New poster:

20 March 2020 — Download, print out, hang up and share electronically:

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Coronavirus: Symptoms, statistics and daily tracking.

Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project, Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern, London, 2003.

15 March 2020 — Indeed, it’s the end of the world as we know it. We collected a bit of information about the symptoms and the cycle of the coronavirus. All source links are provided below.

Typical symptoms of Covid-19
Covid-19 typically causes flu-like symptoms including a fever and cough. In some patients — particularly the elderly and those with other chronic health conditions — these symptoms can develop into pneumonia, with chest tightness, chest pain and shortness of breath. It appears to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.

After a week, it can lead to further shortness of breath, with about 20% of patients requiring hospital treatment. Notably, the Covid-19 infection rarely seems to cause a runny nose, sneezing, or sore throat (these symptoms have been observed in only about 5% of patients). Sore throat, sneezing, and stuffy nose are most often signs of a cold.

80% of the cases are mild
Based on all 72,314 cases* of Covid-19 in China as of 11 February 2020:
— 80.9% of infections are mild (with flu-like symptoms) and can recover at home
— 13.8% are severe, developing severe diseases including pneumonia and shortness of breath
— 4.7% as critical and can include: respiratory failure, septic shock, and multi-organ failure
— 2% of reported cases are fatal
— The risk of death increases the older that you are
— Relatively few cases haven been seen among children

* Taken from research a paper about confirmed, suspected and asymptomatic cases which was released on 17 February 2020 by the Chinese CCDC and published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology.

Pre-existing illnesses that put patients at a higher risk:
— Cardiovascular disease
— Diabetes
— Chronic respiratory disease
— Hypertension

It must be noted, some otherwise healthy people have developed a severe form of pneumonia after being infected by the virus. The reason for this is unknown and is still being investigated.

Daily tracking of symptoms

First 1–3 days 
— Symptoms are similar to those of the common cold
— Sore throat
— No flu, not tired, still eating normally

Day 4
— Sore throat
— First signs of becoming sick
— Body temperature increasing from 36.5° (varies from person to person)
— Loss of appetite begins, difficult to eat
— Mild headache
— Mild diarrhea

Day 5
— Sore throat, coughing
— Slightly hot body, temperature rises to 36.5–36.7°
— Feeling tired and dizzy, pain in the joints
— This stage is difficult to diagnose as either a cold or flu

Day 6
— Mild fever begins, about 37°
— Croup cough or dry cough
— Sore throat when eating, talking or swallowing
— Fatigue, nausea
— Breathing is difficult
— Possible diarrhea, vomiting

Day 7
— The fever is higher from 37.4–37.8°
— Much coughing
— Body aches and pains, the head feels heavy
— Frequent feeling of suffocation
— More diarrhea
— Vomiting

Day 8 
— Fever is 38°+
— Hard to breathe, shortness of breath
— Continued coughing
— Headache, joint pain, back pain 

Day 9 (in this stage, blood tests and lung xrays should be made
— Symptoms worsen
— High fever
— Not coughing but symptoms worsen
— Breathing difficulties

Symptoms vary depending on the individual’s resistance and immunity. It takes 10–14 days for symptoms to develop in a healthy person, only 4–5 days for a person with health issues.

> healthxcenter.com

Examples of possible development of symptoms (from actual cases)

A man in his 40s in Japan:
— Day 1: Bodily discomfort and muscle pain
— Later diagnosed with pneumonia

A man in his 60s in Japan:
— Day 1: Initial symptoms of low-grade fever and sore throat

A man in his 40s in Japan:
— Day 1: Chills, sweating and malaise
— Day 4: Fever, muscle pain and cough

A woman in her 70s, in Japan:
— Day 1: 38° fever for a few minutes
— Day 2+3: Went on a bus tour
— Day 5: Visited a medical institution
— Day 6: Showed symptoms of pneumonia

A woman in her 40s, in Japan:
— Day 1: Low-level fever
— Day 2: 38° fever
— Day 6: Being treated at home

A man in his 60s, in Japan:
— Day 1: Cold symptoms
— Day 6: Fever of 39°C (102.2°F)
— Day 8: Pneumonia

Another patient, in China with a history of type 2 diabetes and hypertension:
— 22 January: Fever and cough
— 5 February: Died

First death in the Philippines (44 year old Chinese other pre-existing health conditions):
— 25 January: Fever, cough, and sore throat (hospitalized)
— Developed severe pneumonia
— 2 February: Died

How long do symptoms last?

Using available preliminary data, the Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission published on 28 February 2020 by WHO, which is based on 55,924 laboratory confirmed cases, observed the following median time from symptoms onset to clinical recovery:

— Mild cases: approximately 2 weeks
— Severe or critical disease: 3–6 weeks
— Time from onset to the development of severe disease (including hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to a specific part of the body): 1 week

Among patients who have died, the time from symptom onset to outcome ranges from 2–8 weeks.

> healthxcenter.com

Combating the coronavirus: Why soap works so well.
by Palli Thordarson

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that have a halo, or crown-like (corona) appearance when viewed under an electron microscope. Photo: Dr. Fred Murphy (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

9 March 2020 — A two-part Twitter thread about soap, viruses and supramolecular chemistry.
(Ed. By the way, SARS-CoV-2 is the virus, COVID-19 is the disease.)

Part 1

Why does soap work so well on the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus and indeed most viruses? Because it is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. A two part thread about soap, viruses and supramolecular chemistry.‬

The soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies, or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive. Viruses can be active outside the body for hours, even days.

Disinfectants, or liquids, wipes, gels and creams containing alcohol (and soap) have a similar effects but are not really quite as good as normal soap. Apart from the alcohol and soap, the antibacterial agents in these products don’t affect the virus structure much at all.

Consequently, many antibacterial products are basically just an expensive version of soap in terms of how they act on viruses. Soap is the best but alcohol wipes are good when soap is not practical or handy (e.g. office receptions).

But why exactly is soap so good? To explain that, I will take you through a bit of a journey through supramolecular ‪chemistry‬, nanoscience and virology. I try to explain this in generic terms as much as possible, which means leaving some specialist chemistry terms out.

I point out to that while I am expert in supramolecular chemistry and the assembly of nanoparticles, I am not a virologist. The image with the first tweet is from an excellent post here which is dense with good virology info:

The weakest link of the coronavirus is it's fatty bilayer (lipid).
E = small envelope protein
S = spike glycoprotein
M = membrane
Illustration: David M. Knipe and Peter M. Howley (ed.), Fields Virology, 6th Edition. Wolters Kluwer, 2013.

I have always been fascinated by viruses as I see them as one of them most spectacular examples of how supramolecular chemistry and nanoscience can converge. Most viruses consist of three key building blocks: RNA, proteins and lipids.

The RNA is the viral genetic material — it is very similar to DNA. The proteins have several roles including breaking into the target cell, assist with virus replication and basically to be a key building block (like a brick in a house) in the whole virus structure.

The lipids then form a coat around the virus, both for protection and to assist with its spread and cellular invasion. The RNA, proteins and lipids self-assemble to form the virus. Critically, there are no strong covalent bonds holding these units together.

Instead the viral self-assembly is based on weak non-covalent interactions between the proteins, RNA and lipids. Together these act together like a velcro so it is very hard to break up the self-assembled viral particle. Still, we can do it (e.g. with soap!).

Most viruses, including the coronavirus, are between 50–200 nanometers — so they are truly nanoparticles. Nanoparticles have complex interactions with surfaces they are on. Same with viruses. Skin, steel, timber, fabric, paint and porcelain are very different surfaces.

When a virus invades a cell, the RNA hijacks the cellular machinery like a computer virus (!) and forces the cell to start to makes a lot of fresh copies of its own RNA and the various proteins that make up the virus.

These new RNA and protein molecules, self-assemble with lipids (usually readily present in the cell) to form new copies of the virus. That is, the virus does not photocopy itself, it makes copies of the building blocks which then self-assemble into new viruses!

All those new viruses eventually overwhelm the cell and it dies/explodes releasing viruses which then go on to infect more cells. In the lungs, some of these viruses end up in the airways and the mucous membranes surrounding these.

When you cough, or especially when you sneeze, tiny droplets from the airways can fly up to 10 meters (30 ft)! The larger ones are thought to be main coronavirus carriers and they can go at least 2 m (7 ft). Thus — cover your coughs and sneezes to people!

These tiny droplets end on surfaces and often dry out quickly. But the viruses are still active! What happens next is all about supramolecular chemistry and how self-assembled nanoparticles (like the viruses) interact with their environment!

Now it is time to introduce a powerful supramolecular chemistry concept that effectively says: similar molecules appear to interact more strongly with each other than dissimilar ones. Wood, fabric and not to mention skin interact fairly strongly with viruses.

Contrast this with steel, porcelain and at least some plastics, e.g. teflon. The surface structure also matter – the flatter the surface the less the virus will stick to the surface. Rougher surfaces can actually pull the virus apart.

So why are surfaces different? The virus is held together by a combination of hydrogen bonds (like those in water) and what we call hydrophilic or fat-like interactions. The surface of fibres or wood for instance can form a lot of hydrogen bonds with the virus.

In contrast steel, porcelain or teflon do not form a lot of hydrogen bond with the virus. So the virus is not strongly bound to these surfaces. The virus is quite stable on these surface whereas it doesn’t stay active for as long on say fabric or wood.

For how long does the virus stay active? It depends. The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is thought to stay active on favourable surfaces for hours, possibly a day. Moisture (dissolves), sun light (UV light) and heat (molecular motions) all make the virus less stable.

The skin is an ideal surface for a virus! It is organic and the proteins and fatty acids in the dead cells on the surface interact with the virus through both hydrogen bonds and the fat-like hydrophilic interactions.

So when you touch say a steel surface with a virus particle on it, it will stick to your skin and hence get transferred onto your hands. But you are not (yet) infected. If you touch your face though, the virus can get transferred from your hands and on to your face.

And now the virus is dangerously close to the airways and the mucus type membranes in and around your mouth and eyes. So the virus can get in… and voila! You are infected (that is, unless your immune system kills the virus).

If the virus is on your hands you can pass it on by shaking someone’s else hand. Kisses, well, that’s pretty obvious… It comes without saying that if someone sneezes right in your face you are kind of stuffed. Part 2 about soap coming next (25 post limit reached)!

Part 2

About soap, supramolecular chemistry and viruses. So how often do you touch your face? It turns out most people touch the face once every 2–5 minutes! Yeah, so you at high risk once the virus gets on your hands unless you can wash the active virus off.

So let’s try washing it off with plain water. It might just work. But water only competes with the strong glue-like interactions between the skin and virus via hydrogen bonds. They virus is quite sticky and may not budge. Water isn’t enough.

Soapy water is totally different. Soap contains fat-like substances knowns as amphiphiles, some structurally very similar to the lipids in the virus membrane. The soap molecules compete with the lipids in the virus membrane.

The soap molecules also compete with a lot other non-covalent bonds that help the proteins, RNA and the lipids to stick together. The soap is effectively dissolving the glue that holds the virus together. Add to that all the water.

The soap also outcompetes the interactions between the virus and the skin surface. Soon the viruses get detached and fall a part like a house of cards due to the combined action of the soap and water. The virus is gone!

The skin is quite rough and wrinkly which is why you do need a fair amount of rubbing and soaking to ensure the soap reaches very crook and nanny on the skin surface that could be hiding active viruses.

Alcohol based products, which pretty includes all disinfectants and antibacterial products contain a high-percentage alcohol solution, typically 60–80% ethanol, sometimes with a bit of isopropanol as well and then water plus a bit of a soap.

Ethanol and other alcohols do not only readily form hydrogen bonds with the virus material but as a solvent, are more lipophilic than water. Hence alcohol do also dissolve the lipid membrane and disrupt other supramolecular interactions in the virus.

However, you need a fairly high concentration (maybe +60%) of the alcohol to get a rapid dissolution of the virus. Vodka or whiskey (usually 40% ethanol), will not dissolve the virus as quickly. Overall alcohol is not quite as good as soap at this task.

Nearly all antibacterial products contain alcohol and some soap and this does help killing viruses. But some also include active bacterial killing agents, like triclosan. Those, however, do basically nothing to the virus!

To sum up, viruses are almost like little grease-nanoparticles. They can stay active for many hours on surfaces and then get picked up by touch. They then get to our face and infect us because most of us touch the face quite frequently.

Water is not very effective alone in washing the virus off our hands. Alcohol based product work better. But nothing beats soap – the virus detaches from the skin and falls apart very readily in soapy water.

Here you have it – supramolecular chemistry and nanoscience tell us not only a lot about how the virus self-assembled into a functional active menace, but also how we can beat viruses with something as simple as soap.

Thank you for reading my first thread. Apologies for any mistakes in the above. I might have some virology details wrong here as I am not a virologist unlike ‪@MackayIM‬ who I am a big fan of! But I hope this inspires you not only to use soap but to read up on chemistry!

Palli Thordarson (@PalliThordarson), B.Sc. (Iceland) 1996, Ph.D. (Sydney) 2001, CChem, FRACI, FRSC
Professor, School of Chemistry UNSW, Sydney, New South Wales

Research Group website: http://thordarsongroup.org

Biographical Details
B.Sc. Chemistry from the University of Iceland (1996), Researcher, Science Institute, the University of Iceland (1996–1997). Ph.D, The University of Sydney (1997–2001). Postdoctoral Fellow, the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands (2001), Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands (2001–2003). The University of Sydney SESQUI Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2003–2005). Australian Research Council, Australian Research Fellow, The University of Sydney (2006–2007) and UNSW (2007–2010). Appointed Senior Lecturer, UNSW (2007); Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2012–2016), Associate Professor (2013). Professor (2017).
Marie Curie Fellowship (2001), Sesqui Fellowship (2003), NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Prize (2008), The International Society of Porphyrins and Phthalocaynines/Journal of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines) Young Investigator Award (2010), Le Fèvre Memorial Prize by the Australian Academy of Science (2012). Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (2017), Fellow of the Royal Socieity of Chemistry UK (2017).

> Palli Thordarson on Twitter
> Coronavirus Tech Handbook
> SARS-CoV-2 and the lessons we have to learn from it

News update: Studio concert postponed.

2 March 2020 — Today’s studio concert by Shadowplay has been postponed to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. We will keep you posted when the concert has been re-scheduled. Stay healthy!

> Listen to Shadowplay

K’Werk 2020 Program: Neon is the New Orange.

17 February 2020 — The K’Werk Bildschule (German for image school) was founded in 2005, offering classes and workshops in the visual arts, a concept similar to that of what music schools have been providing for decades. Children and adolescents between the age of 5 and 16 can discover and develop their creative skills in a fun and concentrated atmosphere.

The K’Werk Bildschule is part of the Basel School of Design and is a public educational program in the canton of Basel-Stadt.

K’Werk 2020 program, published twice yearly, 48 pages, 2-color printing with a 4-color photo section. The new program booklet is available at K’Werk Bildschule: www.kwerk.ch or from us directly.

New book release: Mixing, Punks and Background Noise.

2 January 2020 — This little paperback is an explosive collision of two of our favorite subjects: Real Punk Ginger Beer and music. Mixing, Punks and Background Noise is packed with 35 mixed drink recipes and 31 black and white photographs of 15 bands and 49 musicians from around the globe.

Learn to mix common cocktails such as Moscow Mule and Dark and Stormy and the lesser known Matcha Ginger Beer, Ginger Beer Caipirinha and Vintage Punk. All of the recipes use our own Real Punk Ginger Beer as a mixer. And for the especially ambitioned, we have included 2 recipes for making your own DIY infused aromatic bitters.

The musicians are not only esteemed stars, but also local artists who we highly admire. The concert photos include the following performers: Steve Albini & Shellac, Asbest, Bernie the Attorney, Jehnny Beth & Savages, Big Muff, Nick Cave, Dead Moon, Denner Clan, Michael Gira & Swans, Gustav Gurke & Peter Paprika, Debbie Harry, Rowland S. Howard, L’Arbre bizarre, Lombego Surfers, John Maher of Buzzcocks, Dominic Aitchison and Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, Chris Pravdica, Joey Ramone, Henry Rollins, Siouxsie Sioux, Mark E. Smith, Thurston Moore, Todd Trainer, Totem Nevada, Treelove, The Tutu Three, Warpaint, Norman Westberg, Bob Weston and Jack White.

Many thanks to Andy Chislehurst (John Maher), David Corio (Nick Cave, Rowland S. Howard, Mark E. Smith), Ed Perlstein (Joey Ramone) and Derek Ridgers (Siouxsie Sioux) for graciously allowing us to use their vintage photographs! All other photographs are by Susan Knapp.

Mixing, Punks and Background Noise — Real Punk Ginger Beer and the Art of Mixology: 167 x 215 mm, 64 pages, 31 black and white photographs, softcover, in English, limited edition of 250 copies. CHF 10, EUR 9 plus shipping. Real Punk Ginger Beer can be ordered directly from us at Karo Publishing.