Science

Science

Wuhan lockdown has reduced exported coronavirus cases by 77%, scientists say
China’s decision to lock down the central city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected, has cut the number of infected people traveling to other countries by more than 75%, according to a study by a team of international scientists.  The restrictions also dramatically curbed the number of domestic infections, another team found. Wuhan, which has banned residents from leaving since January 23, has recorded few new infections over the past few days. The city will formally lift all of its travel restrictions on April 8. The researchers’ conclusions were reported in two papers published in Science magazine, looking at the impact of the travel ban and other contingency measures imposed
Study shows why you should never touch the outside of face mask
The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 can adhere to the outer layer of a face mask for a week, according to a study by researchers from the University of Hong Kong. “This is exactly why it is very important if you are wearing a surgical mask you don’t touch the outside of the mask,” said Malik Peiris, a clinical and public health virologist at the University of Hong Kong and a member of the research team. “Because you can contaminate your hands and if you touch your eyes you could be transferring the virus to your eyes.” The report, published in the medical journal Lancet Microbe on Thursday, adds to a growing body of research about the stability of SARS-CoV-2 – as the coronavirus is formally
The coronavirus pathogen could have been spreading in humans for years, study says
The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 might have been quietly spreading among humans for years or even decades before the sudden outbreak that sparked a global health crisis, according to an investigation by some of the world’s top virus researchers. Researchers from the United States, Britain and Australia looked at piles of data released by scientists around the world for clues about the virus’s evolutionary past, and found it might have made the jump from animal to humans long before the first detection in the central China city of Wuhan. Though there could be other possibilities, the scientists said the coronavirus carried a unique mutation that was not found in suspected animal hosts, bu
Chinese-made coronavirus tests ditched in Spain over inaccuracy
Madrid, the capital city of Spain, has stopped using a rapid Covid-19 test kit made by a Chinese company after research suggested it was not accurate enough. Doubts over the kits’ reliability emerged as the number of confirmed cases in Spain rose sharply on Thursday to 57,786, with 4,365 deaths. Worldwide, the disease has now infected more than 540,000 people and killed over 24,000. The Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC), one of Spain’s leading research institutes, said on its website it had found that nose swabs developed by Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology had an accuracy rate of less than 30%. Spanish newspaper El País reported that the Madrid city gov
WHO says silent spread of coronavirus ‘extremely rare.’ Classified data from China suggests otherwise
The number of “silent carriers” – people who are infected by the new coronavirus but show delayed or no symptoms – could be as high as one-third of those who test positive, according to classified Chinese government data seen by the South China Morning Post. That could further complicate the strategies being used by countries to contain the virus, which has infected more than 340,000 people and killed more than 14,000 globally. More than 43,000 people in China had tested positive for Covid-19 by the end of February but had no immediate symptoms, a condition typically known as asymptomatic, according to the data. They were placed in quarantine and monitored but were not included in the offici
Mutations in coronavirus make it milder but harder to detect, studies say
Three separate studies suggest China’s quarantine measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus may have changed its genetic course, potentially making it more “insidious” and harder to detect. Clinical researchers in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the new virus strain was first reported in December, say that locking down millions of people may have caused mutations in the genetic make-up of the coronavirus that resulted in milder symptoms of the illness, or no symptoms at all in the early stage of infection. Authorities locked down Wuhan – home to 11 million people – on January 23, confining residents to their homes, halting transport and closing public areas.  The drastic measures
Scientists say regions worst-hit by coronavirus have similar climates
Scientists have found “striking similarity” in temperature and humidity between regions that have reported major coronavirus outbreaks. The researchers found that the places share an average temperature of 5°C to 11°C (41°F to 52°F) and 47% to 79% humidity. They are located along the same temperature zone in the northern hemisphere. It includes outbreak epicenters such as China’s central province of Hubei, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Northwestern America and Northern Italy. The study, done by a group of scientists from the US and Iran, was published on March 9 and is awaiting review by peer experts.  The researchers said they may be able to predict which regions will be most likely hit by the
Chinese lab ordered shut a day after publishing coronavirus genome
The Shanghai laboratory where researchers published the world’s first genome sequence of the new coronavirus has been shut down. The laboratory at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center was ordered to close for “rectification” on January 12, a day after it publicized the genetic makeup of a new virus that would go on to sicken more than 89,000 people globally. “The center was not given any specific reasons why the laboratory was closed for rectification,” a source with the center said, requesting anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity. “The closure has greatly affected the scientists and their research when they should be racing against the clock to find the means to help put the
The global race to find coronavirus ‘patient zero’ and why it matters
As the new coronavirus has proved capable of spreading between people and across borders, scientists have worked to crack the secrets of its ability to infect and kill. Scholars from China and other parts of the world have put the virus under the microscope – it looks like an orb studded with spikes – and sequenced its DNA, hoping to find better treatment for those who contracted it and make vaccines to prevent infection. But in their efforts to stop the epidemic’s global transmission, public health researchers have so far been unable to answer one question: Who did the virus first infect? The hunt for this person – also known as “patient zero” – could provide clues that help us contain the
Scientists are racing to make a coronavirus vaccine. Is it worth it?
Seventeen years after the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak, and seven years since the first Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) case, there is still no coronavirus vaccine despite dozens of attempts to develop them. As research institutes and companies around the world race to find potential vaccines for a new coronavirus strain that has infected more than 80,000 people and claimed over 2,700 lives, the question is, will this time be different? To stop communicable diseases, it is important to stop transmission, using medicine and developing vaccines. But those vaccines take time as they have to go through trials to ensure they are safe and effective. They are also costl