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Daily dose Science

Debunking the ‘Well played China’ conspiracy theory

Along with the SARS-CoV-2 or coronavirus that has spread throughout the world causing a pandemic, conspiracy theories abound. One of the most recent ones being spread through social media can be summarized as follows:

China created the coronavirus to cause global economic collapse – people are told to stay at home to prevent the virus from spreading, businesses temporarily closed & work stoppage has been implemented.
This has sent stock prices dropping then China comes in to buy those low-priced stocks until we end up with a ‘world owned by China’.

Mind-blowing isn’t it? However this conspiracy theory is wrong on several points.

First, SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 is not a man-made or engineered virus. This has already been proven by scientific studies in the journal Nature Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Second, while it’s true that the US stock market has seen some decline as COVID-19 has spread in the US, the market has made a rebound after the federal government announced an economic stimulus package.

Third, Chinese investors did buy shares but the shares they bought are those of Chinese companies.

In addition, the Chinese government rolled out an economic stimulus package and spent more than 1.2 trillion yuan ($170 billion) buying shares to shore up prices.

Lastly, Peter Nolan, a professor of Chinese Development at Cambridge University, debunks the notion that China is ‘buying the world’ in his latest book entitled “Is China Buying the World?

‘China has not bought the world and shows little sign of doing so in the near future,’ Nolan writes. ‘Their presence in high-income countries is negligible. This is a remarkable situation for a country that is the world’s largest exporter and its second largest economy and manufacturer. In other words, ‘we’ are inside ‘them’ but ‘they’ are not inside ‘us’.

Peter Nolan, “Is China Buying the World?”

Final words

Stop spreading conspiracy theories. Verify, look for sources or references that are credible. Since most of us are staying at home these days, use the time to search on Google and do some basic research.

If a message is forwarded to you and it has no references or citations, think twice before forwarding it to others or sharing it on social media. Verify. Google. Research. Or ask first from persons you trust to be experts or have knowledge about these things. Don’t be a sheep. Think! If there’s something more dangerous than the coronavirus is it ignorance and being too gullible.

And remember, stay at home. Stay healthy and be safe.

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Science

How long does SARS-CoV-2 survive in the environment?

In a new report on the New England Journal of Medicine, investigators tested how long the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, lasts in the air and on surfaces:

Viable in aerosols or mixed in air for 3 hours

Viable and detectable on the following surfaces:

Stainless steel and plastic – up to 72 hours

Cardboard – 24 hours

Copper – 4 hours

So frequent hand washing is still a very effective preventive measure as well as cleaning surfaces. Especially our mobile phones, tablets & keyboards.

You can read the full report here.

Stay safe and as much as possible, stay indoors.

Categories
Daily dose

How vulnerable am I to the COVID-19?

The SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread throughout the world and there’s now talk of the COVID-19 reaching pandemic levels. It’s not going to be the end of the world or the start of a zombie breakout but one cannot avoid getting anxious. I myself have been worrying ever since reading about it back in December last year. Primarily because I have not been of the greatest of health; underweight, prone to allergic rhinitis which would easily develop into upper respiratory infection. That alone is enough to make life very hard for at least a couple of weeks until it gets resolved. To top it all off, I work in an office building where there’s a lot of foreign nationals on a daily basis.

So the worry is real. Thankfully most of the answers to the question in the title of this post, can be found on an article by Dr Edsel Maurice Salvaña, M.D., DTM&H, FPCP, FIDSA on Esquire Magazine:

Early data is showing that about 80% of people who get sick with COVID-19 will develop only mild symptoms, while 20% can develop more severe disease. The ones at highest risk for a bad outcome are the elderly and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. A greater percentage of men compared with women with COVID-19 have died in China, and this may have been partly because more males smoke in China. Protecting your loved ones means avoiding unnecessary travel and practicing social distancing. Elderly people should avoid crowds and crowded places. Make sure everyone’s vaccinations for influenza and bacterial pneumonia are up to date since these can prove fatal if they occur at the same time as a COVID-19 infection. Now is also the best time to stop smoking.

Dr Edsel Maurice Salvaña, M.D. A Coronavirus Pandemic Isn’t the End of the World

I may not be young anymore but certainly not too old to be considered an ‘elderly’ just yet. Heart disease and diabetes free. However, I do have a history of lung disease and that’s where the worry really comes from. On the other hand some level of comfort comes from the fact that I don’t smoke cigarettes and having been on a drinking hiatus since last October, my exposure to second-hand smoke has been practically eliminated.

The real trick now is to keep my self in better health. Wash my hands more often and minimize travel. I even started to use my elbows in pushing the elevator buttons and consciously avoid touching door handles and the overhead bar at jeepneys.

In addition, I regularly keep myself updated with news & information about the COVID-19 from credible sources. Hopefully it would be enough to be spared from this disease along with my family. Hoping even more that a local outbreak would not happen even though the recent moves of the government in response to SARS-CoV-2 spread does not inspire confidence and even adds to our worries, there’s only so much that we can do.

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Science

Novel coronavirus 2019 disease & virus gets official names

Two official names have been made public today in relation to the on-going pandemic, yes I said it, of novel coronavirus: the disease and the virus that causes it.

As per the World Health Organization:

For the virus:

Similar to how one should distinguish the AIDS (disease) from HIV (virus). With the official names now available, research and news reporting would be much clearer.

So let’s recap: the disease is called Coronavirus Disease-19 or COVID-19 and the virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).