The Mould Show

Microbiological Literacy & COVID-19 Awareness

March 12, 2020 Dr Cameron Jones Episode 38
The Mould Show
Microbiological Literacy & COVID-19 Awareness
Chapters
The Mould Show
Microbiological Literacy & COVID-19 Awareness
Mar 12, 2020 Episode 38
Dr Cameron Jones

Now that the WHO has informed us all that the virus is now a Pandemic.  This week’s show will suspend our discussion on mould issues to bring you some important information on the COVID-19 virus.  This week we’ll be covering microbiological literacy, fractal scaling behaviour in death rate and how this is linked to what we know about the trail off of infection rate, the role of humidity and general virus transmission and infectivity as well as debunking some myths surrounding some claims that the COVID-19 is a laboratory made virus.  I also interview Richard Anthony from Eze Training who’s is launching a new course on infection control especially updated to cover COVID-19 that is aimed at the general public, hospitality staff as well as his core train demographic from the tattoo and allied body and beauty arts field. 

REFERENCES:

Timmis, K., Cavicchioli, R., Garcia, J., Nogales, B., Chavarría, M., Stein, L., McGenity, T., Webster, N., Singh, B., Handelsman, J., Lorenzo, V., Pruzzo, C., Timmis, J., Martín, J., Verstraete, W., Jetten, M., Danchin, A., Huang, W., Gilbert, J., Lal, R., Santos, H., Lee, S., Sessitsch, A., Bonfante, P., Gram, L., Lin, R., Ron, E., Karahan, Z., Meer, J., Artunkal, S., Jahn, D. and Harper, L., 2019. The urgent need for microbiology literacy in society. Environmental Microbiology, 21(5), pp.1513-1528. 10.1111/1462-2920.14611

Liu, S., Saif, L., Weiss, S., & Su, L. (2020). No credible evidence supporting claims of the laboratory engineering of SARS-CoV-2. Emerging Microbes & Infections, 9(1), 505-507. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2020.1733440

Luo, W., Majumder, M., Liu, D., Poirier, C., Mandl, K., Lipsitch, M., & Santillana, M. (2020). The role of absolute humidity on transmission rates of the COVID-19 outbreak. doi: 10.1101/2020.02.12.20022467

Batista, M. (2020). Estimation of the final size of the coronavirus epidemic by the logistic model. doi: 10.1101/2020.02.16.20023606

Ziff, A., & Ziff, R. (2020). Fractal kinetics of COVID-19 pandemic. doi: 10.1101/2020.02.16.20023820

Wang, M., Jiang, A., Gong, L., Luo, L., Guo, W., & Li, C. et al. (2020). Temperature significant change COVID-19 Transmission in 429 cities. doi: 10.1101/2020.02.22.20025791

Cai, Y., Huang, T., Liu, X., & Xu, G. (2020). The Effects of "Fangcang, Huoshenshan, and Leishenshan" Makeshift Hospitals and Temperature on the Mortality of COVID-19. doi: 10.1101/2020.02.26.20028472

Oliveiros, B., Caramelo, L., Ferreira, N., & Caramelo, F. (2020). Role of temperature and humidity in the modulation of the doubling time of COVID-19 cases. doi: 10.1101/2020.03.05.20031872

Interview with Richard Anthony from: https://ezetrainingcourses.com/


Show Notes Transcript

Now that the WHO has informed us all that the virus is now a Pandemic.  This week’s show will suspend our discussion on mould issues to bring you some important information on the COVID-19 virus.  This week we’ll be covering microbiological literacy, fractal scaling behaviour in death rate and how this is linked to what we know about the trail off of infection rate, the role of humidity and general virus transmission and infectivity as well as debunking some myths surrounding some claims that the COVID-19 is a laboratory made virus.  I also interview Richard Anthony from Eze Training who’s is launching a new course on infection control especially updated to cover COVID-19 that is aimed at the general public, hospitality staff as well as his core train demographic from the tattoo and allied body and beauty arts field. 

REFERENCES:

Timmis, K., Cavicchioli, R., Garcia, J., Nogales, B., Chavarría, M., Stein, L., McGenity, T., Webster, N., Singh, B., Handelsman, J., Lorenzo, V., Pruzzo, C., Timmis, J., Martín, J., Verstraete, W., Jetten, M., Danchin, A., Huang, W., Gilbert, J., Lal, R., Santos, H., Lee, S., Sessitsch, A., Bonfante, P., Gram, L., Lin, R., Ron, E., Karahan, Z., Meer, J., Artunkal, S., Jahn, D. and Harper, L., 2019. The urgent need for microbiology literacy in society. Environmental Microbiology, 21(5), pp.1513-1528. 10.1111/1462-2920.14611

Liu, S., Saif, L., Weiss, S., & Su, L. (2020). No credible evidence supporting claims of the laboratory engineering of SARS-CoV-2. Emerging Microbes & Infections, 9(1), 505-507. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2020.1733440

Luo, W., Majumder, M., Liu, D., Poirier, C., Mandl, K., Lipsitch, M., & Santillana, M. (2020). The role of absolute humidity on transmission rates of the COVID-19 outbreak. doi: 10.1101/2020.02.12.20022467

Batista, M. (2020). Estimation of the final size of the coronavirus epidemic by the logistic model. doi: 10.1101/2020.02.16.20023606

Ziff, A., & Ziff, R. (2020). Fractal kinetics of COVID-19 pandemic. doi: 10.1101/2020.02.16.20023820

Wang, M., Jiang, A., Gong, L., Luo, L., Guo, W., & Li, C. et al. (2020). Temperature significant change COVID-19 Transmission in 429 cities. doi: 10.1101/2020.02.22.20025791

Cai, Y., Huang, T., Liu, X., & Xu, G. (2020). The Effects of "Fangcang, Huoshenshan, and Leishenshan" Makeshift Hospitals and Temperature on the Mortality of COVID-19. doi: 10.1101/2020.02.26.20028472

Oliveiros, B., Caramelo, L., Ferreira, N., & Caramelo, F. (2020). Role of temperature and humidity in the modulation of the doubling time of COVID-19 cases. doi: 10.1101/2020.03.05.20031872

Interview with Richard Anthony from: https://ezetrainingcourses.com/


Hello, my name is Dr. Cameron Jones and I'm an environmental microbiologist and today on this Livestream, we're actually going to suspend our discussion about all things mould related, mainly due to the fact that the World Health Organization overnight has declared COVID-19 a pandemic and so today's show is going to focus on some key elements about what we know that certainly, I've been researching in the literature in the last couple of weeks. The reason I think it's important that we focus on COVID-19 is that there is a lot of fear and panic happening now. There is a huge amount of very credible science that is being published in the peer-reviewed literature and even the peer-reviewed service out there.

So there is a lot of quality information and I'm going to encourage everyone to use those resources to inform themselves about the spread of this pandemic as well as what is emerging in the literature with regard to steps that can be taken, proactive steps that may reduce the infectivity and the transmission rates. In order to start today's show, I'm going to be focusing on something called microbiological literacy. We're also going to be focusing on COVID-19 awareness. I interviewed a person earlier in the week, Richard Anthony from Eze Training who has developed a COVID-19 awareness course that is focusing on the tattoo and body arts industries as well as the broader hospitality sector. So I'll be bringing you that interview a bit later in today's Livestream.

But the first topic that I want to cover is something called microbiological literacy. Just before we start this, I'm just going to briefly run through the agenda for today's show. It is a little bit late, mainly due to the fact that my phone's been running hot with people commenting and wanting to discuss aspects of infection control with us today. So as I said, we're going to begin by reviewing this topic of microbiological literacy because really this is a foundation or it's foundational information to understanding epidemic spreads and the role of viruses and their relationship to bacteria, yeast, and fungi, which is usually the core information that we bring you each week.

As I said, I'm then interviewing Richard Anthony from Eze Training and then we are going to be looking at an update on a paper discussed a couple of weeks ago as part of our new segment which was focusing on fractal scaling. Fractal scaling is a way of understanding behaviors that change over time and the infection rate and death rate of COVID-19 is no different. So the authors who originally demonstrated that there appear to be a trail-off in the infection levels of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China have updated their paper and we're going to be looking at the implications of that. As well, I want to be talking about the role of temperature and humidity on general virus transmission because this is something that is being discussed in the research literature.

In fact, Nature published a paper back in 1960 talking about the relationship between temperature and relative humidity and absolute humidity. I'm going to be showing you an important graph that could be of assistance to all of us as we look for practical methods that may reduce the transmission rate of this particular virus throughout the community. I then want to look at this very red hot topic of conspiracy theories and whether or not there is any evidence to support the claims that have been made, certainly in various social media that there is lab engineering of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So on I'm going to debunk that quite upfront at the beginning of this episode and then show you what the academic literature has to say about this.

So this issue of microbiological literacy, well, this was really spearheaded by a paper, which came out in 2019 in the general environmental microbiology. The whole purpose of this paper was to introduce into the dialogue that we need to be considering these other areas of biology and making microbiological literacy a core component of the educational curriculum and so that people are more aware of the biological underpinnings of how they affect our world. I'm going to just give you a helicopter overview of what this paper says. Essentially, we need to recognize that human beings are essentially 50% microbial. We have something called a ‘microbiome’ in our intestinal system, our gut system, which is talked about all the time recently in the last couple of years, and the various different bacteria, yeasts and fungi, make up a large pot of organization of us as humans.

There is also something called ‘viome’ as well, which is the viral component to the biomes that are not just in our gut, but we also have a biome and a microbiome in our homes as well. I often talk about the relationship between us as occupants and the built environment and how the external weather conditions impact on our home and of course on our own micro floor present inside our bodies. So the take-home message is that we may be human but we're also 50% microbial and there are a lot of different therefore organizational systems within us, which impact our systems.

We also need to understand that communities of microorganisms essentially create second skins and these microbes are present on pretty much all our surfaces and they are our interface between us as we interact with our environment. Plant associated microorganisms are absolutely fundamental and essential for growth and without plants obviously we wouldn't have nutrients for other animals. So this cycle of biology is all interrelated with the microbes as well. As well, microorganisms are proactively protective for many animals. Of course, they need these microorganisms in order for them to ferment and digest foods as well. So there is a big cycle around the interplay that is usually just considered as biology, but we need to drill down into this and recognize that it is really microbiology and there are a lot of elements here which are very important to understand.

So really, the key takeaway here is that a biome is quite a complex phenomenon and it is really the interrelationship between us and the microorganisms that are in our natural world. I do want to say at this point that viruses are not microorganisms. They are related in the sense that they are microscopic and they replicate within living cells but they are not microorganisms but they do fall into the category of what is studied within the domain of microbiology, and specifically in the discipline area of virology. In any case, I said to you that I'll have a special guest on today. I'm going to play this interview for you now. It's with Richard Anthony who is the CEO of Ezetrainingcourses.com. He's developed a COVID-19 awareness course.

Specifically, he is going to be delivering this to the body arts industries, the tattoo industry as part of the infection control training that he already does as well as to the hospitality sector and to other individuals who are interested in learning more specific information than can be found in the public domain. He too is going to be drawing a lot of resources and individuals together to deliver really quite topical information, and as I said, information which is domain-specific to some of these areas in society such as body arts. So I'm excited to bring that to you now and we will play this. I recorded this yesterday and all the links to Ezetrainingcourses.com and to Richard are available. I understand that the course is coming online are very soon so I will play that to you now.

Cameron Jones:

Hi, Richard. Thanks for joining me today. I wanted to talk to you and do an interview with you because I understand that you're doing something very interesting with regard to COVID-19 influenza and with training. So firstly, for people who don't know you, could you tell me a little bit about who you are?

Richard Anthony:

Yeah. Thanks for having me as well. Look, I've been involved in the RTO space mainly in education for the last probably 15 years. I run a training organization specifically on boutique courses for the body art and beauty industry and work with local government in regard to training specifically more on infection control. So my background is more infection control. I kind of fell into it, but I've got this passion for infection control and sterilization. So I happen to love delivering these particular courses in this subject matter.

Cameron Jones:

Yeah. Look, I understand too that your involved in obviously the art of tattooing and how tattooing has moved beyond being a purely decorative method into the beauty arena of tattooing. So I would imagine that there is a requirement for very careful infection control and autoclaving and sterilization. So I guess that's quite similar to what we're talking about today about contagion because this transmission of viruses, although they require a host to live and grow in, it's not too dissimilar to the transmission pathways for our more common microbes like the bacteria, yeasts and fungi. So is that sort of your motivation to do this?

Richard Anthony:

Definitely. I think if you look at just, in all industries, not just the beauty industry, we are all very lax when it comes to basic infection control practices like washing hands. A lot of people don't understand the word cross-contamination. They think because you're wearing gloves, it's okay to wear gloves and all the PPE gear, but they still don't know what it's actually useful. So most of the time they're protecting themselves, but putting the other, their clients at risk at most times. So it's more about how to wear the stuff and how to utilize it properly.

Cameron Jones:

That's very interesting. You mentioned Eze Training is an RTO. So obviously if anyone jumps onto your website they can see a whole range of different courses. But this one that we're talking about today is very specific and focus on influenza or COVID-19. In a sense, do you see that as a new development in the RTO space?

Richard Anthony:

Look, I haven't really heard of anyone else doing something like this. This is a specific course mainly for the public to help people understand this particular bacteria and this virus. It's probably for more of a tick and flick for employers for their employees to understand it, not just say, "Oh yeah, I'll wash my hands." This way, they actually do a course. It gives them a certificate and then the employers know they've done it and understand this actual virus really well. Because everyone-

Cameron Jones:

Well, that certainly makes sense.

Richard Anthony:

Yeah. So I think it's more about the employer and it's about more people covering their bumps really and understanding this virus and how they can help each other and help themselves.

Cameron Jones:

Yeah. Well, at the end of the day, public health is all about education and then people making active steps to embody the principles that they might've been told, and this is important, this is critically important now more than ever. I think that the speed with which the COVID-19 infection rates are occurring around the world is very alarming. I think too that the analogies that are being made with classic influenza are severely underquoting and underplaying the potential impact of this infection. I guess when we think of classrooms, we think of actually people turning up to a location and sitting on seats and essentially being lectured to. What are you doing with different modalities of course delivery?

Richard Anthony:

Well, I think we're going to be focusing more on online delivery. A lot of our courses are online and then looking at our face to face time, and because of some of the stuff is hands-on so it's really hard to, with what's going on at the moment, it's really hard to deliver that side of it because it is a practical side that they need to understand, especially using autoclaves and all that kind of thing. But saying that, we have got a range of courses that are online and easy if people to do while they are in quarantine mode, if so.

Cameron Jones:

Oh yeah. Look, I'm sure that that's going to be a very significant reality for many people after they stop watching Netflix and reading books and that sort of thing. People are probably going to attempt to use the time for something other than scrolling through social media. So I can imagine that education is going to be maybe a positive outcome of any type of self-quarantine that people may have to abide by. I guess now with specific reference to the infection control surrounding COVID-19, when do you anticipate that this course is going to become available?

Richard Anthony:

Well, we're hoping to have it ready by early next week, or the end of this week, early next week. So it's looking really good at the moment. Look, a lot of the information is information that's out there, but just put in one spot and deliver it very simple and very easy for people to understand.

Cameron Jones:

That makes sense.

Richard Anthony:

There's a lot of good videos, yeah, a lot of video content, just basic stuff from teaching people how to wash their hands properly.

Cameron Jones:

Sure.

Richard Anthony:

Then people saying it or writing that you need to wash your hands or stating that through the media because you're getting all these... Every channel you put to, there's something going on at all the media through radio and TV. So I think people are getting all of these mixed messages, so this is just really simplified things to make it easy for people to understand, to help them protect themselves and their families and they work colleagues and things like that.

Cameron Jones:

Richard, that's very well put. It's certainly of a concern to me too that the media education is in a sense soundbite education, so it's well-meaning and well-intentioned. It's certainly flag falls into that element needs to be considered by the public, but how you actually implement that beyond the one, two or three-minute style content that we see on our news channels, that's really the key question because people need to know practically how they can protect themselves, care for their families and not spread more misinformation.

Richard Anthony:

Definitely, yeah, 100%.

Cameron Jones:

Now, I know that you participate in a lot of round tables and educational forums and practical meetings with a lot of councils surrounding environmental health. Could you tell me a little bit about where you see the role of the environmental health offices, whether that's mandated currently by the local councils or whether the individuals concerned, or just even thinking about this, where do you sort of see that whole council based education coming into play?

Richard Anthony:

Yeah, I think, see the council side of it, it is quite tough for them because there are limited budgets these councils have and a lot of the environment health officers are not just focusing on skin pen, but they're focusing on the food, then mosquito outbreaks and so on and so on. They have to look after a lot of different aspects of the role. So I find it when they are actually focusing on skin pen and they don't really understand that a lot of it because they don't have that much experience. So I'll be doing some training, in-house training with them to helping them understand how to use autoclaves and sterilizers and to understand that the infection control practice and really look at the cross-contamination that happens within a lot of these skin pen businesses within the beauty and the cosmetic and the body art industries.

Cameron Jones:

Well, that's important because certainly what we're seeing for the epidemiology of COVID-19 transmission that it appears to be much more of an infection risk for older persons. I would imagine that the demographic one part of their tattooing industry is probably going to be more youth-focused, at least in a marketing perspective. So there could be an element of individuals thinking, "Well, look, it's not going to happen to me," but I can imagine that you will very well aware of people of all ages getting tattoos for a range of reasons apart from just decorative.

Richard Anthony:

Definitely. Yeah, 100%. I think like looking at the young people, the young people can still be a carrier and still pass it on [inaudible 00:19:43] bit older.

Cameron Jones:

Absolutely.

Richard Anthony:

That's the risk. A lot of the younger people are thinking, "You know what, I'm young, it's fine. They're only mainly for people from 65 up." No, but you could be the carrier and pass it onto someone in your family or a neighbor or a friend or a client maybe.

Cameron Jones:

Absolutely. I guess that's the great positive of a course like yours is that in a sense you are targeting a particular demographic which is going to be beneficial just to the fact that it's targeted.

Richard Anthony:

Yeah. Yeah, definitely, 100%.

Cameron Jones:

That's very exciting.

Richard Anthony:

So I'm really excited.

Cameron Jones:

Look, I bet you are because I guess people have been saying to me as a microbiologist, you seem very despondent about some of the data and conversely, you seem quite excited by some of the papers that I've been reading, and realistically there are elements of validation of a lot of the modeling that has been done for years about virus transmission that is now playing out on the world stage, which is definitely terrifying and I'm extraordinarily empathetic about what this means on a person to person basis. But the reality is that we do need to be discussing some of the fundamental issues about infection control and now is a wonderful time to do this. If you can reach a high percentage of a very significant demographic, including all the people who require or want cosmetic tattooing, this is a wonderful thing that you're doing for public health, Richard.

Richard Anthony:

Yeah, yeah. Definitely. We're going to be even passing onto the hospitality industry, so I'm going to be talking to key hotel groups about this course to pass it on to their actual staff because that's massive.

Cameron Jones:

Listen, that's important. Wow.

Richard Anthony:

Yeah. So anyone dealing with tourists, anyone coming in, I think this is a really good opportunity for them. A good [crosstalk 00:21:48].

Cameron Jones:

Well, certainly people have been saying to me that once people start getting better like this, looking like they're getting better in China, well then that means that it's over for that country and I think that people are mistaking the fact that virus transmission goes in waves. This means that even if a particular geographical region is less susceptible in the near term or now, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will be not at risk at some point in time. So the educational messages do need to get out there. I guess with an online course you have the ability to continually update that and change it, don't you?

Richard Anthony:

Definitely. We can update, change it, we can evolve with new information. The good thing about this course being online, we can market it to the world. So anyone can do this course [crosstalk 00:22:40].

Cameron Jones:

That's a very good idea. Look, it sounds like the course will be easy to complete in the now rather than maybe even three, four months from when we know even more.

Richard Anthony:

Yeah, definitely, 100%. Yeah, this needs to be done right now. I wish I could have it live right now.

Cameron Jones:

Now, where can people follow up with you specifically and then with your RTO, your company?

Richard Anthony:

Well, they can go to our Facebook page, which is just Eze Training, E-Z-E Training, and they could follow us there as well as we've got a Facebook page called Infection Control Expert where we're going to actually be putting a link there to directly to get into this course. So which is [inaudible 00:23:24]. It's going to be a very low priced course as well, so it's going to be very affordable.

Cameron Jones:

Oh, that's important too. So that's really, really good to know. Listen, Richard, thank you for telling me all about what you're doing to proactively add to the educational content and dialogue that's going on in Australia. I know that the government is currently planning on providing some timely information on this, which I'm sure you're going to absorb into your courses well. I think that the academic literature is moving so quickly. I'm very pleased to see that the majority of the open-source and peer-reviewed journal publishers making their content accessible and not behind paywalls. So this does mean that the dissemination of accurate information is more likely to diffuse into the community. But at the end of the day, it's going to come down to the messaging that people like you undertake to take this information to the community. Otherwise, we will be left with soundbite type of education, which also won't be a great thing.

Richard Anthony:

Yeah, yeah. 100%. I agree totally.

Cameron Jones:

Wonderful. Listen, Richard, thank you for your time this morning.

Richard Anthony:

No worries, thanks for having me.

Cameron Jones:

I will be playing this or broadcasting this tomorrow, so I hope to have this out to around about certainly before midday tomorrow on our website.

Richard Anthony:

Yeah, cool.

Cameron Jones:

On Facebook and then later it'll be on YouTube so I wish you well.

Richard Anthony:

Thanks a lot.

Cameron Jones:

You've got a lot of work ahead of you and stay well and safe and I look forward to undertaking the course myself.

Richard Anthony:

Yeah, fantastic. Thanks, Cameron. I really appreciate you.

Cameron Jones:

Okay, bye for now. See you. Bye.

Richard Anthony:

Thank you. Bye.

 

Okay, well, we just heard from Richard Anthony, so check that course out and look in the show notes for all the links to that. I now want to review something quite important. Now, this is not really a scary-looking slide that I've put up on the screen and for those of you who are listening to the podcast, I'm going to describe what is being shown here. A couple of weeks ago I was talking about a publication that appeared in the literature which was talking about something called fractal kinetics. Fractals are really just a way of describing phenomena that scale at different levels, and what that means in plain English, think of a tree or your vascular system, all of these are built from repeating units. So the mathematics of fractal scaling is a beautiful discipline in its own right. But in many cases, there is a way of mapping or plotting phenomena and then looking for something called power laws and power laws basically means that you have behaviors that trek through at different scales.

So just think of different scales along the X-axis in sense from zero to 10, from 10 to 100, 100 to 1,000, 1,000 to 10,000, and 100,000. You can plot phenomena on what is called a double logarithmic axis and look for something called power laws. When you find evidence of power laws, that means that there is a strong connection within the system, and in a sense, it is tightly bound to itself. So defining and being able to identify evidence of power-law gives you some ability in some cases to make predictions. So a paper that came out a couple of weeks was talking about this, but this first slide is focusing on something called exponential growth.

In order to look for power laws, we first need to understand what exponential growth is. In the top left-hand side of this slide, I'm focusing on a classic example of exponential growth. Basically, you can see that over time you have an increase in the graph of the curve. So when we plot out the total confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of China, we see that not only do we see exponential growth, but the red markings on the exponential growth chart for the total confirmed cases show the doubling time. So essentially this is a doubling of the number of cases that are appearing, and similarly, death rate is also showing evidence of exponential growth.

But moving onto why this is a fractal or a scaling phenomenon. When you re-plot those curves on what a call log-log axes, basically, you can see that you're seeing straight-line phenomena and in these authors who put this paper up on the pre-print server a couple of weeks ago have just updated it and this is very important on the 1st of March they updated this. Again, in the earlier paper, they were suggesting that there was a trail off in the upper right-hand side of the curve, meaning that they thought their conclusion was that there was a trail often the infection level in China, but unfortunately, it has continued, they've continued to plot out the curve. Even though we are being told in the media that the infection levels that differently falling, certainly as of the early March 2020, there's really no clear evidence of this falling off significantly, and the deaths in China are definitely following this power law phenomenon, which is incredibly concerning.

But again, the mathematical modeling of this is also important because it does give us early warning indicators that can be applied in the presentation of information for other countries. In any case, I now I want to move onto something a little bit more positive. Again, there have been some very interesting studies looking at the relationship between temperature and humidity and the ability of viruses to spread , that is their infectivity level, but also are there any take-home about temperature and humidity that we can use practically to in a sense understand or maybe even control or limit the spread of viruses. There's great literature just beginning to emerge with a specific focus on COVID-19. A lot of this work has been done on other influenza and other SARS and COVID viruses.

So what I'm presenting up here on the screen is a paper that came out a couple of years ago in 2014, which was looking at the relationship between humidity and respiratory virus transmission. What they basically found is that in this graph they're summarizing three separate papers and basically the curves show a U-shaped pattern. What this is, this is quite interesting and quite important because as I said there is some research just beginning to emerge specific to COVID-19 looking like this U-shaped pattern may in fact extend to COVID-19, and if it does, that means that there is a relationship between relative humidity. Again, as part of this Livestream, I can't get into all the specifics about the connection between relative humidity and absolute humidity.

The relative humidity is dependent on temperature, is related to the amount of water vapor at specific temperatures, whereas absolute humidity really is an absolute measure of the amount of water and that has different units again than relative humidity is usually reflected as a percentage. So we'll just stick with relative humidity for the time being. But you can see on the curve that there is this U-shaped pattern. Essentially, what this means is that viruses survive at quite a low level when relative humidity is maintained at 50 to 60%. I have used a red box to emphasize this U-shaped area, to focus your attention on the fact that at 50% relative humidity of quite low virus survival.

You can see that at the outside margins of the U, at low relative humidity, right up to 40%, you've got a very high percentage of the virus being recovered and similarly at very high relative humidities, certainly above 70, you're getting comparatively high levels of virus recovery as well. When we talk about virus recovery, that means that when these experiments were run, the virus was able to be recovered and continue to grow. So I think that that is something fundamental that we are going to see a lot more discussion about the relationship between temperature and humidity and how this can possibly be proactively maintained in the built environment to reduce the transmission rates. Well, time will tell and we'll see a lot more research that will come out about this topic, I'm sure.

Now, conspiracy theories, all of us from time to time probably think what-if questions. Was this an introduced virus? Could there have been a foul play? What does the research literature say? Well, a very interesting paper came out again in 2020 in Emerging Microbes & Infections Journal, and basically this concept of speculations, rumors and conspiracy theories have certainly put forward in the social media domain and in interpersonal conversations about this, the what-if questions, was it of laboratory origin? Well, in a sense, the foundation for this link back to a paper which appeared on a pre-print archive server and there was some claim that SARS had an HIV sequence in it.

Now when the information in this non-peer-reviewed paper was scrutinized more carefully by other scientists, the actual first authors withdrew the paper. The conclusion made in this most recent 2020 paper is that it is much more likely that SARS, COVID-2 is a recombinant COVID virus generated in nature between a bat COVID virus and another Coronavirus in an intermediate animal host. So that's what we know to date, and at this point in time, all we can say is that it is an emergent virus. All we have to go on is what is in the peer-reviewed literature. The origin of this virus I'm sure is going to be debated for a long period to come, but now that we are in pandemic conditions, it certainly would behoove all of us to educate ourselves as well as we can using public domain sources and course availability.

There is a lot of free information out there. The peer-reviewed literature and the pre-print service, as I said at the beginning of this Livestream are generating a huge volume of literature, most of which is accessible and that's a really good thing. At the end of the day, we need the education to inform us about not only the risks but also intervention strategies, which could assist. In any case, next week, I hope to get back to more mould and fungus related Livestreams. But I thought today it was necessary to focus on COVID-19. In any case, I wish everyone well and I will look forward to being back next week with a new Livestream. Anyway, see you later. Bye for now.