• Controversy on COVID-19 Mask Study Spotlights Messiness of Science during a Pandemic

    Late last week, a group of researchers posted a letter that they had sent to the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNASrequesting the retraction of a study published the week before that purportedly showed mask use was the most effective intervention in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in New York City. Stephanie Soucheray writes for CIDRAP that though PNAS editors have yet to respond to the request, scientists have roundly criticized the study’s methodology, and the entire kerfuffle has highlighted the difficulty of “doing science” amid a full-blown pandemic.

  • Common Drug Reduces Coronavirus Deaths, Scientists Report

    In an unexpected glimmer of hope amid an expanding pandemic, scientists at the University of Oxford said on Tuesday that an inexpensive and commonly available drug reduced deaths in patients with severe Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Benjamin Mueller and Roni Caryn Rabin write in the New York Times that if the finding is borne out, the drug, a steroid called dexamethasone, would be the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in the sickest patients and may save hundreds of thousands of lives, eventually even millions, altering the course of the pandemic.

  • How Antibodies from Llamas May Lead to COVID-19 Treatment

    Scientists hope the special antibodies that llamas make can be directed against SARS-CoV-2 to help find our way out of the pandemic. Rockefeller University says that humans, too, make antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, and many groups are working on developing treatments based on them. Llama antibodies, however, come in a simpler design than their human counterparts. “For reasons that we don’t really understand, these animals make this variant of antibody that just has fantastic properties,” says Michael P. Rout, a structural biologist at Rockefeller. “It contains the good disease-recognizing parts of a human antibody, packed into a condensed warhead.”

  • Research Integrity: Why We Should Trust Registered Clinical Trials

    In a time when we have to rely on clinical trials for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, a new study brings good news about the credibility of registered clinical trials.

  • Breakthrough for Foot-and-Mouth Disease Vaccine

    When it comes to livestock, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is probably the most devastating picornavirus on the planet. FMD is a serious and economically devastating livestock disease. Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), the virus causing FMD, is extremely contagious and afflicts animals with cloven hooves like cows, pigs, sheep and deer.

  • Scientists Aim Gene-Targeting Breakthrough against COVID-19

    A team of scientists from Stanford University is working with researchers at the Molecular Foundry, a nanoscience user facility located at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), to develop a gene-targeting, antiviral agent against COVID-19, the Berkeley Labreports.

  • New Identification of Genetic Basis of COVID-19 Susceptibility Will Aid Treatment and Prevention

    The clinical presentation of COVID-19 varies from patient to patient and understanding individual genetic susceptibility to the disease is therefore vital to prognosis, prevention, and the development of new treatments. The European Society of Human Genetics reports that for the first time, Italian scientists have been able to identify the genetic and molecular basis of this susceptibility to infection as well as to the possibility of contracting a more severe form of the disease.

  • Majority of First-Wave COVID-19 Clinical Trials Have Significant Design Shortcomings, Study Finds

    Most of the registered clinical trials of potential treatments for COVID-19 underway as of late March were designed in ways that will greatly limit their value in understanding potential treatments, according to a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

  • Asymptomatic Spread of Coronavirus is “Very Rare,” WHO Says

    Coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials said Monday, casting doubt on concerns by some researchers that the disease could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections, CNBC reports.

  • Was COVID-19 Created in a Lab? China Has Some Urgent Questions to Answer

    In an interview with  The Telegraph’s Allison Pearsonon Thursday, Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, said it was likely that coronavirus was the result of a Chinese lab accidental release. Charles Moore writes in The Telegraph that Sir Richard’s interview chiefly concerned a new learned paper about the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine, written by distinguished scientists, the vaccinologist, Birger Sorensen, and the immunologist, Angus Dalgleish, in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery.

  • Oxford Vaccine Team Chases Coronavirus to Brazil

    Oxford University’s potential Covid-19 vaccine will be tested in Brazil as scientists rush to find places with high enough rates of infection to determine whether their inoculations work. Rhys Blakely and Catherine Philp write in The Times that Astrazeneca, the drugmaker partnering with the university, said that finding communities with sufficient virus transmission to prove that a vaccine offered protection was now the toughest challenge in the race to develop a jab.

  • China Formulates Plan to Roll Out Vaccine before Clinical Trials Are Finished in Race against Trump

    China has five vaccines in phase II human trials – more than any other country, and it may deploy one or more of them as early as September to at-risk groups even if clinical trials have yet to be completed, Sophia Yan writes in The Telegraph. Success could buoy China’s coronavirus-ravaged economy, help Beijing deflect global anger over its cover-up of the pandemic – and it would also be a blow to Donald Trump’s “warp-speed” plans for a vaccine.

  • GCHQ Boss Warns Foreign States Are Trying to Steal Britain’s Attempts to Build COVID-19 Vaccine

    Jeremy Fleming, the Director of GCHQ, Britain’s cyberspy agency, confirmed GCHQ had seen attacks on the U.K.’s health infrastructure in recent weeks. Dominic Nicholls writes in The Telegraph that Fleming confirmed reports that foreign powers and criminals are targeting laboratories researching coronavirus vaccines.

  • Could Coronavirus Be Killed Off Without a Vaccine? History Suggests There's a Chance

    Already this century, devastating outbreaks of deadly cousins of today’s virus have twice been crushed without global immunization programs – the 2002-2003 SARS-COV-1 and the 2014-2015 Ebola. Harry de Quetteville asks in The Telegraph: as countries around the world begin to relax their lockdowns, will the third time be lucky too?

  • Coronavirus Antigen Tests: Quick and Cheap, but Too Often Wrong?

    After a painfully slow rollout of diagnostic testing for active coronavirus infections across the country, some 400,000 people a day in the United States may now receive such a test, estimates suggest. Yet a few public health experts say sending people back to work and school safely and identifying new outbreaks before they spread out of control could require testing much of the U.S. population of 330 million every day. Others suggest checking roughly 900,000 people per day would be enough. Robert F. Service writes in Science that either way, nearly all the current tests to diagnose infections work by identifying the genetic material of the virus, a technology that will be difficult to scale up much further.