The coronavirus has mutated

The coronavirus has mutated since it started spreading late last year, and a variant known as “G” is now dominant across the United States and the world. “The mutation doesn’t appear to make people sicker, but a growing number of scientists worry that it has made the virus more contagious,” our science desk wrote. Read the story to learn what makes coronavirus G different from the original version — and potentially more dangerous.

WHO temporarily pauses studying hydroxychloroquine due to safety concerns

The World Health Organization has temporarily halted studying hydroxychloroquine as a potential Covid-19 treatment in its Solidarity Trial due to safety concerns, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva on Monday.

The decision was made after an observational study was published in the medical journal The Lancet on Friday, which described how seriously ill Covid-19 patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were more likely to die.

CDC estimates that 35% of coronavirus patients don’t have symptoms

The CDC estimates more than a third of coronavirus patients don’t have any symptoms at all, and 40% of virus transmission happens before people feel sick. The figures are part of the agency’s new guidance for mathematical modelers and public health officials and are not supposed to be predictions of how many people could have or contract Covid-19. The CDC has also released mortality figures and scenarios intended to help public health preparedness. Under the most severe of the five scenarios outlined, the CDC lists asymptomatic case fatality ratio of 0.01, meaning that 1% of people overall with Covid-19 and symptoms would die. But some experts say the figures lowball the proportion of people who are succumbing to the disease.

Virginia free clinics care for more patients during the pandemic, as donations drop

 

What COVID-19 Antibody Tests Can and Cannot Tell Us

Antibody tests could help scientists understand the extent of COVID-19’s spread in populations. Because of limitations in testing accuracy and a plethora of unknowns about immunity itself, however, they are less informative about an individual’s past exposure or protection against future infection.

Five Things to Remember When Interpreting Epidemiologic Data

We know that the number of cases we have on record is an underrepresentation of the true burden for several reasons. Some underrepresentation is because testing for SARS-CoV-2 might not be available for the infected person… Another factor is that not everyone will need to see a doctor for COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) published a very detailed report about the outbreak of COVID-19 in China and found that 80% of cases were mild or moderate. Since then, there have been studies that have identified infections in people who never develop symptoms. If someone gets infected and recovers on their own, then public health may never find out about the case.

Scientists say a now-dominant strain of the coronavirus appears to be more contagious than original

Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that has become dominant worldwide and appears to be more contagious than the versions that spread in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In addition to spreading faster, it may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease, the report warned.

How to Think about COVID-19 like an M.D.

The curriculum, which was vetted by faculty members, provides a physician’s-eye view into the depths of the pandemic. It begins with first principles: the initial module covers virology and immunology. Readers are told that coronaviruses, in general, have the largest genomes of any RNA-based viruses that infect humans. And the curriculum details our prodigious ability to generate respiratory droplets through a sneeze (40,000 droplets) or cough (3,000) or just by talking (about 600 droplets per minute). A unit on epidemiology compares COVID-19 with the previous H1N1 flu pandemics of 1918 and 2009. Another module teaches how to don and doff personal protective equipment, and how to adjust the settings on a mechanical ventilator.

The Asian countries that beat COVID-19 have to do it again

What’s alarming about the numbers of new cases in the would-be success-story locations is that they’re happening at all—that the numbers were going down, and now they’re creeping up. From the outside, that looks like a worst-case scenario: the return of the disease after a country eases off the measures to combat it. But that appearance is deceiving. The bad new numbers come from somewhere else—literally. And that might have lessons for the next phase of the pandemic in the US.