2021-11-06/7/8 General

Disease

As I mentioned back in May 2020, they discovered a new coronavirus in Malaysia in samples from 2017 and 2018 which appears to have jumped directly from dogs to humans. They found this coronavirus because someone decided to go looking for unknown coronaviruses, and whaddayaknow, there one is! There wasn’t a big fuss because there didn’t seem to be human-to-human transmission; it was more like, “huh, that’s interesting, I wonder how many other coronaviruses that jump from animals at a low enough level that nobody has ever bothered to look”.

WELL. They just found the same coronavirus, HuPn-2018, in samples from 2017 from Haiti. Given that Malaysian dogs don’t vacation in Haiti very often, it seems likely to me that this is likely to have come from human-to-human transmission. I suspect that there isn’t a lot of human travel directly between Haiti and Malaysia, either, which suggests to me that this is more widespread than just those two countries.

Should you be worried about HuPn-2018? Probably not. First, the Haiti people had basically a cold. (The patients were only tested because of concerns that it might be Zika.) So it isn’t dangerous… yet. Second, there are efforts right now to come up with a pan-coronavirus vaccines. Third, if the canine coronavirus does mutate and become dangerous, well, we know a lot more about how to test for, vaccinate against, and treat coronaviruses now. I expect that we’d have a highly effective vaccine for it within six months, and some of the anti-COVID oral therapies might work against it. Finally, the mitigation measures we took against COVID-19 might well have killed off the canine coronavirus.


In researching the canine coronavirus, I stumbled across this paper from March 2021 which said that they found pig coronavirus (Hu-PDCoV) in three kids in Haiti. This is still interesting, but probably even less concerning than the dog coronavirus because it’s only been seen in three kids in Haiti.

One thing that is slightly worrying about the porcine strain is that it’s relatively distantly related to the other coronaviruses that we’ve come to know and love. The “common cold” coronaviruses are all alpha- or beta-coronaviruses; the scary coronaviruses are all beta-coronaviruses. Hu-PDCoV is a deltacoronavirus, which means humans don’t have much practice getting rid of it.

For those of you who are counting along at home, the porcine coronavirus makes nine coronaviruses which have been seen infecting at least one human:

  • “common cold” coronaviruses:
    • betacoronavirus OC43, related to cow coronavirus
    • betacoronavirus HKU1, related to mouse coronavirus
    • alphacoronavirus 229E
    • alphacoronavirus NL63, probably from bats or civet cats centuries ago
  • unusual but not very scary viruses which recently jumped from animals
    • alphacoronavirus HuPn-2018, definitely from dog coronavirus
    • deltacoronavirus Hu-PDCoV, definitely from pig coronavirus
  • more deadly ones:
    • betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-1, probably from bats via civet cats
    • betacoronavirus MERS, probably from bats or camels
    • betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-2, probably from bats

Demographics

This article reports that StatCan says that 19K+ (5.2%) more people died in Canada than would have without the pandemic.


This article says that children under 12 are now the largest cohort of COVID-19 patients.

Mitigation Measures

As this article reports, today is the day that Canadians can resume going to the US via land or sea.

You do have to have a PCR test to return to Canada, but there are rumblings that that might change. I am not the only person who thinks it is completely stupid that you can take a PCR test in Canada, then go to the US for a day or two, and come back on the strength of the PCR test you took in Canada.

Variants

This study found that there was 70% more spread among household members of Delta cases than of Alpha cases.

Recommended Reading

This article talks about why you (unless you are immunocompromised) probably don’t need a booster.


OMG the new nanopore technology can read individual DNA molecule’s nucleotides (letters) in real-time! Here’s a manufacturer’s explanation of how it works.


This article talks about the promise of protein-based vaccines, especially six which are in late stages.


This article about how maybe Long COVID will help with other Long X conditions (like ME/CFS) is interesting, but be advised that I didn’t learn anything from it.


This article is about Fast Grants, an American idea for radically reducing the amount of time scientists spend on grants (which also means less oversight).


This article says that the brain controls some immune system responses.

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