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  • On-off lockdown easing? (#5)
  • All the different possible vaccines (#14)
  • Back to elective surgeries (#8)
  • Patients who don’t feel oxygen level (#21)


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NPR

A pathologist holds a vial from a COVID-19 test kit. Various bottlenecks in the U.S. that have constrained widespread testing for the coronavirus were problems in February and persist today.


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Vox

One of the great mysteries of the Covid-19 pandemic is how, exactly, the SARS-CoV-2 virus made the leap from wildlife into humans. Scientists who’ve analyzed the virus’s genome believe it came from a bat, likely in China. But Chinese epidemiologists have revealed little about how or where the first patients were infected.


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Nature

Until recently, one could be forgiven for thinking that gene therapy might well remain ‘the medicine of the future’ — always just over the horizon, but still short of reaching the market. Today, that promise is finally a reality, with regulatory approvals for cell therapies, such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells developed for cancer immunotherapy by Kite Pharma (now part of Gilead Sciences) and Novartis, as well as Spark Therapeutics’ voretigene neparvovec (Luxturna) gene therapy for retinal dystrophy.


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Technology Networks

Caroline Hill is a Senior Group Leader of the Developmental Signalling Laboratory and an Assistant Research Director at The Francis Crick Institute, UK. Caroline studied for her Ph.D. in the laboratory of Jean Thomas at the University of Cambridge.


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Vox EU

Countries are facing stark choices between ending the lockdown to revive people’s lives and risking the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. This column proposes an exit strategy from lockdown based on a vulnerability in the coronavirus transmission mechanism, i.e. the latent period in which most infected people do not infect others. An optimal work/lockdown cycle based on this weak spot could minimise infection risks and while greatly improving the painful trade-offs faced by policymakers.


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Much of the world is looking to ease lockdowns in the right way. Here Uri Alon of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel proposes that lawmakers look at the idea of alternating periods of lockdown and periods of work because of features of the virus.

Quartz

India is beginning to ramp up testing for Covid-19. The central government and several states have begun to procure lakhs of RT-PCR test kits to screen for the virus. Scores of government workers have fanned out across the country to track contacts of people who have tested positive. Moreover, India is considering novel testing protocols in order to increase the population that can be covered with the tests it already has.


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Australian Financial Review

Although they could initiate chains of transmission and be the drivers of losing control, he said “it is still possible to open up the country and get away with it.


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Palo Alto Online

Gov. Gavin Newsom took the first step in rolling back some restrictions on his stay-at-home order on Wednesday by announcing that hospitals could now start doing some elective surgeries. He cautioned, though, that the small step is just that: one piece in a series that will unfold only as health authorities feel they have made progress on controlling the spread of the COVID-19 disease.


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South China Morning Post

Genetic analysis showed that the dominant types of the viral strains in France belonged to a clade – or group with a common ancestor – that did not come from China or Italy, the earliest hotspot in Europe.


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Al Jazeera

A doctor explains why smokers are more likely to contract respiratory illnesses.


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Guardian

The results of early studies from the US and China, which show disappointing results in the use of an antimalarial drug and an anti-retroviral drug in treating Covid-19, will not impact trials of the drug under way in Australia, researchers say.


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USA Today

Sweden, unlike its Nordic neighbors Denmark and Norway – and virtually every other country in the western world – has resisted extensive lockdown restrictions to stem the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, it’s largely kept society, including schools and restaurants open, and relied on voluntary social-distancing measures that appeal to the public’s sense of self-restraint. Polls show the strategy is broadly supported by most Swedes.


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The Conversation

After four weeks of some of the world’s strictest lockdown conditions, New Zealand now records much higher numbers of people who have recovered from COVID-19 than new infections.


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Nature

More than 90 vaccines are being developed against SARS-CoV-2 by research teams in companies and universities across the world. Researchers are trialling different technologies, some of which haven’t been used in a licensed vaccine before. At least six groups have already begun injecting formulations into volunteers in safety trials; others have started testing in animals. Nature’s graphical guide explains each vaccine design.


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Last week’s Deepnews Digest was about finding a cure, and mentioned all the clinical trials out there. This piece from Nature gives a helpful look at the different types of vaccine that may be of use and how they work.

Science

The Dutch sea captain Willem de Vlamingh never imagined in his wildest dreams that black swans could exist. He never saw or heard of one in Europe. In January 1697 he and his crew sailed up a river, later named Swan River, in Southwestern Australia to explore it. And much to their utter amazement they became the first Europeans to see black swans.


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The Conversation

Recent headlines have suggested COVID-19 can spread up to four metres, drawing into question the current advice to maintain 1.5 metres between people to prevent the spread of the virus.


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Times of India

We are amid a pandemic at a scale never seen before, and this offers us an opportunity to reflect on how we could tackle an infectious vector-borne disease such as malaria. Much has been written in the last few weeks about India’s response to the novel coronavirus. We continue to see and hear amazing stories from across the country on various aspects of public health management: raising awareness, prioritizing prevention, identifying affected patients, ensuring treatment and close monitoring. On World Malaria Day today, it seems appropriate to distill learnings and best practices from the current COVID-19 response and consider what might be relevant in our battle against malaria, another significant burden to public health.


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Science

Drugs that home in on and block cell growth signals can dramatically shrink tumors, but all too often the cancer comes back. An attention-grabbing mouse study 7 years ago suggested these targeted drugs would work better at shrinking melanoma tumors if cancer patients got a break from their medicine every few weeks.


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The Diplomat

Cuba is developing a foothold in Asia with its biotechnology. COVID-19 is likely to expand that cooperation still further.


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University of Missouri

Millions of people across the country are living under stay-at-home orders, which often means prolonged contact with their pets. With a tiger at the Bronx Zoo recently testing positive for COVID-19, the question of whether people can transmit the disease to their pets is becoming more important.


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Science

Among the many surprises of the new coronavirus is one that seems to defy basic biology: infected patients with extraordinarily low blood-oxygen levels, or hypoxia, scrolling on their phones, chatting with doctors, and generally describing themselves as comfortable. Clinicians call them happy hypoxics.


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One thing that scientists of course know about coronavirus is that it can have disastrous effects on the lungs. But patients may not always feel low oxygen levels. Here Jennifer Couzin-Frankel looks into the issue for Science.

NY Times

By the time New York City confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on March 1, thousands of infections were already silently spreading through the city, a hidden explosion of a disease that many still viewed as a remote threat as the city awaited the first signs of spring.


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Business Insider

It’s the latest report to indicate that antibody kits with varying levels of accuracy are flooding the US healthcare system.


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CNN

Before entering the cave, the small team of scientists pull on hazmat suits, face masks and thick gloves to cover every inch of their skin. Contact with bat droppings or urine could expose them to some of the world’s deadliest unknown viruses


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Daily Nation (Kenya)

A country can, indeed, be taken for a ride, and in June 1990 we did exactly that with the story of Kemron.


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