• HIV Drug to Be Trialed on Coronavirus Patients to See If It Can Fight COVID-19

    Coronavirus patients will be treated with an HIV drug or steroid as part of trial to see if existing medications can beat the deadly infection. Sarah Knapton reports in The Telegraph that researchers from the University of Oxford enrolled the first patient last week, and want hospitals to sign up thousands more people in the coming weeks. The trial – which has been expedited by the chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty – would usually have taken around 18 months to organize, but red tape has been removed and researchers have worked round the clock to get the experiment up and running within just nine days.

  • There's a New Symptom of Coronavirus, Doctors Say: Sudden Loss of Smell or Taste

    A loss of a sense of smell or taste may be a symptom of COVID-19, medical groups representing ear, nose and throat specialists have warned. Ryan W. Miller reports in USA Today that the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and ENT UK, citing a growing number of cases around the globe, each issued warnings about patients who tested positive for the new coronavirus with the only symptom being a lost or altered sense of smell or taste. 

  • FDA Updates COVID-19 Testing Guidelines to Allow Self-Swab Tests

    The FDA has updated its guidelines for COVID-19 testing procedures to make the process easier and less uncomfortable for patients, as well as to help limit the impact of testing on the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by healthcare workers, including protective masks, face shields, gloves and gowns. Darrell Etherington reports in Techcrunch that the change means that people taking a test will be able to conduct their own swab, which will involve swabbing shallowly in their nose. 

  • Moderna Could Make Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Available to Healthcare Workers by Fall

    There are some hard limits to the vaccine development process that mean we are not going to see any preventative immune therapies to fight the new coronavirus for at least a year to 18 months. Darrell Etherington reports in Techcrunch, however, that Moderna, which is behind the first potential vaccine to enter human clinical trials in the U.S., provided new info on Monday that indicates it will seek to provide access to the vaccine to a limited group, likely consisting of healthcare workers, by as early as this fall.

  • Drug Recommended by Trump May Have Saved One Man in Florida, May Have Killed One Man in Arizona

    President Donald Trump last week said he was instructing the FDA to fast-track testing of hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, as treatment for COVID-19. Tamar Lapin reports in the New York Post that Rio Giardinieri, 52, who was being treated at the Memorial Regional Hospital in South Florida for coronavirus and pneumonia, was told by a friend about Trump’s recommendation. He took the drug and all his symptoms disappeared. His doctors believe, however, that the episodes he experienced were not a reaction to the medicine but his body fighting off the virus.
    CBS News reports that according to CBS affiliate KPHO, a Phoenix-area man has died and his wife was in critical condition after the couple took chloroquine phosphate, . The additive used to clean fish tanks that is also found in an anti-malaria medication that’s been touted by Trump as a treatment for COVID-19. CBS News notes that at a news conference last week, Trump falsely stated  that the FDA had just approved the use of an anti-malaria medication called chloroquine to treat patients infected with coronavirus. Even after the FDA chief clarified that the drug still needs to be tested for that use, Trump overstated the drug’s potential upside in containing the virus.

    On Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. top infectious disease expert, called Trump’s assertions about hydroxychloroquine “anecdotal” and said there is no evidence that it is effective for COVID-19 patients. But the next day, Trump was still touting the drug on social media.

  • COVID-19: Imperial College Researchers’ Model Likely Influenced Public Health Measures

    The latest analysis comes from a team modelling the spread and impact COVID-19 and whose data are informing current U,K, government policy on the pandemic. The findings are published in the 9th report from the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Modelling within the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, J-IDEA, Imperial College London.

  • Estimates of COVID-19's Fatality Rate Might Change. And Then Change Again.

    With infections of the new coronavirus confirmed now in 114 countries or regions, people around the world are following the daily tally of COVID-19 cases, wondering exactly how lethal this new disease is. The truth is, it’s hard to know. Early in an outbreak, even good estimates of the CFR can be too high—or too low.

  • New Technologies, Strategies Expanding Search for Extraterrestrial Life

    Emerging technologies and new strategies are opening a revitalized era in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). New discovery capabilities, along with the rapidly expanding number of known planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, are spurring innovative approaches by both government and private organizations.

  • Courtrooms Seldom Overrule Bad Science

    In television crime dramas, savvy lawyers are able to overcome improbable odds to win their cases by presenting seemingly iron-clad scientific evidence. In real-world courtrooms, however, the quality of scientific testimony can vary wildly, making it difficult for judges and juries to distinguish between solid research and so-called junk science.

  • Could Invisible Aliens Really Exist among Us? An Astrobiologist Explains

    Life is pretty easy to recognize. It moves, it grows, it eats, it excretes, it reproduces. Simple. In biology, researchers often use the acronym MRSGREN (Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, and Nutrition) to describe it. It stands for movement, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion and nutrition. But Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut and a chemist at Imperial College London, recently said that alien lifeforms that are impossible to spot may be living among us. How could that be possible?

  • The Chinese Threat to U.S. Research Institutions Is Real

    The Chinese government is pursuing a comprehensive, well-organized, and well-funded strategy to exploit the open and collaborative research environment in the United States to advance their economic and military expansion at our expense. Josh Rogin writes that for too long, U.S. research institutions have been asleep to Beijing’s efforts.

  • U.S.-Funded Research, Scientists Help China’s Drive to Become World S&T Leader

    The U.S. government has so far failed to stop China from stealing intellectual property from American universities. Moreover, the Trump administration lacks a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the threat. These are the conclusions of a new report issued on Monday by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The report says problem is especially urgent because billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded research have “contributed to China’s global rise over the last twenty years” and to its goal of becoming a world leader in science and technology by 2050.

  • U.S. Investigating Universities over Russian, Chinese, Saudi Donations

    U.S. officials have asked MIT to turn over documents regarding the university’s contacts with foreign governments and donations from foreign sources, including those coming from Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia. The University of Maryland received a similar demand from the Education Department. MIT has been under scrutiny for a while, after accepting $300 million from Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch and a close ally of Vladimir Putin. Veklesberg is close to several of Donald Trump’s family members and members of the Trump organization. He was involved in the Moscow Trump Tower project. In 2018 MIT removed Veklesberg from its board — to which he was elected in 2013 — after the U.S. Treasury Department listed him and his business group among the Russian officials, “oligarchs,” and companies to be penalized for advancing Moscow’s “malign activities.”

  • Mysterious Case of the Vanishing UFOs

    All over the rest of the world UFOs are in sharp decline, and may soon disappear altogether. People are simply not spotting unidentified spacecraft like they used to. Alien abductions are at an all-time low. UFO-spotting organizations are closing down. Since 2014 alien sightings have halved. The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, and dropping. “Where have all the UFOs gone?” Ben Macintyre asks in The Times, noting that “The recent drastic worldwide decline of unexplained phenomena is one of the odder unexplained phenomena of modern times.”

  • For Scientific Integrity in Government, Fix Political Appointments Process

    The list of scandals featuring senior U.S. officials who subsumed scientific integrity to their political or personal interests numbers 60 entries in a new report from a bipartisan task force that traced practices under the past three presidents. The examples range from downplaying the connections between climate change and carbon emissions under George W. Bush to understating the risks of fracking on drinking water under Barack Obama, and on to retaliation against economists, biologists and climate scientists under Donald Trump. While the vast majority of the incidents listed occurred under the Trump administration, the task force warns that the pattern represents a kind of continuum: that abuses of the past weakened the guardrails of democracy to allow what’s happening today, and that the trend could escalate in future administrations unless Congress takes steps to strengthen safeguards. And at the root of each instance are the individuals who committed the abuses, whether the president or his political appointees.