Posts

Astrobiology IV: Photosynthesis and energy 2016-10-17T00:30:46.138Z · score: 9 (11 votes)
Astrobiology III: Why Earth? 2016-10-04T21:59:57.716Z · score: 18 (18 votes)
Astrobiology, Astronomy, and the Fermi Paradox II: Space & Time Revisited 2016-03-10T05:19:29.263Z · score: 23 (24 votes)
Astronomy, Astrobiology, & The Fermi Paradox I: Introductions, and Space & Time 2015-07-26T07:38:53.498Z · score: 42 (43 votes)
Irrationality Game III 2014-03-12T13:51:00.555Z · score: 11 (18 votes)

Comments

Comment by cellbioguy on An alarm bell for the next pandemic · 2020-04-06T14:47:58.745Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There's the fact that most viral spillovers into humans don't actually transmit well, and the fact that if they do but burn out it doesn't really matter on the large scale. The latter has definitely changed.

HIV is an interesting case study. Genetically, we can tell it leaped into humans from great apes TWICE in the 1920s (HIV-1 and HIV-2) in a way that kept transmitting around the globe. This probably had to do with the urbanization of sub-Saharan Africa - the sudden sucking of huge numbers of rural people with contact with bushmeat into globally connected urban centers. Presumably it had been transmitting into people forever, just always burning out.

A few years back there was an antibody study in a village near a bat cave in China that found that 0.5% of the people that lived a few hundred meters from the cave showed antibodies against SARS-like viruses.

Comment by cellbioguy on Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously · 2020-04-06T08:16:28.504Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's a superficially plausible idea, assuming you don't always burp or vomit the virus up into your lungs anyway or get very slight viremia getting them there anyway too which is COMPLETLEY possible given what we know. And assuming you somehow get it into your gut without getting it into your throat. Huge numbers of assumptions, dosage unknown, methods unknown, effectiveness unknown. Superficially plausible and right now a very bad idea. You absolutely CANNOT assume it's safer, but it could be something to look for in case studies of natural infections, seeing if people who first manifest with intestinal issues have lower levels of pneumonia.


If you COULD somehow reliably restrict viral replication to the gut rather than the lungs... I don't think many first-world (or, to expand the sample, American) COVID patients have died of the diarrhea.

Comment by cellbioguy on An alarm bell for the next pandemic · 2020-04-06T02:47:10.430Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I started having panic attacks and needing to find creative places to store my accumulated nonperishable supplies shortly after Valentine's day.

My attempts to warn people were primarily directed towards my university, my family and those I love. My boss had us ready for cessation of in person activity two weeks before others as a result and he may have helped convince a county to close schools earlier than otherwise. Family hasn't had to go to a grocery store for 5 weeks.

This place was a bit far from my mind due to drifting away, unfortunately.

There will be a lot more of these this century. What other possible outcome could there be to becoming 40% of mammalian biomass on the planet, with such a well-mixed system?

Comment by cellbioguy on What is the maximum number of COVID-19 tests which could be performed until the end of the year? · 2020-04-06T02:37:05.935Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

PCR based tests consist of some standard chemicals to run a reaction, some custom chemicals to target the reaction to test what you want to test, and a big complicated machine that runs the reaction. The chemicals and some plastic tubes are irreversibly consumed by the reaction as are ancillary equipment like pipette tips and swabs.

The current bottleneck in the US appears to be the equipment that runs and reads the reaction. Iceland briefly had a bottleneck in swabs.

Once antibody tests exist, they do not require nearly as special equipment for the test itself and instead the bottleneck becomes production of the reagents that go into test strips.

Comment by cellbioguy on How credible is the theory that COVID19 escaped from a Wuhan Lab? · 2020-04-04T00:15:28.506Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In particular, the combination of the glycans right next to the polybasic cleavage site suggests that the selection for the cleavage site probably occurred in the presence of an immune system rather than in culture.

Comment by cellbioguy on How credible is the theory that COVID19 escaped from a Wuhan Lab? · 2020-04-03T20:54:19.268Z · score: 16 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Closely related viruses have leaped into humans twice in the last 17 years via completely standard zoonosis, neither time of which was directly from bats but instead through an intermediary amplifying animal. While a laboratory keeping a culture of or animals infected with a wild virus is a possibility, as is laboratory accidents... these things DO happen naturally.


I must also reiterate that the sequence analyses reveal that all the interesting attributes of this virus were already present in a closely related virus that has been circulating in bats for at least fifty years, and there is evidence that related viruses have passed through pangolins.


What is the proposed timeline of this theory? There are known patients in China that have been confirmed as infected in the community as far back as November 17 now...

Comment by cellbioguy on Has the effectiveness of fever screening declined? · 2020-04-03T15:39:06.965Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You overestimate the rate of emergence of relevant mutations. In the explosive range-expansion phase most lineages have zero functional difference from each other and almost all expansion of particular lineages comes from chance invasions of large vulnerable populations.


There is a reason that when a species suddenly has a range-expansion event, you actually see a relaxation of selection and a buildup of deleterious mutations...

Comment by cellbioguy on LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda · 2020-04-02T18:21:04.411Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That paper is indeed a piece of crap.

This being said, there is other preliminary data from Asia that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could hasten recovery, and there were multiple biochemical reasons to suspect it could help which are the reasons it was being used in the first place. I would call the French studies nearly useless to determine actual efficacy, but I am still fairly optimistic they will have at least some positive effect.

Comment by cellbioguy on April Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-04-02T15:31:08.997Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How much of that is a delayed effect of distancing and how much is saturation of test capacity? American capacity hasn't increased in days, and by both my and the Imperial College of London's calculations, at least 3 million Italians are probably already infected...

Comment by cellbioguy on How special are human brains among animal brains? · 2020-04-02T02:00:33.417Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. That table lists the methods that were used to get the neuron number; the method I trust most is the isotropic fractionator, it was explicitly designed to get around issues that had plagued neuron counts for a very long time using other methods. Most of the large whale numbers come from 'optical fractionators' instead.

Note the 'false killer whale' cortical neuron number - it lists two numbers from two methods, and the number from the isotropic fractionator is one third that of the optical fractionator.

Comment by cellbioguy on The attack rate estimation is more important than CFR · 2020-04-02T01:30:08.919Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Strain differences are *extremely* unlikely. No strain right now is more than about 40 nucleotides different from any other, all kinds of deep branches have gone all over the world, most countries have multiple branches from all over the tree, and there just hasn't been enough time in an explovely expanding outbreak for much in the way of evolution to have occurred at all. Most of the observed mutations are silent anyway.


The first serological data on a set of close contacts of hospitalized cases found 16 PCR-positive cases and an additional 7 that developed antibodies but were not successfully caught with PCR tests. Some of which did develop symptoms.

Comment by cellbioguy on Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously · 2020-04-02T01:10:23.963Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You could plausibly construct a chain of reasoning that lets you imagine that being exposed to the virus in the intestines first might decrease the odds of getting a lung infection. There is little to no actual *evidence* of this at this time, but it could be a thing to look at in case studies.

Comment by cellbioguy on How special are human brains among animal brains? · 2020-04-01T21:10:14.736Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I HAVE TO plug Suzana Herculano-houzel's book "the human advantage" and all the research she and her group have done since it was published.


Short version: as you scale up a generic vertebrate brain, it only has 4x as many neurons every time it increases in mass by a factor of 10. (A factor of 16 after 100, etc). There are two clades that break this relationship: primates and birds, both of which have a 1:1 relationship between brain size and neuron number. The primate density is about the density of a mouse brain, and bird brains are 6x as dense as this. A large primate brain is much more impressive than a large generic-mammal brain. You get that elephants have brains about as impressive as chimps, and big whales have brains as impressive as late homo erectus - both of which I think make sense. Humans show up as having 4x the neurons of chimps/elephants and ~2x that of the biggest whales.


Human brains also appear to just be scaled-up primate brains, with the size of every brain region falling RIGHT on the trendlines of every other primate. I am skeptical of our subspecies being significantly smarter in any general way than other hominids with similar brain sizes.

Comment by cellbioguy on How special are human brains among animal brains? · 2020-04-01T21:02:16.007Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, I would call complex culture 'a thing that happens in large and dense enough human populations' rather than 'something humans do'. There is a case study in Australia - Australia and Tasmania were separated by water at the end of the last glaciation, and ten thousand years later the population in Tasmania was very very low and they had lost most of the sophisticated tools that the Aboriginal people of Australia had. It's a percolation problem - with enough people and dense enough interaction networks you get reliable transmission of culture down the generations, and new innovations stick. I would argue that this, not intrinsic differences in cognition, is probably why Neanderthal toolkits stayed simple longer, they were living in the cold wastelands of Europe and Asia and genetics indicates they went through a LOT of low-population bottlenecks compared to our straightforward single bottleneck and expansion.

Comment by cellbioguy on Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously · 2020-04-01T14:40:53.341Z · score: 24 (13 votes) · LW · GW

It should be noted that a big part of smallpox variolation was not the viral dose, but the means by which it entered the body - a scratch instead of an orifice.

Comment by cellbioguy on What's the expected QALY (quality-adjusted life years) loss per capita due to SARS-COV-2? QALY gain of increasing ICU capacity? Of buying new ventilators? · 2020-04-01T14:03:27.739Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

From what I have seen, ICU patients are less focused in the elderly than deaths are. The chance of winding up in the ICU for a 30 year old appears to be 1.5+ %. I doubt that leaves the lungs unscathed, or with the same vulnerability to future insults.

Comment by cellbioguy on The case for C19 being widespread · 2020-03-31T20:01:41.057Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Very first serology data is coming out. 164 close contacts tested by PCR and serology. 16/164 of contacts PCR+ & all PCR+ also serology+. Additional 7/164 were serology+ but PCR-. Overall 23/164 close contacts + in at least one test; 10/23 were asymptomatic. Only about half of people show no symptoms, the rest show the spectrum of reported symptoms as spoken of before. The hope for widespread transmission and flulike death rate is gone.


https://t.co/nPiD6UP1eY?amp=1

Comment by cellbioguy on Iceland's COVID-19 random sampling results: C19 similar to Influenza · 2020-03-31T19:55:59.901Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Very first serology data coming out.

164 close contacts tested by PCR and serology. 16/164 of contacts PCR+ & all PCR+ also serology+. Additional 7/164 were serology+ but PCR-. Overall 23/164 close contacts + in at least one test; 10/23 were asymptomatic.


Asymptomatic fraction circa 50%. Upper range of what I thought likely. Not the vast majority at all. Actual death rate in the normal population most likely circa 0.6%.


https://t.co/nPiD6UP1eY?amp=1

Comment by cellbioguy on What will happen to supply chains in the era of COVID-19? · 2020-03-31T17:50:19.897Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I would expect a pronounced policy push towards national self-sufficiency wherever possible for drugs, medical equipment, and probably other strategically-important things. I would also suspect major pushback against just-in-time supply chains with little in the way of warehoused inventory.


Very positive developments to my mind! Nothing biological operates on such slim margins and such high efficiencies as much of industrial civilization. Because everything that did died, and those with more in reserve and with more distributed capacity were more robust and survived.

Comment by cellbioguy on Are US treasury bonds liable to fail? · 2020-03-31T00:36:25.575Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The United States owns its own central bank and printing press. The only way it would ever default is if it chose to do so. The central bank can buy up however many bonds it wants with new money, and the mint can do creative tricks to create as much of its own money as it wants.

Comment by cellbioguy on Iceland's COVID-19 random sampling results: C19 similar to Influenza · 2020-03-30T22:45:40.230Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Of note:

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30243-7/fulltext

The latest professionals are suspecting a total infection-to-death rate of a normal population (not a cruise ship) of ~0.6%.

Comment by cellbioguy on The case for C19 being widespread · 2020-03-30T16:49:28.113Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On the Diamond Princess it was reported that 20% of positives never showed symptoms, and Korea is reporting 30%. So some of those asymptomatics will probably progress, but not all.

Comment by cellbioguy on The case for C19 being widespread · 2020-03-30T16:47:11.347Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

These numbers support my suspicion that >10% of North Italy has already been infected, with a death rate of ~1%.

Comment by cellbioguy on Coronavirus Virology: A Beginner’s Guide · 2020-03-29T16:29:29.762Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Brook's response is pretty good. I can provide a little more detail.

The spike protein of the virus both mediates binding to the ACE2 protein (which allows it to attach to the cell in the first place) and the fusion of the membranes. ACE2 is not involved in the fusion event, that is completely mediated by the spike, all ACE2 does is allow binding that brings the two membranes close together for a long time. The spike has two functional domains, one that is highly variable across coronaviruses that mediates attachment and is the reason different viruses attack different species and cell types, and one that is more highly conserved that triggers the membrane fusion. In order for the fusion to occur, the spike protein has to be processed by a protease that actually cuts the fusion domain apart from the binding domain. This does not make them fall off each other, they remain bound, but they no longer have a continuous backbone. This then allows a re-folding of the protein to a lower-energy state, which drives the fusion of the closely opposed membranes.

It appears from the literature I have found that the re-folding requires an acidic pH, suggesting that fusion probably requires endocytosis of the virus into the lysosome as it goes along for the ride with recycled ACE2 protein. (This is one of several reasons that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are being studied for efficacy, they are known to reduce the acidification of this cellular compartment.) They are still arguing about if the current virus has the spike protein cleaved during synthesis, or cleaved by proteases that are present in the lysosome where the ACE2 is recycled. One of the distinguishing characteristics of this virus compared to other coronaviruses is extra cuttable sequences between the two domains allowing more proteases to more easily cut the two domains apart, causing faster and more reliable viral entry. This has been noted in virulent strains of multiple other viruses in the past.

Comment by cellbioguy on Iceland's COVID-19 random sampling results: C19 similar to Influenza · 2020-03-29T04:34:51.690Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Point taken!

Comment by cellbioguy on Coronavirus Virology: A Beginner’s Guide · 2020-03-29T02:22:18.897Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's gonna take a lot of experiments on monkeys to get the answer to...

Comment by cellbioguy on Iceland's COVID-19 random sampling results: C19 similar to Influenza · 2020-03-28T23:29:17.616Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I did look at the Iceland data. I divided the NUHI positive tests by the total tests, and saw a very noisy upwards-trending line in the fraction of positive test results.


As for hospitalizations, I was comparing the age distribution of hospitalizations for flu and confirmed covid. I found that the ratio of 20-45:65+ hospitalizations for flu was 1:7, and that the same ratio for covid was 1:2. Assuming a similar age distribution for actual infections, this means a larger fraction of young people is coming down with severe disease.


As for ICU periods, doctors are reporting that many covid patients require a ventilator for 1-2 weeks. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/what-ventilator-critical-resource-currently-short-supply-n1168641

I am looking for the resource I read yesterday that the typical flu ventilation period was 3-4 days.

Comment by cellbioguy on Iceland's COVID-19 random sampling results: C19 similar to Influenza · 2020-03-28T23:11:09.080Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Contact tracing and isolation empirically does work, since places that did them did not need to go into the severe lockdowns that stopped spread elsewhere. It would not empirically work if most people were asymptomatic. Additionally, if most cases were asymptomatic or weakly symptomatic there would be few cases of multiple close contacts becoming ill. These are common. There's even a case study of 45 out of 60 members of a choir all becoming ill at once...


Asymptomatic transmission is definitely happening, both in the period before symptoms appear and in the 20-50% of people who do not show symptoms. Contact tracing catches these people once one of their contacts - that gave it to them OR got it from them - becomes visible and all their contacts are quarantined.


The decline in fevers is probably mostly flu going away, with a lower replication number that requires less distancing to die out.

Comment by cellbioguy on Iceland's COVID-19 random sampling results: C19 similar to Influenza · 2020-03-28T23:04:04.327Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yes I am.

News reports, which are usually behind reality, indicate >1000 out of ~1800 ICU beds in the city (which normally run at ~80% capacity for literally everything else) are currently occupied by Covid patients and that it is rising at >30% daily.

https://nypost.com/2020/03/28/coronavirus-in-ny-citys-icu-bed-capacity-ranks-in-bottom-quarter-nationally/

Paramedics are scrambling, responding to more calls daily than on 9/11.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/28/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-ems.html

Comment by cellbioguy on Iceland's COVID-19 random sampling results: C19 similar to Influenza · 2020-03-28T21:45:49.467Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How can the ICU admission rate be similar to the flu, when fever levels (healtweather.us) in New York are lower than the peak of flu season but they are strapped for space?

Comment by cellbioguy on Iceland's COVID-19 random sampling results: C19 similar to Influenza · 2020-03-28T21:39:48.191Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This would not be consistent with them having gotten the spread under control and stopped without lockdowns.

Comment by cellbioguy on Iceland's COVID-19 random sampling results: C19 similar to Influenza · 2020-03-28T21:28:26.086Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, if they were missing lots of asymptomatic contagious people, they would not have gotten their outbreak under control. If we assume a few asymptomatic locked-down contacts had false negatives, their numbers are approaching the numbers you would expect given the Diamond Princess data. I cannot see a situation in which there could plausibly be a huge number of missed asymptomatic people given these two data sets...

Comment by cellbioguy on Has the effectiveness of fever screening declined? · 2020-03-28T21:23:03.923Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

By 'effective' I was going with 'reliably able to exclude infectious people'. There were fever-screeners in American airports who never caught anyone with a fever, but got infected by someone they screened without a fever.

People seem to be infectious for days before they get a fever, and about a third of people probably never develop fevers in the first place. And this is a function of the particular individual infection, not 'strains' - there is not enough generations and selection and genetic diversity for the strains to be meaningfully different yet.

Comment by cellbioguy on Iceland's COVID-19 random sampling results: C19 similar to Influenza · 2020-03-28T20:30:30.276Z · score: 30 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I vehemently disagree with this analysis on multiple levels.

Firstly, Iceland is not 'randomly' testing people. People are signing up to be tested voluntarily. That population is likely to contain a larger fraction of people who have reason to think they were exposed or feel sick. Thus 0.8% is an overestimate of the fraction of the population that has been infected.

Secondly, the asymptomatic period is on average a week or so for those who develop symptoms, with hospitalization often occurring upwards of a week after symptoms, and death often occurring more than 2 weeks after symptoms. With doubling times in a mixing population of less than a week, deaths track infections several doublings before the current number of infections. Indeed, in both China and Italy new confirmed infections only began flattening out 2 weeks after a lockdown, with deaths lagging significantly later. This thing is damn infectious and still expanding, it is not anywhere near a steady state anywhere but East Asia that would allow naive numbers even in Iceland to be meaningful. That naive 0.06% becomes 0.5% if you take into account only 3 doublings, and easily 1% if you accept the sampling is biased.

I take issue with a LOT of things in the linked posts.

Regarding 'only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity ': Trying to make the distinction between 'death with the virus' and 'death from the virus' is just irresponsible at this point, given that the death rate right now in North Italian towns at the center of the situation is >10x the normal death rate per day. The virus is *causing* these people who were living with and managing these pre-morbidities to die. Similarly, even if the average age of deaths is only a year or two below the life expectancy right now, it's not like the human mortality curve is completely rectangular. People routinely die a decade before and a decade after the expectancy number. Unless somehow it's ONLY perfectly people who are less than a year from death who are kicked over, which we KNOW is not the case given the death rates among 60somethings and 50somethings and healthy young doctors, you are losing a lot of life years here.

Something on average killing people at the life expectancy is NOT the same as only losing very little life. To take it to an extreme, you could kill EVERYONE above the life expectancy and an equal number of people just below the life expectancy, and have knocked off on average a decade of life. It should also be noted that some all-cause death rates are coming out in North Italy, and the excess deaths over this time last year are 3x the confirmed covid deaths. A lot are being missed.

Not to mention all the people whose lungs are going to be permanently damaged after surviving and other morbidities, which is much less focused in the elderly than the deaths given that the ICU and hospital admissions are rather less focused in the elderly than the deaths are. According to links in the above writings, 0.5% of flu cases in the 20-45 age group result in hospitalization compared to 10% in the over 65 age group, and taking population into account that results in ~7x as many flu over-60 hospitalizations than 20-45. Current American test results, however, have only ~2x the over-65 covid hospitalizations as 20-45 hospitalizations. If hospital capacity is breached, the death rate of younger people could rise drastically as a result. For those who get this, it is NOT just as dangerous as flu.

The linked analysis dismisses hospital overload causing a higher death rate among ICU patients, on the assumption that severity is lower than reported and it just won't happen. But this is happening *right now* in Italy and Spain, and will be starting soon in New York. And data is indicating that surviving ICU stays for this disease are ~3x as long as ICU stays for flu.

Comment by cellbioguy on The case for C19 being widespread · 2020-03-28T05:39:32.816Z · score: 27 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sorry but this simply isn't possible. The Diamond Princess cruise ship data alone proves it.

The Diamond Princess had a total of 3,711 people on board. By the end of its odyssey, a total of 712 of them tested positive, about a fifth. This population was observed in great detail, and puts severe limits on the fraction of people who have various outcomes. 10 people on this ship have died, and ~45 more were in critical condition at some point. If we take 712 as the true number of infections, we get a 1.4% death rate and 7.7% winding up critical or dead. The population was skewed elderly though which worsens the numbers somewhat, but that can't change much more than a factor of two or three at the outside I think compared to a regular population. Thus an expected regular population's death rate would be 0.5% to 1%.

20% of these people never had symptoms. Other data from other sources in China and Korea suggests the true number of asymptomatics could be above 30%, and Iceland is suggesting 50% but a lot of those people have not had followups so it could decrease. It is possible that more people on the cruise ship were infected but never tested positive, but it's probably not huge compared to the positive tests.

The most extreme we could go is assuming that 100% of the ship was infected and four fifths of them were missed. This did not happen. But it's an absolute upper bound. Then we get a 1.4% critical condition number and about a 0.3% death rate. Hospitalization would be higher. The parameters needed to have more than one or two percent of the British population have been exposed to the virus by now given reported deaths and hospitalizations require parameters for the fraction of people vulnerable to severe disease to be much lower than any plausible numbers here. Even with this extremely optimistic interpretation, you would've expected more than a full heavy flu season's deaths squeezed into the last 2 months.

I am compelled to point to a twitter thread from Professor Bergstrom ( https://twitter.com/CT_Bergstrom/status/1242611599405277184 )

There IS a morbid case for it being relatively widespread in the North of Italy. The total excess mortality noted in several northern Italian cities is ~3x the official COVID death figures, indicating that a lot of people are dying without test results and without being noted down. That indicates ~30,000 total deaths in Italy. If we assume a 1% death rate for a population less skewed than a cruise ship, and a delay from infection to death this would indicate significantly upwards of three million Italians infected in the Northern provinces, which could be well over 10% of the badly affected provinces.

Comment by cellbioguy on Has the effectiveness of fever screening declined? · 2020-03-28T00:21:52.209Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It was never effective, due to the long incubation period and wide dispersion in symptom severity from person to person.


There are few enough viral generations in this pandemic and few enough mutations in any given branch now and few enough fever screenings in their histories that there literally cannot have been a decline overall.

Comment by cellbioguy on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-26T00:25:02.165Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

' Imagine if I were to write a paper about a thought experiment: "Could evolution work if animals didn't die?"

Well, the equivalent @FT headline would read "We may be immortal—UW study." It's that bad. '

Comment by cellbioguy on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-25T22:09:15.911Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My thought can be summed up with the word "bullshit". The numbers required for that high an infection rate are orders of magnitude off what we know from the Diamond Princess data alone.

Comment by cellbioguy on Effectiveness of Fever-Screening Will Decline · 2020-03-07T00:07:56.504Z · score: 24 (9 votes) · LW · GW

This is much more likely to be due to people with more severe disease being more likely to be noticed in the early stages of an outbreak, while in the later stages everyone including those with mild disease are noticed.

Comment by cellbioguy on ChristianKl's Shortform · 2020-03-06T22:26:32.948Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

None of those spacecraft will ever reach the bottom of the atmosphere with appreciable orbital velocity remaining, or hit the ground with large amounts of fuel except near to the launch sites.

Comment by cellbioguy on Open & Welcome Thread - February 2020 · 2020-03-04T18:17:53.629Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm afraid it actually only works for narrow band radio signals of potentially technological origin in the galactic disk. I will send more via p.m.

Comment by cellbioguy on What will be the big-picture implications of the coronavirus, assuming it eventually infects >10% of the world? · 2020-03-04T15:43:44.822Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Then you wouldn't expect close contacts to both have severe disease frequently. I think this has occurred too frequently.

Comment by cellbioguy on Is Coronavirus active in Summer? · 2020-03-02T15:46:49.714Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Almost certainly lack of testing community acquired cases.

Comment by cellbioguy on What will be the big-picture implications of the coronavirus, assuming it eventually infects >10% of the world? · 2020-03-02T05:15:34.572Z · score: 1 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Because prediction markets work far worse than most people here give them credit for, especially for Nassim Taleb style events.

Comment by cellbioguy on What will be the big-picture implications of the coronavirus, assuming it eventually infects >10% of the world? · 2020-03-02T05:11:51.159Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Looks like the Diamond Princess cruise ship will be a godsend. Data from people who have been blanket tested over and over and so you actually know you have a good population that you can follow the disease course and know you are not missing anyone.

Comment by cellbioguy on SARS, MERS and COVID-19 · 2020-03-02T04:59:21.411Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Marielle has covered SARS and COVID-19 well. Both of these viruses leaped from animals to humans exactly once and then spread human-to-human. It's believed that the MERS virus exists in the camel population and leaps to humans many times, with human-to-human transmission then occurring from each of those introductions. But it does not spread nearly as well as either of the other ones, and is the deadliest of the 3. This is probably not a coincidence.

Comment by cellbioguy on Is Coronavirus active in Summer? · 2020-03-02T04:54:32.712Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Over the last week, basically every Middle Eastern country has banned travel from Thailand. They know something we don't. I have heard evidence that there are large numbers of viral pneumonia cases there that are not being tested or confirmed.

Comment by cellbioguy on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-02-28T21:17:46.020Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Magnesium and Potassium, mostly.

Comment by cellbioguy on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-02-28T21:15:50.661Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

While working at home while doing laboratory research is not doable, my hours are flexible and I am able to shift my workload between writing/theory work and wet-lab work. So, I am in the process of closing down several of my ongoing time-intensive wet-lab experiments, shifting my daytime to writing up existing research in my apartment, and moving my labwork to be more nocturnal when fewer people are around and I am not tempted by open eateries on the campus I work at. As one of the globetrotting academic class I am way fewer degrees of separation from so many places on Earth...


Similar things could be relevant to those fortunate enough to have flexible work arrangements.

Comment by cellbioguy on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-02-28T21:12:19.100Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Regarding smoking, it of course damages your lungs making you more vulnerable to lung problems, but there is new evidence that it may increase the expression of the protein the virus uses to gain access to your cells, making you more easily infected.