Startling Case Study Finds Asymptomatic COVID-19 Carrier Who Shed Virus For 70 Days

Science Alert  November 5, 2020 An international team of researchers (USA – NIH, Washington University, industry, UK) have observed long-term SARS-CoV-2 shedding up to 70 days, and genomic and subgenomic RNA up to 105 days past initial diagnosis from the upper respiratory tract of a female immunocompromised patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Several weeks after a second convalescent plasma transfusion, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was no longer detected. They observed marked within-host genomic evolution of SARS-CoV-2, with continuous turnover of dominant viral variants. Their data indicate that certain immunocompromised patients may shed infectious virus for longer durations than previously recognized. They recommend […]

Artificial intelligence model detects asymptomatic Covid-19 infections through cellphone-recorded coughs

MIT News  October 29, 2020 A team of researchers in the US (MIT, Harvard University) developed an AI speech processing framework that leverages acoustic biomarker feature extractors to pre-screen for COVID-19 from cough recordings. CNN-based models have been trained on 4256 subjects and tested on the remaining 1064 subjects of the dataset. When validated with subjects diagnosed using an official test, the model achieved COVID-19 sensitivity of 98.5% with a specificity of 94.2% . For asymptomatic subjects it achieved sensitivity of 100% with a specificity of 83.2%. AI techniques can produce a free, non-invasive, real-time, any-time, instantly distributable, large-scale COVID-19 […]

Back to the Lab? We Want to Hear From You

American Physical Society  July 27, 2020 As scientists around the world are slowly returning to their offices and labs APS News and Physics want to hear about their experiences. What plans have they made to keep themselves or their group safe? How is distancing affecting their interactions? How have months away from the lab affected their perspective? Tell them your story in a brief (100–200 words) letter to Pictures are welcome too. Each week, APS News and Physics will select a few of these letters and photos to share online…read more.

Killing coronavirus with handheld ultraviolet light device may be feasible

Pennsylvania State University  June 1, 2020 To sanitize and disinfect areas from bacteria and viruses requires UV radiation sources that emit sufficiently high doses of UV light. Current UV radiation sources are typically expensive mercury-containing gas discharge lamp, which requires high power, has a relatively short lifetime, and is bulky. Current materials absorb too much UV radiation. An international team of researchers (USA – Pennsylvania State University, University of Minnesota, Japan) found that strontium niobate films held the promise of the theoretical predictions. They successfully grew the films using sputtering. The process makes it possible to integrate this new material […]

Reality check: COVID-19 and UV disinfection

Physics World  June 11, 2020 In moderate doses UVA and UVB are good for us in several ways. The ozone layer filters out more dangerous band of sunlight UVC. As well as damaging skin, UVC can also mangle the genetic material of viruses and bacteria, preventing them from reproducing. During the COVID-19 outbreak in China, buses were even bathed in UV light overnight. Because of the high risk to humans, operators wear hardcore safety equipment and go through specialized training. Researchers have discovered that a specific wavelength of UVC light – 222 nm – could be much less dangerous to […]

Modeling infectious disease dynamics

Science Magazine  May 15, 2020 According to researchers at the University of Chicago, mathematical modeling and historical influenza pandemics provide a warning about comparing the effects of interventions in different populations. A rapid decline in COVID-19 cases or a small springtime epidemic might be taken as evidence that interventions have been especially effective or that herd immunity has been achieved. But simple models show that epidemic dynamics become deeply unintuitive when there is seasonal variation in susceptibility or transmission, and especially when there is movement between populations. For SARS-CoV-2, like influenza virus, the shape of seasonal variation is uncertain. Linear […]

COVIDScholar: AI Tool Sifts Through Thousands of Papers to Guide Researchers

Global Biodefense  May 12, 2020 Every day, hundreds of scientific papers about COVID-19 come out, in both traditional journals and non-peer-reviewed preprints. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab are using the latest artificial intelligence techniques to build COVIDScholar, a search engine dedicated to COVID-19. It includes tools that pick up subtle clues like similar drugs or research methodologies to recommend relevant research to scientists. AI can capture latent scientific knowledge from text, making connections that humans missed. They built web scrapers that collect new papers as they are published from a wide variety of sources, making them available on the […]

The most promising strategies for defeating coronavirus: A review study

EurekAlert  April 24, 2020 To help focus the global search for a treatment, researchers at the University of North Carolina provide a comprehensive resource of possible lines of attack against SARS-Cov-2 and related coronaviruses, including the results from all preclinical and clinical trials so far on vaccines against SARS and MERS. They discuss one-by-one the possible strategies against the coronavirus. Among most effective are vaccines. The most successful are likely to carry the Receptor Binding Domain (of the virus’s S-protein), which allows it to bind to and fuse with host cells. The authors discuss a range of options from fusion […]

Researchers identify cells likely targeted by Covid-19 virus

MIT News  April 22, 2020 Using existing data on the RNA found in different types of cells, an international team of researchers (MIT, Harvard University, and from around the world) was able to search for cells that express the two proteins that help the SARS-CoV-19 virus enter human cells. They found subsets of cells in the lung, the nasal passages, and the intestine that express RNA for both proteins much more than other cells. MIT with partners at the Broad Institute has been building an open source database and storing a huge collection of these dataset in one place, allowing […]

COVID-19 needs a Manhattan Project

Science Magazine  March 23, 2020 According to the head of GAVI there is a strong track record for publicly funded, large-scale scientific endeavors that bring together global expertise and resources toward a common goal. The Manhattan Project brought about nuclear weapons quickly (although with terrible implications for humanity) through an approach that led to countless changes in how scientists from many countries work together. The Human Genome Project and CERN engaged scientists from around the world to drive basic research from their home labs through local and virtual teamwork. Taking this big, coordinated approach to developing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine […]