Coronavirus 2019-2020 thread (no unsubstantiated rumours!)

Rettam Stacf

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Now here is more interesting article about Ventilator
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CEO of ventilator maker speaks out as Trump invokes Defense Production Act
Lisa Cavazuti and Cynthia McFadden and Christine Romo
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March 27, 2020, 7:37 PM CDT

The chief executive of a
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partnering with General Motors to produce ventilators says they were already moving forward with plans to roll out the life-saving medical equipment before President Donald Trump decided to
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"We plan to be producing together over 1,000 units by the end of April and of course with GM's talent and skill, we'll be ramping up to 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000," Ventec Life Systems CEO Chris Kiple said in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
Trump on Friday night invoked the
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to order GM to increase production of ventilators as the country grapples with escalating numbers of COVID-19 cases.

"We were just not getting there with GM," Trump said at a news conference.

Earlier in the day, Trump attacked the Detroit automaker in a series of tweets, criticizing it for not moving quickly enough to produce ventilators and requesting “top dollar” for the contract.
“As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” Trump tweeted. “They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar."

GM and Ventec said afterward they were preparing to roll out as many as 10,000 ventilators a month, many of which would be produced on a new assembly line at a GM facility in Indiana.
"Ventec, GM and our supply base have been working around the clock for over a week to meet this urgent need," the companies added in a Friday afternoon statement.
In the interview, Kiple responded to reports that FEMA pulled back from a deal with GM-Ventec after the companies asked for a $1.5 billion contract.

"We provided the government with a range of options, ranging from a thousand units a month to 21,000 units a month and a whole host of pricing that went with that," Kiple said. "So we gave the government a menu of options to present to and just tried to respond to their request for information to say how many can you produce and how fast."
It is no wonder that Trump is so upset at GM. This is what the CEO of Ventec, GM's partner, said to CNBC on Friday :

"We plan to be producing together over 1,000 units by the end of April and of course with GM's talent and skill, we'll be ramping up to 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000,"

For long term self reliance on ventilator, YES. But this delivery schedule is not going to meet US's need now when many hospitals are on the brink of being overwhelmed. The lack of urgency by GM and Ventec is appalling.


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@Pika Both sources posted by you are not the most reliable sources. Neither is the tweet you posted as it literally is an anti-china post with hashtags and all. The picture does not prove absolute either as another member here posted. As for your comment on losing trust in China, the only countries who would lose trust over this with China would never have much, to begin with. Again, as another member here has said, China has shown how it has contained the virus and it worked well. They have also been helping others during this time with donations. Even the WHO members have come out and said China isn't trying to hide numbers as stats have shown. I'll end my rant here.


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Credit to WhoMovedMyCheese

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SEATTLE -- An emergency room doctor who publicly criticized the coronavirus preparations at his hospital in Washington state has lost his job.

Dr. Ming Lin, a ER doctor at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham for the past 17 years, told The Associated Press on Friday night he had been fired.

He said that 20 minutes before his shift Friday he was told it had been covered and that his direct director told him he had been terminated. However, TeamHealth, the national health care staffing company that does hiring for the hospital, insisted in an emailed statement Saturday it had not fired him but would try to find him somewhere else to work.
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On Facebook and in media interviews Lin has repeatedly criticized what he saw as a sluggish response to the threat by the hospital's administration. Lin insisted that the hospital was slow to screen visitors, negligent in not testing staff, wrong to rely on a company that was taking 10 days to process COVID-19 test results, and derelict in obtaining protective equipment for staff.

He described taking steps to help the hospital obtain cots and personal protective gear being offered by local companies -- efforts that garnered him a loyal local following, but, he said, also brought warnings from superiors to stop speaking out.

St. Joseph's did not immediately return an email seeking comment. A statement from TeamHealth said Lin had not been terminated. It did not immediately respond to questions about why he had been removed from the hospital or whether the hospital requested it.

"We are committed to engaging with him to try to find a path forward," the statement said. "Now more than ever, we need every available doctor, and we will work with Dr. Lin to find the right location for him."

Lin scoffed at the notion he hadn't been fired, and said he expected the company might offer him work at a different hospital 30 minutes to an hour away. He said he's not interested.

In an interview earlier this week, Lin said his criticism of the hospital was motivated in part by what he learned as an ER doctor at a hospital near the World Trade Center on 9-11. He said he worked at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, and the facility's steady and competent response that day was due to the training and experience it had undertaken after being overwhelmed in the aftermath of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

"I feel so overwhelmed," Lin said. "We're like a high school basketball team that's about to play an NBA team. The storm is coming, and I don't feel that we're prepared."

In a statement released March 20, the day after The Seattle Times ran a story about Lin's criticism, the hospital's chief executive, Charles Prosper, insisted that the hospital was taking its preparations seriously. Prosper said the hospital had started restricting nonessential visitors and screening those who did enter for fevers, among other steps.

Prosper told The Bellingham Herald this week that "several" staff members at the hospital have tested positive.

Whatcom County had its first confirmed case by March 10. It has now had 92 confirmed cases and four deaths. At least 27 residents and 18 staff at a skilled nursing facility in Bellingham had tested positive as of Thursday.

Brian Davidson, who has retooled his batting cage and netting company in nearby Everson to make inexpensive cots for temporary medical facilities, credited Lin for helping him get the attention of PeaceHealth St. Joseph's procurement department. But he also said he could see how Lin's efforts might also have complicated the work the department was already doing by inundating it with offers.

"I'm terribly saddened this guy was fired," Davidson said. "He was an incredible advocate for patients and nurses and doctors. He stuck his neck out -- intentionally, knowing the risk -- to take care of his coworkers. I have great respect for him."

Rettam Stacf

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I feel bad for Governor Cuomo. He is the only adult in the house right now and He is so upright,decent,articulate and transparent in how he handle this crisis. He is the next great president of US
Governor Cuomo, being from New York, gets a lot of visibility. But there are other state governors who are doing a very good job on the Covid-19 front too.

Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio, a republican, is another. He has implemented many preventive actions for his state early on even though Ohio has not experienced the level of infection like New York does. In early March, he and Cuomo led in forming an informal bipartisan group of governors to share information and coordinate their activities.

These governors (and other local officials) are the ones who made the tough decision on stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders and other restrictive measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

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An excellent reflection by a retired neurosurgeon in the UK, on human nature in response to the COVID catastrophe, the dilemma of sacrifice, how the UK missed its opportunity and the price now paid. This line has particularly struck a chord with me:

"It is a remarkable thought that we are just two among hundreds of millions of people, all over the world, whose lives have been upended, possibly changed forever, by a few nanometres of viral RNA and the failure of our governments to take the problem seriously until it was too late."

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Surgeon Henry Marsh: Covid-19 and the doctor’s dilemma | Free to read
For medics, the virus brings agonising professional choices — and acute personal risk

Henry Marsh MARCH 27 2020

The realisation that Covid-19 was going to be a very serious problem came to me shortly after my 70th birthday two weeks ago. I had celebrated this in a small and happy party with my family and friends — in retrospect, some of them almost certainly were already infected with the virus. We joked about not shaking hands or embracing. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but the party was not just celebrating my birthday but also marking my entry into a higher-risk group for dying from the virus.

There is nothing new about pandemics, nor is there anything new about our short memories — especially for painful events, both in our own lives and in society as a whole. Time heals all wounds, as they say, but it makes us vulnerable as well. Most of us also suffer from an innate biological optimism that has us believe bad things happen to other people but not to us. Problems arise, however, when those in power suffer from the same weakness.

After initial denial, China swung into action very quickly, informed by memories of the recent, more deadly but less transmissible Sars coronavirus. But in the west, most of us — myself included, and certainly our politicians (whose minds were elsewhere) and NHS leaders — comforted ourselves with the thought that what happened in China was far away and of little relevance to us, and anyway it was only a disease of old people who were going to die soon anyway. Don’t panic! Keep Calm and Carry On! (And don’t spend large sums of money on protective clothing for health workers.) How wrong we were.

Each pandemic, the experts tell us, is different. What is striking about Covid-19 is that it is mainly, but not entirely a serious threat to the elderly and infirm — “patients with co-morbidities” in the jargon. For unknown reasons, a significant number of middle-aged patients are at serious risk as well. It is also clear that many people can be asymptomatic and infected and hence infectious without knowing it — which makes controlling the disease particularly difficult.

In susceptible people, the virus causes pneumonia after the first few days (when the symptoms can initially be hard to distinguish from a common cold or flu). In the past there was no treatment for viral pneumonia, other than oxygen. You either lived or died. Now we can save some of these lives with mechanical ventilators, which force oxygen into the failing lungs. But even with ventilation, there will still be many deaths.

The problem is an ancient one — Covid-19 is the latest pandemic in a long line of them. There are many examples of pandemics that drastically changed the course of history. But this one is also peculiarly modern. There are far more elderly people in today’s world. Furthermore, there were no ventilators in the past. Now there will almost certainly be large numbers of patients who need ventilation, even though the mortality of the virus is probably only in the region of 1 per cent. (This figure is very uncertain, as we simply do not know how many asymptomatic cases there may be in the population or how many patients currently in hospital will go on to die.)

But even at 1 per cent we are looking at many thousands of people — perhaps millions worldwide — who will die without artificial ventilation, and by no means will all of them be old or unfit. Besides, don’t the old and unfit deserve treatment as well? There could be more than enough patients to lead to the collapse of the healthcare system, as in most countries — and especially in the cash-strapped NHS, starved by the recent years of austerity politics — ventilators, and the highly trained staff needed to run them, are in short supply.

Social interaction determines the rate at which a respiratory virus pandemic spreads. The virus thrives on the fact we are such sociable creatures. It jumps from person to person — by touch, by affection, by droplets in the air, by hard surfaces we have touched. So the politicians and their expert advisers face a terrible choice. How do you balance drastically curtailing social interaction, with the risk of crashing the economy, to save the baby boomers, healthcare workers and some younger people, against the next generation’s future? Remember, for instance, that almost every child on the planet is now being deprived of schooling. If the health service collapses, it will not just be people with the virus who die but many with other life-threatening conditions, who cannot access the treatment they would normally have received before the catastrophe.

Politicians talk of “waging war” on the virus. War involves sacrifice. Do we sacrifice the elderly now, for younger patients who have more years of life ahead of them? And when do we start economic activity again for the sake of future generations? Decisions about who should live and who should die at the height of the crisis will simply be forced upon the poor doctors caring for the patients — the one that George Bernard Shaw, in a very different context, addressed many years ago in his play The Doctor’s Dilemma.

As cases multiply, it should also become possible to make more accurate predictions as to who can realistically be saved with intensive care. Sir David King, the government’s former chief scientific adviser, is entirely right to say that people in their nineties with respiratory failure from Covid-19 should consider not going in to hospital. He is already being criticised for saying this — but this is a war. Sacrifices must be made.

We will have little choice other than to apply a cruel and horrible utilitarian calculus, in flagrant breach of the ideal of the sanctity of life. How much longer does this patient have to live anyway? Do they have any dependants? The fact that they are loved is not sufficient grounds by itself to treat them. As doctors we have always had to make these assessments, but usually discretely — you cannot legislate for them. My colleagues will now just have to make a grotesquely larger number of such decisions than usual. I do not envy them. And, alas, there will also be an element of arbitrary “first come, first served”.

There has already been a huge shift of wealth from the young to the elderly over recent decades in wealthier countries. Donald Trump is already talking complacently about getting the US economy going again by Easter and yet in recent years the benefits of any growth in the US and UK economies have accrued to a very small number of people. If social distancing is relaxed, cui bono? It is utterly extraordinary how Covid-19 has raised the most profound questions about every aspect of our lives — decisions in a time of war are easy in comparison. My own opinion is that any prolonged social distancing, when it ends, must come with a massive redistribution of wealth in our societies, towards the young and disadvantaged.

Compared to most wealthy OECD countries, Britain’s tax-funded health service has almost always suffered from a lack of resources, arising from politicians’ fear of losing elections by raising taxes. Under recent governments, there has been a charade that “efficient management” would somehow make up for this under-investment. My last few years in the NHS convinced me that the main effect of this has been to demoralise the workforce and reduce productivity, especially that of the senior doctors.

The Covid-19 crisis has exposed, quite horribly, the inadequate state of the NHS, at the cost of the lives of not just patients, but also of doctors and nurses. Although we are only at the beginning of the pandemic, two NHS consultants and one nurse are already on ventilators in intensive care units (10 per cent of the patients hospitalised in Lombardy with Covid-19 are healthcare workers).

I can only hope that some good may come of this tragedy. I believe passionately in the principle of the NHS — we will soon see how the fragmented, hugely expensive and largely commercial US healthcare system copes with the crisis. I would love to think that the political neglect of the NHS will become a thing of the past, albeit at the price of higher taxes.

Thinking of my own initial insouciance about the virus when it emerged in China, I cannot very well blame western governments for at first running away from making difficult decisions. But it was clear by early February that the risk of the disease spreading was very great and that it was the draconian measures imposed in China which were starting to contain it. Italy had to learn this painful lesson all over again.


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Continue from previous due to word count...

It is always easy to be wise in retrospect, but the unpreparedness of the NHS, in terms of PPE (personal protective equipment), proper hygiene rules, especially in hospitals, and virus testing kits will need to be thoroughly investigated at a later date. There will be a demand for people to be held to account, but for now the government must concentrate on playing a game of catch-up. As for the US, and Trump’s initial dismissal of the virus, comparing it with flu, when it was perfectly clear that it was many times more deadly (as well as his support for the anti-vax movement in the past) — I am lost for words.

I finally retired from the NHS last year, but a few days ago started contacting my former colleagues to find out what was happening. Several of them were already off sick with the virus. My colleagues spoke of complete chaos in their hospitals — with a lack of PPE and no proper guidelines for hygiene. (In China, the elevators have disposable toothpicks with which to press the elevator buttons — the virus can survive for many days on hard surfaces.) The lack of widespread testing means that they have no way of knowing whether patients admitted with problems other than viral pneumonia are infectious or not. The hospitals have therefore become incubators of the virus, which is why so many healthcare workers are contracting it and probably many patients who have been sent home from the hospital as well. My colleagues spoke bitterly of feeling like cannon fodder, of being sacrificed. Only now, as we wait for the exponential phase of the disease to hit us — the nightmare — are these problems starting to be corrected.

My wife Kate is 12 years younger than I am, but on immunosuppressant drugs for a chronic disease, and she is therefore in a high-risk category. She has almost certainly contracted Covid-19 — perhaps at my birthday party — and at the moment is in the early stages. By the time you read this article it will probably have become clear what will happen — whether she develops life-threatening pneumonia or not.

Doctors are usually both fatalistic and anxious about their family’s health. We know that bad things happen — we witness this at work every day — but also that bad things are, on the whole, unusual. Until you reach old age, that is. When members of our family fall ill, we have to wrestle with professional realism and anxiety driven by too much knowledge. I have little choice other than to think of the worst that might happen, work through my feelings about it, and then try to put it to one side. I suppose you could call this “catastrophising” but, I’m afraid to say, Covid-19 is a catastrophe, even though almost all of us, strange to say, will survive it.

The panic-buying is a reaction to this feeling of incipient catastrophe. A few mornings ago, I visited the local shops. Although I had enough food in the house to last me for a few days, I had to struggle to overcome an almost irresistible urge to buy something, to buy anything, to reassert control over a frightening future. And yet the virus is no real threat to food or loo paper (the latter I am perfectly happy to do without and have a shower instead).

Having assuaged my urge to buy by acquiring a bag of potatoes, I wandered around the various supermarkets in my neighbourhood, out of anthropological interest. The upmarket one was clean out of gin and tonic — clearly the gin-drinking classes had descended Wimbledon Hill like locusts. Nowhere was loo paper to be found, and in recent days even the perishable fruit and veg — absurdly — have been swept off the shelves.

We are, of course, hunter-gatherers by nature, who lived from hand to mouth, but now we are equipped with freezers and fridges, and have morphed into hoarding panic shoppers. The supermarkets have started dedicated shopping hours for the elderly — but I saw a long queue of them, tightly bunched, waiting for my local supermarket to open, presumably blissfully ignorant of the risk they were taking. All this needs to change.

Apparently the same happened at first in Italy. Like a speculative bubble, panic-buying is only made necessary by panic-buying. But after a while people realised it was not necessary. And also that there were more serious things than loo paper to worry about — such as the death of people you loved.

It is an immaculate spring day outside. There was a fine dawn chorus from the garden birds this morning, and the flowering bushes are starting to blossom. Despite the cold east wind, my bees have emerged from their hive and are shooting upwards in zigzags through the sunlight. Although it is a weekday, I can hear my neighbours’ children happily playing in their garden. Separation from my grandchildren is one of the many painful consequences of Covid-19.

I am lucky to have a garden and a workshop — there is plenty to keep me occupied. I am lucky to have a pension and not to be part of the gig economy, or in the aviation, entertainment or hospitality industries. The small local park next to my home remains open and I can still run three miles every day in rather boring circles. I like to think that keeping fit will help me fight the virus if I contract it, but in fact there is no evidence that this is the case. Some perfectly fit people are dying from the disease.

It was disturbing to see how many people were not obeying the two-metre-apart rule last weekend. At the beginning of the crisis, Boris Johnson said that we live in “a mature, grown-up, liberal democracy” — as though to say that our former partners in the EU were less mature and so we did not need to take the more drastic measures they were taking. But it seems that many mature grown-ups here in the UK treated the emergency as little different from a public holiday. So yet more time was lost before the government faced up to the need for a determined lockdown. And it probably is not determined enough.

Kate lives in Oxford, and we have decided to stay apart for the time being until her illness has resolved. We miss each other intensely and talk many times a day on the phone. It is a remarkable thought that we are just two among hundreds of millions of people, all over the world, whose lives have been upended, possibly changed forever, by a few nanometres of viral RNA and the failure of our governments to take the problem seriously until it was too late.

Self-sacrifice has always been an implicit part of being a doctor. It is a source of both pride and pain, and why, on the whole, doctors and nurses deserve our respect. Rarely has it been so called upon as in the Covid-19 crisis.

The government says it wants retired doctors to return to work. Perhaps because of my age, I have not yet been contacted. Given what I have heard from my colleagues about conditions in the London hospitals, the thought of going back to work fills me and my family with some anxiety, but if I am called, I will go.

Henry Marsh is a neurosurgeon and author of ‘Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery’ and ‘Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery’ (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)


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It is no wonder that Trump is so upset at GM. This is what the CEO of Ventec, GM's partner, said to CNBC on Friday :

"We plan to be producing together over 1,000 units by the end of April and of course with GM's talent and skill, we'll be ramping up to 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000,"

For long term self reliance on ventilator, YES. But this delivery schedule is not going to meet US's need now when many hospitals are on the brink of being overwhelmed. The lack of urgency by GM and Ventec is appalling.
Before the US government closed down Springfield Arsenal, it was an industrial engineering R&D facility responsible to designing assembly lines for small arms. These plans would be given to civilian factories in war time when the need for mass production arose. What we can learn from the Corona virus crisis is that countries or supranational organizations should set up the equivalent of Springfield Arsenal for medical equipment and other types of essential products that will be in short supply in emergency situations. The plans for mass production should be made freely available during times of crisis so that factories can be rapidly converted to produce emergency goods.