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Latest COVID-19 News from Science Magazine

Scientists analyze COVID-19 samples. Image via Shutterstock.

Scientists analyze COVID-19 samples. Image via Shutterstock.

The Science team is producing multiple stories a day exploring the nature of the virus, the course of the disease, potential treatments and vaccines, the patterns of spread around the world, and impacts on society. They are also focusing on the interplay of science and politics that is shaping each country's control efforts.

This Pulitzer Center-supported project enables Science to sustain its core effort and expand it with reporting from Africa, India, Latin America, and other regions where the pandemic is now taking hold, some of which have weak or vulnerable health systems.

Friday, August 14, 2020

This Physician Has Battled Epidemics, Quakes, and Poverty in Haiti. Now, She's Taking on COVID-19

Robert Bazell

As the director of a major health care organization in Haiti, Marie Marcelle Deschamps was already stretched thin by the struggles of providing medical help in one of the poorest nations on Earth. Then in late March, COVID-19 arrived. Read Story

Thursday, August 13, 2020

New Zealand Suspects ‘Some Failure at the Border’ After COVID-19 Returns

Dennis Normile

New Zealand officials and scientists are eying a breach in isolation security as the possible cause of the first cases of community transmission in the country in 102 days. Investigators are exploring several possibilities, but experts believe the alternatives—that the virus was circulating undetected or that it entered the country on a freight shipment—are unlikely. Read Story

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Pandemic Appears to Have Spared Africa So Far. Scientists Are Struggling to Explain Why

Linda Nordling

Africa seems to have weathered the pandemic relatively well so far, with fewer than one confirmed case for every thousand people and just 23,000 deaths so far. Yet several antibody surveys suggest far more Africans have been infected with the coronavirus—a discrepancy that is puzzling scientists around the continent. Read Story

AI Invents New ‘Recipes’ for Potential COVID-19 Drugs

Robert F. Service

To prevent shortages, researchers have come up with a new way to design synthetic routes to drugs now being tested in some COVID-19 clinical trials, using artificial intelligence (AI) software. Read Story

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Designer Antibodies Could Battle COVID-19 Before Vaccines Arrive

Jon Cohen

While the world is transfixed by the high-stakes race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, an equally crucial competition is heating up to produce targeted antibodies that could provide an instant immunity boost against the virus. Read Story

Once Praised for Taming the Pandemic, Asian-Pacific Nations Worry About New Onslaught

Dennis Normile

Many Asian-Pacific countries have recorded some of the lowest COVID-19 case numbers anywhere, earning praise as models of how to handle the virus. But the sheen is coming off their performance. Many countries see cases ticking up sharply, triggered by complacency among officials, premature relaxation of control measures, and public fatigue with social distancing. Read Story

Why Pregnant Women Face Special Risks From COVID-19

Meredith Wadman

Emerging data suggests that pregnancy appears to make women’s bodies more vulnerable to severe COVID-19. That’s partly because of pregnant women’s uniquely adjusted immune systems, and partly because the coronavirus’ points of attack—the lungs and the cardiovascular system—are already stressed in pregnancy. Read Story

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Groups Protest Exclusion of HIV-Infected People From Coronavirus Vaccine Trials

Jocelyn Kaiser

As large trials get underway to test the vaccines needed to stop the global coronavirus pandemic, one group has realized it is being left out and is not happy: people living with HIV. Read Story

 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Trump ‘Owes Us an Apology.’ Chinese Scientist at the Center of COVID-19 Origin Theories Speaks Out

Jon Cohen

Shi Zhengli, who heads a group that studies bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), in the city in China where the pandemic began, speaks out for the first time against speculation that the virus was engineered in her lab. Read Story

Clinical Trials Rebound After COVID-19 Crash, but Can Enrollment Gains Continue?

Eli Cahan

For the hundreds of thousands of people enrolling in clinical trials every year—and for whom experimental therapies can offer a last hope—a new report provides some welcome news: Enrollment in clinical studies in the United States is on the rebound after disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read Story

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Polio Vaccination Campaigns Restart After Modelers Warn About Risk of ‘Explosive’ Outbreaks

Leslie Roberts

In a sad knock-on effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) abruptly halted all mass vaccination campaigns in March, worried they could inadvertently spread the novel coronavirus. But now, armed with new data and perspective, GPEI and the countries it supports are resuming vaccination campaigns. Read Story

Monday, July 20, 2020

Controversial ‘Human Challenge’ Trials for COVID-19 Vaccines Gain Support

Jon Cohen

Since the early days of the pandemic, some researchers have advocated a fast way to determine whether a COVID-19 vaccine works: Intentionally attempt to infect vaccinated volunteers with the virus, SARS-CoV-2. Ethicists and vaccine scientists alike raised red flags, and the discussion has remained mostly theoretical. But now two key elements are taking shape: a large corps of volunteers willing to take part in a “human challenge” trial, and the well-understood lab-grown virus strains needed for the studies. Read Story

Friday, July 17, 2020

A Former Navy Disaster Specialist Wages War Against COVID-19 on U.S./Mexico Border

Jon Cohen

A former U.S. Navy clinician says he wasn’t fully prepared for what the pandemic has thrown at him and the rest of the staff at a San Diego hospital. Read Story

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Data Secrecy Is Crippling Attempts to Slow COVID-19’s Spread in U.S., Epidemiologists Warn

Charles Piller

Many states are failing to share important information about their COVID-19 cases, which some scientists warn is hampering efforts to identify targeted measures that could stem the spread of SARS-CoV-2 without a full-scale lockdown. Read Story

During the Pandemic, Students Do Field and Lab Work Without Leaving Home

Elizabeth Pennisi

Hundreds of lab and field courses have been forced online by COVID-19, leaving many institutions to face the challenges that come with online learning. Read Story

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

‘It’s a tricky thing.’ COVID-19 cases haven’t soared in Nigeria, but that could change

Jop de Vrieze

So far, sub-Saharan Africa has not faced the extreme numbers of cases and deaths from the novel coronavirus some public health experts feared would occur. Yet the numbers across Africa are ticking up, and Chikwe Ihekweazu, director of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, is far from complacent. Read Story

The pandemic virus is slowly mutating. But is it getting more dangerous?

Kai Kupferschmidt

More than 6 months into the pandemic, the virus’ potential to evolve in a nastier direction—or, if we’re lucky, become more benign—is unclear. In part that’s because it changes more slowly than most other viruses, giving virologists fewer mutations to study. But some virologists also raise an intriguing possibility: that SARS-CoV-2 was already well adapted to humans when it burst onto the world stage at the end of 2019, having quietly honed its ability to infect people beforehand. Read Story

 

Saturday, July 11, 2020

‘Huge Hole’ in COVID-19 Testing Data Makes It Harder to Study Racial Disparities

Kelly Servick

Even as the U.S. testing infrastructure improves, testing remains sparse in many low-income and minority neighborhoods, and race and ethnicity information is missing for about half of reported COVID-19 cases nationwide. Read Story

A WHO-Led Mission May Investigate the Pandemic’s Origin. Here Are the Key Questions to Ask

Jon Cohen

The two-person team from the World Health Organization (WHO) traveling to China to address the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to come home with answers. Rather, the duo—an epidemiologist and an animal health expert whose names have not been released—will discuss with Chinese officials the scope of a larger international mission later, according to a WHO statement. Read Story

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Can Boosting Interferons, the Body's Frontline Virus Fighters, Beat COVID-19?

Meredith Wadman

A small flurry of recent papers suggests the novel coronavirus does some of its deadly work by disabling interferons, powerful proteins that are the body’s own frontline defenders against viral invasion. If so, synthetic interferons given before or soon after infection may tame the virus before it causes serious disease—a welcome possibility that additional recent studies support. Read Story

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

School Openings Across Globe Suggest Ways to Keep Coronavirus at Bay, Despite Outbreaks

Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, Gretchen Vogel, Meagan Weiland

Early this spring, school gates around the world slammed shut. However, as weeks turned into months, pediatricians and educators began to voice concern that school closures were doing more harm than good. It was time, a growing chorus said, to bring children back to school. By early June, more than 20 countries had done just that. It was a vast, uncontrolled experiment. Read Story

U.S. Research Cruises Resume, Gingerly

Ian Graber-Stiehl

U.S. research vessels are taking to the sea again after being docked since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read Story 

Scientists Scoff at Indian Agency's Plan to Have COVID-19 Vaccine Ready for Use Next Month

Sanjay Kumar

The apparent speed at which an Indian government agency aims to test and approve a homegrown COVID-19 vaccine has created an uproar among scientists both in India, which is increasingly overwhelmed by the new coronavirus, and abroad. Read Story

Monday, July 6, 2020

One U.K. Trial Is Transforming COVID-19 Treatment. Why Haven’t Others Delivered More Results?

Kai Kupferschmidt

On 29 June, University of Oxford clinical scientists Martin Landray and Peter Horby changed how physicians around the world consider treating COVID-19—for the third time in little more than 3 weeks. Read Story

Operation Warp Speed’s Opaque Choices of COVID-19 Vaccines Draw Senate Scrutiny

Jon Cohen

The leaders of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s well-funded project to develop COVID-19 vaccines at record speed, have said they are running a transparent project. But at a Senate subcommittee hearing that focused on Warp Speed, scientists at the front of the effort, after repeated questioning, gave limited answers about the vaccine candidates they have chosen as frontrunners in the race and their selection criteria. Read Story

The Global Aids Meeting, the Woodstock of Science Gatherings, Goes Virtual Amid COVID-19

Jon Cohen

AIDS 2020, the 23rd International AIDS Conference, is but one of slews of scientific meetings that have been upended by COVID-19 and gone online. But this gathering of some 20,000 people has no parallel in the world of medicine or science. Read Story

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

New White House Rules Restrict Use of Grant Funding to Deal With COVID-19 Impacts

Jeffrey Mervis

New rules on how U.S. universities manage federal research grants leave them with less flexibility to cope with the pandemic. Read Story

Just 50% of Americans Plan to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine. Here’s How to Win Over the Rest

Warren Cornwall

Recent polls have found as few as 50% of people in the United States are committed to receiving a vaccine, with another quarter wavering. The CDC is now working on a plan to boost “vaccine confidence” as part of the federal effort to develop a vaccine. Read Story

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Line Is Forming for a COVID-19 Vaccine. Who Should Be at the Front?

Jon Cohen

When and if the world has a COVID-19 vaccine, who should get it first? A committee that makes vaccine use recommendations to the CDC wrestled with this question in a virtual meeting, and new data suggested that pregnant women should be given priority as they may have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Read Story

Friday, June 26, 2020

It’s Safe To Go Back to the Gym—If There’s Little COVID-19 Around, Study Suggests

Cathleen O’Grady

Wondering whether it’s safe to go back to the gym? Norwegian gymgoers may have some good news for you. A study on the risk of coronavirus transmission in Oslo found that people who went to a gym were no more likely to get infected, or sick, than people who didn’t. Norway has reopened its gyms based on the tentative results, which were published as a preprint yesterday and still need to go through peer review. Read Story

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

COVID-19 Cancels Charity Galas and Walks. Science Is Paying the Price

Eli Cahan

Foundations that fund biomedical research in the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere are reporting record revenue drops because of the pandemic. One major factor: It has forced them to cancel key fundraising events, including glitzy galas, sponsored walks, and Broadway partnerships. Read Story

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

‘It’s a Nightmare.’ How Brazilian Scientists Became Ensnared in Chloroquine Politics 

Lindzi Wessel

Now that several big trials have shown disappointing results, hope has faded that chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine might be miracle drugs against COVID-19. But for one group of researchers in Brazil, the story is far from over. Read Story

Friday, June 19, 2020

Pandemic Vaccines Are About to Face the Real Test

Jon Cohen

The next and most important stage of the COVID-19 vaccine race is about to begin: the large-scale, placebo-controlled, human trials needed to prove which of the more than 135 candidates are safe and effective. Read Story

Can Phone Apps Slow the Spread of the Coronavirus?

Kelly Servick

Health departments around the world are betting on technology to help stem the stealthy spread of the coronavirus: cellphone apps that aim to identify and alert those who recently came into contact with an infected person. But experts warn that an app can't replace the use of human contact tracers. Read Story

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Source of Beijing’s Big New COVID-19 Outbreak Is Still a Mystery

Dennis Normile

Bejing has locked down some residential compounds, closed all schools, and canceled hundreds of flights since the confirmation of a COVID-19 case on June 11. The case ended a run of 55 days without a reported local transmission. Read Story

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

‘We’ve Got to Be Able to Move More Quickly.’ the Pandemic Reality of COVID-19 Clinical Trials

Jennifer Couzin-Frankel

The novel coronavirus has upended the world of clinical research, with scientists under pressure to identify effective treatments for COVID-19 and vaccines to prevent new infections. More than 22,000 papers on the virus have been published this year, and more than 2000 trials are underway. Read Story

A Cheap Steroid Is the First Drug Shown to Reduce Death in COVID-19 Patients

Kai Kupferschmidt

After months of dire news about the spread of the novel coronavirus and a mounting global death toll, a glimmer of hope arrived today: Researchers announced that dexamethasone, a cheap, widely available corticosteroid, significantly reduced deaths of severely sick COVID-19 patients in a major clinical trial. Read Story

Monday, June 15, 2020

FDA Just Gave a Thumbs Down to Trump’s Favorite COVID-19 Drugs

John Travis

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked its emergency use authorization (EUA) for hydroxychloroquine sulfate (HCQ) and chloroquine phosphate (CQ) to treat COVID-19. Read Story

HIV and TB Increase Death Risk From COVID-19, Study Finds—but Not by Much

Linda Nordling

Living with HIV or active tuberculosis (TB) increases a person’s likelihood of dying from COVID-19, preliminary data from South Africa show. However, the effect is small compared with other known risk factors such as old age and diabetes. Read Story

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Could a Global ‘Observatory’ of Blood Help Stop the Next Pandemic?

Robert Bazell

The antibodies in blood samples from around the world could reveal where previously identified pathogens are popping up and where new ones are emerging. Read Story

Friday, June 12, 2020

Pandemic Upends Colombia’s Controversial Drug War Plan to Resume Aerial Spraying 

Kata Karáth

The Colombian government has been unable to conduct court-ordered consultations with communities that would be affected by the renewed aerial spraying campaign. The sprayings seek to destroy coca crops and Colombia's cocaine production. Read Story

Coronavirus Forces United States, United Kingdom to Cancel Antarctic Field Research

Paul Voosen

The coronavirus pandemic had already canceled one summer field research season. Now it has come for another: the Antarctic summer. Read Story

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Coronavirus Rips Through Dutch Mink Farms, Triggering Culls to Prevent Human Infections

Martin Enserink

SARS-CoV-2 has attacked mink farms in the Netherlands and the Dutch government worries infected mink could become a viral reservoir that could cause new outbreaks in humans. Read Story

Three Big Studies Dim Hopes That Hydroxychloroquine Can Treat or Prevent COVID-19

Kai Kupferschmidt

Through the fog of alleged misconduct, hope, hype, and politicization that surrounds hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug touted as a COVID-19 treatment, a scientific picture is now emerging. Read Story

Monday, June 8, 2020

Who's to Blame? These Three Scientists Are at the Heart of the Surgisphere COVID-19 Scandal

Charles Piller

Three unlikely collaborators are at the heart of the fast-moving COVID-19 research scandal which led to retractions last week by The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Read Story

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Abortion Opponents Protest COVID-19 Vaccines’ Use of Fetal Cells 

Meredith Wadman

Catholic leaders and anitbortion activists in the U.S. and Canada are urging their governments to invest in vaccines that do not rely on human fetal cell lines. Read Story

This Cow’s Antibodies Could Be the Newest Weapon Against COVID-19

Mitch Leslie

A biotech company in South Dakota has created genetically modified dairy cows capable of producing anitbodies to subdue human diseases. Read Story

As Pandemic Pounds U.S. Universities, Federal Support Helps Their Labs Stay Afloat

Jeffrey Mervis

Federal funding is still flowing into sponsored research at universities across the nation, allowing labs to continue work despite institutions' financial setbacks. Read Story

Two Elite Medical Journals Retract Coronavirus Papers Over Data Integrity Questions

Charles Piller, Kelly Servick

A paper retracted by The Lancet claimed that hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump, could seriously harm COVID-19 patients. The pandemic has rushed the editorial process at some journals seeking to publish COVID-19 research. Read Story

Friday, June 5, 2020

Top U.S. Scientists Left out of White House Selection of COVID-19 Vaccine Short List 

Jon Cohen

Operation Warp Speed has selected five experimental COVID-19 vaccines to fast-track through testing, but there was little transparency behind the selection process according to scientists on the vaccine committee overseeing clinical trials. Read Story

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Why Coronavirus Hits Men Harder: Sex Hormones Offer Clues

Meredith Wadman

Male hormones appear to boost the coronavirus's ability to get inside cells, creating a greater risk of severe illness and death. Read Story

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Scientists Rush to Defend Venezuelan Colleagues Threatened Over Coronavirus Study

Rodrigo Pérez Ortega 

A high-level Venezuelan official suggested the Venezuelan Academy of Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (ACFIMAN) should be subject to raids following the academy's publication of a report disproving the government had "flattened the curve." Ready Story

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

A Mysterious Company’s Coronavirus Papers in Top Medical Journals May Be Unraveling

Kelly Servick, Martin Enserink

A little-known data analytics company showed that antimalarial drugs touted by the White House as possible COVID-19 treatments looked to be not just ineffective, but downright deadly. Read Story

Blood Vessel Attack Could Trigger Coronavirus’ Fatal ‘Second Phase’

Catherine Matacic

Autopsy results showed pathologists that their patients were suffering because the coronavirus had targeted their blood vessels. Read Story

NIH-Halted Study Unveils Its Massive Analysis of Bat Coronaviruses

Jon Cohen, Kai Kupferschmidt

An international team of scientists has published what it calls the most comprehensive analysis ever done on bat coronaviruses. Read Story

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Shuttered Natural History Museums Fight for Survival Amid COVID-19 ‘Heartbreak’

Elizabeth Pennisi

Museums’ reliance on revenue from ticket sales and events makes them among the first scientific institutions to feel the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read Story

Yemen Was Facing the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis. Then the Coronavirus Hit

Richard Stone

Perhaps no country is more vulnerable to COVID-19’s depredations than Yemen. Even before the virus’ arrival, the country was grappling with “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world,” as a result of a civil war now grinding into its sixth year, says Jens Laerke, a spokesperson at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Read Story

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Can Plasma From COVID-19 Survivors Help Save Others?

Kai Kupferschmidt

Infectious disease specialists are arguing that one effective treatment might already be at hand: the blood plasma of people who have recovered from the disease, rich in antibodies against the virus. Read Story

As India’s Lockdown Ends, Exodus From Cities Risks Spreading COVID-19 Far and Wide

Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar

A shortage of hospital beds and poor coordination has overwhelmed public hospitals and left authorities scrambling to ramp up capacity in Mumbai and other cities. Similarly dramatic scenes may play out in other parts of India. Read Story

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Japan Ends Its COVID-19 State of Emergency

Dennis Normille

Japan yesterday declared at least a temporary victory in its battle with COVID-19, and it triumphed by following its own playbook. It drove down the number of daily new cases to near target levels of 0.5 per 100,000 people with voluntary and not very restrictive social distancing and without large-scale testing. Read Story

Merck, one of Big Pharma’s Biggest Players, Reveals its COVID-19 Vaccine and Therapy Plans

Jon Cohen

Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, has been conspicuously absent from the race to develop COVID-19 vaccines and drugs. No longer. The company this morning announced it has cut deals to develop and manufacture two different COVID-19 vaccines and a much-discussed experimental antiviral compound that is already in early clinical trials. Read Story

Monday, May 25, 2020

Study Tells ‘Remarkable Story’ About COVID-19’s Deadly Rampage Through a South African Hospital

Linda Nordling

On 9 March, a patient who had recently traveled to Europe and had symptoms of COVID-19 visited the emergency department of St Augustine’s, a private hospital in Durban, South Africa. Eight weeks later, 39 patients and 80 staff linked to the hospital had been infected, and 15 patients had died—fully half the death toll in KwaZulu-Natal province at that time. Read Story

Friday, May 22, 2020

Doubts Greet $1.2 Billion Bet by United States on a Coronavirus Vaccine by October

Jon Cohen

Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s bid to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine faster than any previous vaccine, is both turning heads and raising eyebrows with a major new investment that promises to shave weeks off its already ambitious timeline. Read Story

Coronavirus Antigen Tests: Quick and Cheap, but Too Often Wrong?

Robert F. Service

After a painfully slow rollout of diagnostic testing for active coronavirus infections across the country, some 400,000 people a day in the United States may now receive such a test, estimates suggest. Public health experts have raised questions about the vitality of these tests, however. Read Story

How Sweden Wasted a ‘Rare Opportunity’ to Study Coronavirus in Schools

Gretchen Vogel

Bucking a global trend, Sweden has kept day care centers and schools through ninth grade open since COVID-19 emerged, without any major adjustments to class size, lunch policies, or recess rules. That made the country a perfect natural experiment about schools’ role in the viral spread that many others could have learned from as they reopen schools or ponder when to do so. Read Story

‘The House Was on Fire.’ Top Chinese Virologist on How China and U.S. Have Met the Pandemic

Jon Cohen

Virologist Shao Yiming, chief expert on AIDS at China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), sees the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of HIV. That background has given Shao a broad perspective when it comes to seeing the similarities—and differences—in how nations, including China and the United States, have responded to the current pandemic. Read Story