Day: May 8, 2020

Summer Is Coming, but the Virus Won’t Be Going

“Everybody hopes for seasonality” when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, Peter Juni of the University of Toronto acknowledged. Maybe, just maybe, the summer will diminish the spread of Covid-19.

But a new study, by Dr. Juni, an epidemiologist, and his colleagues in Canada and Switzerland, offers very little encouragement for warm-weather worshipers. In countries around the world, his research found, variations in heat and humidity had little to no effect on the spread of the pandemic. Differences in how the disease spread were instead strongly associated with public health measures like social distancing and school closures.

Several other studies have found or projected modest effects of warmer climates or the increase of sunlight in diminishing the spread of the coronavirus, but all have emphasized the need for public health interventions.

One reason is that most of the world’s population has no immunity to the virus. “This means the virus

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F.D.A. Clears First Home Saliva Test for Coronavirus

The test kit was developed by a Rutgers University laboratory, called RUCDR Infinite Biologics, in partnership with Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostic Labs. Rutgers received F.D.A. permission last month to collect saliva samples from patients at test sites but can now sell the collection kits for individuals to use at home. They will cost about $100 each, Rutgers said, and must be ordered by a physician.

“A patient can open the kit, spit into the tube, put the cap back on and ship it back to our lab,” said Dr. Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer and director of technology development at RUCDR.

Dr. Brooks said the tests should be used only by people who have Covid-19 symptoms. His lab can process 20,000 tests each day, with a 48-hour turnaround, but he expects other labs to adopt it for their own use.

The spit tests are part of a rapid emergency

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With Red Tape Lifted, Dr. Zoom Will See You Now

In late March, Mary Jane Sturgis got a call from her primary-care physician’s office, saying that her doctor was working from home during the Covid-19 crisis and suggesting an alternative for her scheduled checkup. Would Ms. Sturgis agree to a video appointment on Zoom?

“I didn’t know what Zoom was,” Ms. Sturgis recalled. “But I said if I could figure it out, sure.”

A retired college administrator, she contends with ailments that put her at high risk from the new coronavirus. Several autoimmune conditions. Damaged lungs, caused by radiation for breast cancer and requiring daily nebulizer and inhaler use. At 77, age itself.

She already found it tiring to drive half an hour from her home in Media, Pa., to Dr. Lisa Sardanopoli’s office at Lankenau Medical Center; now, walking into a hospital also seemed dangerous.

The transition to telemedicine initially proved a bit rocky. Ms. Sturgis could see her

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Did a Mutation Turbocharge the Coronavirus? Not Likely, Scientists Say

All viruses mutate, and the coronavirus is no exception. But there is no compelling evidence yet that it is evolving in a way that has made it more contagious or more deadly.

A preprint study — posted online, but not published in a scientific journal and not yet peer-reviewed — has set the internet afire by suggesting otherwise.

The mutation, they wrote, “is of urgent concern,” because it made the coronavirus more transmissible. Following media coverage, the prospect of a turbocharged strain hopscotching around the world has unnerved many people who already had enough on their minds.

But experts in viral evolution are far from convinced. For one thing, there is no new strain: Unlike the flu, the coronavirus so far has not split into clearly distinct forms.

It does mutate, but that’s what viruses do. Just because a mutation becomes more common isn’t proof that it is altering how

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