Day: June 27, 2020

How the Coronavirus Short-Circuits the Immune System

At the beginning of the pandemic, the coronavirus looked to be another respiratory illness. But the virus has turned out to affect not just the lungs, but the kidneys, the heart and the circulatory system — even, somehow, our senses of smell and taste.

Now researchers have discovered yet another unpleasant surprise. In many patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, the immune system is threatened by a depletion of certain essential cells, suggesting eerie parallels with H.I.V.

The findings suggest that a popular treatment to tamp down the immune system in severely ill patients may help a few, but could harm many others. The research offers clues about why very few children get sick when they are infected, and hints that a cocktail of drugs may be needed to bring the coronavirus under control, as is the case with H.I.V.

Growing research points to “very complex immunological signatures of the virus,”

Read More

Study Suggests Coronavirus Emerged In Spain Much Earlier Than Thought

In a study not yet published in a journal, scientists have reported that the new coronavirus was present in wastewater in Barcelona, Spain in March 2019, a finding that, if confirmed, would show that the pathogen had emerged much earlier than previously thought.

But independent experts who reviewed the findings said they doubted the claim. The study was flawed, they said, and other lines of evidence strongly suggest the virus emerged in China late last year.

Up until now, the earliest evidence of the virus anywhere in the world has been from December 2019 in China and it was only known to have hit mainland Spain in February 2020.

“Barcelona is a city that is frequented by Chinese people, in tourism and business, so probably this happened also elsewhere, and probably at the same time,” said the lead author, Albert Bosch, a professor in the Department of Microbiology of the

Read More

$1 Billion in Government Coronavirus Payments Went to Dead People

Congress’s watchdog on Thursday criticized the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is inaccurately counting coronavirus tests and that more than $1 billion in payments had been issued to dead people.

The 403-page investigation by the Government Accountability Office was ordered in a provision of the CARES Act, the $2 trillion emergency pandemic aid legislation, which Congress passed in March. So far, $643 billion of this allocation has been spent, the auditors said.

The report is a sobering review of the first six months of the pandemic. In its typically understated language, the agency wrote that the federal government’s response was slow, disorganized and insufficient to protect the public, despite years of warnings that a pandemic was inevitable. The watchdog agency also noted that the White House Office of Management and Budget had not directed federal agencies to reveal how

Read More

In Norway, Gymgoers Avoid Infections as Virus Recedes

Like many countries, Norway ordered all gyms to close in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But unlike any other nation, Norway also funded a rigorous study to determine whether the closings were really necessary.

It is apparently the first and only randomized trial to test whether people who work out at gyms with modest restrictions are at greater risk of infection from the coronavirus than those who do not. The tentative answer after two weeks: no.

So this week, responding to the study it funded, Norway reopened all of its gyms, with the same safeguards in place that were used in the study.

Is there hope for gymgoers in other parts of the world?

“I personally think this is generalizable, with one caveat,” said Dr. Michael Bretthauer, a cancer screening expert at the University of Oslo who led the study with Dr. Mette Kalager. “There may be

Read More