As this pandemic advances, slowing down the spread of the virus, and keeping ourselves and those we love safe is vitally important. Because of the nature of COVID-19, things can change quickly. There are a lot of important unanswered questions and concerns about the virus, of which we will try to answer here over the coming days and weeks.
COVID-19 Cases Are Plummeting
March 2, 2021
There is light at the end of the tunnel!
COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining, especially since February 1. In the United States, the COVID-19 fatality rate has remained a steady 1.8% since mid-December, though the average new cases per day have dropped since the beginning of February from roughly 44 in 100,000 people to 21 in 100,000 people. A similar pattern is seen in average deaths per day: 0.95 dropping to 0.62 deaths in 100,000 people.
Single Dose Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Works Well but May Be Falling Short in Supply
February 25, 2021
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine could be authorized by the FDA as early as this Saturday depending upon votes from the vaccine advisory panel tomorrow. Vaccine efficacy in the United States was 72%, and 64% in South Africa, which compares very favorably with other vaccines. The data still shows strong protection against severe COVID-19 cases and deaths, with a possible reduction of virus transmission and prevention of infection (74% effective against asymptomatic infections in small numbers of patients tested for antibodies).
COVID-19 Autoimmunity: The Big Picture
February 18, 2021
There are long lists of microbes that cause autoimmune responses in humans- some examples are Lyme, Rubella, HIV, EBV, CMV, HSV-6, Hep A and C, Parvoviruses, Enteroviruses, Coxsackievirus, and Mycoplasma.
COVID-19 is now perhaps the most important of these since we already have 28 million infections in the USA, and even a small subpopulation of roughly 5% of infections occurring in persons being susceptible- that estimates to more than 1 million possible occurrences of autoimmunity.
Is Our Fear-Based Approach Towards COVID-19 Naïve, Wrong, and Misplaced?
July 22, 2020
- Waiting for a vaccine to protect the elderly and high risk persons is not a rationale strategy! If we are to open schools safely, we need a strategy that protects the high-risk population now!
- After the early surge in NYC and the East Coast, I was hoping we would adopt the same guidelines many European countries have, with rational national guidelines for the economy and our schools, BUT
- Our national approach has been so “consistently inconsistent” that we are CURRENTLY stuck in “NO-MAN’S LAND”!
Can We Open Schools in the US Safely?
July 22, 2020
- We are 20 times worse than our EU neighbors in positive cases AND death rates.
- Our rising deaths will very likely get worse over the next 2 weeks, so we must begin reversing the trend immediately.
- Can we please agree on mandatory face masks in areas with rising infection and hospitalization rates? If we do this, there is a chance that by end of August, the rising trends will be reversed and we can re—open most schools across the country in a safe and metered way.
We Should Prepare for the Future By Focusing on Us and Not the Virus
April 24, 2020
According to the USA data today, in all States, the median (mid-range) number of deaths per one-million population is 42 deaths per million (DPM). California is slightly lower at 39 DPM, while NY State has 1,063 or 28 times more than California. So, regional differences require regional solutions.
An example of states restarting their economies include Texas with 20 DPM, South Carolina with 30 DPM, Florida with 47 DPM & they are all fairly low. However, Georgia is the outlier at 85 deaths per million! We hope that Govenor Kemp has made the right decision!
In the USA, the Sky Is NOT Falling!
April 9, 2020
When we compare USA mortality with the top European countries, look at what we see! When you look at USA State data, look at what we see! We have REGIONAL challenges in the USA, and even in NY, new hospitalizations — but our best measures of future deaths are declining!…
COVID-19: Mortality Trend Over the Past Four Days
April 3, 2020
By viewing the chart, you can see that Washington State and California curves are relatively flat. You can also see that while New York State and New Jersey have tripled (3X) their mortality numbers in the past 4 days, NY City, the epicenter of Coronavirus in the US has doubled (2X), likely due to access to more concentrated infrastructure and ICU expertise….
COVID-19: Timing is Everything!
April 1, 2020
Timing is Everything! New York was one week late with Shelter-in-Place, and likely, there were more days of excess travel into Manhattan from Brooklyn, and Queens. The following graph shows a higher slope of increase in New York as compared to all other states. The peak surge in California will be clearly lower than in New York…
Johnson & Johnson and U.S. Signs $456 Million Contract for New COVID-19 Vaccine
March 31, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the US just partnered with Johnson & Johnson (J & J) for a COVID-19 vaccine. The contract is for $456 million and is part of a $1 billion deal to co-fund vaccine research, development and clinical testing with the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services Office. J & J believes that human testing of its vaccine for COVID-19 will begin as early as September and could be available for emergency use in 2021…
COVID-19: Analysis and Predictions for the Beginning of April
March 30, 2020
Dr. David Ho is a virus expert from Cal Tech who was interviewed ten days ago and published on March 20th. On March 18, there were 8,700 worldwide deaths from COVID19. Today, ten days later, there are over 36,000 deaths — the calculated doubling time worldwide is now every 4.5–5 days…
An Introduction To Hannah Rokes
March 28, 2020
I won’t try to do Hannah’s story justice. As a woman of color, she has become a leader in advocating for women’s rights, and diversity, hence her new YouTube channel labeled Diverse Goddess….
An Anti-Malaria Medication and a Common Antibiotic for the Treatment of COVID-19
March 25, 2020
Can an anti-malaria drug taken with a common antibiotic be useful in treating patients with COVID-19? A recently published study says yes!
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues researchers from all over the world look for viable treatment options and are investigating new drugs, vaccines, stem cell therapy, etc. They are also investigating old drugs as well.
COVID-19 Trends for the USA for Next Week
March 23, 2020
Our hearts go out to all who are suffering around the globe from COVID-19. As a former New Yorker, I am particularly concerned and upset for our friends and neighbors in NYC and pray for their wellbeing.
The USA death numbers from WHO are now above 400 (actual numbers from US sources are now above 500, as of this morning). We passed 100 deaths on March 19, as did the United Kingdom (as of today, we have almost doubled their mortality rate).
COVID-19 Data — The Big Picture
March 22, 2020
In those countries that have suppressed the COVID 19 outbreaks — China, Korea, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, there are very few new cases.
Reversal of their local epidemics took roughly 4-8 weeks of diligent care to reduce viral exposures. Mortality rates varied from 4.0% in China, to 1.7% in Korea and were primarily seen in the elderly and in patients with other pre-existing medical conditions…
Chloroquine, A Common Anti-Malarial Drug, May Be a Treatment for COVID-19 – Beware of Drug Interactions!
March 21, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues researchers from all over the world scramble to find safe and effective treatment options. Although there are many therapies being considered there is no vaccine or treatment approved for use at this time. However, in February 2020, the National Health and Care Commission of China officially declared chloroquine, a drug that has been used for malaria for over 50 years, as a medical agent for COVID-19 in the newest edition of the new coronavirus pneumonia diagnosis and treatment plan…
Good News About COVID-19! It’s in the Data!
March 21, 2020
While I was writing my last post of the day, I received the post by Dr. Diamandis below, and agree that we MUST also focus on the hopeful trends in the current data:
1) The mortality numbers in the USA, so far, are relatively “flat”, much like Korea, Japan and Germany. This is GREAT news! If they remain relatively flat for the next 1-2 weeks, many locations in the USA will be over the worst of the pandemic…
University of Minnesota Clinical Trial with Hydroxychloroquine for COVID19
March 20, 2020
A new 1,500-person clinical trial for using Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine), the 50+-year-old anti-malarial drug, is now being launched to determine whether the drug is effective in PREVENTION. That is, it includes only those who are high risk but DO NOT have symptoms…
COVID-19 Update From Dignity Health / St. Francis Memorial Hospital
March 20, 2020
COVID-19 test is now available in Cerner as a built-in test. Please choose nasopharyngeal swab from drop down menu. Lab add on order is no longer needed for COVID-19 test. The specimen needed is only a nasopharyngeal swab in viral transport media.
COVID-19 Mortality Rates of the Top 20 Countries
March 17, 2020
Here are the mortality rates of the top 20 countries ranging from 0.3% – 7.7%. With our recent national action, we are hopefully now on our way to avoiding the virus patterns in Europe.
San Francisco Under Lockdown as of March 17
March 17, 2020
As of 12:01 am Tuesday March 17, 2020, residents of San Francisco are officially under orders to stay in their homes except for essential needs due to the growing Coronavirus outbreak. San Francisco’s Mayor, London Breed confirmed the “shelter in place” orders for San Francisco today at a press conference. Six Bay Area Counties including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties are also issuing similar orders.
Lessons From Wuhan: The Case for Lockdowns in New York City, Seattle and Other Major Cities in the Future
March 15, 2020
On January 21st, the number of new diagnosed cases in Wuhan begins to explode: there were around 100 new cases. In reality, there were 1,500 new cases that day, growing exponentially. But the authorities didn’t know that. What they knew was that suddenly there were 100 new cases of this new illness.
High Temperature and Humidity Decrease COVID19 Infection Rates
March 15, 2020
This is one of first set of data suggesting that summer and rainy season in the Northern Hemisphere can effectively reduce the transmission of COViD-19 (Study by computer scientists in China, Jingyuan Wang, Kai Feng, Weifeng Lv and Ke Tang).
Acute and Chronic COVID-19 Infection: Immunological Arguments For Social Taking Distancing Seriously
March 14, 2020
In 1985, the Immunology lab I led at the John Hopkins University published a series of review articles that suggested that the wide range of early and late immune responses to a virus in mice are genetically mediated. The conclusion section stated: “Our model emphasizes that the diversity of patterns may represent an individual’s genetic predisposition to both direct and indirect viral induced injury and the subsequent development of autoimmunity.”
Summary of CDC and WHO Recommendations
March 13, 2020
Keeping ourselves and those we love safe is important to all of us. Anything that I say here can of course change and quickly, and I am not an infectious disease expert. There are a lot of important unanswered questions about the virus, many of which will be answered over the coming days. The WHO sent a joint mission to China to investigate the epidemic at place where it is most advanced (but also in relative control now) and reported their results.
The Basics of COVID-19
March 12, 2020
Most people will never know they’ve been infected with coronavirus since testing for asymptomatic persons is not yet available. It is very likely that many more people have been infected and remain asymptomatic carriers. Since quarantines will not be easy to implement in the USA rapidly, and therefore as a society, we may be at a higher risk for exposure over the next 1-2 months. Prevention and heightening our immunity are the best strategies.
About Ahvie Herskowitz, MD
Dr. Herskowitz’s extensive training includes a medical degree from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, residencies in Anatomic Pathology and Internal Medicine, and Fellowship training in Cardiology at The Johns Hopkins Medical Center. During his 12 years at Johns Hopkins, he became Associate Professor of Medicine and Immunology and Molecular Microbiology and led a research team in the study of molecular and immunological mechanisms of inflammation, autoimmunity, ischemia, heart transplantation rejection and congestive heart failure.
Dr. Herskowitz’s latest academic appointment was as Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC San Francisco. To learn more about Dr. Herskowitz, you can read it bio here.
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