Keep an eye on the Meta-Analysis Project

One Alcor-funded research project that I’m personally especially interested in is the Meta-Analysis Project. This project, led by Advanced Neural Biosciences’ Aschwin de Wolf and Michael Benjamin, gathers a vast amount of data on every one of Alcor’s cryopreservations and analyzes patterns. ANB began the Alcor Meta-Analysis Project in January 2019 with the goal of developing a quantitative method to evaluate the quality of each cryopreservation case based on a thorough review of all the available case data. The project has 3 phases.

In Phase 1, researchers review and collect relevant data points from all case reports, all raw data such as temperature data and any relevant scientific papers and, for the last decade of cases, CT scans of cryopreserved patients. In phase 2, new outcome metrics have been developed to look at variables such as cryoprotectant distribution and ice formation from the analysis of Phase 1 data. The goal of Phase 3 is to identify areas where protocol and procedure upgrades would likely have the maximum impact at improving patient preservation outcomes.

Alcor and cryonics as a whole can expect to benefit from the outcomes of this work, including:

  • a complete secure database of all the important case variables gleaned from case reports, raw data, and CT scans that can be updated with new cases.
  • important information about trends and outcomes of Alcor procedures.
  • a single or set of case metrics that provide a quantitative result that measures the quality of each patient preservation
  • information about the range of typical patient scenarios, including the modelling of unusual scenarios
  • Recommendations to improve procedures, case work, and case logistics
  • A paper to be published in a scientific journal including the exposition of the cryonics case outcome metric(s) and experimental validations

You can read the initial report in the third quarter 2020 issue of Cryonics. Next report will be published in the second quarter 2021 issue.

November 20, 2020 update on COVID-19 in Arizona

It has been about five months since I last wrote an update on the COVID-19 situation in Arizona. For those living here or considering moving here to be closer to Alcor, it’s time for a current look at the situation.

Between my June 10 and June 16 posts, COVID cases in Arizona went up from 29,852 to 39,097 to a total of 40,924 – what seemed like a rapid pace. At that time, Arizona was one of the top 5 states for new cases and new deaths, and the peak was still several weeks away. The 7-day moving average (7-DMA) had run up from 339 on May 27 to 1,356 on June 17. Daily cases reached its peak (so far) on June 29 at 5450. At that time, Arizona ranked #20 in cases per capita and #23 in deaths per capita. Our worst day so far saw 103 deaths on July 17. How does that compare to today and to the rest of the country? (NOTE: By “cases” I mean reported positive diagnostic tests. That someone has tested positive does not mean they are sick or feel sick.)

Just one month ago, the situation looked relatively encouraging. In that month, the number of new cases has accelerated hard, as it has in many states, and the number of new deaths has also been moving up, although more slowly. Today, Arizona has 291,696 cases with today’s increase of 4,471 being the largest in months. The 7-DMA is 3166. We are now well into the red zone with 43.5 daily new cases per 100,000 (25 is considered critical). After doing badly, Arizona has been falling in the ranks of cases per capita and is currently at #25 and is closing in on the average (mean) for the USA as a whole.

The 7-DMA for new deaths has risen from 10 one month ago to 24.3 today.

The positivity rate on diagnostic tests has risen from 5.4% (or 7%, depending on the source) to 12% (or 10.5%). The infection rate has been rising since it reached a low in August.

In the last month, the number of people hospitalized has risen from 947 to 2266. ICU headroom use has risen from 19% to 46% and is close to reaching the “medium” level according to Covidactnow.

But is Arizona doing better or worse than other states? Is it a place to come to or to stay away from? The states with the most Alcor members are California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona. In recent months, Arizona has been doing better than Texas and Florida, although both of those states have been doing better than average. California, so far, despite having the second-largest number of identified cases has been suffering from lower population-adjusted cases and deaths. Like many other states, however, the curves are rising quickly. Among these states, currently none looks likely to be much better or worse than the others.

These four states all look relatively good if you compare them to the country as whole and many specific states. COVID-19 growth appears to not only be resurgent but disproportionately affecting more rural areas. Maine and Vermont, so far, have fared quite well, whereas states such as North and South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Kansas are seeing high growth in daily cases and high infection rates.

How will COVID-19 play out in Arizona? I’m not going to guess. We have seen trends reverse themselves abruptly and dramatically. Cases in Arizona have been accelerating despite far more people wearing masks (compared to the spring and summer). The influx of “snowbirds” from states with much faster growth in cases could kick up our own numbers drastically. The coming vaccines – and better treatments than we had in the last peak – could hold down the growth in deaths.

At Alcor, we continue to take precautions. Some staff are working entirely from home; others in part. We are still not giving in-person tours, having replaced them with filmed “virtual tours”. Fortunately, we haven’t had a cryopreservation in months, so haven’t had to worry about airplane travel.

Stay safe. And contact Alcor’s Medical Response Director if you have any serious medical issue, COVID-related or otherwise.