136: Long Term Effects

I have a friend who is still suffering from the effects of COVID, months after he’s recovered, and that is seeming like it’s the norm. All the people that have lingering symptoms are people who are younger, who never went to the ICU and have seemingly recovered. But they never really do.

One recent study evaluated patients’ symptoms several weeks after they’d been discharged from the hospital and it found that only 12.6% of them were free of any coronavirus-related symptoms. This is just bonkers and mind-blowing.

It seems like there’s a good group of folks who have fatigue, difficulty breathing, joint and chest pain, cough and headaches. A WSJ article also digs in and says that many of these patients are “younger and had previously been healthy, with Covid cases initially considered mild to moderate. But months later they are still sick, and some are getting worse.”

One physician thinks most patients with long-term symptoms are developing dysautonomia, a neurological condition that occurs when the autonomic nervous system is out of balance. It’s not clear whether the condition is a result of an overactive immune system or the virus itself.

This damn coronavirus is only 6 months old and we basically still know very little about it. There are so many unique things to it. Here’s a good Atlantic article about this if you want to read more. Continue reading “136: Long Term Effects”

135: Vaccine Trials

Pandemic life is starting to get old, and I’d love to go back to normal as fast as possible. There’s good news on that front. Yesterday morning, one volunteer in Georgia got an injection that kicked off the first large-scale vaccine trial in the US. The study will test 30,000 healthy people at about 89 sites around the US to determine whether the vaccine (developed by Moderna) works.

Also, yesterday afternoon, Pfizer also announced that it will also begin a late-stage study of a vaccine, with the first shots to be given today (Tues). The trial will also include 30,000 people, from 39 states.

If all goes well and the vaccine is effective, Moderna said it should be able to deliver 500 million doses this year (2020), and up to a billion per year starting in 2021. I love the optimism. I had all but given up hope of anything happening in 2020.

An update about my Side-Effect statements: I talked with a pharma rep this weekend who stated that Stage 3 side effects in a drug trial is more akin to a bad headache than paralysis. Stage 4 means hospitalization, so it does encompass everything before before hospitalization but it usually means being under the weather. All that said, if there was a vaccine that knocked me out for a day – I’d be fine with that. I bet we all would. Continue reading “135: Vaccine Trials”

Tesla madness

134: Tesla Madness

Can we talk about Tesla for a moment? The reason they are relevant today is that their stock is ridiculous. Not that it’s high (which it is) or that the company is loved or hated (which it is) but that its volatility is off the charts. Tons of trades happening every day. For instance one day last week (Monday), Tesla opened $114 higher than its previous close, then gained another $136 within 15 minutes, then dropped by $324 before the market closed. Each dollar of share price corresponds to a market capitalization of $185 million, which means that Tesla lost more than $60 billion of value during the day. That’s more than the market cap of Ford and Fiat Chrysler combined. And this happens every day. Walls Street analysts have no idea what to think. Their price targets range from $87 (GLJ Research) to $2,322 (Piper Sandler). Continue reading “134: Tesla Madness”

131: Vaccine Side Effects

I recently read this article in Wired about the side effects of the new vaccines (thx to Sidey)

It talks about how most of the clinical trials have PR teams feeding us all the positive information and hiding the negative. The spin is covering up that there are “mild side effects” that are anything but mild.

In the Moderna trial, 1 in 5 people in the trial ended up unable to complete their activities of daily living by having a “grade 3 systemic” reaction. If you search for grade 3 systemic in FDA’s guidelines here (page 4 and 5) it means: Prevents daily activity and requires medical intervention.

As Sidey wrote said,

In case it’s not clear, “prevents daily activity” means disabled. It’s a pretty high bar of messed up. 1 out of 5 people being unable to work/go-to-school would be a real problem. Also these were previously entirely healthy people with no pre-existing conditions of any sort.

A friend who is on permanent disability and is deeply knowledgeable of the FDA technical definitions described it this way “Grade 3 systemic is more like suddenly you have multiple sclerosis (all over body issues, multiple organs, “unexplained” and they don’t really know why or what to do to fix them other than to wait)

I can’t wait for the vaccine. I think about it every day.

I’m being led to believe the vaccine is just around the corner but it seems like these companies have some serious roadblocks ahead of them. I hope they find a way through them. Continue reading “131: Vaccine Side Effects”

130: Home Schooling Pods

We want our kids to have social lives but also for them safe, and we can’t imagine an in-person school experience really being that. That means we’re probably keeping our kids at our house for the next year. Ideally, we have them at a house with a few other kids so they can socialize. A few kids is a lot different than the hundreds they’d interact with at the elementary school.

How we’re doing it:

  • We found a former teacher who doesn‘t want to go back to work at an in-person school. We’ll pay her monthly.
  • We have a family we’re close with who has similar social-distancing values as we do who wants to join. They’ll bring their kids over to our house every day.
  • We set up a dedicated space as a schoolhouse – our garage – and we will have the kids and teacher use it to teach the Zoom classes or whatever the curriculum is.

This “pod” system seems to be catching on. If you go to NextDoor you can see teachers looking for pods and parents looking for teachers. Others:

  • Myra Margolin, who created a Facebook page to help connect families in the D.C. region interested in “microschooling,” found more than 1,000 people join the group.
  • Andrea MacRae is trying to organize “bubbles” for children and families in the East Bay area. She has interested families fill out detailed surveys about their values and risk comfort, and then matches those families with other like-minded families — including those who won’t be able to pay and those that include essential workers.

If we get this working it seems like a great way to get everyone through this pandemic safely. While this is working for us, I could see how it could be tough for kids of essential workers, those who can’t find teachers, or families who afford it. I feel very fortunate we can do it. Continue reading “130: Home Schooling Pods”

85: 8 Can’t Wait

The protests about racial violence by police departments is all around us. I saw some incredible protests in the UK and Hong Kong yesterday. I have been wondering, what does police reform look like? What should police departments do? What are protesters asking for?

It seems like the best answer is we want, at a minimum, a massive reduction in police violence. After all in 2019 and 2020 in the US, a third of all people killed by strangers were killed by police officers. That’s crazy.

So, there’s a good answer for how we could reduce the violence and killings. In fact, there are 8 specific policies that could be implemented at each police department. There’s even a website called 8CantWait.org which highlights these policies.

If a department implements all 8 of these policies, there’s lots of data that shows police violence will go down 72%. Seventy-two percent. That’s a pretty good start. Continue reading “85: 8 Can’t Wait”

84: Drones for Seniors

How cool is this: UPS and CVS are starting to deliver their prescriptions to seniors in via drone.

UPS, CVS deliver first-ever prescription medication drops via ...As you know, X5 of COIVD deaths are people over 65. So, it’s super important we keep this demo safe. So, this drone delivery is just what we need. We want to keep those centers safe and free from new contacts, including those who have the necessary prescriptions for seniors.

Each drone can carry up to 5 lbs. each and travel up to 12 miles. They fly autonomously from a CVS location to nearby assisted living and nursing homes, then drop off the packages from a hover height of around 20 feet above these locations.

These are scary times, and it’s fascinating to see how some great minds and companies are being creative and coming up with technical solutions so we can be in contact with our loved ones, without getting too close.

An example I saw yesterday:

Continue reading “84: Drones for Seniors”

83: The Fall of Facebook

Back in 2006, I loved Facebook. I loved connecting with people and friends from around the world. The updates were great to see. The world needed it. I was convinced that social networking was the killer-app for the internet, and I still think that was true.

But then the world matured. By now we’ve all gotten used to it. The novelty has worn off. We take that online social connection for granted.

In today’s world, it’s not just enough to connect people and share the information, you need to provide context around that connection and that information. This is how people get news and information.

I’m not the only one who thinks so. When Trump posted last week “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” the employees at Facebook wanted to label that post as offensive, but Zuckerberg was adamant that all posts go up without being altered. Hundreds of employees are pissed after the company took no action.

Mark also went on Fox News and criticized Twitter for fact-checking Trump’s posts on mail-in ballots. He said he didn’t want his company to be an “arbiter of truth” on political issues. I think he’s the only one who feels that way.

Come on Mark. Let’s be honest, the reason you care so much is because (a) you don’t want to sign up to do the work. It’s a lot to label posts as incorrect or violent and once you set the precedent that you can’t go back, (b) the alt-right and other groups (Russia) are paying customers and it hurts the business to take sides, and finally (c) when your core product is harmful, you wants few warning labels as possible.

For all of these reasons, my views are switching. I’ve always viewed Facebook and its ability to connect others as a net positive in the world, even with all its flaws. But considering the recent actions and lack of conscience I hear from Mark, I’ve come to think of them as a net negative.

With over a billion monthly users, I only hope it turns around and gets better as they have enormous influence and power in the world.

Continue reading “83: The Fall of Facebook”

The Oura Ring

82: Fitness Trackers, More Like Sickness Trackers

I was a person who never wore a watch. I didn’t like the feeling it had on my wrist. That is, until 2 years ago when I got an Apple Watch as a birthday present. I haven’t taken it off since. I love it My watch face looks like this:

The thing I like most is the personal tracking. I track my daily water intake (upper left), my exercise (30 minutes a day – the green circle), and my sleep every night. The gamification of my water intake – showing my progress all day, every time I look at my watch – has resulted in my consumption of at least 66 ounces a day for the past year.

The watch tracks my movement and heart rate as I sleep. Tracking my sleep has shown me how much alcohol impacts my nightly rest and how my mood correlates very closely with my 3-day average number of hours of sleep. Here’s are some other things my sleep app shows:

I bring this up because I recently read that wearable devices like the Apple Watch and the Oura Ring are being used to predict when COVID-19 cases might occur. From the article:

Data from a wearable device can reveal coronavirus symptoms days before you even realize you’re sick. That means fitness trackers could be on their way to becoming sickness trackers.

The Oura Ring can predict up to three days in advance when people will get a fever, coughing or shortness of breath. If these devices can signal when someone is getting sick before they know it, then we can detect sooner and keep the population healthier.

There’s obviously a long way to go and privacy concerns, but I’m a sucker for new technology especially if it will allow us to live more socially but still be safe.
Continue reading “82: Fitness Trackers, More Like Sickness Trackers”

81: Reopening in Happening

When talking with friends across the country recently I realized that our little bubble here in California is different. We’re still in lockdown and our restaurants aren’t open. People are wearing masks. It’s as if it’s April.

My friends in other parts of the country are living differently. I heard someone yesterday make a reservation at a restaurant for “a table for 3.” Another friend who is operating a taxi company in Georgia remarked that there are plenty of rides happening. So, America is definitely reopening.

Trivia question: There are 3500 deaths from COVID in California. How many of them are under the age of 45? Answer: 68. Most people my age haven’t seen anyone die or get seriously ill from this disease. I can understand that. If people don’t perceive the threat, there’s no fear, and they’ll continue to push the line.

So, we’ll see what happens. I’m guessing there’s be more waves of cases, but, hey, maybe not. We will see.

I keep thinking about this read: Sure, The Velociraptors Are Still On The Loose But That’s No Reason Not To Reopen Jurassic Park Continue reading “81: Reopening in Happening”

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