Category : Globalization

(PRC) U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly

Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe. As a new 13-nation Pew Research Center survey illustrates, America’s reputation has declined further over the past year among many key allies and partners. In several countries, the share of the public with a favorable view of the U.S. is as low as it has been at any point since the Center began polling on this topic nearly two decades ago.

For instance, just 41% in the United Kingdom express a favorable opinion of the U.S., the lowest percentage registered in any Pew Research Center survey there. In France, only 31% see the U.S. positively, matching the grim ratings from March 2003, at the height of U.S.-France tensions over the Iraq War. Germans give the U.S. particularly low marks on the survey: 26% rate the U.S. favorably, similar to the 25% in the same March 2003 poll.

Part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the U.S. had handled the coronavirus pandemic. Across the 13 nations surveyed, a median of just 15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak. In contrast, most say the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis (the U.S. and UK are notable exceptions). Relatively few think China has handled the pandemic well, although it still receives considerably better reviews than the U.S. response.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Globalization, Sociology

(NYT) How the World Missed Covid’s Symptom-Free Carriers

Dr. Camilla Rothe was about to leave for dinner when the government laboratory called with the surprising test result. Positive. It was Jan. 27. She had just discovered Germany’s first case of the new coronavirus.

But the diagnosis made no sense. Her patient, a businessman from a nearby auto parts company, could have been infected by only one person: a colleague visiting from China. And that colleague should not have been contagious.

The visitor had seemed perfectly healthy during her stay in Germany. No coughing or sneezing, no signs of fatigue or fever during two days of long meetings. She told colleagues that she had started feeling ill after the flight back to China. Days later, she tested positive for the coronavirus….

…if the experts were wrong, if the virus could spread from seemingly healthy carriers or people who had not yet developed symptoms, the ramifications were potentially catastrophic. Public-awareness campaigns, airport screening and stay-home-if-you’re sick policies might not stop it. More aggressive measures might be required — ordering healthy people to wear masks, for instance, or restricting international travel.

Dr. Rothe and her colleagues were among the first to warn the world. But even as evidence accumulated from other scientists, leading health officials expressed unwavering confidence that symptomless spreading was not important.

In the days and weeks to come, politicians, public health officials and rival academics disparaged or ignored the Munich team.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(NYT) From China to Germany, the World Learns to Live With the Coronavirus

China is testing restaurant workers and delivery drivers block by block. South Korea tells people to carry two types of masks for differing risky social situations. Germany requires communities to crack down when the number of infections hits certain thresholds. Britain will target local outbreaks in a strategy that Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls “Whac-A-Mole.”

Around the world, governments that had appeared to tame the coronavirus are adjusting to the reality that the disease is here to stay. But in a shift away from damaging nationwide lockdowns, they are looking for targeted ways to find and stop outbreaks before they become third or fourth waves.

While the details differ, the strategies call for giving governments flexibility to tighten or ease as needed. They require some mix of intensive testing and monitoring, lightning-fast response times by the authorities, tight border management and constant reminders to their citizens of the dangers of frequent human contact.

The strategies often force central governments and local officials to share data and work closely together, overcoming incompatible computer systems, turf battles and other longstanding bureaucratic rivalries. Already, in Britain, some local officials say their efforts are not coordinated enough.

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Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(ABC Aus.) Rupert Read–Imagining the world after COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us, we have to live in a world we will never fully understand, predict, or control. The huge cost — in terms both of lives and money — of the world’s collective failure to apply precautionary reasoning to the coronavirus will hopefully continue to wake people up. If we are to survive, let alone flourish, we need to change things up; we need to imagine big, along the lines that I’ve been suggesting. This pandemic is our chance, probably our last such chance, for a new beginning. From its horror, if we retrieve the drive to localise, we’ll be building the best possible memorial to those hundreds of thousands who have unnecessarily died.

The coronavirus crisis is like the climate crisis, only dramatically telescoped in terms of time. We have seen what happens when there is a short-term protective contraction of the economy. The lifestyle-change that was required by the pandemic is more extreme than what will be required of us in order adequately to address the climate crisis. Why not make the less extreme changes required to live safely within a stable climate?

The coronavirus pandemic is like an acute condition: both individuals and entire societies need to respond quickly to it, but probably not for an extended period of time — certainly not if prevention or elimination is successfully achieved. The climate crisis is a chronic condition: it will take decades upon decades of determination, commitment, and “sacrifice” not to be overwhelmed by it. But the changes we need to make in order to achieve that goal are more attractive than those made in order to fight the coronavirus. The life we live in a climate-safe world can be a better life: saner; more rooted and local; more secure, with stronger communities and less uncertainty about our common future; less hyper-materialistic; more caring; more nurturing, and with greater exposure to the natural world.

What is required is the building of care, ethical sensibilities, and precautiousness into the very warp and weft of our lives.

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Posted in Anthropology, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Theology

(CT) They’re Not From the US. But They’re Ministering to the Nation’s Soldiers

Agravel road in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Thumps of artillery become background noise as units practice on the nearby range. A few wisecracks start off the morning, along with some last instructions before the ruck march. Then Cornelius Muasa’s voice rises over the soldiers’ to ask a blessing on their day’s tasks, the chaplain carefully articulating the English words that are challenging after his native Kenyan tongue of Kikamba.

Growing up as a stuttering pastor’s kid in Africa, Muasa never imagined he would one day be serving God in the American military. But the Lord led him from a Kenyan church to a United States seminary to discover a global calling and a burden for soldiers.

Muasa is one of many foreign-born evangelical chaplains whose experiences have equipped them to minister to the growing diversity of the US and the American military. Nineteen percent of US Army chaplains and 10 percent of Navy chaplains were born outside the US, according to military spokesmen (The Air Force did not respond to CT’s request for data). These include Buddhists from East Asia, Roman Catholics from Europe, Muslims from Africa, and many evangelical Christians like Muasa from around the world.

Diversity drew Muasa to this ministry, and it’s why he loves it. There are about 1.3 million active-duty personnel in the US military, and the service members are more diverse than they’ve ever been—16 percent black, 16 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian, and about 5 percent who are immigrants to America.

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Posted in Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

(Wa Po) The coronavirus pandemic isn’t ending – it’s surging

As restrictions are lifted around the world, the sense of urgency surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic has weakened. Hundreds of millions of students have returned to school; restaurants, bars and other businesses are slowly reopening in many countries. In parts of Europe, vaccine researchers worry that they will not have enough sick people for testing.

But this historic pandemic is not ending. It is surging. There were 136,000 new infections reported on Sunday, the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic. There are more than 7 million confirmed cases so far. The number of deaths is nearing half a million, with little sign of tapering off, and global health experts are continuing to sound the alarm.

“By no means is this over,” Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s executive director, said Wednesday. “If we look at the numbers over the last number of weeks, this pandemic is still evolving. It is still growing in many parts of the world.”

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

(WSJ) Soaring Prices, Rotting Crops: Coronavirus Triggers Global Food Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic hit the world at a time of plentiful harvests and ample food reserves. Yet a cascade of protectionist restrictions, transport disruptions and processing breakdowns has dislocated the global food supply and put the planet’s most vulnerable regions in particular peril.

“You can have a food crisis with lots of food. That’s the situation we’re in,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO.

Prices for staples such as rice and wheat have jumped in many cities, in part because of panic buying set off by export restrictions imposed by countries eager to ensure sufficient supplies at home. Trade disruptions and lockdowns are making it harder to move produce from farms to markets, processing plants and ports, leaving some food to rot in the fields.

At the same time, more people around the world are running short of money as economies contract and incomes shrivel or disappear. Currency devaluations in developing nations that depend on tourism or depreciating commodities like oil have compounded those problems, making imported food even less affordable.

“In the past, we have always dealt with either a demand-side crisis, or a supply-side crisis. But this is both—a supply and a demand crisis at the same time, and at a global level,” said Arif Husain, chief economist at the UN’s World Food Program. “This makes it unprecedented and uncharted.”

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Poverty

(NYT) The Covid19 Outbreak’s Untold Devastation of Latin America

When Aldenor Basques Félix, an Indigenous leader and teacher, fell ill in Manaus [Brazil] with coronavirus symptoms in late April, he was treated at home — he had no money for the bus ride to the closest hospital. As his condition deteriorated, his friends spent five hours trying to reach an ambulance, but couldn’t get through.

When his impoverished community finally got together the money for a taxi, Mr. Basques Félix, 49, was dead. At the hospital, attendants refused to take the body, saying the morgue was full. His friends had to wait with the corpse in an evangelical church until they could find undertakers to take it away.

“They refused to take his body away, they refused to do the tests,” said Mr. Tikuna said of the hospital workers.

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Posted in Brazil, Chile, Economy, Ecuador, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Peru, Politics in General

(Economist) The financial world’s nervous system is being rewired–And it is not America that is doing it

China has gone furthest. In 2015 it launched cips, an interbank messaging system to ease international payments in yuan. It uses the same language as swift, allowing it to talk to other countries’ payment systems. For now just 950 institutions use it—less than 10% of swift’s membership. But “what matters is it’s there,” says Eswar Prasad of Cornell University.

The real revolution is happening in low-value transfers. Like swift, the network of American card schemes is tricky to displace. Member banks and merchants trust each other because they adhere to tested rules. They also like the convenience of the schemes’ settlement platforms, which compute “net” positions between all banks that they square up at the end of the day. So rival schemes struggle to make a dent. In 2014, fearing sanctions could block it from using American schemes, Russia created its own, which now accounts for 17% of domestic cards. But its 70m tally is dwarfed by Visa and Mastercard’s 5bn. Size is not a problem for UnionPay, China’s own club. Just 130m of its 7.6bn cards were issued outside the mainland, however, where it is mostly used by Chinese tourists.

A mightier threat comes from a state-led revamp of domestic payment systems. Eager to reassert control over key infrastructure, some 70 countries have rebuilt their local plumbing to enable near-instant bank transfers at the tap of a screen. Europe is the most advanced, having fused local networks into a bloc of 35 countries and more than 500m people. South-East Asia is also trying to stitch its systems together. On March 5th India and Singapore connected theirs for the first time.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Globalization, Science & Technology, The Banking System/Sector

(Science Mag) The race is on for antibodies that stop the new coronavirus

The Vanderbilt-AstraZeneca team is far from the only group trying to identify or engineer monoclonals against SARS-CoV-2. Unlike the many repurposed drugs now being tested in COVID-19 patients, including the modestly effective remdesivir, the immune proteins specifically target this virus. Whereas some groups hope to sieve a neutralizing antibody (a “neut”) from the blood of a survivor like Dr. X, others are trying to produce a neut in mice by injecting them with the spike protein. Still others aim to re-engineer an existing antibody or even create one directly from DNA sequences.

Many researchers are optimistic that antibodies will, relatively quickly, prove their worth as a preventive or remedy that buys the world time until a vaccine arrives—if it does. “We’ve got at least 50—and probably more we don’t know about—companies and academic labs that are all racing horses,” says immunologist Erica Ollmann Saphire of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, who leads an effort to coordinate and evaluate these candidates. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which developed a cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies that worked against the Ebola virus—a notoriously difficult disease to treat—may be out of the gates first with a candidate monoclonal drug entering clinical trials as soon as next month.

Saphire says many questions remain. “We need a sense of the landscape: What are the most effective antibodies against this virus? If we need a cocktail of two, what is the most effective combination?” she asks. “And you might want a very different kind of antibody to prevent infection versus treating an established one.”

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Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

Gafcon Chairman Foley Beach’s April 2020 Letter

Beloved in Christ Jesus: Greetings in the name of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Times of crisis such as we are now living through are revealing. They force us to focus on what is really important to us and it has been so encouraging to see Gafcon churches around the world quickly adapting to new ways of being the church and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ using the tools the internet gives us.

Our churches are also making it a priority to care for the most vulnerable. Here in North America, our Matthew 25 Initiative network is serving some of the most poor and under-resourced people in North America from some 100 centers, while globally, the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (see https://ardf.org/apply-for-covid19-funds) is seeking to provide on the ground relief. Our General Secretary, Archbishop Ben Kwashi, is serving on Barnabas Fund’s Africa Coronavirus Relief Committee to channel relief to the most vulnerable and enable the Churches to continue their ministries.

Please be aware that the people and churches of Africa are suffering not only from the impact of the coronavirus economic lockdown, but in East Africa also from recurrent and massive locust plagues which are devastating crops. And in addition to the pandemic, Christians in northern Nigeria are suffering intensified and barbaric attacks from Fulani Jihadist tribesmen who are deliberately targeting women and children. All of this is a matter of much prayer, and I call on our intercessors to join us in beseeching our Lord to provide for His people in the midst of their needs.

While for many, lockdown has slowed the pace of life, the paradox of this pandemic is that there is actually a speeding up of social change; for example, the rapid embrace of new communications technology and the turn from globalisation.

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Posted in GAFCON, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(CNN) Coronavirus pandemic will cause global famines of ‘biblical proportions,’ UN warns

The world is facing multiple famines of “biblical proportions” in just a matter of months, the UN has said, warning that the coronavirus pandemic will push an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation.

Famines could take hold in “about three dozen countries” in a worst-case scenario, the executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a stark address on Tuesday. Ten of those countries already have more than 1 million people on the verge of starvation, he said.
He cited conflict, an economic recession, a decline in aid and a collapse in oil prices as factors likely to lead to vast food shortages, and urged swift action to avert disaster.
“While dealing with a Covid-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” David Beasley told the UN’s security council. “There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of Covid-19 than from the virus itself.”
The WFP had already warned that 2020 would be a devastating year for numerous countries ravaged by poverty or war, with 135 million people facing crisis levels of hunger or worse. Their updated projections nearly double that number.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Poverty

(BBC) Easter Sunday 2020 under lockdown captured in pictures

Posted in Easter, Globalization, Photos/Photography

(BBC) In pictures: Good Friday 2020 Around the World

Posted in Globalization, Holy Week, Photos/Photography

(WSJ) China’s Progress Against Coronavirus Used Draconian Tactics Not Deployed in the West

U. S. and European leaders are looking at China’s progress in curbing the coronavirus pandemic to guide them on how to beat the virus within their own borders.

They may be drawing the wrong lessons, doctors and health experts say.

The cordon sanitaire that began around Wuhan and two nearby cities on Jan. 23 helped slow the virus’s transmission to other parts of China, but didn’t really stop it in Wuhan itself, these experts say. Instead, the virus kept spreading among family members in homes, in large part because hospitals were too overwhelmed to handle all the patients, according to doctors and patients there.

What really turned the tide in Wuhan was a shift after Feb. 2 to a more aggressive and systematic quarantine regime whereby suspected or mild cases—and even healthy close contacts of confirmed cases—were sent to makeshift hospitals and temporary quarantine centers.

The tactics required turning hundreds of hotels, schools and other places into quarantine centers, as well as building two new hospitals and creating 14 temporary ones in public buildings. It also underscored the importance of coronavirus testing capacity, which local authorities say was expanded from 200 tests a day in late January to 7,000 daily by mid-February.

The steps went beyond what’s envisioned in many hard-hit Western cities. As a result, many doctors and experts say the recent lockdowns in the U.S. and Europe may slow the rise in new infections—if properly enforced—but still won’t be enough to stop it or prevent many hospitals from being overwhelmed, as they were initially in Wuhan.

“A lot of the lessons have been lost,” said Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh. “A lockdown helps buy time: The only way it will work is if you actually backtrack and start figuring out who has the virus.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(Washington Post) Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve”

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Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine

(Local Paper) Amid mixed messages on coronavirus, SC hospitals prepare for pandemic

Against a backdrop of worldwide lockdowns and economic disruptions, South Carolina hospitals are preparing for a surge in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.

Hospitals here are erecting tents to triage potentially ill patients; they’ve set up new telemedicine programs to reduce face-to-face visits to clinics. Behind the scenes, they’ve stockpiled supplies and worked on staffing strategies, officials told The Post and Courier this week.

“We’ll see a lot of cases,” said Michael Schmidt, a professor of immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina. “Some of our staff have been working day and night on this since January.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Globalization, Health & Medicine

A very good interview that gives you an idea of the situation on the Coronavirus inside Italy, from a doctor helping to coordinate the response

Watch the whole thing–it is very much worth your time.

Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine, Italy

(New Atlantis) Ted Nordhaus–Must Growth Doom the Planet?

For this reason, degrowth offers no guarantee that environmental impacts will decline. This is all the more so as calls for degrowth are frequently coupled with demands for a return to simpler, less technological, and non-synthetic systems for the provision of food and energy and for production of material goods and services. Less affluent economies more dependent upon production systems that use less technology would substantially increase the resource demands associated with consumption, and would erode or even entirely offset the benefits of lower levels of consumption.

Indeed, all over the world, poor populations dependent on low-productivity technologies often require surprisingly large per capita resource footprints to sustain their meager consumption. One 2012 study in PNAS, for instance, found that the average West African requires the same amount of land as the average Northern European to support a diet that is much poorer calorically and offers much less dietary protein.

By contrast, over the last two centuries, a virtuous cycle of rising energy and resource productivity has allowed for unprecedented levels of human wellbeing. With that has come a growing population — not because people are having more children but because life expectancies are much higher. Greater prosperity has brought rising material consumption — not mainly because of conspicuous consumption in the wealthiest societies, but rather the agrarian, energy, and demographic transitions that have allowed much of the global population to escape rural poverty and achieve something approaching modern living standards.

Growing demand for material goods and services by a growing and increasingly affluent global population has increased the pressure on natural resources. But it has also led to innovation that has raised resource productivity. In this way, rising resource productivity has allowed for both continuing economic growth and the increasing environmental efficiency of the global economy.

Reversing those dynamics will not necessarily result in lower resource usage, or lower environmental impacts. Lowering demand for resources could as easily result in less-productive resource use as in reduced pressure on resources. The combination of large post-growth human populations, economic stagnation, and increasingly abundant natural resources might drive human societies toward less-productive technological systems. The end of growth, in this way, may do more harm to the planet than good.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Coronavirus: nine reasons to be reassured

Here, courtesy of a number of scientists but mainly Ignacio López-Goñi, a professor of microbiology and virology at the University of Navarra in Spain, are what might hopefully prove a few reassuring facts about the new coronavirus:

  • We know what it is. As López-Goñi wrote for the Conversation France, the virus causing cases of severe pneumonia in Wuhan was identified within seven days of the official announcement on 31 December, and, three days after that, the gene sequence was available. HIV, by contrast, took two years to identify after it first appeared in mid-1981, López-Goni noted. We also know the virus is natural, that it is related to a virus found in bats, and that it can mutate, but does not appear to do so very often.
  • We can test for it. By 13 January – three days after the gene sequence was published – a reliable test was available, developed by scientists at the department of virology at Berlin’s Charité university hospital with help from experts in Rotterdam, London and Hong Kong.
  • We know it can be contained (albeit at considerable cost). China’s draconian quarantine and containment measures appear to be working. On Thursday 120 new cases were reported in Wuhan, the lowest figure for six weeks, and, for the first time since the start of the outbreak, none at all in the rest of Hubei province. Several Chinese provinces have had no new cases for a fortnight and more are reopening their schools. In many countries, infections are in defined clusters, which should allow them to be more readily contained.
  • Catching it is not that easy (if we are careful) and we can kill it quite easily (provided we try).

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Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine

(NPR) WHO Official Says Coronavirus Containment Remains Possible

“China has 31 provinces, thousands of cities,” notes Aylward. “And it was only a few cities where they took those draconian measures. In the vast majority of them, they … really went back to fundamentals of public health.”

These included ensuring that there was enough testing capacity to quickly identify cases, isolating infected patients, tracing anyone who had contact with them and, when necessary, placing those contacts in quarantine facilities so they wouldn’t get infected by the sick person or spread the disease further. Also, in places where clusters of cases were emerging, authorities prohibited mass gatherings.

“That’s how they stopped it in the areas with over 1.3 billion people,” says Aylward. “We spent two weeks on the ground looking at the data. Every other province [beyond Hubei, where Wuhan is located] had hundreds, if not thousands, of cases, not unlike the situation you see in European countries or in the U.S. These are massive provinces with tens and even a hundred million people in them.”

In short, Aylward says, “it wasn’t a lockdown everywhere. That’s the wrong way to portray China’s approach to the disease. And that’s leading to some fundamental confusion and failure to do the right things.”

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Posted in China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(WSJ) Niall Ferguson–‘Network Effects’ Multiply a Viral Threat

‘The coronavirus panic is dumb.” I hesitate to disagree with Elon Musk, but here goes.

The wrong way to think about the rapid spread around the world of the novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, and the disease it causes, Covid-19, is to say—as another smart and wealthy man put it to me last Monday—“Remember the H1N1-A virus of 2009? Neither do I. It infected a significant chunk of the globe, killed 20,000 U.S. citizens and we got over it pretty quickly.” He might have added that 20,000 is less than half the number of Americans who died of influenza and pneumonia in 2017.

H1N1, also known as swine flu, was a form of influenza. The reproductive number—the number of people a carrier typically infected, R0 for short—was 1.75. In the U.S., the CDC estimates that H1N1 infected 60.8 million people and killed 12,469, for a mortality rate of 0.02%

This new coronavirus—which is not influenza—appears to have a higher R0 and a much higher mortality rate. That rate is almost certainly lower than the World Health Organization suggested last week (3.4%), but it is still much higher than for H1N1. South Korea, which probably has the most accurate data given its aggressive testing regime, reports 50 deaths from 7,313 infections, a mortality rate of 0.68%. If as many Americans catch Covid-19 as caught swine flu, the death toll could exceed 440,000.

In short, Covid-19 has the potential to make 2020 much more than a bad flu season. To understand why, we need to apply more sophisticated frameworks than are being employed by most lay commentators, billionaires included….

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Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine

(Stat News) At Harvard forum, three who know warn of ‘most daunting virus’ in half a century

The spread of the new coronavirus has been compared to influenza, which also causes a respiratory illness. But, as the panelists pointed out, there are no drugs or vaccines yet for treating or preventing the virus, known as SARS-CoV-2, as there are for flu. In addition, we are exposed to different flu strains throughout our lives, which help us build immunity. No one had immunity to this new virus.

“We have an entirely susceptible population,” Mina said. “The potential for this to burn through a population very quickly is very high without extraordinary measures.”

As researchers race to study the virus, they are finding that it does not seem to be infecting great numbers of children, or at least making them very sick. (Experts around the globe are still trying to figure out just how broadly the infection has spread, given that many mild cases are likely to be missed.) But it is causing serious harm to older people and those with underlying diseases or weakened immune systems.

“This virus, on the one hand, there’s a saving grace that it doesn’t seem to be impacting our young, and that is amazing,” Mina said. “But the mortality rate among people who are getting infected above 80 years old is 15-plus%.”

If you plan for the disruptions that the response to the pandemic could require, it will seem less unexpected when schools are canceled or you’re told to work from home, advised panelist Juliette Kayyem, the faculty chair of the Kennedy School’s homeland security program and a former homeland security official at the state and federal level.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Globalization, Health & Medicine

(WSJ) One Doctor’s Life on the Coronavirus Front Lines. ‘If We Fail, What Happens to You All?’

A few days later, a technician in the imaging department discovered he had been infected. Sick patients began pouring in. Soon dozens of staff were sick at Zhongnan, and other Wuhan hospitals, as well.

Most days, Dr. Zhang reviewed chest X-rays, a relatively low-risk job. Some days, she’d don a hazmat suit and tend to patients herself.

Worried she might bring the virus back home, and overloaded with work, she began sleeping on an office sofa. She barely had time to eat and shower.

She figured her parents, who lived in her home, could take care of her daughter. Her husband was living and working hundreds of miles away and unable to join them after authorities announced a strict quarantine of Wuhan in late January.

Then Dr. Zhang’s 69-year-old mother admitted to feeling sick. Dr. Zhang convinced her parents to get tested for the virus. For her mother’s first visit to the hospital, Dr. Zhang had her meet nearby, so her mother could put on protective gear before going in.

Both parents came up negative using the nucleic acid test, a finicky diagnostic tool test that regularly produced false negatives. Their CT scans told a different story.

“When I saw it, I knew,” Dr. Zhang said, recalling her mother’s first chest scan. “My heart sank.” Her father, who had been reluctant to get tested, had a lung infection that turned out to be even worse, though he showed no obvious symptoms at the time.

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Posted in China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(C of I) Archbishop Michael Jackson–A Prayer in the Time of the Coronavirus

Posted in --Ireland, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Spirituality/Prayer

(Science Mag) China’s aggressive measures have slowed the coronavirus. They may not work in other countries

Chinese hospitals overflowing with COVID-19 patients a few weeks ago now have empty beds. Trials of experimental drugs are having difficulty enrolling enough eligible patients. And the number of new cases reported each day has plummeted the past few weeks.

These are some of the startling observations in a report released on 28 February from a mission organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Chinese government that allowed 13 foreigners to join 12 Chinese scientists on a tour of five cities in China to study the state of the COVID-19 epidemic and the effectiveness of the country’s response. The findings surprised several of the visiting scientists. “I thought there was no way those numbers could be real,” says epidemiologist Tim Eckmanns of the Robert Koch Institute, who was part of the mission.

But the report is unequivocal. “China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic,” it says. “This decline in COVID-19 cases across China is real.”

The question now is whether the world can take lessons from China’s apparent success—and whether the massive lockdowns and electronic surveillance measures imposed by an authoritarian government would work in other countries. “When you spend 20, 30 years in this business it’s like, ‘Seriously, you’re going to try and change that with those tactics?’” says Bruce Aylward, a Canadian WHO epidemiologist who led the international team and briefed journalists about its findings in Beijing and Geneva last week. “Hundreds of thousands of people in China did not get COVID-19 because of this aggressive response.”

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Posted in China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(NYT Op-ed) Tom Inglesby and Anita Cicero–How to Confront the Coronavirus at Every Level

Covid-19 cases in Washington State and California appear to show that the disease has begun to spread in those communities, at least. Its spread elsewhere in the country has yet to be determined. But developments with this disease, of which there have been more than 70 cases in the United States, change quickly.

So the federal government, state and local governments, public health agencies, health care systems and industry should be preparing more actively to respond to a widespread outbreak of the virus.

Health care systems need plans to diagnose people rapidly, so those who are infected can be isolated before they spread Covid-19 to the hospital staff, or to other patients and family members. That will require setting up testing centers in clinics or in hospital locations well removed from crowded emergency departments and waiting rooms.

Up until this week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been doing all the lab testing for Covid-19. Technical challenges have slowed the distribution of this test, but now public health labs around the country have the authority to use it in their cities and states. Once there is enough testing capacity, testing should be done for anyone with symptoms consistent with Covid-19, and priority should be given to the sickest hospitalized patients.

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Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine

Church of Ireland Guidance in relation to the Coronavirus Threat: Communion in One Kind and No passing of the Peace

2. Physical interaction during services, including the Sign of Peace, should be suspended. Clergy may choose to give the congregation permission to carry out an alternative Sign of Peace that does not involve hand contact (e.g. a smile, nod or bow) if so wished. Shaking hands on greeting and departure at religious services/gatherings should be suspended. Observe good hand and general hygiene – thorough hand–washing with soap or sanitisers and disposal of tissues.

3. Stay at home if you feel ill and display influenza–like symptoms. The symptoms to be aware of in the case of the coronavirus include cough, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, and fever. Do not come to church services until you feel well.

4. The Church’s duty of care extends to members of the clergy. If you have influenza–type symptoms, do not call the clergy for pastoral visitation. Pastoral support for parishioners who are unable to attend church services should be provided by telephone or online (e.g. Skype).

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Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

(Sunday [London] Times) Niall Ferguson on the Coronavirus–we need to understand its true threat–‘a cascade of consequences driven by fear of the unknown’

By comparison, Covid-19 is not especially life-threatening. According to the best available data at the time of writing, there have been about 85,000 confirmed cases worldwide, roughly 94% of them in China, and 78% of them in the province of Hubei. The implied global mortality rate is 3.4%, but that is surely an overestimate, because the denominator (total cases) is being underestimated by infected people who don’t feel sick or don’t check themselves in for medical care.

We also know that, unlike the “Spanish flu” of 1918-19, Covid-19 disproportionately kills the elderly and those with existing conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or chronic respiratory disease. Worry about grandparents: the mortality rate for people in their eighties is above 14%, whereas it’s close to zero for those under 40.

Yet those who blithely say, “This is no worse than the flu” — which will likely cause between 16,000 and 41,000 deaths in America this season — are missing the point.

What makes Covid-19 dangerous is not so much the threat it poses to the average person’s life, but the threat it poses to economic growth. Uncertainty surrounds it because it is so difficult to detect in its early stages, when many carriers are both infectious and asymptomatic. We don’t know for sure how many people have it, so we don’t exactly know its reproduction number and its mortality rate. There’s no vaccine and there’s no cure. Last week this uncertainty, crystallised by a leap in the number of Italian cases, gave the US stock market its worst week since the great banking crisis of 2008-9.

I have often been asked in the past few years where the next financial crisis will come from. I have said, time and again, that it will come not from America but from China, now the second-largest economy in the world. Sure enough. A pandemic is very different from a bank run, to be sure, but in each case we witness the same phenomenon, which is characteristic of a networked world: a cascade of consequences driven by fear of the unknown.

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Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine

(FT) Ebola co-discoverer Peter Piot on how to respond to the coronavirus

I want to hear his views on the outbreak that is happening right now: coronavirus. I wonder if we are not overreacting. After all, so far it has killed a fraction of those who die from seasonal flu.

“I’m not the scaremongering type,” he says. “But I think this is serious in the sense that we can’t afford not to consider it as a serious threat.

“It could be that, indeed, it’s going to be over in a few months,” he continues, crunching into a tempura-covered sage leaf. “But just take the counterfactual. We say, ‘OK, it’s fine and we don’t do anything.’ I bet that we would already have had far more cases in Singapore, the UK, Germany. Let’s not forget, we are already well over 1,000 deaths. That’s not a detail….”

“It’s clearly not Sars,” he continues, referring to severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed nearly one in 10 who contracted it 17 years ago. “That’s the good news. But the bad news is, it spreads much faster. The Sars virus sits deep in your lungs. With this virus, it seems that it’s in your throat and that’s why it’s far more contagious.

“Secondly, we have no vaccine. All we have is medieval ways of containment: isolation, quarantine, contact tracing.”

Piot remembers hearing about the first cases of a mysterious virus in Los Angeles in 1981. “The first report of HIV was six or seven gay men in California. Cumulatively, now we have, like, 75m people who have been infected. Who would have thought that then? Nobody. I’d rather be accused of overreacting than of not doing my job.”

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Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine, History