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COVID Info (Single Source)

Published by marco on

The interview The Tip of the Iceberg: Virologist David Ho (BS ‘74) Speaks About COVID-19 (Caltech) includes the following:

Why different symptoms? Mutated strains?


“This virus is mutating but it has mutated very little so far. There are differences but probably they are functionally not important, so that’s not the explanation for why you see different disease courses among the infected.”

Can you get re-infected?


“Only one study was formally done and it is not a human study. It’s a macaque study. They infected macaques with this virus, then waited until the monkeys recovered and tried to re-infect them. They could not. This just came out in the past few days. That bodes well for human immunity.”

How long are you contagious?

~3 weeks.

“[…] one individual in China was shown to have persistent virus shedding for over a month. But typically, we’re looking at a three-week period from onset of symptoms.”

What about a vaccine?

With luck, September 2020.[1]

“[…] of course, people are working on vaccines. A lot of companies are working on vaccines and those vaccines are at various stages. A couple are within weeks of entering human testing and that’s quite, quite remarkable. There is one thing about vaccines, though: Some of the experiments previously done on SARS suggested that when animals developed antibodies and then were given the virus, they had greater lung injury due to the presence of the antibodies. The scientific community would have to resolve that issue quickly and its resolution would either halt the current approaches or unleash them to move full speed ahead.”

How long, though?

Lockdown for 5-6 weeks. Yo-yo-ing between lockdown and partially up-and-running for 18 months or until a vaccine provides an offensive weapon.[2]

“[…] it’s not going to be a few months as our president suggests. It’s going to be much longer than that. I would say 18 months, or 24 months. I think we are all facing tough challenges ahead.”

[1] That’s my estimation, based on what I read here and in other places. Ordinarily, I’m not an optimist on being saved by technology, but this is well-trodden territory. We’ve had the genome sequenced since January (thanks to the Chinese). The whole world is working on this one thing. Governments are showing a remarkable willingness to suspend stringent approval protocols in order to stem the tide and save lives. Pragmatism and humanism are in charge in large swaths of the world, so I’m hopeful.

Basically, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind about the strategy I wrote in the final section of The Long Weekend (An Optimistic Take),

“We can hope for a vaccine, but it won’t come quickly enough that we won’t need an interim plan right now. Keeping the economy on a simmer and basically using our medical services to “titrate” the population through the illness to immunity is maybe the best chance we have until we think of something better. There is no other way that isn’t even more disastrous. ”