Links 7/31/2020

‘They’re Not Looking for Us.’ Experts Say Sharks Might Mistake Humans for Seals When They Attack Time. Metaphorical sharks, on the other hand….

The parallel universe of private equity returns FT. “If IRRs since-inception could be banked, our pension funds would all be as rich as Croesus. Manifestly, if sadly, that is not the case.”

As pandemic rages on, world economic recovery looks ever more shaky: Reuters poll Reuters

The Rot Of The St. Louis Elite Goes Far Deeper Than The “Gun Couple” Current Affairs. Note how the virus got seeded in St Louis: exactly as I suggest here.

Big Tech defies global economic fallout with blockbuster earnings FT. Go long social distancing.

Corporate Insiders Pocket $1 Billion in Rush for Coronavirus Vaccine NYT

US companies cling to share buybacks despite collapse in profits FT

#COVID19

Aerosol and surface contamination of SARS-CoV-2 observed in quarantine and isolation care Nature. We had this a week ago as a preprint. Alert reader Ignacio commented:

RE: Aerosol and Surface Transmission Potential of SARS-CoV-2 (preprint) medRxiv (via). From the body of the study: “Air samples in the rooms and in the hallway spaces (Figure 1B, and Tables S1 and S2) provide information about airborne viral shedding in these facilities. We found 63.2% of in-room air . samples to be positive by RT-PCR… [C]ell culture indicated some evidence for the presence of replication competent virus.” See the link at “via” for the Agence France Presse summary for the methodology in human-readable prose. To my knowledge, this is the first study to trace a pathway from the actual breath of individuals to infectiousness (“replication competent”).

Thank you, this is really a boost for the airborne transmission hypothesis: if you detect infectious particles in the air and demonstrate that these are infectious in in vitro cultures there is not much to add.

“Now that aerosol transmission of the coronavirus is established” (lambert preens):

SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV viral load dynamics, duration of viral shedding and infectiousness: a living systematic review and meta-analysis (preprint) medRvix. From the abstract: “Although SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding in respiratory and stool can be prolonged, duration of viable virus is relatively short-lived. Thus, detection of viral RNA cannot be used to infer infectiousness. High SARS-CoV-2 titres are detectable in the first week of illness with an early peak observed at symptom onset to day 5 of illness.”

List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) EPA. My thought is that the aerosols have to settle somewhere. So surface disinfecting would play an important role.

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Operation Warp Speed leader says he expects coronavirus vaccine to be highly effective, ‘in the 90%’ range CNN

Pfizer CEO says it’s ‘radical’ to suggest pharma should forgo profits on COVID-19 vaccine: report Fierce Pharma. Yes, and?

Most in poll say they’re willing to wait for COVID-19 vaccine to be fully tested The Hill

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Effect of statins on SARS-CoV-2 infection (preprint; PDF) medRxiv. From the abstract: “We therefore investigated the effect of statins on SARS-CoV-2 infection [via cell culture] and found that selective statins reduced SARS-CoV-2 cell entry and inhibited high and low pathogenic coronavirus infection in human cells. A retrospective study on hospitalized patients with COVID-19 implies that reduced high density lipoprotein levels, which are typically counteracted by statin therapy, are associated with aggravated disease outcome. These results suggest that statin therapy poses no additional risk to individuals exposed to SARSCoV-2 and that some statins may have a mild beneficial effect on COVID-19 outcome.”

Statin Usage is Linked to a Lower Death Rate in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients (press release) UCLA Health. “Hospitalized patients taking statins had a 5.2% mortality rate, compared to a 9.4% mortality rate in patients not taking statins from two groups of COVID-19 patients with matching clinic characteristics except statin usage.”

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What Back to School Might Look Like in the Age of Covid-19 NYT. It’s an “Illustrated Guide.” So why the heck are the school bus windows closed in the illustration?

Careless writing and illustration, sloppy editing. I guess everybody was too occupied in getting the fancy interactive to scroll horizontally and vertically — a first for me, and boy howdy, was that confusing and useless — to actually focus on depicting simple public health measures accurately.

Reopening US Schools in the Era of COVID-19: Practical Guidance From Other Nations JAMA

Age-Related Differences in Nasopharyngeal Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Levels in Patients With Mild to Moderate Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) JAMA. From the discussion: “Our analyses suggest children younger than 5 years with mild to moderate COVID-19 have high amounts of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in their nasopharynx compared with older children and adults. Our study is limited to detection of viral nucleic acid, rather than infectious virus, although SARS-CoV-2 pediatric studies reported a correlation between higher nucleic acid levels and the ability to culture infectious virus.5 Thus, young children can potentially be important drivers of SARS-CoV-2 spread in the general population, as has been demonstrated with respiratory syncytial virus, where children with high viral loads are more likely to transmit.6 Behavioral habits of young children and close quarters in school and day care settings raise concern for SARS-CoV-2 amplification in this population as public health restrictions are eased.”

After Cruise Ships and Nursing Homes, Will Universities Be the Next COVID-19 Tinderboxes? Time

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Handyfuge-LAMP: low-cost and electricity-free centrifugation for isothermal SARS-CoV-2 detection in saliva (preprint; PDF) Ethan Li*, Adam Larson*, Anesta Kothari, Manu Prakash✝, Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University medRxiv. From the abtract: “We present here an open hardware solution- Handyfuge – that can be assembled with readily available components for the cost of 5 dollars a unit and could be used together with the LAMP assay for point of care detection of COVID-19 RNA from saliva. The device is then validated using the LAMP protocol from Rabe and Cepko. With the use of insulated coolers for reagent supply chain and delivery, the assay presented can be completed without the need for electricity or any laboratory scale infrastructure.”

The Trump administration was slow to recognize coronavirus threat from Europe, CDC director admits CNN

China?

Hong Kong elections: mass disqualification of opposition hopefuls sparks political storm South China Morning Post

US, China consulate closures deal losses to both nations AP

For kitchen-less Hong Kongers, new ban on restaurant dining is a bitter pill Reuters

Cover Story: The Losing Game for Chinese Retail Investors Caixin. They’re getting the hang of it!

UK/EU

The EU Isn’t Letting In American Tourists Anytime Soon Bloomberg. I remember when I got my first passport, and being, well, proud: “The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and to give all lawful aid and protection.” Oh well.

London’s Newest Ghost Town Was Financed by China Bloomberg

UK’s answer to Disneyland revealed in plans for major new theme park Metro UK

US to bring 6,400 troops home from Germany, move 5,600 more AP

Trump Transition

Trump offers, Democrats reject fix for $600 jobless benefit AP

‘The odd couple’: Mnuchin and Meadows struggle to make a deal Politico

As extra jobless benefits end, millions of Americans struggle to afford food CBS

Lawmakers and jobless workers lash out at California’s unemployment agency LA Times

Treasury report: Less than 25% of state and local emergency funds used as congressional debate heats up CNN

USPS Plans to Slash Hours at Many Post Offices, Hoping to Save A Buck Vice. Outright sabotage.

Census Door Knocking Cut A Month Short Amid Pressure To Finish Count NPR. Another Constitutional public function trashed.

Democrats in Disarray

READ: President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Rep. John Lewis ABC. Summarizing:

All these measures have been desperately needed since at least Florida 2000. That’s 2020 – 2000 = 20 years. So Obama — hold onto your hats, folks — is being strictly performative. Obama could also have eliminated the filibuster in 2009, and if he had wanted to be the next FDR, he would have.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton says the quiet part out loud:

2020

Republican China Hawks Secretly Approaching Team Biden The Daily Beast

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

Newly Released Records in Ghislaine Maxwell Case Reveal Correspondence With Jeffrey Epstein Courthouse News. This is interesting:

This is correct; I’ve tested it. Enjoy!

Bill Clinton Went to Jeffrey Epstein’s Island With 2 ‘Young Girls’, Virginia Giuffre Says Newsweek

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

How DHS Went to War With the American People Slate

Multiple Tor security issues disclosed, more to come ZD Net. Oh.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Why COVID-19 presents a world reordering moment Brookings Institute. “[W]orld order has come to an end and is not coming back any time soon.”

Failed State

Why Big Nations Have Been Brought Low by the Pandemic Bloomberg. What a poor headline; there’s no nation bigger than China. But this:

In the U.S., the pandemic has made the consequence of decades of misallocation and paralysis tragically clear. The American edifice of government has been hollowed out and its federal structure made unfit for purpose in a partisan and divided age. This ineffectiveness is reflected in data such as the World Governance Indicators, which has seen the U.S. decline steadily over the past two decades.

The world’s largest economy should not have a state that struggles to respond effectively to a crisis, even a once-in-a-century crisis. India’s state, on the other hand, has always been low on capacity. In fact, it’s a standard joke among policy analysts in India that any conversation about what needs to be done ends with the statement, “But we can’t do that anyway.” The Indian state, at every level, is chronically short of managerial resources, of talent, of resources and of time.

Assange

UK government refuses to release information about Assange judge who has 96% extradition record Declassified UK (dk).

Protests

Anti-Eviction Protesters Just Blocked People From Entering a New Orleans Courthouse Vice (Re Silc).

Portland’s Wall of Moms crumbles amid online allegations by former partner, Don’t Shoot PDX Oregon Live

Citing impostors, feds urge lifting of court order protecting journalists amid Portland protests Politico. P.G. Wodehouse novels are full of “impostors,” but this one appears to have been co-written with Heinrich Himmler.

Class Warfare

What the Sanders universal masking bill would lay (some of) the foundations for:

Halting the economy for a month would require capital accumulation to come to a halt as well, as the C-M-C’ cycle would be interrupted, and workers would be fully provisioned, by government, in order to live, and not merely to work. You — although not Slavitt — can see why this would be problematic for elites; it might get workers asking awkward questions. Republicans (as usual) express ritual fealty to C-M-C’ crudely, by saying “We don’t want to pay people not to work more than we pay them to work.” Democrats (as usual) haze the issue over with means-testing, complex eligibility requirements, demands that existing systems (e.g., unemployment) do what they are not designed to do, refusal to recognize the scope of the problem, and general fecklesness and delay. (For example, the HEROES act — love the name — distinguishes between workers who are essential, and those who are not. Of course, all workers are essential to somebody, even if only themselves, or families.

Consumer groups challenge “deceptive” Tyson ads that brag about worker safety The Counter

You’re Only As Free as You Are Wealthy The Nation

Ellen: ‘I Never Intended To Make Staff Feel Unsafe By Wearing A Bloodied Ram Skull And Stalking Them With A Hatchet’ The Onion

Antidote du jour (via):

“Wolfgang.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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This entry was posted in Guest Post, Links on July 31, 2020 by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered.
To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

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