Saturday Stories: Some Of This Week’s Most Important #COVID19 Reads

Jennifer Yang, in The Toronto Star, speaks with 3 of Toronto’s health care heroes.

Adam Rogers, in Wired, explains what convalescent plasma is and how it might help treat COVID19.

Ed Yong, in The Atlantic, being Ed Yong and writing an incredible piece on how this pandemic might end.

David Enrich, Rachel Abrams and Steven Kurutz, in The New York Time, on the sewing army rising up to help.

Helen Branswell, in STAT, summarizing all the we’ve learned to date about the SARS-CoV2 virus.

Daniela J. Lamas, in The New York Times, writing as a critical care physician in Boston on the unfathomable reality she’s facing there.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, in The New Yorker, on how the coronavirus behaves inside of our bodies.

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Saturday Stories: Still Just Coronavirus Links – Guessing It Might Be This Way For A Little While At Least

Gretchen Reynolds, in The New York Times, answers questions as to the safety of exercising in the face of COVID-19

Cornelia Griggs, in The New York Times,  a critical care physician in New York, explains why she needs you to know that the sky is falling.

Yascha Mounk, in The Atlantic, tries to explain why people aren’t staying home despite incredible risks and ramifications of not doing so.

Ashleigh Tuite and David Fisman, in The Globe and Mail, both infectious disease epidemiologists, with their thoughts on how we might slow the burn of the COVID-19 forest fire.

Aaron E. Carroll and Ashish Jha, in The Atlantic, with their thoughts on how we can beat this coronavirus.

Pam Belluck, in The New York Times, needs you to know that though children uniformly have much milder cases of COVID-19 than adults, some will become seriously ill.

Manny Fernandez, in The New York Times, with a sobering read on how the coronavirus will impact the already impoverished.

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Keep Your Powder Dry!

As a medical doctor, I have worked in specialised academic medicine my entire life and have a pretty good understanding of both the epidemiology as well as the medical, economic, and societal challenges ahead of us.  My own clinic, as many other out-patient clinics, are grinding to a halt as patients cancel visits, elective surgeries are put on hold and personnel is about to be deployed elsewhere in the system. I’m thus very much tempted to run into the hospital and try to help out my colleagues working in emergency and on the wards.  I am of course happy and willing to help out where I can – but truthfully – it’s been 20 years since I last attended to patients on a ward (I have never done this in Canada!), it’s also been almost 30 years since I last intubated, ventilated, or resuscitated a patient. Were I to hurry onto a ward now to help out, I would not only not know what to do, I would likely hamper my colleagues with my questions and ignorance. At this time, perhaps my best response is to just stay out of their way. But there is more – as we are seeing in China, Italy and elsewhere, sooner or later the frontline providers will be infected and will either have to self-quarantine or themselves become patients. This means that a second line of providers who remain unexposed and healthy needs to stand ready to take their place – clearly, we need to avoid a “surge” of infected medical personnel, so that 3 or 4 weeks from now we still have enough man power to staff the hospitals. So, I for one, and my advice to my colleagues is, stay at home and isolate yourself until such times (and I am sure they will come), when you are called up on to replace the colleagues who are at the front lines today. Your best chance to help them, is to be fit and healthy when it is your time to step up to the plate – in other words, keep your powder dry! When my time comes to step up, I can only hope that working on the wards and ICU is like riding a bike and it all comes back to me as though it was just yesterday.  I realise that for doctors as for everyone else, staying at home means… Read More »

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Saturday Stories: #COVID19 #FlattenTheCurve #CancelEverything Edition

7 views on why social distancing is so important right now and why we have to “cancel everything“. If you think that #COVID19 isn’t a big deal, do take the time to read these pieces to learn why you’re wrong (ordered solely by way of the order I happened to read them in).

Eliza Barclay and Dylan Scott, in Vox.

Tomas Pueyo in Medium

Yascha Monk, in The Atlantic

Helen Branswell, in STAT

André Picard, in The Globe and Mail

Sharon Kirkey in The National Post

Kaitlyn Tiffany in The Atlantic

Also, here’s Wency Leung, in The Globe and Mail, on what you should do if you think you have COVID19, and here is the Toronto Star’s infographic on what self-isolation should look like if it’s determined that you’ve contracted the virus.

Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris / CC BY-SA

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TikTok Is All About Fat Shaming These Days

I was driving with my 13 year old daughter on Saturday and we were just chatting. I asked her what was trending these days on her TikTok stream (in the past she’d been served up antisemitism)? Apparently it’s fat shaming Lizzo.

I asked her to share some videos with me.

She sent over 10 in less than a minute.

Some representative examples to follow, but all this to say, TikTok, while hugely entertaining, is a cesspool of hate and bullying, and if your children use it, probably worth asking them every once in a while what’s trending on their streams so that you can take the time at least to talk about it.


Everyone please ##stop making ##lizzo memes ##fyp

♬ original sound – noahswitzer98


When you lose Lizzo while your whale watching 😂 ##greenscreen ##lizzo ##meme ##xyzbca ##xyzcba ##joke ##fyp ##memes ##tiktokmemes ##comedy ##comedicgenius

♬ ITs ANIT new girlfriend of your ex – its_anit


##greenscreenvideo ##lizzo ##meme ##tacticalnuke ##mw2

♬ original sound – yaboyg35

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Saturday Stories: Elizabeth Warren, Enabling Antisemites, Marathon Cheats, and COVID19

Elie Mysal, in The Nation, with the depressing truth behind why Elizabeth Warren won’t be America’s next president. 

Sharon Otterman, in The New York Times, with an absolutely shocking story of enabled antisemitism from New Jersey (and I don’t shock easily)

Derek Murphy, in Wired, on marathon cheaters and their investigators

[And if you don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, here’s the segment I did yesterday on CTV’s The Social where we chatted about many things COVID19 (if geoblocked outside of a Canada, a VPN spoofing a Canadian server ought to work]

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Australian Food Industry Launches World’s Least Aggressive New Voluntary Self-Regulatory Effort

Waiting for any industry to self-regulate itself is just plain dumb. Honestly, industry’s job is to protect and promote sales, and that’s of course true for the food industry as well.

Self-regulation tends to crop up not out of altruism or doing the right thing, but rather as a means to forestall legislative regulatory efforts which in turn would prove to be more damaging to sales.

Take this recent initiative out of Australia which will see the food industry not advertising their junk to kids within 150m (500ft) of schools. 150 whole metres! While certainly not likely to do anything at all, it’ll be especially useless perhaps in that the school buses themselves will be exempt, as of course will be the bus stops’ shelters.

Oh, and as toothless as it is, it’s also voluntary.

Really the only thing this initiative will do is provide the food industry with ammunition if and when facing calls for legislated regulation (something we’re hearing more and more calls for) and to pretend that they care about anything other than profits.

It’s always best to remember, as I’ve written before, the food industry is neither friend, nor foe, nor partner.

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Saturday Stories: Coronavirus Edition

James Hamblin, in The Atlantic, on how yes, you’re probably going to get the coronavirus.

Peter Daszak, in The New York Times, welcomes you to the age of pandemics.

Vivian Wang, in The New York Times, with the bad good news that most coronavirus cases are likely to be mild.

Zeynep Tufekci, in Scientific American, on what you can do to prepare for when the coronavirus spreads to your country.

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Health Canada Fails Science And Canadians By Allowing Any Purported Weight Loss Supplements To Be Sold

The latest of many systematic reviews and meta-analyses of herbal supplements for weight loss plainly makes the case that there is no justification for their sale.

They. Don’t. Work.

None of them.

None. Of. Them.

So why does Health Canada license and allow the sale of 1,128 natural products whose listed purported use is for weight management? Or of the 671 products that purport they’ll improve sexual enhancement? Or of pretty much any of them?

Maybe the answer lies somewhere in the taxation of the $1.8 billion annual Canadian sales of vitamins and supplements?

Maybe it lies in well-intentioned hope?

Maybe it lies is political contributions and lobbying?

But the one place where it doesn’t lie is in science. Shouldn’t that be the only place that matters?

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Saturday Stories: CRISPR Ethics, Auschwitz’ Survivors’ Warnings, And Illegal Abortion

Ethan Weiss, in STAT, with a personal essay about his daughter, albinism, CRISPR and ethics.

Jonathan Freedland, in The Guardian, with the last desperate warnings of Auschwitz’ few remaining survivors.

Olga Khazan, in The Atlantic, on what abortion will look like if it once again becomes illegal.

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