Scientists

Scientists Worry About Political Influence Over Coronavirus Vaccine Project

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, speaks during a coronavirus task force news conference in Rockville, Md., June 30, 2020. (Samuel Corum/The New York Times)
Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, speaks during a coronavirus task force news conference in Rockville, Md., June 30, 2020. (Samuel Corum/The New York Times)

In April, with hospitals overwhelmed and much of the United States in lockdown, the Department of Health and Human Services produced a presentation for the White House arguing that rapid development of a coronavirus vaccine was the best hope to control the pandemic.

“DEADLINE: Enable broad access to the public by October 2020,” the first slide read, with the date in bold.

Given that it typically takes years to develop a vaccine, the timetable for the initiative, called Operation Warp Speed, was incredibly ambitious. With tens of thousands dying and tens of millions out of work, the crisis demanded an all-out public-private response, with the government supplying billions of dollars to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, providing logistical support

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How scientists revived an old-school treatment for a 21st century pandemic

Dr. Arturo Casadevall, a microbiologist and physician at Johns Hopkins University, has spearheaded a nationwide initiative to test the healing powers of "convalescent plasma" from COVID-19 survivors. <span class="copyright">(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)</span>
Dr. Arturo Casadevall, a microbiologist and physician at Johns Hopkins University, has spearheaded a nationwide initiative to test the healing powers of “convalescent plasma” from COVID-19 survivors. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

A few weeks after the new coronavirus arrived on U.S. shores, Dr. Arturo Casadevall hatched a plan to beat back the outbreak with a medical advance so powerful it had earned a Nobel Prize.

In 1901.

That’s when Dr. Emil Adolf von Behring was honored for pioneering the use of so-called convalescent serum as a treatment for diphtheria. In 1892, the Prussian bacteriologist infected horses with the pathogen that causes the deadly disease. If the beasts recovered, Von Behring harvested their blood, removed its red blood cells and clotting proteins, and introduced the resulting antibody-rich fluid into the bloodstreams of human diphtheria patients.

Until a diphtheria vaccine came into broad use in the 1930s, Von Behring’s daring

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Scientists Plan To Urge WHO To Take Airborne Spread Of Coronavirus More Seriously

A group of 239 scientists plans to urge the World Health Organization to more seriously consider the threat that the novel coronavirus may be spread by microscopic particles in the air.

The New York Times first reported Saturday that an international coalition of researchers will publish an open letter asking WHO to address airborne transmission of the virus. The scientists say there is growing evidence tiny aerosols can linger in the air indoors and result in new infections.

Throughout the pandemic, WHO has maintained that the virus spreads mainly through larger respiratory droplets or contact and has primarily urged people to wash their hands and socially-distance to prevent infection. These droplets, released by coughs or sneezes, are heavier than smaller aerosols and fall to the floor more quickly, thus presenting less of a threat if proper distance is maintained between a healthy and infected person.

However, if airborne transmission of

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Scientists want UK city to lift lockdown completely to see what happens

Shoppers in Southampton after restrictions were lifted on non-essential stores: Alamy Live News
Shoppers in Southampton after restrictions were lifted on non-essential stores: Alamy Live News

Scientists have proposed lifting lockdown completely in a UK city about the size of Southampton to see if coronavirus can be controlled through the weekly testing of residents.

A demonstration study is needed on a “medium-sized city” of around 250,000 people to see if regular testing and local quarantines could tackle Covid-19 outbreaks, according to a paper published in the Royal Society Open Science journal.

“It is a deep mystery to me why this idea has not gained traction,” said Julian Peto, professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-authored the paper with 10 other experts.

The group argued new saliva tests could make it possible to conduct mass weekly testing – with a full household quarantine imposed on anyone that tests positive.

Professor Peto told The Times that people forced

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Scientists discover ‘fatigue’ protein that raises hope of blood test to diagnose depression

Hopes that the discovery will assist the development of a blood test that will be able to clinically diagnose depression - Reuters
Hopes that the discovery will assist the development of a blood test that will be able to clinically diagnose depression – Reuters

Japanese scientists have identified a protein that thrives in the human brain on fatigue and stress and dramatically increases the likelihood of depression – a breakthrough that may lead to improved diagnosis and treatment.

It has long been understood that over-tiredness and stress are some of the root causes of depression, but researchers at Jikei University’s School of Medicine have determined that the protein is triggered by a virus. They also estimate that someone with the protein is more than 12 times more likely to develop mental health problems. 

The scientists’ findings were released in early June in the iScience online publication.

“The fact that over-fatigue leads to depression seemed to be self-evident, but it has never actually been verified until now”, said Professor Kazuhiro Kondo, a virologist

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