Novel coronavirus and the associated COVID-19 pandemic is a top priority at Alcor. The health and safety of our valued Members, staff, and strategic partners is of paramount importance. With the announcement of travel bans and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declaring COVID-19 as a pandemic, Alcor is taking this threat very seriously. Updates on COVID-19 outbreaks are evolving rapidly and we are actively tracking the situation.
Rest assured, should the need arise, it is Alcor’s policy that we will respond to COVID-19 cases and we will advocate with officials and healthcare providers so we can provide the highest quality cryopreservation for our Members / Patients. Out of an abundance of caution, Alcor has taken and is taking the following steps to prepare to support our valued Members:
- We proactively ordered medications, supplies and personal protective equipment for our standby, stabilization, and transport (SST) teams before inventory became unavailable. We are fully stocked and prepared to handle higher case volumes, if necessary.
- We are hosting planning calls with our strategic partners, Suspended Animation (SA) and International Cryomedicine Experts (ICE), to ensure SST professionals are prepared for case work.
- Alcor, SA, and ICE will coordinate SST to deliver the highest level of care to our Members / Patients that is possible with circumstances that exist.
- Alcor will enhance our Watchlist to include members that test positive for COVID-19 and we will collaborate with SST professionals for rapid deployment.
- Alcor Staff members will be allowed to work remotely for non-mission critical functions during this time to mitigate exposure to COVID-19 so they can be in optimal health when case(s) present. Additionally, Alcor will be suspending tours of our facility.
- Alcor has postponed a training event that was to be held in New York in April with numerous attendees and other events planned for later this year are carefully being reconsidered.
- Alcor and its partners are monitoring regulations for transport of human remains and human tissue infected with novel coronavirus. According to direct communication from the U.S. State Department, there are no new domestic restrictions for remains transport as of March 12. International cryonics patients will be maintained in dry ice if there are delays in obtaining importation permits, and/or converted to neuropreservation on an emergency basis if serious obstacles to importation of infected whole bodies are encountered.
Some of our Members have expressed interest in relocating, temporarily or permanently, to Scottsdale, AZ. Alcor does not have a specific recommendation regarding relocation because each Member has a unique set of circumstances. However, if a Member wishes to explore relocating closer to Alcor, we are happy to answer questions. International travel is not recommended for members residing in the U.S. due to the possibility of becoming seriously ill while abroad. The recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) should be followed for domestic travel.
You should contact your healthcare provider if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath not related to existing conditions. Your healthcare provider will be able to make a recommendation on if you should come to the office, emergency department, or stay home. If you do test positive for COVID-19, or are hospitalized for any reason, please notify Alcor immediately. Alcor recommends that our Members maintain good hygiene and monitor updates as directly posted by the CDC and WHO.
We’re very proud of our patient care bay, but of course we think about a future in which many thousands of patients are under our care. Turns out there are others thinking about this same future, and so you might enjoy this article on Timeship, an ambitious project intended to be a Noah’s Ark to get cryonicists to the future.
You’ve seen our reports on memory retention after cryopreservation of C. elegans, but now we’re seeing other examples of successful cryopreservations on small, living organisms. The most recent is this report on the successful cryopreservation and thawing of zebra fish embryos. While it’s not obvious that the flash freezing process involved would be relevant on an object the size of the human brain, it’s still an interesting milestone and deserving of future study.
What is that? Win a contest, get cryopreserved? Yep, as a promotion for their new show, The Orville is holding a contest where the grand prize is a lifetime membership to a certain cryonics organization that we all know, and a partial prepayment towards the preservation itself. If you’d like to enter, here’s the link. It’s reminiscent of a similar essay contest features in Omni Magazine many years ago.
There won’t be much new in this article to people who have thought about cryonics a lot. However, it’s worth once every few months getting that reminder that there’s a broader world of non-cryonicists out there, and some of them, when they learn about the idea of cryonics for the first time, don’t reflexively retreat to why death is a positive, but instead open their mind and find the idea very interesting.
I’ve longed argued that just as any rational person signs up for health insurance when they become an adult, similarly any rational person should be signing up for cryonics, as just one of those sensible things that adults should do (assuming the financial means, of course). Well, for the first time an entire company agrees with that principle. Not surprisingly Numerai is a cutting edge hedge fund using AI for its data modeling.
Melanie Swan is doing a cryonics survey for members of existing cryonics organizations and supporters for an upcoming scholarly publication. It takes around 15 minutes to complete. If you are interested in taking the survey, click on the following link:
In January we celebrated the cryopreservation of the first person, James Bedford, who remains preserved at Alcor today. Several publications covered the milestone, and of course Alcor has written extensively about Bedford as well. Bedford became an Alcor patient in 1991.
Southern Cryonics is getting ready to break ground on a new cryonics facility in Australia. When completed, it would be the first storage facility not only in Australia, but in the entire southern hemisphere.
Cryonics seldom gets long pieces written about it in major media outlets, but Bloomberg has recently been paying attention. They sent a journalist to Russia to write a very comprehensive piece on KrioRus back in November. That was followed up by a cryonics themed podcast which, despite the negative title, ended up being a very thoughtful, positive discussion about cryonics and transhumanism targeted at folks less familiar with the concepts.
Obviously this blog is focused on Alcor and cryonics, but organ preservation is an important area of research that touches many of the same technologies necessary for human cryopreservation. It’s also an area that the White House has started paying attention to, and now the Pentagon is allocating $160 million to programs aimed at preserving donor organs.
Cryobiologists haven’t historically written a lot of positive pieces about cryonics, but as technology improves, that may change. See this recent piece in Cosmos Magazine. While the contents aren’t likely to be new to an Alcor member, that a lecturer working in cryopreservation at a research institution is saying it is. Those of us who believe the most important thing cryonics advocates can do is shift the Overton window get excited by articles like this.
Research continues into new techniques for preserving and thawing tissues. Recent work at the University of Minnesota suggests that there’s a way to rapidly thaw cryopreserved tissue without damage. The thawing process is considered the most dangerous part of reversible cryopreservation due to ice formation as the tissue warms towards the freezing point. Obviously more work needs to be done before we have something that is practical outside the lab. The full paper can be read here.