Friday, January 8, 2021

Halfway there? NM eyes pandemic finish line


Nurses care for a COVID-19 patient at Guadalupe County Hospital in Santa Rosa.  Journal photo.


Aforecast by Los Alamos National Laboratory suggests New Mexico will have falling case totals through early January, with the possibility of an uptick after that. Holiday travel and social gatherings could contribute to the growth.


Vaccination efforts should start to reduce cases and deaths early this year, according to Los Alamos. The first effects of the Pfizer vaccines – which started being administered to health care workers in mid-December – could affect New Mexico’s virus growth curves before the end of January. (Full Story)


Also from the Journal:


Study: Session risk depends on format, testing, masks


An almost empty NM House chamber in November. Journal photo.


Aproposal to hold legislative committee hearings at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center would create a “medium high” risk for an outbreak of COVID-19 infections, according to statistical modeling by Los Alamos National Laboratory.


One option analyzed by Los Alamos scientists, for example, estimated that a 60-day session with in-person floor meetings but online committee hearings would result in more than new 30 infections, based on certain assumptions.  (Full Story)


COVID-19 vaccine critical but it's not silver bullet


At Los Alamos National Laboratory, we’re using mathematical models and computational simulations enabled by the laboratory’s supercomputing capabilities to understand how best to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. And what we’ve learned is: While the vaccine is a critical weapon in fighting this virus, it’s not a silver bullet — at least not yet.


Our models look at individual communities based on government data. To understand the different outcomes based on how the vaccine will be distributed, we create various what-if scenarios that were developed in collaboration with local, state and federal governments to help them effectively plan for vaccine distribution and complementary mitigation strategies. (Full Story)


LANL shifting gears to fight COVID-19


From KRQE.


Los Alamos National Laboratory is turning from national defense to helping fight COVID-19. LANL researchers are looking at ways to help clear mucus from blocking airways in the lungs, which can be common in COVID-19 patients.


Using different modeling, they are learning how a method called “intrapulmonary percussive ventilation” – which drops aerosols in the lung – could help do this. The goal is to help COVID-19 patients on ventilators. “So that’s what we’re trying to do, give it the one-two punch. Use a ventilator to help bring in air and use IPV with its aerosols that it generates to pulse and to break up the mucus that’s plugging the way for the airflow,” said John Bernardin, Engineer at the labs. (Full Story)


Los Alamos National Laboratory study hopes to characterize and optimize ventilator treatment for COVID-19


3D printed "manifold" mimics lung structure.  LANL photo.


Cross-disciplinary scientists and engineers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are working to learn how Intrapulmonary Percussive Ventilation (IPV) helps clear mucus from blocking the airways of the human lung, a common reaction to the COVID-19 virus. 


Researchers, using some of the same modeling and experimental techniques from the Laboratory’s nuclear weapons mission, are working to discover the underlying science and engineering principles behind this process and have developed a preliminary machine learning algorithm that could someday assist pulmonary doctors in treating COVID-19 patients with IPV. (Full Story)


Also from the Reporter:


15 Ways LANL made an impact in 2020 — COVID-19 and beyond


From innovation in education to nonreactive nuclear energy, COVID-19 forecasts to jet fuel produced from corn, the Laboratory spent the year impacting the nation — and New Mexico.


Beginning in March and still going strong, Laboratory experts in computer modeling and disease forecasting have been some of our most-quoted scientists of 2020. Computational epidemiologists Sara Del Valle, David Osthus and Carrie Manore, theoretical biologists Bette Korber and Ruian Ke, and manager in Biosecurity and Public Health Jeanne Fair are just a few who shared their knowledge with the nation. (Full Story)


LANL-developed technology offers promise of safer X-rays


Perovskite X-ray detector. LANL photo.


The Los Alamos prototypes offer a hundred times more sensitivity than conventional silicon-based detectors. And unlike their silicon cousins, the perovskite versions don’t require an outside power source — instead the energy of the X-rays themselves is enough to run the detectors.


High-sensitivity perovskite detectors will enable dental and medical images that require a tiny fraction of the exposure that accompanies conventional X-ray imaging. Reduced exposure decreases risks for patients and medical staff alike. (Full Story)


Using machine learning to study anatomy, weather and earthquakes


Illustration from TechCrunch.


The most recent discovery, made by researchers at Los Alamos National Labs, uses a new source of data as well as ML to document previously unobserved behavior along faults during “slow quakes.” Using synthetic aperture radar captured from orbit, which can see through cloud cover and at night to give accurate, regular imaging of the shape of the ground, the team was able to directly observe “rupture propagation” for the first time, along the North Anatolian Fault in Turkey.


“The deep-learning approach we developed makes it possible to automatically detect the small and transient deformation that occurs on faults with unprecedented resolution, paving the way for a systematic study of the interplay between slow and regular earthquakes, at a global scale,” said Los Alamos geophysicist Bertrand Rouet-Leduc. (Full Story)



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