• 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Researchers Urge Clinical Trial of Blood Pressure Drug to Prevent Complication of COVID-19

    Researchers in the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have identified a drug treatment that could—if given early enough—potentially reduce the risk of death from the most serious complication of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as SARS-CoV-2 infection. Phys.org reports that prazosin, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved alpha blocker that relaxes blood vessels, may specifically target an extreme inflammatory process often referred to as cytokine storm syndrome (CSS) that disproportionately affects older adults with underlying health conditions, and is associated with disease severity and increased risk of death in COVID-19 infection. Using it pre-emptively to address COVID-19-associated hyperinflammation of the lungs and other organs has the potential to reduce deaths in the most vulnerable populations, they say.