April 3, 2020

How the Family of a Bioscientist Shops and Cleans Groceries in the Midst of The American Pandemic of 2020.

I know you have anxiety about shopping for food for you and your family. I know you are scared. You can be afraid. Fear is normal when there is danger, but stop thinking about it and prepare to get your groceries. You can do this. You can order them for delivery. If you can find a grocery store that is using staff to control traffic of shoppers: distance control, limited numbers of people in stores, a system for sterilizing wagons for you, separation in check out lines, procedures for protecting you and the cashiers, then you can shop yourself as well. In either case, what do we do when we get our food at our door? Well, we wash them, in warm water with regular dish soap. I know that viruses are actually very susceptible to soap, detergents, and their main molecular components dissolve nicely in soapy water. Make sure you have suds, bubbles. Of course, any food you cook will destroy the virus too, but you can still wash your veggies for your salads and for safe handing in your own home doing food preparation. 

Here is a little video on how. It's easy. 

You can do this. You can :).



March 27, 2020

VIDEO: Why Coronavirus (COVID19) is not like the Flu, and how you can save lives staying home.

I am tired of some politicians and Fox News trying to tell us how this pandemic is no different than the flu. That is wrong and it is very easy to explain why with two numbers: 1.4 and 3.  They are tiny numbers, but they explain why COVID19 is causing many of our most vulnerable citizens to lose their lives in ICUs all around the United States and the world.

March 21, 2020

COVID-19 Cases by US State, Canada, Australia 3-21-2020 Graphed

United States COVID-19 Cases over time for US States, Canada, and Australia.

This post will be updated whenever I get time to pull the latest COVID-19 case data from github.com and do the sorting and graphing. Please use and share the graphs in the public domain. I use this data so I can analyze and predict for myself where cases are going to rise fastest.

You will note from 3-21-2020 data that New York state is going to be the first hardest hit. The list of States or Provinces in each graph legend is in order, top to bottom, from the relatively highest number of cases to lower.

On 3-21-2020 I started to add graphs for Canada and Australia.

These graphs in PDF format are now available for free use for public education and by journalists. Use, share, educate, write, with my blessing.

I have a repository of graphs set up at GitHub:

https://github.com/kpmitton/COVID19CASEGRAPHS

You will find graphs in folders named by day.

Ken Mitton, PhD
(http://TheScienceRant.com)

























March 20, 2020

Home and WorkPlace Surface Cleaning Precautions During COVID19 or Even for Flu Season.

Here are some youtube videos I have made to show you how to wash surfaces at home and at work to reduce the spread of COVID19 virus and flu viruses. Regular cleaners you use normally for kitchens and bathrooms will work. Any soap will do. You just need to have suds. 70% alcohol is also useful for wiping down phones, doorknobs, computer keyboards, and mice.

This virus is a simple, if dangerous, particle. It is made up of a viral RNA molecule, some lipid (like oil) membrane or envelope that it gets from the membranes of the cells it is produced in, and coronavirus envelope protein. RNA, lipids, and proteins, can all be broken apart and dissolved in soapy water, just as your dish soap dissolves fats and oils from your dishes.

Kitchen and bathroom cleaners also have a strong base (Lye) and/or bleaching chemicals that denature and oxidize especially the proteins of viruses.




March 15, 2020

12% UPDATE: The Rule of 70 and Why Your Hospitals are Bracing for the COVID Tsunami.

Math helps us understand disease spread in populations. Confirmed cases of COVID19 as of 3/17/2020. The apparent and surprising rise in cases after a long period of just a few cases is typical of the exponential nature of pandemic disease spread in populations. US data seems to have an instant-looking start because there was no significant amount of patient testing, then testing is being increased. Actual cases in a population spreading COVID19 may be increasing at 12% a day, which the Rule of 70 tells us is a doubling every 6 days. (Graph by KPMitton from CSSEGIS COVID19 data )
3/30/2020 UPDATE: Based on the last 24 hours the fatality increase from COVID19 was 12%, which was what I used here on 3/15/2020 for this article's original post for estimating how fast ICU beds can fill up in any hospital. Math, and knowledge is power to prepare. "Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision." Winston Churchill

The Rule of 70? Maybe you are not a science person. Maybe more business, finance, and accounting, or more in the arts and theatre. Maybe you are in the trades or other technologies or the culinary arts. Maybe you are familiar with getting a mortgage, or the stock market, bonds, and compound interest? Well, then you may already be familiar with the Rule of 70, and you may already understand what I am writing about in the rest of this article. Why the United States and many other countries can be in the same state where Italy is now in less than two more weeks. Hospital beds full of COVID19 patients, mostly older, some younger, smokers, vapers, those with pre-existing conditions like asthma, heart disease, or diabetes. Not just all the hospital's ICU beds, but all of its beds. Why social distancing and isolation is essential now, without cheating and going to clubs, concerts, restaurants or large gatherings. 

March 10, 2020

Practical Advice for Coronavirus in the USA

No need to panic, but you should also listen to specific trusted authorities regarding how to go about your everyday life and prepare for the effects of COVID-19 illness in your State and your hometown or city. As a biomedical scientist, this is what I am doing in my home and workplace with my own Family, friends, and co-workers. As a boss, and a professor, I have to take the initiative, lead by example and offer help. Here are some simple things to follow if you are feeling stressed about your own Family in the midst of this pandemic. 

March 6, 2020

What is the Coronavirus PCR Test?

My PCR primer-probe sets, order for up to 50 tests that detect the genetic sequence of the COVID19 virus. Ordered on March 1, 2020, online on a Sunday. They arrived in my lab on March 3rd, Tuesday morning just after 10AM. Wednesday, I designed a test protocol for reaction set up with my technologist assistant, Ed Guzman, while I completed some committee work that day and worked on our VEGF and Norrin research. Thursday, March 5th, Ed set up reactions to run, which were completed in a few hours by the end of Thursday. This is not an FDA approved diagnostic test, but it is a test using primer probe sets ordered from the manufacturer that makes the same probe-sets for test kits in use. My cost for these COVID19 specific components was $170 US. We used New England Biolabs (USA) 2x real-time PCR (Probe) Master Mix, and an Agilent AriaMx Real-Time Thermocycler for our reactions. 
What is the coronavirus "PCR" test as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and also used by other countries around the world? One of our jobs as a University scientist is to make sure you understand how things work, like the coronavirus test. What is it, and how does it work?

I am a molecular biologist, a biochemist, who does biomedical research and it turns out that we use the same method, "Real-Time PCR", to measure the expression of genes we study in the retina and in retinal-vascular diseases. So we have made some videos to show you how the test works using the same CDC recommended PCR primer/probe sets. They are on YouTube to make them easy to view. What did I learn? Mostly that there is no excuse for the fact that the country that put the first men on the Moon did not have COVID19 testing ready. I ordered PCR reagents from the same company that makes primer-probe sets for the CDC on a Sunday, had them arrive on a Tuesday. We took one day to prepare the first test PCR reactions and run them. 

February 10, 2020

Portal to the Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus Information Focus Website.

The following information is a portal feed of the CDCs minisite for the 2019 Coronavirus outbreak. It is updated by CDC and I have used the public javascript feed to post here for your reference.

February 6, 2020

Science Reveals Autism and its Causes.

Autism.

For decades, many parents with autistic children have wanted to know why their child has autism and they wanted something to blame for the condition. This has lead to vaccines being blamed, which many studies have shown is not true, and even other drugs such as antibiotics.

I previously wrote a blog post on this topic, describing the some of the first new findings of genetic reasons, DNA changes, that impact genes encoding for proteins that are important to the normal function of neurons (neural cells) in our brains. This has come about largely because of our ability to now completely read the entire genomic DNA sequence of a patient. Children with autism, and also the genomic DNA sequences of their parents.

January 29, 2020

Coronavirus is Why We Want Government Supported Scientists: Do Not Panic

MERS coronavirus and cell
This is a computer colorized TEM (transmission electron micrograph) image of some MERS virus particles (blue) found near the edge of an infected VERO-E6 cell (yellow). Image from the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland.NIAID is the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), where government scientists work as part of the National Institutes of Health. MERS is a coronavirus like the current Wuhan China coronavirus. 

Coronavirus. I provide links in this posting to get information on this illness that you can trust. DO NOT PANIC. We see signs and memes all the time having fun with this phrase, but there are times when it is very good advice. This is one of those times while an epidemic of a dangerous coronavirus illness is spreading in mainland China and starting to appear in other countries. My best wishes and thank you to the Chinese mainland for throwing resources to reduce transmission and to treat the ill. The situation seems bad, but imagine what it would be like without the existence of our own U.S. Center for Disease Control (the CDC), or the World Health Organization (spawned from the United Nations). Imagine if we did not understand even what viruses were or how they work. It would be like the middle ages as plague spread and humans were oblivious about how to stop it, what it was, and even continuing to behave in ways that helped it spread more. I say, Do Not Panic. Why should we not panic now?