Kal K Korff
As scientists around the world continue to make very real progress towards eventually stopping and then successfully containing the current Coronavirus pandemic, some new breakthroughs have emerged which are important for the public to understand. Here’s a summary of the latest data which has not only been confirmed, but is irrefutably helping turn the corner on this global crisis.
One key reason the Coronavirus is far more difficult to defeat is because it is contagious even during its incubation timeframe. Scientists have now documented cases of people becoming ill as long as 12–14 days later after being first exposed to this pathogen. With this longer than usual time window, trying to stop it is a ‘sniper’s game’ per se, with many people not even knowing for days that they even have it.
As reported earlier in Daily World, a curious pattern was discovered when drilling down into some of the Coronavirus cases which first broke out in Communist China. Data mining of the National Center for Biotechnology Information and National Institute of Health’s GenBank collaborative genetic sequencing databases reveals the intriguing fact that in one case in Shenzhen, China, a family of five were sickened by the Coronavirus. Genetic sequencing of these five family member victims proves that each was infected with a uniquely different mutation. Meaning, each time Coronavirus infected each individual in this family, it mutated. It was 5-for-5, a perfect score. None of these victims had any contact with any meat markets, not even the now infamous Huanan Seafood Market which was closed by Chinese officials on January 1, 2020 when the Communist Party finally admitted to the world that there was now an epidemic of this newly identified virus, some two months after first being aware of it.
This fact has led some researchers to ask the valid question of whether or not the Coronavirus was artificially engineered in a lab, created as some sort of “bioweapon.” With the ability to mutate with each instance of infecting a person or host, developing treatments or even vaccines for it to help keep it in check will be more difficult, versus if it were one virus ‘flavor’ for all.
With thousands of cases to date heavily analyzed worldwide, scientists have now proven that as of this reporting, just eight different strains of this virus are wholly responsible for all outbreaks planet wide! Put another way, while this one family was hit with five mutations, only eight strains now account for everyone’s illnesses. This is a huge relief for experts now busy trying to make vaccines. One can imagine how much more of a problem this would be if there were dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of strains of this killer.
To help understand this issue to better communicate information to the public, Daily World contacted the organization nextstrain.org, whose mission is “to provide a real-time snapshot of evolving pathogen populations and to provide interactive data visualizations to virologists, epidemiologists, public health officials, and community scientists. Through interactive data visualizations, we aim to allow exploration of continually up-to-date datasets, providing a novel surveillance tool to the scientific and public health communities.”
Nextstrain.org is an amazing open source project, available to all scientists and researchers worldwide, they store their key component online tools and its software source code in GitHub repositories so that users can customize their own visual data presentation sets.
As this organization correctly notes, “If pathogen genome sequences are going to inform public health interventions, then analyses have to be rapidly conducted and results widely disseminated. Current scientific publishing practices hinder the rapid dissemination of epidemiologically relevant results. We think an open, online system that implements robust bioinformatic pipelines to synthesize data from across research groups has the highest capacity to make epidemiologically actionable inferences. Additionally, we have open-sourced all the tools we use, and hope to create a community around Nextstrain which supports and promotes genomic analyses of various kinds.”
This is an incredibly useful project which has already proven its merits. Here’s a summary of their latest key findings, information which is not easily available to most people searching the Internet for important facts about the deadly Coronavirus.
“Europe — We continue to see strong mixing of samples across Europe, suggesting that the virus has continued to move across borders in the last 3–5 weeks. As mitigation measures have time to take effect, we may see more clustering of cases by country.
“North America — Within the U.S., transmission patterns are complex: samples collected from opposite sides of the country still show close relationships. Washington state has had at least two independent introductions (the first likely from China, the second likely from Europe), which have led to two separate transmission chains. There is evidence for likely local transmission within several states, most clearly within California.
“Central and South America — We received new sequences from South America this week, but sampling remains sparse. There may be more COVID activity in this region than is captured in the available data, but we cannot say for sure.
“Asia — We find evidence for recent export of COVID-19 from Iran.” This finding is important especially for India, since it has very close ties with Iran. A key reason why Iran has been hit especially hard during this pandemic is due to its illegal smuggling activities with China. Iran secretly contracted with the Communist Party of China to smuggle in masks and other medical equipment to skirt sanctions against it. Not surprisingly, contaminated goods were sent, Iran accepted them, as a result senior members of Ayatollah Khameini’s cabinet began to die. This outbreak in Iran has become so severe, it’s being covered up. One can easily Google images taken from space of Iran’s huge burial pits dug to intern their dead.
“Africa and Oceana — Phylogeny suggests likely local transmission within Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, for the last 11+ days. We received new sequences from Africa this week, but sampling remains sparse; there may be much more COVID activity in this region than is captured in the available data. There is evidence in the genetic data for local transmission in New South Wales, Australia.”
To stay informed, please bookmark this Web site. Real-time data is always important.