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Virus World provides a daily blog of the latest news in the Virology field. News on new antiviral drugs, vaccines, diagnostic tests, viral outbreaks, novel viruses and milestone discoveries are curated by expert virologists. Highlighted news include trending and most cited scientific articles in these fields with links to the original publications. Stay up-to-date with the most exciting discoveries in the virus world without spending hours browsing news and scientific publications.
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RetroVirox Launches Cell-Based Coronavirus Assays for Evaluation of COVID-19 Vaccines and Therapeutics

RetroVirox Launches Cell-Based Coronavirus Assays for Evaluation of COVID-19 Vaccines and Therapeutics | Virus World | Scoop.it

March 17, 2020 - San Diego. RetroVirox has launched a menu of cell-based antiviral services to evaluate experimental therapies and vaccines against coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Starting today the company will offer in vitro testing with SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviruses to evaluate entry inhibitors against the novel coronavirus causative agent of COVID-19. The pseudovirus assay utilizes HIV pseudoviruses coated with the viral spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2. The assay recapitulates the mode of entry of the novel coronavirus and it can be used for the following purposes:

 

  • To determine the neutralizing activity of therapeutic antibodies
  • To test experimental COVID-19 vaccines using antisera from inoculated animals or humans
  • To evaluate small-molecule entry inhibitors targeting the S viral protein, the ACE-2 viral receptor, or host proteases and other targets involved in SARS-CoV-2 viral entry

 

 RetroVirox also performs in vitro assay against several milder forms of seasonal human coronaviruses (hCoV), including the strains OC43, and 229E. Additional Information about the coronavirus assays offered at RetroVirox is available here. Request additional information by email at info@retrovirox.com

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Johnson & Johnson Announces Lead COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

Johnson & Johnson Announces Lead COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate | Virus World | Scoop.it

Johnson & Johnson today announced the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate from constructs it had been working on since January 2020, with expected initiation of human clinical studies by September 2020 at the latest. The company expects the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use authorization in early 2021, an accelerated timeframe in comparison with the typical vaccine development process. The company has scaled its manufacturing capacity with the goal of providing a billion doses of a vaccine globally, according to a company press release.

 

Efforts to research potential vaccine candidates began in January 2020 as soon as the COVID-19 sequence became available. Through this research, Johnson & Johnson identified a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate and two backups, which will progress into the first manufacturing steps. The company aims to initiate a phase 1 clinical study in September 2020 and have clinical data on safety and efficacy available by the end of the year. This could possibly allow emergency use authorization of the vaccine by early 2021. Through an expansion of an existing partnership between the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a $1 billion investment has been made to co-fund vaccine research, development and clinical testing. Johnson & Johnson will use it validated vaccine platform and will allocate resources, including personnel and global infrastructure, to focus on these efforts. BARDA has provided additional funding to expand ongoing work to identify potential antiviral treatment against the novel coronavirus.

 

In addition to vaccine development, BARDA and Johnson & Johnson have expanded their partnership to accelerate Janssen’s ongoing work in screening compound libraries. The company aims to identify potential treatments against the novel coronavirus and both Johnson & Johnson and BARDA are providing funding as part of this partnership.

 

Company's Release (March 30, 2020): https://www.jnj.com/johnson-johnson-announces-a-lead-vaccine-candidate-for-covid-19-landmark-new-partnership-with-u-s-department-of-health-human-services-and-commitment-to-supply-one-billion-vaccines-worldwide-for-emergency-pandemic-use

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FDA Issues Emergency Authorization of Anti-Malaria Drug for Coronavirus Care

FDA Issues Emergency Authorization of Anti-Malaria Drug for Coronavirus Care | Virus World | Scoop.it

The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, decades-old malaria drugs championed by President Donald Trump for coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The agency allowed for the drugs to be "donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible," HHS said in a statement, announcing that Sandoz donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to the stockpile and Bayer donated 1 million doses of chloroquine.

 

The move was supported by the White House, part of a larger Trump-backed effort to speed the use of anti-malaria drugs as a potential therapy for a virus that has no proven treatment or cure. FDA already has allowed New York state to test administering the medication to seriously ill patients, and some hospitals have added it to their treatment protocols. "Let's see how it works," Trump said at a press briefing on Sunday, referencing New York state's efforts. "It may. It may not." "Scientists in America and around the world have identified multiple potential therapeutics for COVID19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine," HHS Secretary Alex Azar tweeted on Sunday night, praising Trump and the EUA.

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Fujifilm Ramps up Production of Flu Drug Avigan as Possible COVID-19 Treatment

Fujifilm Ramps up Production of Flu Drug Avigan as Possible COVID-19 Treatment | Virus World | Scoop.it

Fujifilm says it is prepared to ramp up production of Avigan for any country that wants to try it as a potential treatment for COVID-19. But even as it has restarted production, the Japanese drugmaker feels compelled to set the record straight about the influenza drug.   “Avigan has never been distributed in the market and is not available at hospitals and pharmacies in Japan or overseas,” it said in an announcement

 

The drug, developed by Fujifilm unit Toyama Chemical, was approved in 2014 as an influenza treatment but only to be used if other treatments prove ineffective against a novel or re-emerging influenza virus. The Japanese company issued the clarification Friday as interest in the drug builds. That follows reports that clinical trials of the drug in China showed it effective against COVID-19. Over the weekend, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government would begin trials of the drug on COVID-19 in cooperation with other countries and ramp up production with the aim of a quick approval, the Nikkei Asia Review reports.   

 

Company's Update (March 27, 2020):

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Timeline of the Coronavirus Outbreak (March 29 update)

Timeline of the Coronavirus Outbreak (March 29 update) | Virus World | Scoop.it

(Last updated March 29, 2020 - 10:30 am, PST) 

Global Infections: 722436

Global Deaths: 40001

Countries & territories affected: 183

March 29, 2020 - Over 700000 infections and 40000 deaths globally. U.S., with 20% of the world cases, extends "stay home" restrictions through the end of April, when models predict over 2000 daily deaths at the peak expected in 4-5 weeks. New York remains the center of the US epidemic with over 10000 deaths. Italy also extends the containment measures in the country as total deaths surpass 13000. Record days for new deaths in Spain (838). Switzerland reaches one of the highest density of COVID-19 cases in the world, at more than 2 cases per 1000 people. 

 

March 26, 2020 - Half a million infected globally. 23000 deaths reported. The U.S. becomes the country with the highest number of infections (over 82000). Near half of US cases concentrated in the New York metropolitan area. U.S. hit last week the highest number of unemployed claims ever (3.3 million), quadrupling the previous record. The Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion stimulus plan. Stock market raises for third consecutive day. A quarter of the world population estimated to be in lockdown.

 

March 23, 2020 - 462 deaths in Spain in one day. More than a billion people worldwide ordered to stay home. In the U.S, 46500 infections are reached and over 100 million ordered to stay home in the States of California, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Louisiana, Connecticut, Washington, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Oregon and New Jersey. The National Guard is deployed for California, New York, and Washington States. Italy, Spain, and New York City reach levels of COVID-19 greater than 1 in 1000 people. In Italy the fatality rate reaches near 10% of confirmed cases.

 

March 22, 2020 - Spain’s fatalities up, 394 new deaths. Thousands of health workers infected in Spain. Deaths also raise in Canada, 50 % up. Over 30,000 cases in the United States, with near 10000 infections in New York City alone. Shortage of masks and respirators in the U.S. Testing policies change and become restricted in the U.S. again, tests given priority for health workers and hospitalized patients. One in five Americans ordered to stay home. No new cases in Wuhan for 4th consecutive day, but China reports increase in imported cases (46 new) and concerns raise about the possibility of new outbreaks in the country. Over 54000 cases in Italy, nearing 5000 deaths. FDA approves new test for the virus with results in less than an hour. The test will be used mostly in the hospital settings. Riot in Colombia’s prison after COVID-19 kills nearly two dozen. Hydroxychloroquine therapy in combination with azithromycin may show clinical benefit and reduce viral load in COVID-19 patients.

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Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in Different Environmental Conditions

Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in Different Environmental Conditions | Virus World | Scoop.it

We report the stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions. We first determined the stability of SARS-CoV-2 at different temperatures. SARS-CoV-2 in virus transport medium (VTM; final concentration: ∼6.8 log TCID50/mL) was incubated for up to 14 days and then tested for its infectivity (Table A). The virus is highly stable at 4°C, but sensitive to heat. At 4°C, there was only ∼0.7-log unit reduction of infectious titre on Day 14. With the incubation temperature being increased to 70°C, the time for virus inactivation was reduced to 5 minutes. 

 

We further investigated the stability of this virus on different surfaces. In brief, a 5-µL droplet of virus culture (∼7.8 Log unit of TCID50/mL) was pipetted on a surface (Table B; ∼1cm2 per piece) and left at room temperature (22°C; Relative humidity: ∼65%). The inoculated objects retrieved at desired time points were immediately soaked with 200 µL of VTM for 30 minutes to elute the virus. No infectious virus could be recovered from printing and tissue papers after a 3-hour incubation, whereas no infectious virus could be detected from treated wood and cloth on Day 2. By contrast, SARS-CoV-2 was more stable on smooth surfaces. No infectious virus could be detected from treated smooth surfaces on Day 4 (glass and banknote) or Day 7 (stainless steel and plastic). Strikingly, a significant level of infectious virus could still be detected on the outer layer of a surgical mask on Day 7 (∼0.1% of the original inoculum).

 

We also tested the virucidal effects of disinfectants by adding 15 µL of SARS-CoV-2 culture (∼7.8 Log unit of TCID50/mL) to 135 µL of various disinfectants at working concentration (Table C). With the exception of a 5-min incubation with hand soap, no infectious virus could be detected after a 5-minute incubation at room temperature. In addition, we also found that SARS-CoV-2 is extremely stable in a wide-range of pH values at room temperature (pH3-10; Table D). Overall, SARS-CoV-2 can be highly stable in a favourable environment4 , but it is also susceptible to standard disinfection methods.

 

Published in medRxiv (March 27, 2020) :

https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.15.20036673

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How Sick Will the Coronavirus Make You? The Answer May Be in Your Genes

How Sick Will the Coronavirus Make You? The Answer May Be in Your Genes | Virus World | Scoop.it

COVID-19, caused by the new pandemic coronavirus, is strangely—and tragically—selective. Only some infected people get sick, and although most of the critically ill are elderly or have complicating problems such as heart disease, some killed by the disease are previously healthy and even relatively young. Researchers are now gearing up to scour the patients’ genomes for DNA variations that explain this mystery. The findings could be used to identify those most at risk of serious illness and those who might be protected, and they might also guide the search for new treatments. 

 

The projects range from ongoing studies with DNA for many thousands of participants, some now getting infected with the coronavirus, to new efforts that are collecting DNA from COVID-19 patients in hard-hit places such as Italy. The goal is to compare the DNA of people who have serious cases of COVID-19 (which stands for coronavirus disease 2019)—but no underlying disease like diabetes, heart or lung disease—with those with mild or no disease. “We see huge differences in clinical outcomes and across countries. How much of that is explained by genetic susceptibility is a very open question,” says geneticist Andrea Ganna of the University of Helsinki’s Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM).

 

It’s hard to predict what will pop out from these gene hunts, some researchers say. But there are obvious suspects, such as the gene coding for the cell surface protein angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which the coronavirus uses to enter airway cells. Variations in the ACE2 gene that alter the receptor could make it easier or harder for the virus to get into cells, says immunologist Philip Murphy of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whose lab identified a relatively common mutation in another human cell surface protein, CCR5, that makes some people highly resistant to HIV.

Gilbert C FAURE's comment, March 28, 12:20 PM
immunogenetics should be better!
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How We Must Respond to the Coronavirus Bandemic | Bill Gates

How We Must Respond to the Coronavirus Bandemic | Bill Gates | Virus World | Scoop.it

Philanthropist and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates offers insights into the COVID-19 pandemic, discussing why testing and self-isolation are essential, which medical advancements show promise, and what it will take for the world to endure this crisis (Recorded March 24, 2020)

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Abbott Receives Approval for Test that Can detect Coronavirus in as Little as 5 Minutes

Abbott Receives Approval for Test that Can detect Coronavirus in as Little as 5 Minutes | Virus World | Scoop.it

Abbott on Friday announced it received approval for a test that is capable of delivering positive results of the coronavirus in as little as five minutes, and it will begin making those tests available to health care providers next week. The Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for the point-of-care test on Friday, the company said in a statement. The test can detect negative results in 13 minutes. The company said it plans to ramp up manufacturing so it can deliver 50,000 tests per day. 

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic will be fought on multiple fronts, and a portable molecular test that offers results in minutes adds to the broad range of diagnostic solutions needed to combat this virus,” Abbott Chief Operating Officer Robert Ford said in a statement. This is the second Abbott test for the coronavirus to be launched. Between the two, the company expects to produce about 5 million tests per month, the company said in a statement. The Lake Bluff, Illinois, company makes diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and medicines.

 

A challenge might be that clinicians, due to the personal protective equipment shortage, might not feel safe administering these tests to patients, especially those with respiratory symptoms.

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62 Spanish Experts Request Spanish Government to Move the Country to Complete Lockdown

62 Spanish Experts Request Spanish Government to Move the Country to Complete Lockdown | Virus World | Scoop.it

We would like to express our concern about the limited capacity of actions taken by the Spanish Government to successfully control the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak and end the exponential growth phase of new cases. The measures taken so far, consisting primarily of partial restriction mobility, are in the right direction, although some researchers have warned about the pressure placed on the building blocks of the health system. Given that the actual extent of an epidemic can only be assessed retrospectively, governments and policy makers are forced to make decisions on the basis of mathematical models of other diseases and previous experiences by other countries taking different actions.

 

In Spain, various models simulating the spread of infection and using different assumptions converge in a landscape of a high number of new cases within the next few weeks. Simulations have been done using the URV and UNIZAR models to predict the progression of the number of patients who will require admission into hospital intensive care units because of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in three scenarios (appendix): scenario 1, no mobility restrictions; scenario 2, partial restriction of mobility (ie, movement to the workplace allowed for 30% of people); and scenario 3, complete restriction of mobility (ie, no workplace mobility allowed except for essential services).

 

The model suggests that the actions taken to date, consistent with scenario 2, will be insufficient to prevent hospitals and intensive care units from being overwhelmed over the coming weeks. The foreseen collapse of the health system, along with the age distribution of the Spanish population (ie, 18% of people aged ≥65 years), suggests a potentially high mortality rate associated with COVID-19 in the country....

 

Published in The Lancet (March 26, 2020):

https://doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(20)30753-4

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San Diego's Mesa Biotech Gets Approval for 30-minute Coronavirus Test 

San Diego's Mesa Biotech Gets Approval for 30-minute Coronavirus Test  | Virus World | Scoop.it

The startup says its compact, point-of-care test can deliver rapid results, compared with hours or days at centralized labs. Mesa Biotech, a privately held San Diego startup that designs point-of-care flu tests, has received emergency authorization from federal authorities to provide a molecular test for the COVID-19 coronavirus. The company, which employs 50 workers, said its palm-size COVID-19 tests deliver results in as little as 30 minutes. That is significantly faster than the hours or days it can take to get results from centralized labs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Mesa’s test for use in moderate to highly complex medical labs, as well as other health settings with trained professionals such as emergency rooms or clinics, said Steven Sepulveda, a vice president of global business development. “What they wanted to do was really broaden where (testing) is done,” said Sepulveda. “Now it is done in central labs. This gets it closer to the patient, in the ER, etc.”

 

Mesa is the second point-of-care test provider to receive FDA emergency authorization for COVID-19. Cepheid, a Bay Area subsidiary of global life sciences firm Danaher, gained approval for its a 45-minute test last week. Delays in testing have hindered the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. Efforts to break the bottleneck include bringing more coronavirus tests from private companies to the fight. Several diagnostic companies with operations in the San Diego region, including GenMark Diagnostics, Quidel Corp., Hologic and Thermo Fisher, recently received emergency approval to provide coronavirus tests to labs. Mesa designed its rapid test with the help of a $561,000 contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The company already has approved point-of-care tests for Flu A/B available in the U.S. through a distribution partnership with Sekisui Diagnostics. Mesa said it is ready to ship coronavirus tests immediately under the Accula brand name, though the volume of available tests was not disclosed....

 

Company's Press Release (March 24, 2020):

https://www.mesabiotech.com/news/euacoronavirus

FDA Approval Letter (March 23, 2020):

https://www.fda.gov/media/136345/download

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UC Health Launches Clinical Trials to Assess Antiviral Drug for COVID-19

UC Health Launches Clinical Trials to Assess Antiviral Drug for COVID-19 | Virus World | Scoop.it

Researchers at four UC Health medical centers have begun recruiting participants for a Phase II clinical trial to test remdesivir. Physician-scientists at four University of California Health medical centers — UC San Diego Health, UC San Francisco, UC Irvine Health and UC Davis Health — have begun recruiting participants for a Phase II clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of treating adult patients with COVID-19 with remdesivir, an antiviral drug that has shown activity in animal models and human clinical trials of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, Ebola, Marburg and other viruses.

 

Remdesivir is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of any infection, but is undergoing clinical trials for treatment of multiple viral diseases, including COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infections. The multicenter trial will be randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled, with the capacity to enroll in up to 75 sites globally. The UC trial will begin with a small cohort of participants. All must be hospitalized patients with diagnosed COVID-19. All must be patients of UC San Diego Health or other participating UC Health systems.

 

Developed by Gilead Sciences, remdesivir belongs to a class of antiviral drugs that inhibit RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, an enzyme necessary for some RNA viruses like SARS-CoV-2 to replicate. Thus, inhibiting the enzyme may prevent viral replication in infected cells. The most commonly used antiviral drug in this class of drugs is acyclovir, used for the treatment of herpes simplex virus, chickenpox and shingles. The study will consist of a series of two-arm comparisons between different therapeutic agents and a placebo, with interim monitoring to introduce new arms as needed and to allow for early stoppage if any agents prove ineffective or unsafe. “Due to the evolving, fluid nature of this research and what we’re learning daily about the virus and about improving treatment, the trial is designed to be adaptive, to shift investigation to the most promising avenues,” said co-principal investigator Constance Benson, MD, professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health.

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Coronavirus Deaths by U.S. State and Country Over Time: Daily Tracking - The New York Times

Coronavirus Deaths by U.S. State and Country Over Time: Daily Tracking - The New York Times | Virus World | Scoop.it

Compare the number of deaths and their rate of increase over time in the places the virus has hit hardest so far. The accompanying chart, which will update every morning, allows you to follow the disease’s progression by country. It uses what’s called a logarithmic scale — exponential growth at different rates will appear as straight lines of different steepness. The steeper the line, the faster the total number of coronavirus deaths is doubling.

 

The number of deaths from the illness known as Covid-19 provides one of the most reliable measurements of the pandemic’s impact around the world. Testing rates for the virus differ so much that the number of positive results in a given country is not a precise barometer of how many people are afflicted. But deaths also lag infections substantially; evidence from China suggests that most patients who died from Covid-19 were infected for a month before their death.

 

The data are drawn from The New York Times’s aggregation of global coronavirus statistics. To make it easier to compare the trajectories of the epidemic by nation, the counts in the chart all begin with a country’s 25th death. The disease has reached different countries at different times, but comparing them all in this way can show whether the disease is progressing faster or slower in various places once it arrives.

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'Immunity passports' Could Speed up Return to Work After Covid-19

'Immunity passports' Could Speed up Return to Work After Covid-19 | Virus World | Scoop.it

“Immunity passports” for key workers could be a way of getting people who have had coronavirus back into the workforce more quickly, scientists and politicians in the UK have suggested. Researchers in Germany are currently preparing a mass study into how many people are already immune to the Covid-19 virus, allowing authorities to eventually issue passes to exclude workers from restrictive measures currently in place.

 

The study, which is yet to finalise funding, would involve testing the blood of more than 100,000 volunteers for coronavirus antibodies from mid-April. The test would then be repeated at regular intervals on an accumulatively larger sample of the population, to track the pandemic’s progress. The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “Germany appears to be leading the way in the testing and we have much to learn from their approach. I’ve repeatedly called for more testing and contact tracing in the UK, and we should be looking at initiatives like this closely.”

 

The results of the German study, organised by the government’s public health body, the Robert Koch Institute, the German Centre for Infection Research, the Institute for Virology at Berlin’s Charite hospital and blood donation services, would make it easier to decide when and where schools in the country could reopen, and which people are safe to go back to work. “Those who are immune could be issued with a kind of vaccination pass that would for example allow them to exempted from restrictions on their activity,” said Gerard Krause, head of epidemiology at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig. The German government has not yet officially commented on the proposal for such a certificate made by scientists....

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Sewage Water as Indicator for Spreading of COVID-19 

Sewage Water as Indicator for Spreading of COVID-19  | Virus World | Scoop.it

Microbiologists at research institute KWR conducted a series of RNA-analyses at municipal waste water treatment plants (WWTP) in the Netherlands. The analyses showed the presence of RNA gene fragments of the COVID-19 virus in incoming sewage water. According to KWR the screening of the COVID-19 virus at municipal waste water plants can be used to signal new outbreaks in advance and play an important role to follow the evolution of the pandemic.

 

RNA-analysis is a method to measure the presence of viruses through capturing virus particles and detect specific gene fragments. The method does not discriminate between inactive and infectious particles. The KWR microbiologists say they have not yet been able to quantify the presence of these fragments. Their first findings indicate that the concentration of the virus at the WWTP is low.  Currently researchers are examining all samples multiple times and are looking at the reproducibility of the results. Furthermore, they double check and focus on fragments of multiple genes, to strengthen their results about the presence of the virus. The detection of COVID-19 in the sewage water at the Dutch WWTP does not really come as a surprise. Sewage water contains many viruses and the detection of the new coronavirus from human faeces was to be expected. Study results released by Chinese microbiologists in 2005 showed that SARS-CoV RNA had been detected in the sewage water of Chinese hospitals where SARS-patients were treated.

 

KWR suggests the use of the RNA-analyses of the SARS-CoV-2 in sewage water as a tool to measure the virus circulation in cities or smaller municipalities. The concentration level of the virus can be an indicator for the number of virus infections in the population and can signal in advance a new outbreak, for instance when a lock down is lifted. Similarly, these analyses can help monitor the effect of measures put in place to mitigate the spreading of the pandemic, according to KWR.

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COVID-19 Patients Often Infected With Other Respiratory Viruses

COVID-19 Patients Often Infected With Other Respiratory Viruses | Virus World | Scoop.it

About one in five people with COVID-19 are also infected with other respiratory viruses, according to a preliminary analysis led by Ian Brown, MD, a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine. In addition, the analysis found that about one in 10 people who exhibit symptoms of respiratory illness at an emergency department, and who are subsequently diagnosed with a common respiratory virus, are co-infected with the COVID-19 virus. The findings challenge the assumption that people are unlikely to have COVID-19 if they have another type of viral respiratory disease.

 

"Currently, if a patient tests positive for a different respiratory virus, we believe that they don't have COVID-19," said Nigam Shah, MBBS, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and of biomedical data science at the medical school. "However, given the co-infection rates we've observed in this sample, that is an incorrect assumption."  Accurate and rapid testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is necessary to identify those who are infected and slow the spread of the disease. Understanding the likelihood of co-infection is an important step in this process. "Hospitals don't have unlimited access to COVID testing," Brown said . "In some cases, a patient with respiratory symptoms may first be tested for a non-COVID virus. If there is a diagnosis of influenza or rhinovirus, or other respiratory virus, a hospital may discharge the patient without COVID testing, concluding that the alternative diagnosis is the reason for the symptoms."

 

Brown and his colleagues analyzed 562 people recently tested for COVID-19 at Stanford Health Care's Marc and Laura Andreessen Emergency Department. Forty-nine of those people tested positive for infection with SARS-CoV-2. Of the 562 people, 517 were also tested for the presence of other common respiratory viruses, such as influenza A and B, respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, adenovirus and several types of pneumonia. One hundred and twenty seven received a positive result for one of these other respiratory viruses. Of the people tested for both SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses, eleven people—or about 22% of the 49 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 8.7% of the 127 people with other respiratory viruses—were found to be co-infected with both kinds of viruses.

 

Original Report Published in Medium.com

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At least 8 Strains of the Coronavirus are Spreading Across the Globe

At least 8 Strains of the Coronavirus are Spreading Across the Globe | Virus World | Scoop.it

Scientists have identified at least eight strains of coronavirus as the bug wreaks havoc spreading across the globe. More than 2,000 genetic sequences of the virus have been submitted from labs  to the open database NextStain, which shows it mutating on maps in realtime, according to the site. Researchers said the data, which includes samples every continent except Antarctica, revealed the virus is mutating on average every 15 days, National Geographic reported. But Nextstrain cofounder Trevor Bedford said the mutations are so small that there is no strain of the virus that is more harmful. “These mutations are completely benign and useful as a puzzle piece to uncover how the virus is spreading,” Bedford told the outlet.

 

“We’ll be able to tell how much less transmission we’re seeing and answer the question, ‘Can we take our foot off the gas?’” Bedford said. Charles Chiu, a professor of medicine and infectious disease at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, said that the database also provides insight into how the virus is moving throughout the US, according to USA Today.

 

“The outbreaks are trackable,” Chiu said. “We have the ability to do genomic sequencing almost in real-time to see what strains or lineages are circulating.” Most of the cases on the West Coast are linked to a strain first identified in Washington state, which is only three mutations away from the first known strain, the outlet reported. Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the virus appeared to have come from China to Europe and then to New York and other states.

Jaden Matthews-Johnson's curator insight, March 30, 11:47 PM
The article talks about how 8 strains of coronavirus are present in the world. More than 2,000 sequences of the virus have been sumitted for testing. With genome sequencing, it makes the viruses more easy to track and better to contain. The coronavirus mutates on average every thirteen days, which can make it hard for scientists to develop an effective vaccine to cure it.
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Gilead Expands Emergency Use of Remdesivir - A Letter from Gilead's CEO 

Gilead Expands Emergency Use of Remdesivir - A Letter from Gilead's CEO  | Virus World | Scoop.it

When the news of the coronavirus first emerged, Gilead immediately began to investigate the potential of remdesivir, a medicine we had been studying for many years as part of our extensive research in antivirals. Remdesivir had never been approved for use but based on what we had learned to date, we knew it might have potential with the novel coronavirus. Since then, we have been working with the greatest sense of urgency and responsibility to determine whether remdesivir does indeed work against COVID-19.

 

The urgency comes from knowing the desperate need among patients and the lack of any approved treatment. The responsibility is to ensure that remdesivir, an investigational medicine, is effective and safe before it is distributed for use worldwide. This is why we have been working at unprecedented speed to enroll patients in clinical trials. Establishing the safety and efficacy of remdesivir, in partnership with regulatory authorities, is essential to potentially enabling the treatment of many more patients in the future. Multiple studies are ongoing, and we are on track to have initial data in the coming weeks. If it is approved, we will work to ensure affordability and access so that remdesivir is available to patients with the greatest need.

 

In the meantime, we have made the investigational medicine available for severely ill patients who cannot enroll in a trial. This “compassionate use” program is typically reserved for a small number of individual cases but there is nothing typical about this crisis and to date we have provided remdesivir to more than 1,000 patients. The program is designed by regulatory authorities in such a way that each application has to be reviewed on an individual basis. This works well when there is only a limited number of requests – as is normally the case – but the system cannot support and process the overwhelming number of applications we have seen with COVID-19. 

 

To address this, we are transitioning to what should be a more streamlined, sustainable approach with “expanded access” programs. The compassionate use program will continue for children and pregnant women only, reducing the numbers to a level where the system can cope. With expanded access, hospitals or physicians can apply for emergency use of remdesivir for multiple severely ill patients at a time. While it will take some time to build a network of active sites, this approach will ultimately accelerate emergency access for more people. Initial sites in the United States are up and running as of yesterday, and it is expected that sites in additional countries will be activated soon......

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Temperature, Humidity and Latitude Analysis to Predict Potential Spread and Seasonality for COVID-19

Temperature, Humidity and Latitude Analysis to Predict Potential Spread and Seasonality for COVID-19 | Virus World | Scoop.it

A significant number of infectious diseases display seasonal patterns in their incidence, including human coronaviruses. Betacoronaviruses such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV are not thought to be seasonal.

 

To date, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, has established significant community spread in cities and regions along a narrow east west distribution roughly along the 30-50o N’ corridor at consistently similar weather patterns consisting of average temperatures of 5-11oC, combined with low specific (3-6 g/kg) and absolute humidity (4-7 g/m3 ). There has been a lack of significant community establishment in expected locations that are based only on population proximity and extensive population interaction through travel.

 

The distribution of significant community outbreaks along restricted latitude, temperature, and humidity are consistent with the behavior of a seasonal respiratory virus. Additionally, we have proposed a simplified model that shows a zone at increased risk for COVID-19 spread. Using weather modeling, it may be possible to predict the regions most likely to be at higher risk of significant community spread of COVID-19 in the upcoming weeks, allowing for concentration of public health efforts on surveillance and containment.

 

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Would Everyone Wearing Face Masks Help us Slow the Pandemic?

Would Everyone Wearing Face Masks Help us Slow the Pandemic? | Virus World | Scoop.it

Some argue that masking everyone would slow the spread of COVID-19—but the evidence is spotty. As cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) ballooned last month, people in Europe and North America scrambled to get their hands on surgical masks to protect themselves. Health officials jumped in to discourage them, worried about the limited supply of masks for health care personnel. “Seriously people-STOP BUYING MASKS!” began a 29 February tweet from U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams. The World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have both said that only people with COVID-19 symptoms and those caring for them should wear masks.

 

But some health experts, including the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, think that’s a mistake. Health authorities in parts of Asia have encouraged all citizens to wear masks in public to prevent the spread of the virus, regardless of whether they have symptoms. And the Czech Republic took the uncommon step last week of making nose and mouth coverings mandatory in public spaces, prompting a grassroots drive to hand make masks. Even experts who favor masking the masses say their impact on the spread of disease is likely to be modest. Many are also afraid to promote mask buying amid dire shortages at hospitals. But as the pandemic wears on, some public health experts thinkt government messages discouraging mask wearing should shift. “It’s really a perfectly good public health intervention that’s not used,” argues KK Cheng, a public health expert at the University of Birmingham. “It’s not to protect yourself. It’s to protect people against the droplets coming out of your respiratory tract.”

 

Cheng and others stress that however masks are used, people must practice social distancing and stay at home as much as possible to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. When people do venture out and interact, they’re likely to spew some saliva. “I don’t want to frighten you, but when people speak and breathe and sing—you don’t have to sneeze or cough—these droplets are coming out,” he says....

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Interview with George Gao, Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Interview with George Gao, Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) | Virus World | Scoop.it

George Gao, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, offers insights from the front. Chinese scientists at the front of that country’s outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have not been particularly accessible to foreign media. Many have been overwhelmed trying to understand their epidemic and combat it, and responding to media requests, especially from journalists outside of China, has not been a top priority. Science has tried to interview George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for 2 months. Last week he responded.

 

Gao oversees 2000 employees—one-fifth the staff size of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and he remains an active researcher himself. In January, he was part of a team that did the first isolation and sequencing of severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19. He co-authored two widely read papers published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that provided some of the first detailed epidemiology and clinical features of the disease, and has published three more papers on COVID-19 in The Lancet. His team also provided important data to a joint commission between Chinese researchers and a team of international scientists, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), that wrote a landmark report after touring the country to understand the response to the epidemic.....

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Institutes for Health Metrics and Evaluation Projects 2300 Daily Deaths in the U.S. by April 15

Institutes for Health Metrics and Evaluation Projects 2300 Daily Deaths in the U.S. by April 15 | Virus World | Scoop.it

Explore hospital bed use, need for intensive care beds, and ventilator use due to COVID-19 based on projected deaths for all 50 US states and District of Columbia.

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‘People Are Dying’: 72 Hours Inside a N.Y.C. Hospital Battling Coronavirus - The New York Times

‘People Are Dying’: 72 Hours Inside a N.Y.C. Hospital Battling Coronavirus - The New York Times | Virus World | Scoop.it

An emergency room doctor in Elmhurst, Queens, gives a rare look inside a hospital at the center of the coronavirus pandemic. “We don’t have the tools that we need.

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Lost Smell and Taste Hint COVID-19 Can Target the Nervous System

Lost Smell and Taste Hint COVID-19 Can Target the Nervous System | Virus World | Scoop.it

The symptoms suggest SARS-CoV-2 might infect neurons, raising questions about whether there could be effects on the brain that play a role in patients’ deaths, but the data are preliminary. Nearly two weeks ago, Alessandro Laurenzi, a biologist working as a consultant in Bologna, Italy, was mowing the grass in his garden when a friend stopped him and said the mower reeked of fuel. “I couldn’t smell anything at all,” he tells The Scientist. That was in the morning. A few hours later, he went to have lunch and realized he couldn’t smell the food he was about to eat and when he took a bite, he couldn’t taste it either. Within a few days, he developed symptoms of COVID-19 and called his doctor to ask if he could get tested. Because his symptoms were mild, Laurenzi says, his doctor said no. Laurenzi had heard anecdotally that many COVID-19 patients in Italy suffered from a loss of smell, so he started reading all the scientific papers he could find to see if his anosmia and ageusia would ever abate. One of the papers, a review published March 13, mentioned that SARS-CoV-2, like other coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, could target the central nervous system, possibly infecting neurons in the nasal passage and disrupting the senses of smell and taste. 

 

Reading this, Laurenzi immediately reached out to the corresponding author, Abdul Mannan Baig, a researcher at Aga Khan University in Pakistan, and asked if his symptoms were reversible. The evidence, Mannan told Laurenzi and reiterated to The Scientist, indicates they will abate, possibly because the loss of sense is caused by inflammation in the area as the body fights the virus, so those symptoms could disappear in seven to 14 days. “Let’s hope so,” Laurenzi tells The Scientist. Documenting such peculiar symptoms is important, Mannan tells The Scientist, because the loss of smell and taste could be an early warning sign of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Based on the literature, British ear, nose, and throat doctors have now called for adults who lost those senses to quarantine themselves in an attempt to tamp down the spread of the disease, The New York Times reports. The symptoms, Mannan adds, also suggest that the virus has the ability to invade the central nervous system, which could cause neurological damage and possibly play a role in patients dying from COVID-19.

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Hydroxychloroquine Use For COVID-19 Shows No Benefit In Small Trial 

Hydroxychloroquine Use For COVID-19 Shows No Benefit In Small Trial  | Virus World | Scoop.it

The study’s small size and other weaknesses mean it does not offer a lot of helpful information in determining the possible utility of hydroxychloroquine, according to experts who reviewed the study. Results from the first controlled study of hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 showed no significant difference in outcomes between those who received the drug and those who received usual care. Hydroxychloroquine is one of several existing drugs that scientists are hoping will show improved symptoms and recovery in clinical trials for in patients with COVID-19. However, the study’s small size and other weaknesses mean it does not offer a lot of helpful information in determining the possible utility of hydroxychloroquine, according to experts who reviewed the study. The study also tested only hydroxychloroquine alone, not with the antibiotic azithromycin. 

 

“The combination therapy of azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine was thought to be better over the monotherapy of hydroxychloroquine to control the mixed infection of virus and bacteria,” explained Sunit K. Singh, PhD, a professor of molecular immunology & virology and head of the molecular biology unit at Banaras Hindu University’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Varanasi, India. 

 

Hydroxychloroquine, known by the brand name Plaquenil, is currently used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It is slightly different from chloroquine phosphate, another drug, currently used to treat malaria, which is under investigation for treating COVID-19. Both drugs have been in use for decades but carry risks as well. “During any outbreaks of epidemic and pandemic levels, there is hardly any time left for new drug development and clinical trials,” Dr. Singh said. Therefore clinicians will turn to trying existing drugs, known as “repurposing.”

 

Preprint (Chinese) of the study available at:

http://subject.med.wanfangdata.com.cn/UpLoad/Files/202003/43f8625d4dc74e42bbcf24795de1c77c.pdf 

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WHO Launches Global Megatrial of the Four Most Promising Coronavirus Treatments

WHO Launches Global Megatrial of the Four Most Promising Coronavirus Treatments | Virus World | Scoop.it

A drug combo already used against HIV. A malaria treatment first tested during World War II. A new antiviral whose promise against Ebola fizzled last year. Could any of these drugs hold the key to saving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients from serious harm or death? On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a large global trial, called SOLIDARITY, to find out whether any can treat infections with the new coronavirus for the dangerous respiratory disease. It’s an unprecedented effort—an all-out, coordinated push to collect robust scientific data rapidly during a pandemic. The study, which could include many thousands of patients in dozens of countries, has been designed to be as simple as possible so that even hospitals overwhelmed by an onslaught of COVID-19 patients can participate.

 

With about 15% of COVID-19 patients suffering from severe disease and hospitals being overwhelmed, treatments are desperately needed. So rather than coming up with compounds from scratch that may take years to develop and test, researchers and public health agencies are looking to repurpose drugs already approved for other diseases and known to be largely safe. They’re also looking at unapproved drugs that have performed well in animal studies with the other two deadly coronaviruses, which cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Drugs that slow or kill the novel coronavirus, called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), could save the lives of severely ill patients, but might also be given prophylactically to protect health care workers and others at high risk of infection. Treatments may also reduce the time patients spend in intensive care units, freeing critical hospital beds. 

 

Scientists have suggested dozens of existing compounds for testing, but WHO is focusing on what it says are the four most promising therapies: an experimental antiviral compound called remdesivir; the malaria medications chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine; a combination of two HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir; and that same combination plus interferon-beta, an immune system messenger that can help cripple viruses. Some data on their use in COVID-19 patients have already emerged—the HIV combo failed in a small study in China—but WHO believes a large trial with a greater variety of patients is warranted.

 
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