• Doubts greet $1.2 billion bet by United States on a coronavirus vaccine by October

    Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s bid to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine faster than any previous vaccine, is both turning heads and raising eyebrows with a major new investment that promises to shave weeks off its already ambitious timeline. Jon Cohen writes in Science that much of Warp Speed’s inner workings, including how it chooses vaccine candidates, takes place behind closed doors. But the compressed timeline and the scale of the investment—more than twice the size of commitments the United States made earlier to Johnson & Johnson and Moderna to develop other vaccine candidates—is leading to questions about both the candidate vaccine and the plans for its clinical trials. 

  • Coronavirus Vaccine Shows Promising Early Results in China

    A vaccine developed in China appears to be safe and may protect people from the new coronavirus, researchers reported on Friday. Apoorva Mandavilli writes in the New York Times that the early-stage trial, published in The Lancet, was conducted by researchers at several laboratories and included 108 participants aged 18 to 60. Those who received a single dose of the vaccine produced certain immune cells, called T cells, within two weeks. Antibodies needed for immunity peaked at 28 days after the inoculation.

  • Coronavirus Vaccine: This Week's Update from Moderna, Inovio and More

    Early progress has been reported on several vaccine efforts, as scientists around the world scramble to test possible ways to protect people from the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 5.1 million people globally and killed more than 300,000. Denise Chow writes for NBC News that vaccine candidates developed by pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Inovio as well as vaccines in the works from the University of Oxford in the U.K. and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in China are showing early promise. But experts continue to stress that it’s still early in the testing phase, and it’s unlikely that a viable vaccine will be available before the end of the year.

  • No Evidence of Benefit for Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 Patients, Study Finds

    A large observational study suggests that treatment with the antimalarial drug chloroquine or its analogue hydroxychloroquine (taken with or without the antibiotics azithromycin or clarithromycin) offers no benefit for patients with COVID-19. Prof. Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra, lead author of the study, which was published in The Lancet, said: “This is the first large scale study to find statistically robust evidence that treatment with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients with COVID-19. Instead, our findings suggest it may be associated with an increased risk of serious heart problems and increased risk of death.” Writing in a linked The Lancet “Comment” article, Professor Christian Funck-Brentano, of the Sorbonne University in Paris (who was not involved in the study), said: “This well-conducted observational study adds to preliminary reports suggesting that chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, alone or with azithromycin is not useful and may be harmful in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.”

  • WHO Temporarily Halts Hydroxychloroquine Trials over Safety Concerns

    The World Health Organization will temporarily suspend enrollment in hydroxychloroquine trials in a study of four treatment options for COVID-19, the WHO announced Monday in a press conference. Mary Meisenzahl writes in Business Insider that  the drug is part of the “Solidarity” international clinical trial sponsored by the WHO in 17 countries, with others expressing interest. Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan explained that the trial is overseen by a board of experts and an independent data safety monitor. The steering committee met over the weekend and decided in light of uncertainty about the drug, that they should “err on the side of caution and suspend enrollment into the hydroxychloroquine arm” of the trial, Dr. Swaminathan said. 

  • Federal Scientists Finally Publish Remdesivir Data

    A clinical trial led to the authorization of the only drug shown to work in Covid-19 patients. But until now, few experts had seen the numbers. Gina Kolata writes in the New York Times that nearly a month after federal scientists claimed that an experimental drug had helped patients severely ill with the coronavirus, the research has been published. The drug, remdesivir, was quickly authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of coronavirus patients, and hospitals rushed to obtain supplies. But until now, researchers and physicians had not seen the actual data. The long-awaited study confirms the essence of the government’s assertions. The trial was rigorous, randomly assigning 1,063 seriously ill patients to receive either remdesivir or a placebo, and remdesivir shortened recovery time from 15 days to 11 days in hospitalized patients. Those who received the drug not only recovered faster but also did not have serious adverse events more often than those who were given the placebo.

  • New Technology Can Detect Antivirus Antibody in 20 Minutes

    Researchers have succeeded in detecting anti-avian influenza virus antibody in blood serum within 20 minutes, using a portable analyzer they have developed to conduct rapid on-site bio tests. Hokkaido University says that if a suitable reagent is developed, this technology could be used to detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus of COVID-19.

  • Blood from SARS Survivor Yields an Antibody that Neutralizes New Coronavirus

    An antibody that scientists first identified in a blood sample from a person who recovered from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) strongly inhibits the virus that causes COVID-19. The scientists who discovered the antibody are racing to bring it to clinical trials. James Kingsland writes in Medical News Today that there are currently no proven treatments for COVID-19, the respiratory illness that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causes, and nobody can say with any certainty when a safe, effective vaccine will be ready. News of the development of a monoclonal antibody that neutralizes the virus and could, in theory, be ready to treat patients in clinical trials within 5–6 months is, therefore, very welcome.

  • Is There More than One Strain of the New Coronavirus?

    Since the emergence of the new coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, several researchers have proposed that there is more than one strain, and that mutations have led to changes in how infectious and deadly it is. However, opinions are divided. Written by Yella Hewings-Martin writes in Medical News Today that genetic mutations are a natural, everyday phenomenon. They can occur every time genetic material is copied. Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, several research studies have highlighted variations in the virus’s genetic sequence. This has prompted discussion about whether or not there are several strains, if this has an impact on how easily the virus can infect a host, and whether or not this affects how many more people are likely to die.

  • How Long Does Covid-19 Coronavirus Last on Different Surfaces?

    Did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) actually “change their minds” this week about the potential risk of Covid-19 coronavirus being spread by contaminated surfaces? Not really, Bruce Y. Lee writes in Forbes. Not even on the surface. Plus, two scientific studies have shown how long the virus can remain detectable on various surfaces, but more on these later.

  • Rwanda Has Enlisted Anti-Epidemic Robots in Its Fight against Coronavirus

    Rwanda has introduced robots as part of its fight against coronavirus. With 314 confirmed cases of the virus as of May 22, the East African country has enlisted the help of five anti-epidemic robots to battle the virus. Aisha Salaudeen writes for CNN that the robots were donated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to the Kanyinya treatment center that treats Covid-19 patients in the capital city, Kigali. The robots — named Akazuba, Ikirezi, Mwiza, Ngabo, and Urumuri — were received by the country’s Minister of Health and Minister of ICT and Innovation last week. hey will be used for mass temperature screening, monitoring patient status, and keeping medical records of Covid-19 patients, according to Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation.

  • A Healthy Dose of Realism: Stopping COVID-19 Doesn’t Start with the WHO

    There’s a proven approach to combating the global threat of the novel coronavirus, Frank L. Smith III writes. It was used to eradicate smallpox during the Cold War. Rather than relying on the World Health Organization (WHO), success depends on a “great-power concert.” Today, this means concerted action by the United States and China.

  • Terrorists could use coronavirus as example for future biological attack

    Terrorism experts are warning that the coronavirus pandemic could be used as a template for future biological attacks by either state or non-state actors. Security experts with the Council of Europe say that terrorists, assessing the impact of the coronavirus, would now recognize the fact that they can use biological weapons to inflict a major blow on Western countries (or, for that matter, on any country). According to these experts, the virus has exposed how vulnerable modern societies are.

  • Boogaloo Supporters Animated by Lockdown Protests, Recent Incidents

    Across the country, boogalooers are energized by resistance to lockdown restrictions, which they view as tyrannical government overreach. Boogaloo adherents have shown up at numerous lockdown protests, waving boogaloo signs, wearing Hawaiian shirts, and carrying firearms, sometimes illegally. These boogalooers are part of an embryonic, decentralized movement that organizes largely online but whose presence has increasingly been felt in the real world. While boogaloo supporters hail from a variety of movements, and include some white supremacists who advocate for race war, the lockdown protests have largely featured the anti-government version of the boogaloo favored by the militia, gun rights, and anarcho-capitalist movements. Boogaloo advocates are talking openly about providing protection for local businesses determined to reopen in violation of state mandates. The presence of these frequently armed protesters could escalate already tense situations.

  • Global Warming Now Pushing Heat into Territory Humans Cannot Tolerate

    The explosive growth and success of human society over the past 10,000 years has been underpinned by a distinct range of climate conditions. But the range of weather humans can encounter on Earth – the “climate envelope” – is shifting as the planet warms, and conditions entirely new to civilization could emerge in the coming decades. Even with modern technology, this should not be taken lightly.