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Archived news – The spreading /transmission of COVID-19

Uber launches service to help with COVID-19 contact tracing: report (July 20)

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada (July 13) – COVID-19 in New York came from Europe, not China or Iran, genetic sequencing discovered.

Bringing COVID-19 exposure notification to the public health community (July 17) – Working in conjunction with Apple, Google and Microsoft, APHL is taking a major step to support public health agencies that want to provide focused, privacy-preserving and user-controlled exposure notifications.

Trump Administration Strips C.D.C. of Control of Coronavirus Data (July 14) – Hospitals have been ordered to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send all patient information to a central database in Washington, raising questions about transparency.

Mounting Evidence Suggests Coronavirus Is Airborne—but Health Advice Has Not Caught Up (July 8) – After months of denying the importance of aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization is reconsidering its stance​.

Risk factors associated with COVID-19 death in 17 million patients (July 8) – COVID-19-related death was associated with: being male; older age and deprivation; diabetes; severe asthma; and various other medical conditions. Compared with people with white ethnicity, Black and South Asian people were at higher risk even after adjustment for other factors.

Google Searches Reveal Covid-19 Hot Spots Before Governments Do (July 6) – A model built by UCL computer scientist Bill Lampos and team shows that Google searches predict Covid-19 case volumes up to 14 days ahead. Among the most predictive are searches for anosmia.

The Fullest Look Yet at the Racial Inequity of Coronavirus (July 5) – Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups.

7.8% of Orleans, Jefferson were infected with coronavirus; nearly half were asymptomatic (July 2) – Researchers from Ochsner Health System selected a sample of 2,640 people from a group of 25,000 volunteers and gave them an antibody test as well as a test used to diagnose active infections. The tests were conducted in mid-May, just ahead of the Phase 1 reopening of the city. 

How the virus won (June 25) – Great infographic depicting the coronavirus outbreak over the last few months in the U.S. and the delayed measures taken by the current administration, while some of the data was clearly highlighting the outbreak was taking shape.

Coronavirus Antibody Tests Have a Mathematical Pitfall (July) – The accuracy of screening tests is highly dependent on the infection rate.

Vaccination as a social contractGoogle and Apple’s rules for virus tracking apps sow division among states (June 10) – The tech companies tried to create a uniform standard, but some states are rejecting their rules and several are spurning the idea altogether.

How to avoid the virus as the world reopens (June 9) – Three key factors determine risk of exposure: proximity to people; duration of exposure; and how confined the environment is. The greatest peril lies where the three overlap.

WHO Leverages Amazon Data Analytics Tools for COVID-19 Response (June 8) – The World Health Organization is tracking and containing COVID-19 with data analytics technologies from Amazon Web Services.

The effect of large-scale anti-contagion policies on the COVID-19 pandemic (June 8) – Study estimates that across these six countries, interventions prevented or delayed on the order of 62 million confrmed cases, corresponding to averting roughly 530 million total infections. These fndings may help inform whether or when these policies should be deployed, intensifed, or lifted, and they can support decision-making in the other 180+ countries where COVID-19 has been reported.

The long journey to herd immunity (June 5) – The sought-after state of herd immunity — in which widespread outbreaks are prevented because enough people in a community are immune to a disease — is complicated by open questions about the effectiveness of a future vaccine and how COVID-19 spreads and why it matters.

Thousands of people will help scientists to track the long-term health effects of the coronavirus crisis (June 2) – Cohort studies that follow populations over years have quickly pivoted to trace the pandemic’s physical, mental and social consequences. Since April 24, 5,000 individuals have been tested.

Intercepting pandemics through genomics (June 2) – There is an urgent need to establish a global,genomic-based biosurveillance platform a development which would be of immense value to biosecurity,biodefense, and the economy. If implemented, this “pandemic interception system” would hugely advance our understanding of the natural world.Intercepting pandemics through genomics. Three major research programs are poised to support this effort: BIOSCAN, the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), and the Global Virome Project (GVP).

After taming COVID-19, Iceland re-opens with confidence (May 14) – Iceland is weathering the pandemic well – with 1,802 cases of the virus and 10 deaths – and appears better able than most to adjust to the new world that COVID-19 is creating. The number of new COVID-19 cases each day has fallen to around one case every five days. Health officials rushed in to contain the spread, with the government building a team of contact tracers to interview those with a positive diagnosis and track down people they’d been in contact with. As a result, the country has not faced the large-scale and very strict lockdowns seen across Europe. Iceland’s flagship genomics company, deCODE genetics, has carried out over 80 per cent of all tests. “I’m convinced we’ll be able to live with this until there’s a vaccine. I’m more concerned about the economic damage,” said Kari Stefánsson, founder and CEO of deCODE, which has now administered 43,000 tests.

App Shows Promise in Tracking New Coronavirus Cases, Study Finds (May 11) – A study Nature Medicine study found that an app that allows people to check off symptoms they are experiencing was remarkably effective in predicting coronavirus infections among the 2.5 million people who were using it between March 24 and April 21.The study, which tracked people in the US, the UK, and Sweden, found that the loss of taste and smell was the No. 1 predictor of whether a person was going to get sick with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, followed by extreme fatigue and acute muscle pain.

Sustained suppression (May 13) – Further COVID-19 outbreaks are unavoidable. To detect and suppress them, governments ought to implement a range of public health measures aided by technology.

Estimating the burden of SARS-CoV-2 in France (May 13) – The results strongly suggest that, without a vaccine, herd immunity on its own will be insufficient to avoid a second wave at the end of the lockdown and efficient control measures need to be maintained.

Risk factors for COVID-19 death revealed in world’s largest analysis of patient records to date (May 7) – Largest study to date, analysing NHS health data from 17.4 million UK adults between 01 February 2020 and 25 April 2020, has given the strongest evidence to date on risk factors associated with COVID-19 death. Among the 17.4 million adults in the sample, there were 5,707 deaths in hospitals attributed to COVID-19. People of Asian and Black ethnic backgrounds are at a higher risk of death and, contrary to prior speculation, this is only partially attributable to pre-existing clinical risk factors or deprivation. Key factors related to COVID-19 death included being male, older age, uncontrolled diabetes and severe asthma.A deprived background was also found to be a major risk factor: this was also only partially attributable to other clinical risk factors. Access the full paper.

Study to determine incidence of novel coronavirus infection in U.S. children begins (May 4) – A study to help determine the rate of novel coronavirus infection in children and their family members in the United States has begun enrolling participants. The study, called Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2 (HEROS), also will help determine what percentage of children infected with SARS-CoV-2.

The subways seeded the massive coronavirus epidemic in New York City (April 2020) – Maps of subway station turnstile entries, superimposed upon zip code-level maps of reported #coronavirus incidence, are strongly consistent with subway-facilitated disease propagation. Local train lines appear to have a higher propensity to transmit infection than express lines.

Spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the Icelandic Population (April 14) – The frequency of the SARS-CoV-2 infection in the overall Icelandic population was stable from March 13 to April 1, a finding that appears to indicate that the containment measures had been working. However, the virus has spread to the extent that unless continued testing and isolation, tracking contacts, and quarantining, they are likely to fail in their efforts to contain the virus.

Not Like the Flu, Not Like Car Crashes, Not Like… (April 13) – COVID-19 has quickly risen to number one as cause of death, surpassing seasonal flu, past pandemics, or car crashes.

NIH seeks volunteers for at-home COVID-19 antibody test as study looks to find undetected cases in U.S. (April 13) – Federal health officials are recruiting up to 10,000 volunteers nationwide as they investigate just how pervasive the novel coronavirus has been in the United States.

How Apple and Google Are Enabling Covid-19 Contact-Tracing (April 10) – The two companies announced a rare joint project to create the groundwork for Bluetooth-based contact-tracing apps that can work across both iOS and Android phones. In mid-May, they plan to release an application programming interface that apps from public health organizations can tap into. The API will let those apps use a phone’s Bluetooth radios—which have a range of about 30 feet—to keep track of whether a smartphone’s owner has come into contact with someone who later turns out to have been infected with Covid-19. Once alerted, that user can then self-isolate or get tested themselves

Mount Sinai seeks citywide engagement with app to track COVID-19 spread in NYC (April 2) – The app – accessed by texting “COVID” to 64722 – enables New York City residents to easily enroll to help the health system monitor coronavirus symptoms across the five boroughs, informing care decisions and pointing the way toward possible cures.

National coronavirus response: A road map to reopening (March 29) – This report, by former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, provides a road map for navigating through the current COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. It outlines specific directions for adapting our public-health approach away from sweeping mitigation strategies as we limit the epidemic spread of COVID-19, such that we can transition to new tools and approaches to prevent further spread of the disease.

Iceland’s testing suggests 50% of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic (March 26) – Iceland’s population puts it in the unique position of having very high testing capabilities with help from the Icelandic medical research company deCode Genetics, who are offering to perform large scale testing. With 50% testing positive, this would suggest that, on one hand, the virus is not as dangerous as we thought, but on the other hand, it would also suggest that it has spread far more than we are currently aware of.

UK launches whole genome sequence alliance to map spread of coronavirus (March 23) – The COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium – comprised of the NHS , Public Health Agencies, Wellcome Sanger Institute , and numerous academic institutions – will deliver large scale, rapid sequencing of the cause of the disease and share intelligence with hospitals, regional NHS centres and the government.

Covert coronavirus infections could be seeding new outbreaks (March 20) – Scientists are rushing to estimate the proportion of people with mild or no symptoms who could be spreading the pathogen.

Substantial undocumented infection facilitates the rapid dissemination of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) (March 16) – A modeling of a synthetic outbreak: A high proportion of undocumented infections, many of whom were likely not severely symptomatic, appears to have facilitated the rapid spread of the virus throughout China. The best-fitting model used has a reporting delay of 9 days from initial infectiousness to confirmation; in contrast line-list data for the same 10–23 January period indicates an average 6.6 day delay from initial manifestation of symptoms to confirmation The findings also indicate that a radical increase in the identification and isolation of currently undocumented infections would be needed to fully control SARS-CoV2. These findings underscore the seriousness and the pandemic potential of SARS-CoV2 with populations without symptoms potentially spreading COVID-19.

The effect of travel restrictions on the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (March 6) – Since travel limitations could be instrumental to national and international agencies for public health response planning, this study shows that by 23 January 2020, the epidemic had already spread to other cities within Mainland China. While the Wuhan travel ban was initially effective at reducing international case importations, the number of cases observed outside Mainland China will resume its growth after 2-3 weeks from cases that originated elsewhere. Furthermore, the modeling study shows that additional travel limitations up to 90% of the traffic have a modest effect unless paired with public health interventions and behavioral changes that achieve a considerable reduction in the disease transmissibility. The model also indicates that even in the presence of the strong travel restrictions in place to and from Mainland China since 23 January 2020, a large number of individuals exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 have been traveling internationally without being detected.

Estimating the clinical severity of COVID-19 from the transmission dynamics in Wuhan, China (February 13) – Discusses death rate estimates for the coronavirus and fatality rate in people who have symptoms of the disease which is about 1.4% (compared to 0.1% for the seasonal flu).

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