How to protect the 2020 election from coronavirus.

8e807f09 6be1 4b66 8e0a 09829f467da3Richard L. Hasen writing in Slate:

‘Most immediately, in light of the uncertain time frame for disruption of life and political activities due to the coronavirus, Congress should pass a law requiring states to offer no-excuse absentee balloting for the November elections. Congress has the power to do so, and it should fully fund the efforts. The bill has to be drafted carefully to protect all voters. But time is short. For this to happen, it must happen quickly….’

Modernizing Meat Production Will Help Us Avoid Pandemics

OpEd plantburger 1093918160Liz Specht writing in WIRED:

‘In addition to trying to round up the latest stampeding pandemic, we need to examine the circumstances that enable these zoonotic diseases to leap from another species to humans. Fortunately, we now know the circumstances that give rise to zoonotic outbreaks, and we have the technology to vastly reduce this risk by modernizing our food system….’

Covid-19 Is Nothing Like the Spanish Flu

Ideas spanishflu 613476154 2Via WIRED:

‘Some experts have emphasized the difficulty of calculating the fatality rate of an emerging pandemic, explaining that current estimates are biased by a deficit of testing and by the lag time between onset of illness and death. Despite this counsel, news coverage and social media discourse has obsessed over CFRs and how they compare across pandemics throughout history. A popular refrain is that the new coronavirus has a frighteningly high fatality rate of at least 2 percent, which is supposedly comparable to that of the 1918 influenza pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu—one of the deadliest viral outbreaks in history. The truth is that this comparison is severely flawed and that the numbers it relies on are almost certainly wrong….’

Via Covid–19 Is Nothing Like the Spanish Flu | WIRED

Potential treatment for Lyme disease kills bacteria that may cause lingering symptoms

Lyme disease antibiotics neuroscienewsNeuroscience News:

‘For decades, the routine treatment for Lyme disease has been standard antibiotics, which usually kill off the infection. But for up to 20% of people with the tick-borne illness, the antibiotics don’t work, and lingering symptoms of muscle pain, fatigue and cognitive impairment can continue for years — sometimes indefinitely.

A new Stanford Medicine study in lab dishes and mice provides evidence that the drug azlocillin completely kills off the disease-causing bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi at the onset of the illness. The study suggests it could also be effective for treating patients infected with drug-tolerant bacteria that may cause lingering symptoms.

“This compound is just amazing,” said Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Biomaterials and Advanced Drug Delivery Laboratory at the Stanford School of Medicine. “It clears the infection without a lot of side effects. We are hoping to repurpose it as an oral treatment for Lyme disease.” Rajadas is the senior author of the study, which was published online March 2 in Scientific Reports. The lead author is research associate Venkata Raveendra Pothineni, PhD….’

I’m not an infectious disease expert but I’m pretty sure this is a ridiculous puff piece. For one thing, any novel antibiotic to which an organism is sensitive will show spectacular results at the outset, until the bacteria develop resistance. The use-it-or-lose-it school of thought about new drugs contrasts dramatically with the need to avoid indiscriminate overuse of any agent to preserve it against breeding resistant strains.

Secondly, Pothineni and Rajadas have patented the compound and stand to profit from its success. If I were them, I would continue to quickly flood the media with claims about how freakin’ spectacular this medication is so they can sell the rights to Big Pharma for a killing before it stops working.

You have got to wonder about researchers would would patent an exciting new breakthrough for a rare disease causing great suffering, which would drastically inflate the cost either to the sufferer or her insurance company. 

Finally, buried in the piece is a crucial observation, which many medical thinkers find credible, that, after the initial infectious course, persistent symptoms when Lyme disease becomes chronic are due not to a continued infectious process from persistent bacterial presence in the body but from the body’s persisting autoimmune reaction to first exposure to the bacteria, causing persistent inflammation whether the bacteria have been eradicated from the body or not. Autoimmune inflammation vs. continued infection — antibiotics would be useless against the former.