Gadget: Kitchen Sink Garbage Bag Holder

The price of the holder is 1,100 yen in Japan.

Watch video for details (1:30 minutes) . . . . .

Barbecued Pork and Broccoli Stir-fry


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, julienned
200 g broccoli, cut into bite-sized iorets
6 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400 g Chinese barbecued pork, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 cups bean sprouts, tailed


  1. Heat a wok over high heat, add the oil and swirl it around to coat the side of the wok. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, or until slightly softened.
  2. Add the carrot, broccoli, spring onion, ginger and garlic, and cook for 4-5 minutes, tossing constantly until thoroughly combined.
  3. Increase the heat to high and add the pork. Toss constantly until the pork is well mixed with the vegetables and is heated through.
  4. Pour in the soy sauce and mirin, and toss until the ingredients are well coated. The wok should be hot enough that the sauce reduces a little to form a glaze-like consistency.
  5. Toss in the bean sprouts, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately with rice noodles, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: The Essential Wok Cookbook

In Pictures: Food of Sushi Shikon in Hong Kong

Japanese Sushi-ya

The Michelin 3-star Restaurant

COVID ‘Immunity Passports’: Not Ready for Prime Time?

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

A grieving widower played by Matt Damon flashes a shiny coded wristband for security guards to scan in the 2011 movie “Contagion.”

After a quick beep and a green light, Damon is allowed into a store to buy a prom dress for his daughter.

That wristband was an “immunity passport” — a certification of his character’s immunity to the movie’s deadly virus.

With fiction quickly becoming reality, immunity passports are now being touted as a means to reopen the world following COVID-19 lockdowns. But experts worry that a host of practical and ethical problems make the concept unworkable and potentially dangerous to privacy and liberty.

Governments and private businesses are currently developing similar programs that would allow people who have proven immunity against COVID-19 to move freely about, without hewing to social distancing guidelines or public health measures.

For example, Chile is issuing three-month “medical release certificates” to people who have recovered from COVID-19, and Britain has announced plans to issue “antibody certificates” to those who test positive for coronavirus antibodies.

The private sector is moving even more rapidly toward adopting immunity passports, said Natalie Kofler, a lecturer with Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics.

“You have these private companies developing these immunity passport apps,” Kofler said. “You have them partnering with other private businesses to help them use these immunity passports as ways to limit access either for customers or employees.”

But there are fundamental problems with these immunity passports, in terms of how they would work and how they would be used, Kofler and other experts say.

Do antibodies equal immunity?

At this point, medical science can’t even say whether a person who has recovered from COVID-19 is indeed immune from the disease, or if the presence of coronavirus antibodies in your bloodstream conveys any level of immunity, said Gigi Kwik Gronvall, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.

For example, people might need a certain level of coronavirus antibodies in their blood to be immune, Gronvall said. Immunity might not even depend on antibodies at all; instead, other factors like the immune system’s innate memory might be the only thing that would prevent reinfection.

Worse, the accuracy rate of current antibody tests is so iffy that a person without immunity might actually get a false positive, getting a passport they shouldn’t have and increasing their risk of catching and spreading the virus, Kofler said.

Guidelines issued last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that given their lack of accuracy, antibody test results “should not be used to make decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities,” or to “make decisions about returning persons to the workplace.”

“While I do think that there is a degree of immunity that individuals who have recovered from COVID possess, it will be very hard to operationalize an immunity passport,” agreed Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“There are many questions about immunity, including its duration, its durability, and how to measure it that makes it difficult to rely completely on. That said, I do believe those with antibodies — as assessed by a highly specific test — do have some protection for a period of time from reinfection,” Adalja said.

Even if antibody tests say something meaningful, there’s not nearly enough access to testing to conduct an immunity passport program in a fair manner, said Françoise Baylis, a professor of ethics at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Nations would need at least double as many test kits available as there are citizens in their country, to conduct an equitable program, she said.

“In theory, you test everybody once, but not everybody is going to test as having been exposed to the virus and having recovered from COVID-19,” Baylis said. “So you’ve got to at least offer people a second chance, right? That gets you to two tests. People might fail this on the second attempt as well, so you’re going to have to be constantly able to test your population.”

There are 38 million people in Canada, but that country has said it would only be able to conduct 1 million antibody tests within the next two years, Baylis noted.

“What happens to the other 37 million Canadians?” she asked.

The United States would need even more tests — 660 million tests at minimum, to offer at least two opportunities for each of the country’s 330 million residents.

Only a small percentage infected

Additionally, too few people have been infected with COVID-19 at this point to make immunity passports a linchpin for reopening the economy in the United States or elsewhere.

Only 2% to 3% of the global population has recovered from the coronavirus, Kofler noted.

“A business isn’t going to want only 1% to 2% of their customers able to enter their store,” Kofler said. “You’re not going to be able to run a business if only 1% to 2% of your employees are able to work freely.”

Baylis noted that even in COVID-19 hotspots, only 15% to 30% of people have recovered from infection.

“You don’t reopen the economy with 30% of your population,” Baylis said.

Beyond those practical concerns, there also are ethical roadblocks to instituting an immunity passport program, experts said.

Privacy is one problem

A physical passport worn by a recipient would “make it very easy to tell across the street if somebody has a wristband that signifies them as immune or not immune,” said Dakota Gruener, executive director of the ID2020 Alliance, a global public/private alliance focused on the development of digital ID programs.

Gruener said many also are uncomfortable with the notion of centralized databases maintained by government organizations that would be “pinged” every time someone is asked to prove their COVID-19 immunity.

Gruener favors a decentralized system, where a person would carry their immunity passport around with them on their smartphone.

“Your data remains your own, stored locally on your own device,” Gruener said.

But what if you don’t have a smartphone because you can’t afford one? What if you can’t afford to be tested in the first place? Economic concerns like these would put people who earn less money at a disadvantage, Baylis said.

Experts also are concerned that authorities would use immunity passports as one more means of harassing blacks and other minorities, promoting “stop-and-frisk” policies.

“We see this as one more reason to stop somebody who’s freely walking about to be able to demand, ‘Do you have the right certification to be out in public?'” Baylis said.

These sort of concerns are being bulldozed by companies eager to get folks back to work, Gruener said, and officials and ethicists need to work with private firms to make sure these problems are addressed.

But Baylis countered that any efforts by private companies to develop immunity passports should be halted, rather than accommodated.

“It’s wrong to allow the private sector to answer that question for us and then to think that society, by its governance, just has to respond by putting parameters that would somehow satisfy certain kinds of ethical or social concerns,” Baylis said.

“The first question is whether we should be doing this,” Baylis said. “Only when you answer that question in the affirmative do you then move on to the second series of questions about how we do this ethically.”

Source: HealthDay

Distancing and Masks Cut COVID-19 risk, Says Largest Review of Evidence

Kate Kelland wrote . . . . . . . . .

Keeping at least one metre apart and wearing face masks and eye protection are the best ways to cut the risk of COVID-19 infection, according to the largest review to date of studies on coronavirus disease transmission.

In a review that pooled evidence from 172 studies in 16 countries, researchers found frequent handwashing and good hygiene are also critical – though even all those measures combined can not give full protection.

The findings, published in The Lancet journal, will help guide governments and health agencies, some of whom have given conflicting advice on measures, largely because of limited information about COVID-19.

“Our findings are the first to synthesise all direct information on COVID-19, SARS, and MERS, and provide the currently best available evidence on the optimum use of these common and simple interventions to help ‘flatten the curve’”, said Holger Schünemann from McMaster University in Canada, who co-led the research.

Current evidence suggests COVID-19 is most commonly spread by droplets, especially when people cough, and infects by entering through the eyes, nose and mouth, either directly or via contaminated surfaces.

For this analysis, an international research team conducted a systematic review of 172 studies assessing distance measures, face masks and eye protection to prevent transmission of three diseases caused by coronaviruses – COVID-19, SARS and MERS.

The researchers noted that the findings, while comprehensive, have some limitations for the current pandemic since most of the evidence came from studies of SARS and MERS.

They found, however, that physical distancing of at least 1 metre lowers risk of COVID-19 transmission, and that a distance of 2 metres could be more effective. Masks and protective eye coverings may also add protective benefits, though the evidence for that was less clear cut, they added.

Derek Chu, an assistant professor at McMaster University who co-led the work, said people should understand that “wearing a mask is not an alternative to physical distancing, eye protection or basic measures such as hand hygiene.”

Source: Reuters

Today’s Comic