Not wearing masks a ‘big mistake’ in US and Europe, Chinese scientist says
People in the United States and Europe are wrong not to wear face masks in public during the Covid-19 pandemic, said the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “The big mistake in the US and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks,” Gao Fu, the agency’s director-general, said in an interview with the journal Science. “This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact,” he said. “Droplets play a very important role – you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth.” Gao joined a chorus of researchers urging global health authorities to reconsider not recommending wider use of the face mask b
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
Coronavirus patients are contagious 2 days before symptoms show, study suggests
People infected with the new coronavirus may be most contagious right when their symptoms begin to show and even a couple of days beforehand. Scholars observed the highest viral load in throat swabs at the initial sign of symptoms and inferred that infectiousness peaked on or before symptom onset, and people may be highly contagious 2.5 days before symptoms show. It is a pattern similar to that of seasonal influenza. The findings set the new coronavirus apart from the Sars virus, which becomes most infectious 10 to 12 days after the onset of symptoms. Estimating that 44% of transmissions could take place before symptoms develop in an infected person, the research underscores the capability o
People with blood type A more likely to get coronavirus, China study finds
People with blood type A may be more vulnerable to infection by the new coronavirus, while those with type O seem more resistant, according to a preliminary study of patients in China who contracted the disease known as Covid-19. Medical researchers in China took blood group patterns of more than 2,000 patients infected with the virus in two Chinese cities, Wuhan and Shenzhen, and compared them to local healthy populations. They found that blood type A patients showed a higher rate of infection and they tended to develop more severe symptoms. While the researchers said the study was preliminary and more work was needed, they urged governments and medical facilities to consider blood type dif
Test on monkeys provides vaccine hope in coronavirus fight
Scientists who infected monkeys with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 have found those that recovered developed effective immunity from the disease. Scientists around the world have been racing to develop a vaccine and the first clinical trials could be held in China and the US within a month. But a number of cases, where people who had tested negative for the disease and were discharged from hospital only to give a positive result a few days later, have cast doubt on the process. If it turns out that these patients had been reinfected by the same virus, then vaccines will not prove effective. But the monkey experiment carried out by a team from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences ma
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 may have found out why the new coronavirus is so infectious
The new coronavirus has an HIV-like mutation that means its ability to bind with human cells could be up to 1,000 times as strong as the Sars virus, according to new research by scientists in China and Europe. The discovery could help to explain not only how the infection has spread but also where it came from and how best to fight it. Scientists showed that the virus that causes Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) entered the human body by binding with a receptor protein called ACE2 on a cell membrane.  Some early studies suggested that the new coronavirus, which shares about 80% of the genetic structure of Sars, might follow a similar path. But the ACE2 protein does not exist in larg
China is exporting tons of killer fungus to fight locusts in Africa
Chinese factories are producing thousands of tons of a “green zombie fungus” to help fight the swarms of locusts in East Africa. Metarhizium is a genus of fungi with nearly 50 species – some genetically modified – that is used as a biological insecticide. Its roots drill through the insects’ hard exoskeleton and gradually poisons them. In China, it was named lu jiang jun, which means “green zombie fungus,” because it gradually turns its victims into a green mossy lump. There are now dozens of factories across the country dedicated to producing its spores and, despite the curbs introduced to stop the spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, many of them have resumed operations and are
The Chinese scientist searching for coronavirus clues in caves
Shi Zhengli has spent a lot of time in smelly caves, poking around in bat dung. The world may well prove thankful she did. Shi has hiked into deep mountains across 28 of China’s provinces, finding the dark places where bats live and collecting droppings from different kinds of bats. What she found she brought back to the National Biosafety Laboratory in Wuhan, Hubei province, for analysis. After more than a decade of work, she built one of the world’s largest databases of bat-related viruses. It was that database that Shi’s team turned to when a new infectious coronavirus caused an outbreak in China at the end of December. Her team was the first to identify that the coronavirus that was kil