really easy, especially when 1000s of researchers are furiously trying everything, some of them will randomly look efficacious through dumb luck. The negative results are never posted because, well. they're negative. Lots of drugs that are efficacious at curbing viral replication are too toxic to use in patients who are already near death.

If you want expert advice on what existing pharmaceutical agents may prove useful, look to the WHO's actual report on possible candidate drugs.
posted by benzenedream at 9:30 PM on March 19 [14 favorites]


For me the good news is that South Korea has shown you can combat the thing with aggressive testing without being on the extreme end of isolation and distancing measures. This has been validated in other smaller places. With full treatment mortality is higher than flu but not an order of magnitude higher.

The US was criminally negligent in our response but we are getting the tests online and the fairly extreme measures we are starting to take in places like the Bay Area are going to drastically flatten the growth rate while this happens.
posted by mark k at 9:43 PM on March 19 [17 favorites]


The US was criminally negligent in our response but we are getting the tests online and the fairly extreme measures we are starting to take in places like the Bay Area are going to drastically flatten the growth rate while this happens.

It's still pretty much impossible to get tested, as of today. Treatment is going to cost thousands so people will be reluctant to go to the doctor. Over 18% of American's have already lost a job or hours and spring break is in full swing in Florida. South Korea did a huge amount of sanitation of public spaces, we do almost none. I think this is going to last a lot longer in the US than you do.

Kinda wishing I was elsewhere right now tbh.
posted by fshgrl at 10:53 PM on March 19 [10 favorites]


[Folks I know everyone is stressed and the situation is grim. But there are a lot of threads already full of grim info and projections, so maybe head over to one of those for your grim-news-sharing needs. Given this is meant to be a post for small hopeful tidbits, let's please aim in that direction in here, finding the bits that are true and may offer something positive. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:01 PM on March 19 [31 favorites]


Law Professor Richard Epstein says Coronavirus isn't a pandemic, basically on the strength of the argument that both people and the virus will adapt: people by distancing and washing their hands etc, the virus by seeing virulent strains become more successful and widely spread, until the numbers basically wind up the way the flu does.

This strikes me as... plausible-ish, but I'm still not sure it checks out. If I take it at face value as predictive gospel, a pandemic starts to sound near impossible. Since we know they have happened, that doesn't sound right, unless one assumes that mid-century virology is line past which human society knows enough we'll always adapt and 1918 won't happen again.

If I take it as "this is a path the virus has some incentives to travel so it's *probable* that it will become less virulent" then it sounds more plausible. Or course, it also sounds like epidemiology through a libertarian worldview. And it strikes me that a virus with a long infection-to-illness lead time during which it is pretty contagious has plenty of luxury to be both spreadable and virulent.
posted by wildblueyonder at 2:43 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


If interested, there are books written by actual experts on viral evolutionary strategies, why would you ask a conservative law professor about it?

That analysis makes a lot of dumb contrarian assumptions. The selective pressure for avirulence in a naive population has already occured; SARS-1 was the more virulent and more easily contained relative of this virus. If a virus can spread well due to a long asymptomatic period, it experts little selective pressure if some old and sick hosts die. In any case, it reads like a conclusion (lockdown is bad for the economy) in search of buttressing facts (maybe the virus won't kill is so much in a few months). All of these just-so stories also assume that mortality and replication are seperable and can evolve independently. Sometimes the reason a virus spreads really well is exactly the same molecular reason why it kills some hosts - as long as it's a net plus the virus will keep the trait.
posted by benzenedream at 3:42 AM on March 20 [28 favorites]


Yeah, this thread didn't go well.
posted by mmoncur at 4:37 AM on March 20 [12 favorites]


Law Professor Richard Epstein says Coronavirus isn't a pandemic, basically on the strength of the argument that both people and the virus will adapt: people by distancing and washing their hands etc, the virus by seeing virulent strains become more successful and widely spread, until the numbers basically wind up the way the flu does.


I think Law Professor Richard Epstein should at least look up the definition of "pandemic" before writing a large article based on a complete misunderstanding of what a pandemic is. The term "pandemic" has nothing to do with fatality rates and everything to do with a disease that is epidemic in multiple countries.
posted by enamon at 7:59 AM on March 20 [16 favorites]


Yeah, this thread didn't go well.

Eh, a certain amount of skepticism and naysaying is to be expected from this crowd. I'm grateful for another take, because the despair and mounting bad news upon bad news had ceased to be helpful. My family is already in isolation; we're doing our part. And I don't think anyone is served if my stress levels are to the point where I'm losing sleep and triggering an IBS bout. We need a break; we need a reason to feel hopeful. I'm glad for this thread.
posted by witchen at 9:15 AM on March 20 [9 favorites]


Ok here's the best piece of news:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/18/scientists-say-mass-tests-in-italian-town-have-halted-covid-19

All other solutions require a scientific miracle (eg an antiviral that actually works as a good prophylactic and/or treatment - a vaccine for a class of virus that have never been successfully vaccinated against before - worldwide quarantine until the bug disappears etc), a logistics miracle (manufacture and distribute said solution) and a political miracle (pay for, decide who gets it first, ensure there aren't riots over it) to pull off. This only requires a logistics miracle and a political miracle.

We can do this with our current tech. We can actually eliminate the virus in a given population in around two weeks. The trouble is that to make it really work you need to really ramp up testing and be able to keep those possibly infected from those definitely not infected. Ramping up the testing makes that easier/possible as you can mass screen whole towns and quarantine those who are infected until they're free of the virus.

That's all it takes. We need the PCR machines, reagents, staff and the public willingness to wait to be tested and released.
posted by zeripath at 5:33 PM on March 20 [11 favorites]




Mass testing is the best idea, and it's do able now. Call your Congressional representatives, call your state reps, call your town council, call everyone and explain why it's needed.
posted by fshgrl at 1:23 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


I'd hesitate to say it's exactly doable now... But... We do know how to do it unlike the anything else.

To get anywhere reasonable you need some way of testing whole blocks of people twice in two weeks.

At 30 000 tests per day that would take 12 years to do the whole UK - 60 years fit the USA! At which point you'd be better off properly isolating households for 6~8 months.

If you can raise it to ten times that per day and some clever tricks abusing the fact that PCR is extremely sensitive to do cohort testing you will probably be able to reduce that to below six months. (E.g. you do one test but have multiple samples in that test - you'd need to run the PCR for longer but you could just add more primer to account for the increased samples and possibly run it longer. This would need testing...)

The trouble is there aren't enough PCR machines or staff to do it - but at least it doesn't rely on coming up with a scientific miracle. Just a logistics and a political miracle. We know how to make PCR machines that are simple to use. If the machines are simple enough then we can train people easily enough to.
posted by zeripath at 4:30 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]




It's not at all clear you need 100% testing, let alone twice in a week. Like a lot we just don't know.

South Korea right now seems to have stabilized with aggressive testing of people they suspect of having or been exposed to the disease. There's probably an inflection point where you do need to test everyone in the country as everyone can reasonably have been exposed. But I'm hoping with the lock down in California that we're not going to get there at least where I live.

Testing does seem to be one of those things that can be ramped up very quickly if you don't screw it up, although I don't know about 600 million tests to hit everyone twice.
posted by mark k at 8:48 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


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